Skip to Navigation Skip to Page Content

Involvement in student chapters leads senior to roles in national ASME, SEDS organizations

Jonathan Jennings and Cody Lute prepare a rocket for launch.

Jonathan Jennings (right) and Cody Lute prepare to launch a rocket with Mizzou’s chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) in August. Photo by Hannah Sturtecky

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department senior Jonathan Jennings’ passion for all things space has resulted in leadership roles in Mizzou Engineering student organizations, including the Mizzou chapters of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS). His involvement in these organizations has defined the role of student leadership, and now, Jennings is getting recognition on a national level.

Last spring, Jennings received the ASME national organization’s 2015 Charles T. Main Student Section Leadership Gold Medal. This award, established in 1915, is given annually to one student worldwide who has significantly contributed to ASME’s student organizations. Jennings’ award letter cited his services as past-president of Mizzou ASME and his role as last year’s AMSE region 2 chair of the Student Section Enterprise Committee. Jennings was invited to the ASME Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition in Houston this November where he will be presented with a $3,000 honorarium, a gold medal and award certificate.

Jennings has been invited to remain working with ASME over the next year as the student section executive team member at-large, a position Jennings said is held by one student each year.

“There is a new chair for Region 2, but I’ll stay on to advise the committee,” Jennings said.

One of Jennings’ goals for the next year is to increase communication among student groups. Currently, he is organizing a list of all of the ASME student chapters in Region 2. Jennings said with increased communication, he hopes more student chapters are able to participate in scholarships, contests, conferences and the like.

“Currently, there is not a good way for student sections and the national organization to connect,” he said. “Chapters may not know about upcoming events and opportunities, so they end up not using the resources that are available to them.”

Mizzou SEDS, under Jennings’ leadership as founding president, has grown to 45 members. Over the past year, members have launched weather balloons and twice traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby for space exploration funding and advocate for space policy. Team members currently are designing a communications satellite for SEDS-USA’s Satellites Around MARS Design Competition. The satellite project is led by graduate student Roy Allen and is near completion.

The national SEDS organization has invited Jennings to serve as the next project manager of the University Student Rocketry Challenge. In this position, Jennings will organize develop the next rocket challenge competition. He also will work with competition judges and manage staff designated to the competition.

“Getting to design, manage and operate a rocket competition on a national level is a rare opportunity,” Jennings said. “I have experienced this on a smaller scale with our local March Sky K-12 rocketry camp and loved every second of it. I am excited to now have the ability to work with other SEDS chapters to further spread the excitement of rocketry, STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] education, and hopefully encourage these students to work toward developing the future of human space travel.”

In addition to his national organization obligations, Jennings said he has plans to maintain his involvement with the Mizzou student chapters. He will remain president of Mizzou SEDS through the 2015, and he is planning conference visits with that organization. He hopes to send four-to-eight Mizzou SEDS members to the New Worlds Institute Conference in Austin this fall, while he stays behind to meet with members of the MAE Department’s Industrial Advisory Council.