25 January 2021


A former Punjab Engineering College (PEC), Chandigarh student, Shikha Chaudhry Redhal who is currently doing a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) recently received ‘outstanding research assistant award’ by UMD. The University of Maryland confers each year this award to the top 2% of UMD’s more than 4,000 graduate students.

Shikha bagged the award in pursuance of her field of study relating to the fundamental nature of Rotating Detonation Engine propulsion concepts to understand the effect of injector dynamics on detonation propagation. She will be recognized at the Annual Graduate School Fellowship Award Celebration in May 2021.

Shikha exults, “I am very fortunate and feel honored to receive the Outstanding Research Assistant Award. I have always been intrigued and enthralled by aerospace. This inspired me to come to the United States from India to pursue my Ph.D. in aerospace engineering. I am thankful to my advisor Dr. Kenneth Yu and the Aerospace Engineering department. And I am also grateful to my parents, whose constant love & support helped me achieve this feat.”

This is not the first time this tricity girl has added a feather to her hat and made the country proud. In 2019, Shikha made it to the top list of 30 women worldwide for one of the most prestigious “Zonta International Amelia Earhart” Fellowship in Aerospace Sciences and Engineering. 

She had also received Gustave J Hokenson Aerospace Engineering Fellowship in 2019/2020 academic year in Rotating Detonation Engine (RDEs) propulsion concepts and the effect of dynamic interactions between propellant injection and the detonation wave inside RDE combustors.

From avid stargazer to a researcher, Shikha developed her interest in Aerospace Engineering during her childhood when her father told her an inspiring story of Kalpana Chawla – the first Indian origin woman to go to space, which later motivated her to choose the profession in aerospace engineering.

Shikha’s father, Chaudhary Redhal, A retired Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) from the Indian Army said, “We are extremely happy on Sikha’s achievement. It’s her grit and determination, which lead her to bag this award. Her zeal to do great in the field of aerospace engineering pushes her to limit. All I firmly believe is that her journey has just begun. She has to achieve many feats in her life.”

Shikha who is also the vice president of the women in Aeronautics and Astronautics chapter at UMD is encouraging many young women to consider aerospace engineering as a profession. She added, “My aim is to work in the research institutions focusing on the space propulsion after my Ph.D. And want to contribute towards the development of next-generation engines for the aerospace industry. I want to continue to educate and encourage young girls to pursue STEM field as their career goals.”


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