Celebrating diversity: U-M alum and NASA Glenn researcher receives HENAAC Most Promising Hispanic Engineer Award
University of Michigan alum Dr. Evan Pineda (Ph.D. ME ’12) has received the HENAAC Most Promising Hispanic Engineer Award for his exemplary technical contributions, leadership and community service involvement at NASA Glenn Research Center.
The son of a Salvadoran immigrant father and American mother, Dr. Pineda grew up in Northern California at the intersection of multiple cultures. He recalls the origin of his interest in engineering: “All it took was one encouraging teacher, my physics teacher Mr. Rory, who was very supportive. He really pushed me to go into STEM.”
As an undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering at the University of California-Berkley, Dr. Pineda first became intrigued by solid mechanics and dynamics. He began working in a ballistic impact research laboratory investigating the ballistic responses of fabrics, resulting in his first conference publication in 2003.
After completing his undergraduate, Dr. Pineda delved into materials analysis as a Ph.D. student under Dr. Anthony Waas in the UM Composite Structures Laboratory (CSL). While there, Dr. Pineda helped implement a novel damage model for analyzing progressive failure of composites. The CSL explains the value of Dr. Pineda’s “Multiscale Progressive Failure Prediction of Laminated Composites” research:
“A complete understanding of damage tolerance, both from an experimental and analytical view point, is necessary to fully exploit the weight savings that can be realized by using composites in aerospace structural applications… [This research helped] develop a completely robust multiscale physics based prediction and design tool for composite structures that is capable of performing sophisticated analyses while remaining user friendly, and requiring minimal amounts of coupon level data to define material behavior.”
My job is great. [In] the research that I do, I have a lot of flexibility to be creative.Evan Pineda
During his graduate studies, Dr. Pineda was offered a co-op position at NASA Glenn; his research was featured in the prestigious NASA Tech Brief showcasing “new, commercially significant technologies.” Upon graduation, he began working there full-time as an Aerospace Research Engineer in the Materials and Structures Division.
Today, Dr. Pineda is working on the Space Launch System, NASA’s next generation rocket. He is involved with the development of the universal stage adapter and the payload fairing subsystems. He reflects:
“My job is great. [In] the research that I do, I have a lot of flexibility to be creative. To be involved in a project like this where something is actually being built for me, being a young engineer, is absolutely exciting. It’s a dream come true.”
Along with his recent HENAAC award, Dr. Pineda has received a variety of other accolades, including the NASA Early Career Achievement Medal and the DESTech Young Composites Researcher Award.