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Alejandra Escalera Mendoza

MS in Aerospace Engineering
Previous Institution: University of Kansas
Hometown: La Paz, Bolivia
Primary office:

Why was the KU School of Engineering the right choice for you?

The Aerospace Department in KU has very experienced faculty in the area of Structures. This is my area of concentration as well and one of the reasons why I decided to go to KU for graduate school. Despite of being able to closely work with faculty, the department offers various opportunities for financial aid, help for student projects and overall the faculty/staff are very friendly and welcoming. The KU School of Engineering has facilities that are available to all students, and allow collaborative work. The quality of the facilities for learning and research, and the very supportive program/staff had a heavy weight on my decision to return to KU. 

What are you currently researching?

I am currently exploring two topics for my thesis. The first one is Radom Optimizations for Structural and Electrical concerns. There is high collaboration between the Aerospace and Electrical Engineering Departments in KU with CRESIS (Center of Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets) and NASA to create antennas and airplanes that carry the antennas to take measurements of ice sheets. You may be surprised as to how much information about the environment can be obtained from ice sheets! My research would be about how to obtain an optimal structure that protects the antennas (radom) while meeting electrical performance and structural effectiveness. 

My second topic addresses a concerning problem in the wind energy industry that involves wind turbines failing due to cracks. Wind turbine blades are manufactured in sections, and then glued together. Cracks appear in the adhesive due to many reasons: manufacturing errors, wind loads experienced in service, etc. My research would be directed towards finding how critical these cracks are depending on location and length, estimating remaining blade life span, and coming up with solutions to lengthen the life of the blade. 

What is your favorite thing on campus or in Lawrence that a prospective student should check out?

My favorite thing in campus are all the events that happen in the university all year round. Generally anyone is free to attend to any of them, and this can lead you to learn so much about so many different things. Lawrence is a very nice town that has plenty of events going on, but it also puts a lot of resources towards making the student's experience good. It definitely allows you to enjoy your experience, but also focus on your studies. 

What advice do you have for prospective graduate students?

Don't be afraid to contact professors about their research or research opportunities. But make sure to do so ahead of time. It's good to get some insight about their respective research to see if they are a good fit for you. If you plan on making research on a topic, it would be nicer if it is a topic of your interest as well. 

I have loved grad school so far! It's very different from undergrad as I am getting to choose the classes I am interested on learning from. Enjoy it and try to not stress too much about it. It should be a learning experience, and it's ok to make mistakes, but as a graduate student you carry more responsibility and should always strive to do your best. 

Which committee are you on and what would you like to do in the next year to help current graduate students?

​I am part of the Research & Outreach committee. We will be managing the Research competitions that happen every semester. These are great opportunities to gain experience on public speaking, organize your research for presentation, and learn to receive/implement feedback. As well as competing against other researchers! The KU School of Engineering has so many different research activities going on and we want to make sure you and the rest of the student body are aware of it. We plan on doing this using media technology as well as some in-person events where you can get insight in their research, ask questions about grad school and get to know the diverse faculty/student/staff engineering body. ​


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