Kirk Heller earns engineering alumni society's Staff Innovation Award


Austin (Kirk) Heller, systems administrator in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, has been named recipient of the 2016 Penn State Engineering Alumni Society (PSEAS) Staff Innovation Award.

The Staff Innovation Award recognizes a full-time staff member who has worked for the College of Engineering for at least two years and has used creativity appropriately to develop new and/or improved processes, methods, systems, products, or services and encouraged others to do the same. A recipient makes innovation a priority among team members and encourages reasonable and calculated risk taking to achieve unit goals.

Individuals are nominated by engineering staff, students, faculty, and administrators. All nominations are reviewed by a committee, appointed by the dean, which is comprised of PSEAS representatives and the director of alumni relations.

Heller, a Penn State alumnus (B.S. EE ’01), joined the aerospace engineering staff in September 2005. Prior to joining the Department, he was a programmer with MPM Technologies, Inc., where he wrote code that analyzed data from materials stress testing equipment.

His responsibilities within the aerospace department include managing the Department’s high performance Linux clusters, working with them from their conception to implementation; maintaining the Departmental servers, as well as faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate computers; and providing assistance in programming, teaching Labview and courses on Linux basics and Beowulf cluster design and methodology.

All PSEAS award winners will be formally recognized and presented with their awards during a reception on April 27 at the Nittany Lion Inn. For a full list of 2016 PSEAS award winners, click here.


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Chris Spallino



The Penn State Department of Aerospace Engineering, established in 1961 and the only aerospace engineering department in Pennsylvania, is consistently recognized as one of the top aerospace engineering departments in the nation, and is also an international leader in aerospace education, research, and engagement. Our undergraduate program is ranked 15th and our graduate programs are ranked 15th nationally by U.S. News & World Report, while one in 25 holders of a B.S. degree in aerospace engineering in the U.S. earned it from Penn State. Our students are consistently among the most highly recruited by industry, government, and graduate schools nationwide.

The department is built upon the fundamentals of academic integrity, innovation in research, and commitment to the advancement of industry. Through an innovative curriculum and world-class instruction that reflects current industry practice and embraces future trends, Penn State Aerospace Engineering graduates emerge as broadly educated, technically sound aerospace engineers who will become future leaders in a critical industry

Department of Aerospace Engineering

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The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2569