Two Aerospace Engineering Students Named Patti Grace Smith Fellows

news story image

Aerospace Engineering sophomore Daniel Mehreteab (left) and junior Adam Ben Youssef (right).

Two University of Maryland (UMD) Department of Aerospace Engineering students were named among the 29 individuals selected for the 2024 Class of Patti Grace Smith Fellows: sophomore Daniel Mehreteab and junior Adam Ben Youssef.

As part of the award-winning program that connects the United States’ leading aerospace companies with talented Black students, Yousseff and Mehreteab will receive financial scholarships, personalized mentors, and summer internships at some of the country’s top aerospace organizations.

Mehreteab is actively engaged in various projects, including the ENES100 Machine Learning Object Tracking Vehicle (OTV) Project. In this multidisciplinary initiative, he collaborated with a team to develop an autonomous OTV, showcasing his proficiency in machine learning, Arduino programming, wiring, and engineering skills. Their success in seamlessly integrating machine learning algorithms, Arduino microcontrollers, and CAD-designed components was a testament to their dedication and teamwork.

As part of the Patti Grace Smith Fellows Program, Mehreteab will be interning at Johns Hopkins University’s Advanced Physics Lab’s Space Exploration Sector, where he “looks forward to further contributing to cutting-edge projects!”

His post-graduation plans are to pursue his master's degree to deepen his expertise in the field.

Youseff, who developed his love of aerospace from visiting the Washington, D.C. region’s air and space museums, including the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will be interning this summer at Blue Origin as part of the Blue-engines test and flight support team.

Currently, Youssef is performing research within the Planetary Surfaces Lab, investigating how magnetic cohesion affects regolith behavior, and quantitatively investigating the different regimes of granular flow. He is also collaborating with multiple undergraduate and graduate students within the Space Systems Lab to develop a high-fidelity astronaut tracking system for their earth-analogue lunar rover, vertex.

“At the University of Maryland, I have been amazed by the sheer amount of opportunities within the department available to students to advance in aerospace and gain meaningful hands-on experience,” said Youseff. “Most importantly, I have had the chance to meet incredible people who have helped propel me to where I am today.”

Outside of academics, he is part of UMD’s wrestling club, and Muslim student association.

Post graduation, he plans on joining the workforce on a mission that aligns with his values and ambitions, and to get a sense of how large-scale engineering projects operate.

Established in 2020, the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship endeavors to help resolve the under-representation of Black and African-American employees in the U.S. aerospace workforce.

“We couldn’t be more excited to inaugurate this next class of bright, motivated, future leaders of aerospace” said Tiffany Russell Lockett, a co-founder of the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship. “Selected students showed strong drive across multiple disciplines, academic rigor and a commitment to bettering their communities.” 

For more information about the Fellows, their employers, or the program itself, please visit

Published March 6, 2024