VASBA 2022 Scholarship Recipients

Meet some of our VASBA Scholarship recipients! Learn more about their paths of study, connections to the community and next steps towards their future in STEM.

Emad Said (VT)

"I am a Junior at Virginia Tech majoring in Aerospace Engineering and pursuing two minors in Mathematics and Naval Engineering. Being a first-generation college student, I found myself unaware of the opportunities surrounding me at Virginia Tech during my Freshman year. At the start of my Sophomore year, I decided to explore whatever I found interesting to better shape my career path and help me explore my interests in engineering. On top of my classes, I ended up balancing my time with undergraduate research as a NAVAIR Job Aid, numerous community service events, my design team, and a job at the university bookstore to help pay for my college expenses."

Nelson Pixley (VT)

Nelson is a junior studying aerospace engineering at Virginia Tech. Before coming to Virginia Tech, he spent five years opening two martial arts businesses supporting low-income areas in MD. His dream is to help build the next generation of rockets and launch vehicles and he is very excited about the future of aerospace and space exploration. Nelson is a member of Virginia Tech's Student Launch Initiative design team, and Virginia Tech's Society of Flight Test Engineers chapter. Nelson will be completing his bachelor's and master's degrees in aerospace engineering at Virginia Tech, and he will be interning with VA Space this summer.

Erik Hamlett (Averett)

"I am from Gretna, Virginia, a small town between Lynchburg and Danville. I currently attend Averett University as a rising junior and am double majoring in Aviation Flight Operations and Aviation Business. I'm a Resident Assistant (RA) on campus and am responsible for making sure that the student residents are taken care of and that the halls run smoothly and according to Averett policies. I was recently promoted to Senior Resident Assistant for the Fall 2022 semester, which places me in charge of an entire residence building and gives me supervision over all RAs within the building."

Jonathan Tumwikirize (VMI)

"I am a second classman (Junior) at VMI, working on a bachelor's degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). I have been recognized for distinguished academic merit, induction to the ECE honors program, and I am a 2021-2022 recipient of the ECE Merit Scholarship. My commitment to the department exceeds classroom participation and includes contributions to open-house events, one-on-one freshman tutoring, and project collaborations with the VMI Cyber Defense Lab. Outside the ECE department, I have worked as an educational enrichment counselor through the College Orientation Workshop (COW) and as a Business Intelligence Intern at Toffler Associates."

Damien Dennis

"I currently work in electronics engineering with Huntington Ingalls Industries where I support the Navy through building our nation's nuclear-powered submarines. I am a father of two, husband, veteran, full time student, and full-time worker. My family is always my first and foremost priority. I am motivated by my dream to make a positive change in society and am currently completing an associate degree in computer science at Virginia Peninsula Community College with intentions of transferring to Old Dominion University to obtain a bachelor's degree in computer science."

Patrick Torregrossa Rogers (Eastern Shore Community College)

Partick is a fulltime student at the ESCC. He enjoys being a part of the Electronics program and finds it extremely useful for his current job at NASA Wallops. Careers always change and the need to learn is always there. In addition to being a student, Patrick says he "loves assisting with Central Accomack Little League, along with donating my photography to the Virginia historical society and to other charitable causes that support promoting the Eastern Shore of Virginia."

"This scholarship is an amazing opportunity to assist in furthering my education as I start a new journey at Wallops. It means that as a father of two young boys and a husband I can continue doing the things I need to do as a responsible adult all while I continue my education. There is nothing better than showing my two sons that it is never too late or that you are never too old to continue with education."

Jacob Tardif (ODU)

Jacob is a current engineering student at Old Dominion University. He has earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and will move forward to earn my Master of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering. His aspirations as an engineer and imminent scholar began with the dream of becoming an astronaut at the early age of five years, where he first developed an interest with astronomy, mechanical structures, architecture, and flight/spaceflight. As he grew older and moved on through grade and high school, he participated in numerous robotics competitions (starting with Lego League) and environmental STEM challenges, and even engaged in various STEM-related activities through The Boy Scouts of America, such as pioneering, orienteering, elementary physics projects, basic elementary chemistry projects, and design projects. As he continued to grow through his college career and internship opportunities, he has been involved everything from aviation composites, powered mechanical systems, and mass production; in addition to a well-rounded undergraduate education in mechanical engineering, his academic and professional prowess grew ever stronger. All these activities and opportunities, along with his natural inclination, drive him to excel in his studies

Tobin Zheng

Tobin is an aerospace research assistant at the Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center's Capabilities Laboratory. A motivated pupil seeking to apprehensively connect open-source communities, he endlessly tinkers with various prototypes for the purpose of attaining greater understanding on concurrent technologies. He regularly reports effective documentation with teammates and studiously records crucial details during technical meetings. Tobin believes that providing open contributions to geoinformatics data and earth analytics furthers multidisciplinary endeavors and bolsters scientific conclusions. Without access to proper objective data, Tobin believes no pertaining research can be produced even by the most deductive methodologies. Although passionate about supplying analytical data, Tobin firmly believes that data should not be amassed with disregard. Tobin has advanced prototypes targeting those with greater accessibility needs, under the aim that Internet privacy is not a matter directed by the user, but a task that needs to be pursued by the developer. As for his hobbies, Tobin enjoys experimenting with computer hardware, leisurely browsing for creative and unique applications developed by others and keeping up to date with current events