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High-flying aeronautics student wins global Amelia Earheart Fellowship

Thursday 6 June 2019

HIGH-FLYING aeronautics student Sireetorn Kuharat has won a prestigious Amelia Earhart Fellowship.

The award, established in 1938 in honour of the famed pilot, is granted annually to just 30 women worldwide who are pursing doctoral degrees in aerospace science and engineering.

Sireeton, 25, is one of only four scholars at English universities to win the fellowship. The others being at Oxford, Cambridge and the Open University.

Globally, women make up around 25 percent of the workforce in the aerospace industry and the scholarship will allow self-funded Sireetorn to follow up her BEng (First Class) in Aeronautical Engineering and MSc (Distinction) in Aerospace Engineering with a PhD.

Zonta International says its fellows have gone on to become astronauts, aerospace engineers, astronomers, professors, geologists, business owners, heads of companies, even Secretary of the US Air Force.

Space missions

Sireetorn’s research is around heat transfer in the application of space flight, particularly how solar power can be used to heat and power missions. She explained: “I have always been fascinated by flight and exploration of new frontiers such as space and the oceans.

“I became intrigued by the area of computational heat transfer which I had first encountered in my undergraduate project. I also loved engineering mathematics and structural mechanics.”

Working with Dr O. Anwar Bég, an international authority in multi-physical fluid mechanics and applied mechanics and winner of a Vice Chancellor Research Excellence Award in June 2018, Sireetorn focuses on the potential of metallic nano-particles in multiplying the efficiency of heat transfer.

“I’m basically looking at the possible use of gold, zinc, copper, titanium and aluminium nano-particles for long distance solar-powered astronautical missions.

“Current chemical propulsion methods cannot breach the massive distances in stellar flight, so solar collectors could provide a sustainable and relatively inexpensive mechanism for such missions.

Women engineers

“This financial support is very important as I m self-funded and has exposed me more to the importance of women in engineering.

She has already published two conference presentations and several papers in high impact journals four papers in tandem with Anwar, Mr Ali Kadir and Dr Wahid Jouri.

She paid tribute to her “amazing” lecturers: “They are inspirational and if I fulfil my ambition of working for Boeing or Airbus in renewable energy, I would love to collaborate with them for years to come.”

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Gareth Hollyman, Senior Press & PR Officer (Science)

0161 295 6895