AE Students Awarded Rockwell Collins Scholarships


Three AE students have received scholarships of $5,000 each, thanks to the philanthropy of Rockwell Collins, Inc.

The company, headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, designs, produces, markets and supports electronic communications, avionics and in-flight entertainment systems for commercial, military and government customers worldwide. Rockwell Collins-brand aircraft electronics are installed in the cockpits of nearly every airline in the world, and its airborne and ground-based communication systems transmit nearly 70 percent of all U.S. and allied military airborne communication.

The company has identified education as its top priority for charitable giving. “Rockwell Collins is pleased to support the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois,” said Brian J. Herting, Senior Electrical Engineer for Advanced Sensors and Systems and Government Systems.

Scholarship awardees are Spencer Gore, a sophomore from Naperville, Illinois; Brandon Boyce, a sophomore from Crystal Lake, Illinois; and Erin Anderson, a junior from Aurora, Illinois.

Spencer Gore
Spencer Gore

Gore’s plans after graduation include gaining experience in the commercial space industry before entering graduate school. “I’m most interested in working to expand low-cost access to orbital and suborbital flight, and I hope to work in a few start-up companies looking to do exactly that,” he said.

Gore already has developed his own company, Space for All Launch Services, a high altitude advertising business specializing in lighter-than-air craft. “We launch company products on high altitude balloons to the edge of space,” he said. “With the profits, we hire students to develop equipment, tested on our own launches, that we release into the public domain to help make high altitude balloon flights accessible to young students. One success story has been a GPS tracking system that uses only consumer walkie-talkies for communication.”

Gore said his company’s hopes for the summer include developing a near-space autonomous communications and imaging airship to sell as a tool-in, rapid-response and low-cost disaster relief.

Boyce’s long-term dream is to make space travel as commonplace as taking a train or plane. “I feel that the only way for humans to continue evolving is to look on a much smaller scale, such as nano technology, or on a much larger scale, such as making the galaxy a realm that humans can travel with ease. I’m more interested in the latter,” Boyce said.  

Brandon Boyce
Brandon Boyce

Anderson plans to work in the private sector of aerospace industry after earning her degree, and is currently interested in missile systems. 

Erin Anderson
Erin Anderson

She is on the student American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Design, Build, Fly model airplane competition team, and is working on flying wing and inverted v-tail designs. “I’m also an avid model rocket builder and I’ll be adding a Quest Aerospace ‘Big Dog’ rocket to my fleet, along with some of my own, smaller designs,” Anderson said.

In addition to the scholarships, Rockwell Collins supports AE students by consistently contributing to the AIAA student chapter.

“The $1,000 generously provided by Rockwell Collins this year has been used to fund numerous events and opportunities for students to interact with professionals from industry,” said AIAA President Ryan Smoot.

Last semester, AIAA toured GE Aviation facilities in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Rockwell Collins funds helped pay for the students’ lodging and travel. The trip helped students gain a perspective on applying their degree in a career after graduation. It also helped lead to more members joining the organization this year.

AIAA also has used Rockwell Collins’ support to help purchase refreshments for informational sessions the organization hosts during career fairs, Smoot said. These informational sessions give students a way to hear more about specific companies, and offer a more personal way for students to network while exploring potential job opportunities.

Most recently, AIAA invested contributed funds in a new technical project to design and fly a model aircraft for an Academy of Model Aeronautics competition. Rockwell Collins’ support allowed the AIAA student group to purchase a number of tools necessary to complete this project.

“AIAA is greatly appreciative of the support Rockwell Collins provides, and we pledge to use it to improve students’ technical abilities and professionalism,” Smoot said.