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Alexis Harroun named one of Aviation Week's 20 Twenties

Amy Sprague
March 13, 2019

I have a passion for propulsion and wanted to work on the next great propulsion technology. Not many students get hand-on experience in exactly what they want to do after school – at least not in rocket engines. - Alexis Harroun
Alexis Harroun

A&A congratulates 2017 alumna Alexis Harroun for being selected into Aviation Week’s prestigious 20 Twenties list for 2019. Harroun is currently working towards her master’s degree at Purdue University. Her research is on nozzle design for rocket application rotating detonation engines (RDEs). RDEs are a promising rocket engine technology that in the future may allow rockets launched from earth to carry heavier payloads.

While at the UW, Harroun was president of the AIAA student chapter and also a member of SARP, the UW rocketry club, rising to become the propulsion lead her senior year. Of her time in A&A and SARP, she says, “I have a passion for propulsion and wanted to work on the next great propulsion technology. Not many students get hand-on experience in exactly what they want to do after school – at least not in rocket engines. SARP was an incredible experience.”

Alexis Harroun

Alexis Harroun working with SARP during her senior year.

Professor Carl Knowlen remembers her first year on SARP as a sophomore. He reports that although she was new to building rocket motors, Harroun learned quickly under the mentorship of her senior partner Minh Button. The pair figured out how to rebuild the motor to fit a smaller size and created a new nozzle design that was incorporated into SARP’s competition rocket. Knowlen reports, “They brought the rocket from the drawing board to a fully manufactured motor, a significant contribution.”

Professor Emeritus Adam Bruckner, who instructed several of Harroun’s labs and was the faculty adviser of the UW student chapter of AIAA during her leadership there, said, “Alexis was one of the most patient, conscientious, and highly effective undergrads I have known, demonstrating skills typical of advanced graduate students during her time here. She was also an exemplary leader and role model whose leadership style was proactive, thoughtful, and inclusive. It is great to see her recognized for her academic excellence, her ability to perform high-quality research, and her talent for leadership roles.”