U-M Aerospace Engineering PhD students Nan Li and Kunal Garg Awarded the Professor Pierre T. Kabamba Award

Congratulations to Nan Li and Kunal Garg on winning the Professor Pierre T. Kabamba Award in commemoration of the professor of Michigan Aerospace Professor Pierre T. Kabamba.

Nan Li and Kunal Garg have been recognized with the Professor Pierre T. Kabamba Award for their contributions to the aerospace industry through their research at the University of Michigan Department of Aerospace Engineering. Nan Li’s research centers on human-centered autonomy in the Vehicle Optimization Dynamics Control and Autonomy Laboratory under the advisorship of Professor Ilya Kolmanovsky and Professor Anouck Girard. The goal of his research is to enable highly-autonomous systems, such as robotic systems for future space exploration, to work alongside humans safely and reliably. Kunal Garg’s research conducted in the Distributed Aerospace System and Control Lab under the supervision of Professor Dimitra Panagou focuses on the theory of fixed-time stability for time-critical applications. As outlined in his dissertation “Advances in the Theory of Fixed-Time Stability with Applications in Constrained Control and Optimization,” the goal of Garg’s research is to produce real-time implementable control synthesis methods applicable to nonlinear systems such as multi-aircraft systems.

Both students are honored to have won the Pierre T. Kabamba Award for excellence in control systems that memorializes the distinguished control systems researcher and U-M Aerospace Engineering Professor Pierre T Kabamba, who passed away in 2014.

Portrait of Kunal Garg

“I aspired to be worthy of this award that bears the name of one of the greatest researchers the department has ever witnessed,” Kunal said of winning the award. 

During his career at the University of Michigan, Professor Kambaba made great contributions to the U-M Aerospace Department. He co-authored two control textbooks, worked on over 100 journal papers, and became a Fellow of IEE in 1996. He was also a recipient of the Aerospace Engineering Department Teaching Award (1994) and the Silver Shaft Award for Undergraduate Teaching (2002). His legacy lives on through his award, and students will never forget the positive impact Kambaba left on the aerospace industry.

Portrait of Nan Li

“I felt very proud and grateful when I learned I was a recipient of this award,” Nan Li said. “This award encourages me to keep working hard and follow the path of Professor Kabamba to be genuine, kind, compassionate, and make a positive contribution to the society.”

Both Nan Li and Kunal Garg are in their fifth year of the U-M Aerospace Engineering PhD program. Nan Li received his Bachelor of Science in Automotive Engineering from Tongji University and received his Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan. Kunal Garg received his Bachelor of Technology in Aerospace Engineering from IIT Bombay, India, and received his Master’s of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan. Currently, he is part of the Indian Student Association at the University of Michigan and served as the president for one year. 


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