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Aerospace Engineering pres.

AE285 Undergraduate Seminar: Culture & Career Panel Discussion

Dr. Tony Waas, Trudy Kortes, Kevin Michaels, Debra Facktor, and Tia Sutton

New AE Professor of Practice, George Halow, will moderate a variety of industry panel speakers consisting of AE alumni: Debra Facktor (Industry), Trudy Kortes (Government/NASA) Kevin Michaels (Consulting/commercial, and start-up), Tia Sutton (Career outside of the Aerospace field) Tony Waas (Academia). Please be sure to join us and bring questions for the panel!

About the distinguished panelists:

Dr. Tony Waas, Richard A. Auhll Department Chair, Felix Pawlowski Collegiate Professor, Aerospace Engineering

Anthony M. Waas is the Richard A. Auhll Department Chair of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where he holds the Felix Pawlowski Collegiate Chair since September 1, 2018. Prior to that he was the Boeing Egtvedt Endowed Chair Professor and Department Chair in the William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University of Washington, Seattle. Professor Waas’s research interests are: computational modeling of lightweight composite structures, robotically manufactured aerospace structures, 3D printing in aerospace, damage tolerance of composites, mechanics of textile composites and data science applications in aerospace engineering. Professor Waas was the Felix Pawlowski Collegiate Chair Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Director, Composite Structures Laboratory at the University of Michigan, from 1988 to 2014, prior to joining UW in January 2015. Professor Waas is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME), and the American Academy of Mechanics (AAM). He is a recipient of several best paper awards, the 2016 AIAA/ASME SDM award, the AAM Jr. Research Award, the ASC Outstanding Researcher Award, and several distinguished awards from the University of Michigan. He received the AIAA-ASC James H. Starnes, jr. Award, 2017, for seminal contributions to composite structures and materials and for mentoring students and other young professionals. In 2017, Professor Waas was elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, and in 2018 to the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Professor Waas obtained his B.Sc in Aeronautics with First Class Honors from Imperial College, London, 1982, the ACGI in 1982, the MS and Ph.D in Aeronautics and Applied Mathematics (minor) from Caltech, 1983 and 1988, respectively.


Debra Facktor, Vice President and General Manager, Strategic Operations, Ball Aerospace

Debra D. Facktor is the vice president and general manager of Strategic Operations for Ball Aerospace, where she is responsible for increasing Ball Aerospace's profile in the market and facilitating collaboration across the company. Facktor is the company's senior executive in the Washington, DC area and leads Washington Operations, Marketing & Communications, and Strategic Development.

The guiding principle of Debra's 30-year career is doing what has never been done before. As an engineer, entrepreneur and executive in the early space startup community, she helped pioneer the commercial space industry we know today. Earlier in her career, she set up joint partnerships with Russia and contributed to the U.S. policy to bring the country into the International Space Station.

Among other distinctions, Facktor was honored with the University of Michigan 2014 Alumni Merit Award for Aerospace Engineering and as the Women in Aerospace (WIA) 'Most Outstanding Member' for 2012. She is the former chair of the board of WIA and founding president of the WIA Foundation. Facktor serves on the board of the American Astronautical Society (AAS), the Future Space Leaders Foundation, and the industry advisory boards of the University of Michigan Aerospace Engineering Department and the Johns Hopkins University Space Systems Engineering program. She is also an appointed member of the FAA's Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC), a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a fellow of the AAS and an Academician of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA). She holds both a B.S. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan, and is an alumna of the International Space University summer session program in space policy and law.


Trudy Kortes, Human Exploration & Space Operations Division, NASA Glenn Research Center

Trudy Kortes has spent 30 years at NASA laughing her way through career challenges. She is eager to share her secrets to maintaining her humor through bad bosses, intense roles, and difficult decisions. Trudy's sense of self in her life and career has only been gained by some tough lessons and challenging situations, and she can help you maneuver them in a way that helps you maintain your authenticity.

Kortes holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Michigan in Aerospace Engineering and a Master of Science Degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Houston. She resides in Westlake, Ohio with her husband and three children.


Dr. Kevin Michaels, Managing Director, Aerodynanic Advisory

Kevin Michaels is Managing Director of AeroDynamic Advisory, a specialty consulting firm focused on the global aerospace and aviation industries. He has 33 years of experience, including hundreds of consulting engagements for leading aviation and aerospace companies across the globe.

Kevin is a globally recognized expert in the aerospace manufacturing and MRO sectors, and has significant functional expertise in business-to-business marketing, customer satisfaction, M&A advisory, technology assessment, cluster development, and strategic planning. His experience spans the air transport, business & general aviation, and military sectors.

He is a contributing columnist to Aviation Week & Space Technology and Forbes. He also chairs the Industry Advisory Board of the University of Michigan's Aerospace Engineering Department, and is on the Board of Directors of Proponent, a leading aerospace distributor.

Dr. Michaels holds BS - Aerospace Engineering and MBA degrees from the University of Michigan, and MSc and PhD degrees in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

In 2018, Kevin authored AeroDynamic: Inside the High-Stakes Global Jetliner Ecosystem.


Tia Sutton, Engineer, Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association

Tia Sutton has had a career dedicated to improving and protecting our environment. After graduation, she had an eighteen-year career at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Regulatory Engineer. In the last four years at the EPA, she worked as a Regulatory and Congressional Coordinator with the Office of Transportation and Air Quality. She now lives in the Greater Chicagoland Area, working as an engineer at the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association.

Sutton carried on her dedication to public service beyond the University of Michigan. In 2012, she served as Congressional Environment and Energy Fellow for the Office of Michigan Senator Carl Levin. In that role, she expanded Congress’s knowledge and awareness of key issues facing the environment in the United States.
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