Wall named 2019 Astronaut Scholar

// Engineering Physics

Tags: 2019, News, students

Photo of Brewster Shaw and Mitchell Wall

NASA astronaut Brewster Shaw (BS EMA, ’68, MS ’69) with Mitchell Wall at the scholarship ceremony.

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Mitchell Wall is making the most of his time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Now his hard work has paid off as he’s joined elite company in earning recognition as a 2019 Astronaut Scholar.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation awards up to $10,000 in scholarship funding to outstanding junior and senior STEM students at partner schools across the United States.

Wall is one of 52 students from 38 universities named to the 2019 Astronaut Scholar Class. Wall says he’s thankful to the ASF for the award and sees it as proof that he’s taking the right steps.

“It’s validation that you’re doing things the right way,” Wall says. “You sacrifice a lot to work toward these goals, and it shows that you’re going in the right direction.”

Wall is studying engineering mechanics, with an interest in the aerospace field. He’s kept busy since arriving at UW-Madison in the fall of 2016, with extracurricular activities ranging from the Badgerloop team to working as a co-op student with ATA Engineering at offices around the country.

Thanks to those experiences—particularly on Badgerloop—Wall has come to understand that making mistakes is part of the scientific process and he’s learned how to make improvements as he keeps pressing forward.

His work with ATA Engineering, a “dream job,” has allowed him access to groundbreaking engineering work, including NASA’s Mars 2020 rover project, and helped hone his skills with a variety of engineering analysis methods and tools.

Wall says the work he’s most proud of so far at UW-Madison, which has led to progress on solving real-world engineering problems, has come through working with Engineering Physics Professor Matt Allen’s Structural Dynamics Research Group. His current research focuses on predicting structural nonlinearities caused by bolted joints, and the group has developed a new method called quasi-static modal analysis (QSMA). The group’s work has led to three paper publications, one of which Wall authored to present the first-ever comparison of experimental measurements to a predictive QSMA model.

Once he finishes his undergraduate degree, Wall says he plans to attend graduate school and continue his research, with a long-term goal of becoming a professor.

“In doing so, I’ll use my teaching to pass on the passion and hard work that will fuel the next generation of students,” he says.

At an on-campus ceremony, David Noyce, executive associate dean for UW-Madison’s College of Engineering, lauded Wall and fellow UW-Madison 2019 Astronaut Scholar Claire Evensen.

“I know you’re exceptional students and exceptional researchers,” Noyce said. “You’ve shown time and time again your commitment to academics and excellent leadership, and it’s really exciting to see. Through your own unique pursuits, you are contributing to our mission here in the college, and that is to move forward scholarship.”

Author: Alex Holloway