Matt Opliger, a graduate student in aerospace engineering and research engineer for Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR), has been named 2013 Outstanding Student of the Year by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the FAA.
Opliger will be honored at the Council of University Transportation Centers Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 11, 2014, for his research project titled, “Development of the Dynamic Mechanical Analyzer Calibration and Testing Procedures,” which was conducted for the FAA’s Center of Excellence for Composites and Advanced Materials (CECAM).
Opliger worked at NIAR for two and a half years while completing his undergraduate degree, and has been conducting research on a full-time basis since graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 2007.
He immediately began working towards a master’s degree in aerospace engineering at WSU, while also conducting his CECAM research at NIAR.
Under the leadership of John Tomblin, executive director of NIAR and director of CECAM, Opliger has shown an outstanding ability to conduct advanced research and use critical thinking skills to address issues and the serious challenges presented when testing composite materials, FAA officials noted.
“His work in this area is exemplary, and coupled with his superior academic performance, he demonstrates great potential in the field and serves as a role model for others,” stated the release from the FAA and DOT.
Opliger will graduate with his master’s degree in aerospace engineering this fall with a 4.0 GPA.
NIAR supports the aviation industry by providing research, development, testing, certification and training services. Its laboratories include Advanced Coatings, Aging Aircraft, CAD/CAM, Composites & Advanced Materials, Computational Mechanics, Crash Dynamics, Environmental Test, Full-Scale Structural Test, Mechanical Test, Metrology, Nondestructive Test, Research Machine Shop, Virtual Reality and the Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel. NIAR operates on a nonprofit budget and is the largest university aviation R&D institution in the U.S., located in Wichita, Kan., the “Air Capital of the World.”
For more information: NIAR.Wichita.edu