Coverstone, Walenczewski receive Pierce Awards
The awards, established in 1969 to honor Stanley H. Pierce, an associate dean, are in recognition of a faculty member’s and student’s efforts to develop empathetic student-faculty cooperation.
Prof. Victoria H. Coverstone
Over the past 12 years, students from Coverstone’s senior design class have taken first, second, or third place — sometimes all three — in the AIAA national design competition, the result of high standards set for these capstone projects. Coverstone has established a strong teaching record with the ability to motivate students to pursue advanced work. With AE Prof. Philippe Geubelle, she redesigned the space section of the Department’s introductory freshman course, adding a section on spacecraft design and performance, which includes the design, building, and launch of a payload-carrying model rocket to conduct flight experiments and gather data to verify classroom exercises. Currently, she is working to create another version of the course called BalloonSats that is being offered for the first time this spring.
As campus director of the NASA Illinois Space Grant, Coverstone was a co-founder of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, initiating the program and securing funding from Boeing, NASA, and other sources. Since the program‚s 2004 beginning, 85 students have connected with approximately 75 faculty research programs. In 2002, with ECE Prof. Gary Swenson, Coverstone co-founded the CubeSat that has introduced over 100 students to the design, development, and flight of earth satellites. She continues as co-director of this program, which is now building its second satellite.
Coverstone was selected for the AIAA student chapter‚s Teacher of the Year Award in 1995, 1997, and 2001. She has received both the College of Engineering Teaching Excellence Award and the Everitt Award for Teaching Excellence, as well as an Honorable Mention for the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. In addition, she has appeared on the “Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students” 11 times and has received eight College of Engineering Excellence in Advising awards. Beginning in fall 2006, Coverstone was appointed associate head for graduate studies in the AE Department. Most recently, she has assumed a similar position as associate dean for graduate and professional programs for the College of Engineering.
Senior Sylvee Walenczewski
Walenczewski’s teachers consider her to be one of the most talented students in AE. She speaks four languages, and her broad interests range from chairing Habitat for Humanity locally, to being a regional finalist with a paper on rocket engines (in Russian) in the Moscow Technical Paper Competition. Throughout her undergraduate career, Walenczewski has worked diligently to create empathetic student-faculty relations. She has chaired the Aerospace Undergraduate Advisory Board, worked with the Department’s faculty and administration on curriculum revisions, helped increase study-abroad participation, helped the Department with enrollment retention, and helped to provide students with computer lab access.
To help students get to know the faculty, she developed a set of AE faculty trading cards, featuring each professor’s photo, area of concentration, PhD degree information, number of years at Illinois, and a “fun fact.” Last year, in addition to attending all of the events related to AE Prof. John Prussing’s retirement, Walenczewski commissioned a life-sized cardboard cutout of the Department’s beloved professor and placed it in the office so he would “always be around.”
Walenczewski is a dedicated member of the Illinois Space Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), and Sigma Gamma Tau, the honor society for aerospace engineering. She is a member of the Polish Club as well as the Russian conversation table.
From January to June 2006, Walenczewski studied at Moscow Technical University. There she worked with SEDS colleagues at Illinois to begin establishing a sister chapter for the organization at MTU. Recently, both the U of I chapter and the MTU chapter shared a CubeSat launch on the same booster rocket, a result of connecting Russian students and faculty with their counterparts at Illinois.