Opportunities with Honors

I’m Alexis Hepburn from Lake Stevens, Washington. For the past three years at Embry-Riddle, I have devoted myself to engagement with my campus community through mentorship, leadership, and research. As an Honors Program student on the research track, I have been able to cultivate my newly formed skills as a future Aerospace Engineer. The Embry-Riddle staff and faculty foster an environment of academic rigor, engaging hands-on experiences, and the potential to grow personally and professionally. The Embry-Riddle family continually rises to the challenge of providing the optimal undergraduate career.

In the late spring of 2018, I contacted Dr. Daniel White in order to pursue a potential mentor relationship. His experience in electric propulsion both in industry and an academic setting supported and aligned with my longtime interests. Upon our first interaction, he encouraged me to visit his office so we could begin a research project of our own. I was amazed at his openness and enthusiasm to teach me the things that I’d been missing, having previously been solely dependent on scholarly literature. With his assistance, we began working on a single-stage bismuth fed stationary plasma thruster.

A stationary plasma thruster is a form of electric propulsion used most often on satellites for long duration missions. The fuel source is usually an inert gas which is heated to the point of becoming a plasma. The engine operates via energizing and ejecting the plasma with help from the Hall Effect, which describes the relationship between an electric and a magnetic field. 

Work station

After a few short weeks of preliminary work sessions filled with whiteboard ‘chicken scratch’, spreadsheet configurations, and computer-generated models, we were ready to submit our proposal to the Undergraduate Research Institute (URI). URI is an unparalleled resource for students because it allows them to pursue their research interests in a supportive and resource-laden environment.

3D Model of the assembled engine

The Embry-Riddle professors are confident in their students and therefore, Dr. White encouraged me to submit our preliminary design to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) national Energy and Propulsion Forum in August. Upon acceptance to this conference, I will now have the opportunity to present and publish my research among some of the industry’s leaders. I will have the context to grow my network, represent my university, and display my work among future colleagues.

One of the benefits to Honors Program students is that we are invited to apply for awards, fellowships, and scholarships through the National Collegiate Honors Council. This year, I was thankful to have been accepted as a 2019 Portz Interdisciplinary Fellowship recipient, where I will seek to address the potential improvements for miniaturized Hall thrusters for long duration satellite missions.

I owe much of my success and appreciation to my mentor, Dr. White, who has continuously gone above and beyond during the planning and development of this research. I would also like to thank the Honors Program Director, Dr. Boettcher for her continued interest in my success which was often delivered in well-timed encouragement and constructive critiques. Finally, this would not have been possible without the patience and diligence of the machinists, rapid prototyping lab technicians, research librarians, and the College of Engineering administrators.

Find me on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexis-hepburn

Junior Year Studying Electrical Engineer at ERAU

As you may already know I am currently a Junior at Embry-Riddle, Prescott campus studying Electrical Engineering. Today I will go into the awesome classes I am currently taking to give you an idea of what to look forward to in studying this field of engineering.

First off as Electrical engineers there are many different areas of expertise to get into, which means that as an undergraduate you will get a little taste of everything. so whether you like power or not doesn’t quite matter yet because you will take a power class anyway. This serves to our benefit though as it allows you to better understand what you would personally enjoy as a career.

So as far as I have come today I am currently taking; Signal Processing plus the lab, Electronic Devices plus the lab, Math for engineers with physics, and Computer Science 1 (a.k.a. C programming). Although we have just started the semester I personally enjoy the Electronic Devices class the most, so that is what I will go a little in to depth with next.

In Electronic Devices we will be getting into electronic circuits, such as an Integrated circuit compared to Discrete components. We will also get into Amplifier frequency response, Diodes, Transistors, and Feedback systems, although there is so much more I can talk about this is just a brief description. (Note: if you click on the link to electronic devices, it will take you to Wikipedia, yes I know you may be skeptical about Wiki. but it has a diverse amount of knowledge about the subject so feel free to take a look).

The reason I believe I enjoy this class in particular is because it is taught in a top down design, meaning you see the big picture of each little component first so you can really see how everything comes together.

So Far So Good

Hello readers, if you do not know already I am a current freshman at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Prescott Campus, and in this blog i will be catching you all up on what i have done all year long in terms of classes, clubs, Air Force ROTC, and more. First off I am going for my Electrical Engineering degree, as well as being a cadet in Air Force ROTC and have so far enjoyed the beginning of my career here.

The first semester, the first semester was pretty difficult because of the transition away from home, but class wise i was not taking anything difficult. Basic classes such as calculus, history, physics, as well as engineering 101, and Air Force 101. These classes are the main classes you will most likely have. I did get home sick for a period of time, but eventually that passed and I got used to living at school. The things I have missed the most were my dogs and home cooked food.

After the first semester i began to realize, this is it, the real deal. So once the second semester came around, I was well prepared. This semester I have taken Calculus 2, Physics 2, Engineering 115 aka (MATLAB), Humanities, and Air Force class 102. Although i am still not into the difficult classes yet i feel more prepared then i was at the end of last semester. My roommates and I enjoy going to the movie theater on the weekends, hikes, and out to eat, there are plenty of great restaurants in town, i suggest going into town and exploring, they have some interesting stores.

Now throughout the year I have been involved in many organizations, and activities in town and on campus. This past weekend i went into town for a chalk festival, held annually, this event is awesome and lots of fun. I also participated in the human society’s dog walk on campus. I am also a part of AFROTC Honor Guard and have done many performance in town as well as out of town. If you plan on joining AFROTC I highly suggest joining one of the teams in Honor Corps, such as Sabre, Rifle Drill, and Honor Guard.


The campus is easy to navigate getting to class in about 5 min is really nice. One of my favorite pass times is going to the gym on campus, and hiking across the street.

Hopefully you enjoyed my blog, if you want any more information feel free to let me know.