Associate Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Raymond F. Dawson Centennial Teaching Fellowship in Engineering
“I am the recipient of the Raymond F. Dawson Centennial Teaching Fellowship in Engineering. This fellowship has helped me to deliver the best educational experience to my undergraduate and graduate students, and it has also allowed me to inspire kindergarten through 12th grade students in the Austin area public school and in schools, communities, and children hospitals in the US and in some of the other countries I visit throughout the year.
My teaching and research interests are in the field known as Astrodynamics. This has to do with the study of the dynamics and control of spacecraft that fly outside of the Earth’s atmosphere and go to interesting destinations such as the Moon and the plants. Since I have been at UT-Austin, I have led the development of a major software system that facilitates the design and optimization of spacecraft trajectories throughout the solar system. This system is currently in use at NASA and supports the mission design studies associated with the return to the Moon with robotic and human crewed missions. Since the program has an advanced visualization system, it ideally lends itself for teaching, presentation and interaction in the classroom and in my outreach activities. I have used part of the fellowship funds to allow me to visit many local elementary, middle, and high school and give to the students presentations on space travel and spacecraft simulations. The importance of all these activities is to impart to all the students I interact with a passion and love for science, so that they too can someday make a positive impact on society.
As a teacher and lecturer I strongly believe that the key element in a lecture is to plant a seed of passion and desire to explore further in all of the students I interact with. If I am successful some students will embark on a path of self-learning, discovery, and exploration. These successful students typically attribute the spark of their success to an event in their past, such as an inspiring lecture from a professor. The support of this fellowship has helped me achieve this lifelong goal of planting the seed of passion for science and engineering to all of the students I meet.”
Dr. Ocampo’s outreach to local schools inspired Alexis Avram to become an aerospace engineering student. Now, Alexis is designing rocket engines, mastering the art of soldering, and interning at NASA. Read more about Alexis.
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