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Marvelous Martian Mentors 

This page is dedicated to the AIAA Distinguished Mentors who are changing lives via their volunteer mentorship in Martian Greenhouse 2.0. 

This collaborative learning adventure is related to a movement in learning called Building Ships:

RelationSHIPS, FriendSHIPS, MentorSHIPS, InternSHIPS

Our AIAA Distinguished Mentors help all twelve teams in this international collaborative learning adventure.​​

Explore "Meaningful Mentors: A Presentation" by Dr. Matula


What does being a mentor mean to the mentors?

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Dan adamo 

Independent Astrodynamics Consultant

"I'd say being a mentor is a way for me to "pay it forward" in my aerospace profession.  I'm only able to substantively contribute to this profession because, as Sir Isaac would say, "I've stood on the shoulders of giants."  Without the mentorship of my predecessors, I'd be profoundly ignorant.  Mentoring from which I've benefitted has been delivered both in person and through published works in print and electronic media.  My aim has been to offer reciprocal educational outreach to all takers throughout my career."

Dan Adamo is a mentor for the Our Lady of Guadalupe RC High School, Belmopan City, Belize team.

geoffrey andrews 


Geoffrey Andrews is an aerodynamicist with a background in rocket propulsion. He has much experience in hypersonic aerodynamics and/or launch vehicle and engine design. He is currently finishing his Ph.D. at Purdue University in Indiana. He also has spent some time working at NASA Glenn in Ohio and the Von Karman Institute in Belgium. 

"I am an engineer, an aviator, and above all else, a hopeless nerd – more than anything, I’m driven by my borderline-unhealthy thirst for knowledge and my insatiable love of flight.


After three wonderful years as an undergraduate, I earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics with a minor in Aerospace Engineering from Lehigh University; I then completed my M.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical engineering at Purdue before matriculating into the doctoral program.  Right now, you’ll find me working on my Ph.D. studying computational fluid dynamics with a focus on analysis of hypersonic boundary layer transition using massively parallel computations (translation: I use very large computers to study very tiny bits of air, moving very quickly in ways that nobody really understands). My research has given me the opportunity to work at the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, applying boundary layer stability theory to the problem of hypersonic transition in conventional wind tunnels. I also work as a co-op student at NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center,  studying advanced aeronautics concepts and engine-airframe integration in the Propulsion Systems Analysis branch.

My research interests include hypersonic flight technologies, high-speed aerodynamics, and next-generation space launch vehicles. Outside of work, I enjoy flying vintage aircraft, playing classical piano, baking elaborate creations, and seeing the world, one adventure at a time."

Geoffrey Andrews is a mentor for Baptist School of Adult Continuing Education, Belize.

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Dr. Chetan Kulkarni  

Research Scientist/Lead Fault Diagnostics and Prognostics, Systems Health Management, Predictive Maintenance, Mountain View, California, United States​.


Chetan S. Kulkarni is a staff researcher at the Prognostics Center of Excellence and the Diagnostics and Prognostics Group in the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA Ames Research Center. He leads a team of researchers in the area of fault detection and prognostics for aerospace applications with a primary area of research in future electric UAVs and aircrafts.

Dr. Kulkarni completed his MS(’09), Ph.D. (’13) from Vanderbilt University, TN where he was a Graduate Research Assistant with the Institute for Software Integrated Systems and Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He completed his Bachelors(’02) from the University of Pune, India. Prior to joining Vanderbilt he was a Research Fellow at the Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT-Bombay, where his research work focused on developing low-cost substation automation system monitoring and control devices and partial discharge of transformers. Earlier to that he was a member of the technical team of the Power Automation group at Honeywell Automation India Ltd (HAIL), where he was involved in turnkey power automation projects and also product development in the area of substation automation. He actively participates in STEM education activities mentoring students at NASA outreach programs, Science Fair competitions, MESA etc. Dr. Kulkarni co-chairs the Professional Development and Education Outreach AIAA Intelligent Systems Technical Committee. Dr. Kulkarni is the recipient of several Best paper awards by AIAA, IEEE and the PHM society. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and AIAA, as well as an elected member of the Sigma Xi Society.

Dr. Kulkarni is a mentor for Alvin L Young, San Jose Succotz; Cayo, Belize

Stephen Leete  

Staff Engineer Systems, Lead Systems Engineer for Mission Robotic Vehicle at Northrop Grumman

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I’m an aerospace engineer, satellite systems engineer. Very interested in growing food in space. I feel that the availability of fresh produce is critical to mitigating radiation damage, for example, and is an essential and overlooked part of enabling safe human exploration. I’ve also participated in NSS International Space Development Conferences, where I’ve heard a lot about this topic. Also a fan of shipping container farming and similar warehouse farming, vertical farming, and I think indoor intensive agriculture should be applied to space. Count me in! I’m an AIAA professional member. I’ve also mentored high school students at NASA Goddard.

Stephen Leete is a mentor for Astra Nova School; CA, and TigerTrades in La Junta, CO. He has also attended our weekly meetings with all teams, where he has been a mentor for all groups.

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Dr. Emily Matula

Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) instructor in the Flight Operations Directorate, NASA

Emily Matula is an Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) instructor in the Flight Operations Directorate of NASA. She teaches astronauts, flight controllers, and engineers how to operate the current Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) and prepare for spacewalks. Before her start at NASA, she earned her PhD at the University of Colorado in Aerospace Engineering, Bioastronautics and earned her M.Eng and B.S. at the University of Michigan in Space Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, respectively. Outside of work she enjoys playing with Arduinos and going on nature walks.

