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Alumnus Selected for First Ever NASA Sustainability Internship

Congratulations to Janki Patel for becoming one of the first “Sustainability Ambassadors” at NASA.

Michigan Aerospace Alumnus, Janki Patel, has been selected for the first ever NASA “Sustainability Ambassadors” internship under the Sustainable Flight National Partnership, specifically for the Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration Project (EPFD). This internship, taking place this summer and fall of 2023 involves working closely with NASA mentors and their industry partners to “accelerate the aviation community towards its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

The EPFD project conducts tests of hybrid electric aircrafts that use electric aircraft propulsion technologies to enable a new generation of electric-powered aircraft. “The internship has been a wonderful opportunity to know where the research and development of sustainable aviation is going and has helped me finally find what I want to do in the future with my degree, which is to aid in bringing sustainable aviation to fruition,” Patel explains.

During this prestigious internship, Patel explains her opportunity to sit in on meetings between NASA and their partners, all working towards the demonstration on electrified powertrains in the midst of Life Cycle Design Reviews and Baseline Flight Testing. This summer has exposed them to Electric Aircraft Propulsion and has allowed them to participate at events such as the AIAA Aviation/EATS and EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, an airshow and fly-in held by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). A large part of this internship is to expose the newer and younger generation to the current and future goals in the aviation industry and increase their interest on the topic of sustainable aviation.

“Work I am doing is under the Ames Research Center. During the internship period, my job is mainly to model aircraft of interest to NASA at their current performance as conventional aircraft and then modify them as hybrid aircraft,” Patel explains.

Patel has been a Graduate Researcher working in Assistant Professor Gokcin Cinar’s IDEAS Lab when her excitement in sustainability spiked. “I initially gained interest in sustainable aviation during my research period with Professor Gokcin Cinar. I finished my undergraduate degree without knowing exactly what I wanted to work on with it,” says Patel. “I was struggling to figure out what I wanted to do when I began research with Professor Cinar. I loved the bigger goal the project was working towards and took the opportunity to apply to the NASA internship which would expose me more to the progress and future prospects of sustainable aviation.”

“I’m pleased to see Janki’s hard work recognized with the NASA Fellowship for Sustainability. As one of the first students to join my research group last year, her work in taking the first steps in developing an electrified aircraft design tool has been instrumental to our ongoing project with NASA. This work aligns well with the broader focus on sustainable aviation that my group and I pursue here in the IDEAS Lab at UM,” comments Professor Gokcin Cinar, member of the Michigan Initiative for Sustainable Aviation (MISA). “It’s gratifying to see our researchers receive recognition through prestigious internships like this one. I believe this award not only highlights Janki’s individual contributions but also reflects the strong support that NASA is providing to our field, emphasizing the ongoing efforts in sustainable aviation. I look forward to her continued success and contributions to sustainable aviation technologies.”

This new internship will begin paving the way for sustainability in the aerospace and aviation industry. Together with innovative new programs like MISA, which leverage interdisciplinary partnerships to solve environmental challenges in aviation, Patel and her fellow ambassadors will help open the door for sustainable aviation throughout the industry.