Four University of Michigan Students Awarded Aviation Week Network’s 20 Twenties Winners

Michigan Aerospace students Maria Reitz, José Luiz Vargas de Mendonça and Sophia Papp along with IOE student Nick Tran announced as winners for class of 2024

It is with great pride that we announce the achievement of four exceptionally hard working students from the University of Michigan, who have been named winners of the Aviation Week Network’s 20 Twenties class of 2024. The distinguished recipients include Maria Reitz, José Luiz Vargas de Mendonça, and Sophia Papp from the Michigan Aerospace program, and Nick Tran from Industrial and Operations Engineering (IOE). These students have been nominated by their universities and are being recognized as being among the most driven aerospace-bound STEM students in their twenties. 

Since its inception in 2013, the 20 Twenties Program has received a total of  635 student nominations from universities worldwide, all pursuing STEM degrees at the university level. Among them, 180 have been recognized as 20 Twenties winners, and notably, seven of those winners have hailed from the University of Michigan. This year, each winner is invited to a luncheon in their honor on March 14, 2024 at The National Press Club, in Washington, DC as well as invited to attend Aviation Week Network’s 66th Annual Laureate Awards gala at the National Building Museum. 

“Winning the Aviation Week Twenties Award means summarizing my challenging undergraduate journey of overcoming the barriers as an international student in Aerospace Engineering through research, MASA, and academics,” commented José Luiz Vargas de Mendonça once being announced as one of the winners.

Read more about José Luiz Vargas de Mendonça’s journey through U-M here.

“I am honored to receive the Aviation Week Networks 20 Twenties Award, standing alongside some of my brightest peers in the aerospace field. This recognition fuels my commitment to representing the University of Michigan and actively contributing to a secure, sustainable future of aviation,” Sophia Papp explained. 

Find out more about Sophia Papp’s accomplishments here.

The Aviation Week Network’s 20 Twenties Class of 2024, presented in collaboration with Accenture, honors 20 top students from around the world as the top aerospace-bound students from an international field of highly qualified candidates. The final selection is based on academic performance along with challenges, contributions to a broader community, and their ability to communicate the value of design/research projects.These students are annually nominated and acknowledged as “exceptional students on course to change the face of the aerospace and defense industry.”

“I’m incredibly honored to be named as one of Aviation Week’s 20 Twenties and want to express my deep gratitude to George Halow for his continued belief in my potential and to the Aerospace Department at the University of Michigan for a truly world-class education—it’s no small feat to have four of the twenty nominees this year come from one university! As someone driven to work towards a more equitable and sustainable future for aviation, I’ve found it invigorating to see how those goals have resonated with Aviation Week, as reflected in this year’s class of honorees,” commented Maria Reitz. “Congratulations to my fellow 20 Twenties and go blue!”

See how Maria Reitz has been spending her time at U-M here.