A University of Alabama College of Engineering student is among the top 20 science, technology, engineering and math students in their 20s across the country and internationally.
Peyton Strickland has been named one of Aviation Week’s 20 Twenties for 2019, sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The Pelham, Alabama, native is the first UA student to receive this award. An awards ceremony will be held to honor the 20 students on March 14 in Washington, D.C.
“It’s incredible to think about, when I think about everything that has happened in my life I just think that only God can do it,” Strickland said. “It means a lot to me that out of everybody in the United States and the international pool of candidates, to be one of the top 20 aerospace students, it’s crazy to think about.”
Strickland is in his third year at UA and is working on completing his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering by May 2020 and his master’s degree, through the accelerated master’s program, by December 2020.
Finalists for this award are decided based on the nominees’ academic achievements, current work toward their career goals and community service efforts. Strickland has previously worked with the MITRE Corporation in support of the U.S. Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency and is considering working in an area related to rocket propulsion in the future.
In addition to his work and studies, Strickland volunteers at Central High School in Tuscaloosa where he teaches students about the use of coding in science and engineering and the basics of the programming language C++.
“I won an undergraduate scholarship from the NASA Alabama Space Grant Consortium, and you’re either supposed to write a paper about research being conducted at your school, or you can do a one-time community outreach [project],” Strickland said. “So, what started as a one-time thing just kept happening and happening. I really enjoy going over there and helping with the kids.”
Strickland received recommendations for this award from three UA professors of aerospace engineering, Dr. Semih Olcmen, Dr. John Baker and Dr. Mark Barkey. Strickland credits these three professors and more for his successes at Alabama.
“I think this award is as much for the faculty and staff as it is for me. One can not become a ‘good’ student without great teachers who make it possible to become a successful student through great lessons and teachings. I have been blessed to work with some of the best professors and staff in the country, and this award is a testament to their hard and successful work.” — Peyton Strickland
Olcmen, Strickland’s graduate adviser, nominated him for the award based on his academic achievements and philanthropic efforts in encouraging students in low-income areas to pursue a career in research.
“I have no doubt that Peyton will excel in any research career that he will choose to work in,” Olcmen said. “His attention to detail, pursuit of knowledge, work ethic and creativity to think of new solutions will take him to the pinnacle.”
Strickland has chosen to continue his master’s education at UA because of the quality of the faculty throughout his undergraduate experience.
“Dr. Baker and Dr. Barkey have given me an opportunity to work in the aerospace office since my first day in school, and Dr. Olcmen has pushed me to pursue excellence each and every day,” Strickland said. “They are the reasons I chose and continue to choose UA.”
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.