Dr. Matula has been a mentor for Bishop Martin High School; Orange Walk Town, Belize C.A.. She is a "Mentor-of-Mentors" for this entire collaboration. Thank you Dr. Matula for giving us a new vision for learning and inspiring everyone with your knowledge, generosity, and mentorship.

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Rhonda Smith Ahrens

Owner: Rocky Mt. Group at Glenair​​

Energetic, detailed-oriented sales professional with 20+ years experience in the technology industry.

I have a strong knowledge of Glenair's high performance interconnect solutions. Our products connect & protect sensitive electronic equipment in mission critical applications such as Avionics, Soldier Gear, Military & Medical Robotics, Space Satellites, Navy Ships, Drilling Rigs, Armored Vehicles, Pipeline Inspection tools, Transportation and Rail Systems.

In my spare time I enjoy spending time skiing, rowing, hiking, biking, scuba diving and keeping up with my active family.

Specialties: Delivering Outstanding Customer Service and Support to my customers. Fundraising for my children's schools & Sporting clubs. Antarctic Explorer and Ambassador, I was privileged to have spent 2 wks in Antarctica Feb. 2017. Working hard to plan the next adventure already!

Rhonda Ahrens is a mentor for Pallotti High School; Princess Margaret Drive, Belize City, Belize.

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Bryce L. Meyer

St. Louis Space Frontier

Bryce has advanced degrees in Engineering and Biology, but more importantly has thousands of hours in field work, literally, on waters, oceans, wild lands, and working farms. He also has a background in teaching at the college level, though he loves to write and illustrate children’s STEM books, including on space topics. He has a long list of publications in space farms, especially mass flows, and in other technical topics. He is currently a member of the NSS Board of Directors, St. Louis Space Frontier Board, and Chair of the AIAA Space Colonization Technical Committee.

Bryce Meyer has been a mentor for Odyssey Early College and Career Options; Afton Way, CO.

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William Peters

​Optical Engineer at Lockheed Martin

PhD researcher at the interface of chemistry and physics, expert in cutting-edge laser spectroscopy and light-molecule interactions.

Dr. Peters is a mentor for STEM School Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

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Tiziano Bernard, Ph.D.  

Flight Test Engineer Presso Gulfstream Aerospace


"I’m an AIAA member and have been mentoring students for several years (Florida, Missouri) in aerospace and other fields as well (medicine, biology, etc.).


I’m an experimental flight test engineer for a large jet manufacturer in the United States (I’m Italian, though), and hold a PhD in Human-Centered Design, a MS in Flight Test, and a BS in aerospace."

Dr. Bernard is a mentor for Wings Over the Rockies, CO.

Jeffrey W. Umland​

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology​​

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​Dr. Jeffery Umland is the JPL lead for the Mars Sample Return (MSR) Capture, Contain and Return System (CCRS). Previously, Jeff was the Chief Mechanical Engineer and Instrument Deployment Phase Lead for NASA's InSight mission. Also in support of InSight, he led the effort to deliver a hermetically sealed Evacuated Container for InSight's SEIS instrument, thus enabling the May '18 launch. Dr. Umland was the Chief Mechanical Engineer for the Curiosity/Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. During his tenure on MSL he led the project's mechanical engineering technical development including EDL (Entry, Descent and Landing) mechanical hardware, rover surface system, sampling systems, thermal and propulsion. During MSL's formulation phase Jeff led the development of MSL's EDL system and led the team which invented the Sky-crane. Prior to MSL, Dr. Umland was the JPL structural dynamics lead for the Shuttle Radar Topographic Mapping (SRTM) mission which flew a 60-m mast on STS-99. The JPL Mars Pathfinder (MPF) Lander Bridle subsystem effort was led by Dr. Umland. Dr. Umland is a Fellow at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Jeff is the recipient of five NASA Honor awards, in several categories. He received his Bachelor of Science and Ph. D. in mechanical engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo, in 1985 and 1991 respectively. (Based on document published on 21 August 2020).

Dr. Umland is a mentor for Erie HS, CO.

Joseph Hart

Software Engineer, Rotary and Mission Systems, Lockheed Martin UK

Joseph is a mentor for Egglescliffe School; Stockton, UK

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Giuliano Coppotelli

Associate Professor, Università di Roma "La Sapienza"

  • General Aerospace Design & Structures

  • Ground Testing

  • Helicopter Design

  • Structural Dynamics

  • Structures

Giuliano Coppotelli is a mentor for Georgetown Technical High; Stann Creek District Belize.

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Dr. Craig merrett, P.Eng

This collaboration would not be possible without the support of AIAA Distinguished Mentors. Dr. Craig Merrett was able to assemble this all-star team of mentors. We are so thankful to AIAA and to Dr. Craig Merrett. 

Dr. Merrett has a diverse research portfolio within the field of aero-servo-viscoelasticity that includes research on aircraft instability, flight data recorders, optimization, fracture of composites, and vehicle tracking. The core of the research portfolio is the effects of a viscoelastic material on structural dynamics, in particular the critical time necessary for an instability to occur. Dr. Merrett's current research program investigates polymer composite materials and metals exposed to elevated temperatures that appear in aerospace and nuclear engineering applications. Dr. Merrett also conducts research in unsteady aerodynamics for subsonic and supersonic panel flutter, and for off-shore wind farm wakes.

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