Saravanan receives the 2023 Arlen R. Hellwarth Award for contributions to the college

Aerospace senior’s leadership characteristics recognized for her value to the community

Aerospace Senior Kavya Saravanan is the recipient of the 2023 Arlen R. Hellwarth Award, given annually to two undergraduate student leaders who have made valuable contributions to the College, University, and/or community. 

Kavya is a fixture in student leadership spaces in the Aerospace community, serving in leadership roles in Women and Aeronautics and Astronautics (WAA) and Michigan Sustainability Applications for Aerospace Vehicle Engineering (M-SAAVE). Kavya’s thoughtful contributions to the department diversity, equity and inclusion committee and related events sets a high standard for student engagement and leadership.

We sat down with Kavya to learn more about her and her passion for aerospace engineering.

Tell us about yourself.

I am a senior studying Aerospace Engineering, minoring in South Asian Studies. I grew up in Edison, New Jersey but I lived in Bangalore, India throughout high school. 

What are you studying and why?

Frankly, I was never one of those people who knew my whole life that I wanted to study Aerospace Engineering. However, my whole life I have appreciated the innovation, excitement, and beauty behind what Aerospace Engineering technology can offer. Coming into college I wanted to pursue a job in STEM, and I wanted to challenge myself by studying Aerospace Engineering. Aerospace Engineering is what gets footprints on the moon, and people to be able to fly and I wanted to be a part of making history. 

What has your experience been like in Aero?

When they say Aerospace Engineering is a challenging discipline, they are NOT joking. However, I’ve never felt more fulfilled than when I figure out a certain homework problem I’ve been working on all day or when I get a project of mine to work for the first time. More importantly, this field may be challenging but the support network I’ve found in the Aero Community has uplifted me way above my struggles. I have met my best friends, the most supportive mentors, and the most intelligent peers. Being able to build a community within Aero, and have the opportunity to bolster underrepresented minorities within the industry has been such a rewarding experience. In my time here I’ve been able to serve on the DEI committee, be on WAA’s executive board for two years, and help Co-Found and lead M-SAAVE (Michigan Sustainability Applications for Aerospace Vehicle Engineering). Being able to work on projects and initiatives that I truly believe in has been the best experience. 

What do you hope to do?

Upon graduating undergrad I hope to pursue a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan with a concentration in Autonomous Systems and Controls. This summer I will be interning at Relativity Space in Long Beach, California as an Avionics and Certification Testing Intern. In the future, I hope to pursue a career in Sustainable Aviation. 

How does this award help you?

It is such an honor to receive the Arlen Hellwarth Award, I am so grateful to all the people who nominated me and believed in me to receive this honor. Receiving this award helps me understand how I, no matter my position, can make an impact on my community. I am so motivated to continue pursuing projects I believe in, and helping diversify the industry. It helps me internalize that I am on the right track in my career. I feel extremely blessed for the community in Aero that uplifts me through opportunities like this, and for the support network that I have.