2020 alumni award recipients announced

5/19/2020 Debra Levey Larson

Written by Debra Levey Larson

Each year in the spring semester, one or more alumni from the Department of Aerospace Engineering are honored with a departmental award.

This year, the in-person awards celebration was postponed, as the campus was closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The following four alumni are this year’s award recipients. They will be officially recognized at a later date.


Michael J. Burghardt with original CST-100 Starliner Crew displays and controls mock-up
Michael J. Burghardt with original CST-100 Starliner Crew displays and controls mock-up
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Michael J. Burghardt, BS ‘85

As Chief Architect/Chief Engineer for Boeing’s Human Lunar Lander Program since mid-2019, Michael J. Burghardt is responsible for leading the Boeing engineering team in developing a concept of an integrated Lunar Lander that will take astronauts back to the lunar surface and return them to rendezvous with Orion for a safe return to earth by 2024.  The team has performed detailed architecture and trade studies to evaluate multiple element launch on commercial launch vehicles that rendezvous and aggregate in-space vs. a single integrated lander that launches on an SLS Block 1B cargo vehicle, arriving at a Lunar Lander configuration that has been proposed to NASA for the Artemis Program.

Burghardt began his career at Rockwell on the B1-B bomber program but soon joined Rockwell's shuttle program to build the Endeavour, the shuttle Orbiter built after the Challenger accident. Six years later, he moved to the Johnson Space Center in Houston to continue support of the Space Shuttle Program as Systems Engineer for the Orbiter Main Propulsion System and later Project Manager for all Orbiter Propulsion and Power systems.

In 2003, he completed a second BS from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and that same year was named Project Manager on Boeing's Return to Flight efforts, culminating the launch of Discovery in 2005.

Among his other accomplishments, Burghardt has led large engineering teams. One such team, the Orbiter Vehicle Engineering team, included over 400 engineers and project staff across sites in Houston, Florida, and California executing engineering operations support for Space Shuttle Orbiter. This team was responsible for Orbiter’s design and maintenance requirements, the oversight of ground processing anomaly resolution, vehicle flight readiness assessment, real-time flight support and in-flight anomaly resolution.

Burghardt also led Boeing’s Space Shuttle Return to Flight efforts responsible for contract development, negotiation, and execution of $340 million of additional contract value, which was successfully executed in less than three years.

Prior to his current position, Burghardt led the teams for the Commercial Crew Transportation Program.  Teams included development of the CST-100 Starliner crewed spacecraft for transportation of NASA astronauts and commercial customers to and from the International Space Station and other future low earth orbit destinations. Burghardt later served as Director of Launch Segment and Systems Engineering and Integration teams where he was responsible for the United Launch Alliance subcontract to design, develop, and certify modifications to the Atlas V launch vehicle and ground infrastructure to conduct preparations and launches of crewed missions using the CST-100 Starliner. The team was also responsible for systems Integration across the Program and led the Starliner verification efforts prior to the first flight.


William P. Norby
William P. Norby
Distinguished Alumnus Award
William P. Norby, BS ’85, MS ‘89

Since 2015, Bill Norby has led the Aerosciences Technology team for Boeing Research and Technology - Boeing’s advanced central research and development unit.  As Senior Manager, he is responsible for technology strategy, research and development in the areas of aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics, and aeroacoustics technology serving the needs of Commercial Airplanes, Defense, Space, and Security and Global Services for the Boeing Company. In this role, he is also responsible for developing relationships with government research laboratories, international organizations, and leading academic institutions in all aspects related to aerosciences technology.

Prior to this assignment, Norby led the Propulsion Product team for Boeing’s T-7A trainer development program. He and his team were responsible for system development, integration, and propulsion technologies including integration between Boeing, engine supplier, and Boeing’s T-7A development partner, Saab AB of Sweden.

Norby began his career in 1985 at McDonnell Douglas Corporation in St. Louis, Missouri as a propulsion engineer with the McDonnell Aircraft Company. Soon after starting work at McDonnell Douglas, he began his master’s degree in aerospace engineering at Illinois, including an independent research study under Professor Ken Sivier. He subsequently supported a number of programs including the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet development, Advanced Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing, AV-8B Harrier II, Computational Fluid Dynamics technology development, and the Naval Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle project. Later, Norby led the Hydrogen Systems Integration team for the Phantom Eye high-altitude long-endurance technology demonstrator. He held this role from concept formulation through flight test.

Norby is a Senior Member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He received the 1994 AIAA St. Louis Section Young Professional Award for Meritorious Technical Contribution which recognized his work developing the inlet system for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.


Scot E. Campbell
Scot E. Campbell
Outstanding Recent Alumnus
Scot E. Campbell, BS ’03, MS ’07, PhD ‘10

After Scot E. Campbell completed his doctorate at the University of Illinois, he became a principal investigator in the Air Traffic Control Systems group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory. There, he worked on a variety of topics, including human-systems interaction for connected cockpit concepts; detect and avoid radar requirements for unmanned systems; modeling and simulation of airborne collision avoidance systems; field testing of automated decision aids in operational FAA facilities, and other projects.

In 2017, Campbell moved to AiRXOS (acquired by GE Aviation) to serve as the senior director of unmanned traffic management (UTM) technology. There, his team built a prototype unmanned traffic management platform to demonstrate advanced concepts with NASA and other industry partners. He was also actively involved on a variety of industry and government committees focused on defining the future UTM ecosystem.

Since March 2019, Campbell has been at Airbus where he leads an international team of engineers, researchers, and subject matter experts responsible for the design and systems engineering of its unmanned traffic management system. He is the driver of Airbus’ unmanned traffic management technology roadmap, and also serves as an advisor for Airbus Urban Air Mobility and other thrusts within Airbus research and technology.

Campbell also holds a professional pilot certificate from Illinois and was a flight instructor at the Institute of Aviation while he was in school.


Leia Stirling
Leia Stirling
Outstanding Recent Alumna
Leia Stirling, BS ’03, MS ‘05

In addition to two AE degrees from the University of Illinois, Leia Stirling earned a Ph.D. in 2008 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After a one-year postdoctoral research positon at Boston Children’s Hospital, she worked on the Advanced Technology Team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering where she contributed to design, testing, and optimization of biomedical systems, as well as directing the motion capture lab. She was then co-director of the Human Systems Lab at MIT.

She is currently an associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan, core faculty in the Center for Ergonomics, and an affiliate faculty member in the Robotics Institute.

Her research at U of M quantifies human performance and human-machine fluency in operational settings through advancements in the use of wearable technology. She applies these measures to assess human performance augmentation, advance exoskeleton control algorithms, mitigate injury risk, and provide relevant feedback to experts across many domains, including clinical, space, and military applications.

She is a 2019-2020 AAAS Leshner Leadership Public Engagement Fellow and a recipient of a 2015 National Science Foundation CAREER Award.





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This story was published May 19, 2020.