The Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC) is an informal group of graduate students from each of the 5 major focus areas in the Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Maryland. The committee was formed in the Fall 2012 semester in response to the requests of graduate students and department faculty, and seeks to foster camaraderie, growth and success among the graduate student body.

GSAC regularly hosts research luncheon speakers who discuss a variety of topics related to Aerospace Engineering. Contact the GSAC president to learn more about how you can participate in this event as either a guest or speaker.

Meet the Graduate Student Advisory Committee

Melissa Buys, President
Past Education: B.Eng. Mechanical Engineering '20, Univ. of Pretoria
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Christine Hartzell
Research Focus: Contact Electrification of Materials

Melissa, currently a first year Ph.D. student, is a Fulbright Scholar from South Africa. Her passion for aerospace engineering stems from a childhood dream to become a researcher on the ISS. She is currently researching the charge transfer mechanisms responsible for charge transfer between regolith and objects on the moon. When she isn't in the office, Melissa enjoys hiking, going to live concerts, food and spending time with her friends and family.

  Matthew Arace, Treasurer
Past Education: B.S. Aerospace Engineering '17, Virginia Tech
  Advisor: Dr. Anubhav Datta
  Research Focus: Aircraft Propulsion

Matt is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master’s focused on fundamentals of hybrid-electric powertrains suitable for small to mid sized rotorcraft. His motivation and passion is to create cleaner, environmentally friendlier aviation propulsion technology while shrinking the globe and bringing people together. In his spare time Matt enjoys hiking, snowboarding, and simply enjoying the outdoors.

  Kenny McAfee, Co-Academic/Professional Chair
  Past Education: M.S. '20, B.S. '19 Mechanical Engr., Binghamton Univ.
  Advisor: Dr. Oded Rabin
  Research Focus: Heat-flux measurement systems, thermoelectrics

Kenny is a second year Ph.D. student in the Materials and Interface Nanotechnology Laboratory studying under Dr. Oded Rabin. His research includes the development of direct heat-flux measurement systems compatible with high temperature, corrosive environments, utilizing novel thermoelectric material configurations. Outside of his research, Kenny is an avid cyclist who loves to explore the DC metro area by bike and hanging out with his furry friend Fred. 

  Khalid Jaffar, Co-Academic/Professional Chair
  Past Education: B.Tech, M.Tech Aerospace Engineering '18, IIT Madras
  Advisor: Dr. Michael Otte
  Research Focus: Robotics, Automation and Controls, Motion Planning

Khalid is a Ph.D. candidate with a focus on the use of control and systems theory for motion planning of aerial robots. After his graduation, he would like to work on his robotics startup focused on developing a local delivery service using a fleet of autonomous sidewalk robots. Apart from his engineering pursuits, Khalid is a lifestyle photographer - street, portraits, and travel being his favorite genres. After the day's work, you can find him cooking, trying out new recipes, and watching indie movies. He is an avid follower of sports, spending weekends playing cricket or watching soccer and F1 racing.

  Justin Shafner, Advocacy Chair
  Past Education: B.S. Mechanical Engineering '20, University of New Haven
  Advisor: Dr. Pino Martin
  Research Focus: Supersonic Retropropulsion for Mars Applications

Justin is a second year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. focused on turbulent flow structures and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques for modeling Supersonic Retropropulsion for Mars landings. Through the NSTGRO Fellowship he is partnered with the computational modeling and entry, descent, and landing teams at NASA. In his spare time Justin enjoys hikes, flying, and social time with friends.

  Jacek Garbulinski, Community Building Chair
  Past Education: B.S. Automatic Control/Robotics '18, AGH University of
  Science and Technology
  Advisor: Dr. Norman M. Werely
  Research Focus: Soft Robotics, Fluidic Artificial Muscles

Jacek is a 4th year student and a Fulbright alumnus pursuing a Ph.D. focused on hydraulic soft actuators and robots for aerospace applications. He works as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Composites Research Laboratory with hopes to work as a robotics researcher in the future. He also serves as the ENAE Representative to the Graduate Student Government where he chairs the International Student Affairs Committee. In his free time, he plays soccer, volleyball, or goes hiking.

  Glenn Medina, Social Media Chair 
  Past Education: B.S. Aerospace Engineering '20, University of Oklahoma
  Advisor: Dr. James Baeder
  Research Focus: CFD and Experimental Aeroacoustics

Born and raised in south Florida, Glenn had his passion for aerospace ignited by watching space shuttle launches from his driveway. Now, he is pursuing a Master’s degree in aerospace engineering. Through his position as a graduate research assistant at the National Institute of Aerospace, he is assisting research with the aeroacoustics branch at NASA Langley Research Center. Besides school and research, he enjoys flying, rehabilitating raptors, playing the drums, and hanging out with friends.