NASA University Student Launch Initiative: University of Minnesota

Team Members


Dr. William Garrard

Team Official

William Garrard is a Fellow of AIAA. He received his BS in Mechanical Engineering and his PhD in Engineering Mechanics from the University of Texas at Austin. Garrard's research is dynamics and control of aerospace vehicles and parachute systems. He is the author of over 100 technical publications in these areas. He is currently Professor and was Head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Minnesota for 15 years. Garrard is Director of the NASA Minnesota Space Grant Consortium. He represented AIAA on the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET for five years. He received the Educational Award for Excellence from the U.S. Army, a Certificate of Appreciation from the AIAA for organizing, coordinating and conducting the H.G. Heinrich Parachute Systems Short Courses from 1982 through 1998, and the ASEE/AIAA John Leland Atwood Award in 2006 for advancing the discipline of aerospace engineering through effective and creative research and consulting and for distinguished leadership in the development of enhanced programs of instruction and research. He has served as a Member AIAA Aerodynamic Decelerator Technical Committee, the AIAA Guidance and Control Technical Committee, and the SAE Aerospace Control and Guidance Systems Committee, and is past Chair of AIAA Academic Affairs Committee.


Gary Stroick

NAR/TRA Team Mentor

Gary Stroick has been involved in high powered rocketry since 1998 and is certified Level 3 with the Tripoli Rocketry Association. He also holds a Low Explosives Import and User Permit. Currently a Board Member of Tripoli Minnesota he was Vice President from 2007 to 2011. As owner of Off We Go Rocketry he provides high power rocketry motors and supplies to high power rocketry enthusiasts across the Midwest as well as advises numerous fliers on various aspects of rocketry and certifications. Academically, Gary holds a MS in Computer Sciences, an MBA, and a BS in Mathematics as well as Computer Sciences.


Mark Abotossaway

Team Lead

Mark is a senior and pursuing a dual degree in physics and aerospace engineering and mechanics. He is interested in rocket propulsion systems, and will graduate in the spring of 2012. He has his NAR Level 1 certification, and has previous experience building Level 2 high powered rockets. He is a general board member for the American Indian Student Cultural Center and Vice President of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society UMN-TC Chapter at the University of Minnesota. He plans on working for NASA eventually.


Peter Larson

Airframe, Website

Peter is a senior studying aerospace engineering and will be graduating in May 2012. His interests in the aerospace field range from propulsion to attitude determination and control systems. He was the GPS bi-static radar system team lead for the AFRL sponsored nano-satellite competition and has also been a part of the solar car team on campus helping with aerodynamic design and array layout. For the USLI competition he will be creating and updating the website, helping plan the team's outreach program, and contributing to the airframe design.


Daniel Vogl

Payload, Safety Officer

Daniel is a senior in aerospace engineering and mechanics. He has been a part of the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project for the past three years and plans on working on industrial gas turbines after he graduates. Daniel will be the team Safety officer and will be working primarily on the rocket payload.


Travis Swenson


Travis is a senior Aerospace Engineering student set to graduate in May 2012. After graduation he plans to attend graduate school and study space systems, eventually aiming to obtain a Ph.D. He has always had an interest in space and one day hopes to work as an engineer at NASA. His responsibilities include rover design and implementation of atmospheric sensors.


Derek Lesniak


Derek is a Mathematics and Aerospace Engineering major with a minor in Astrophysics. He is set to graduate in May 2012. Derek is currently working on the structures, flight mechanics, and active, feedback braking system for the team. He will be actively pursuing a career in the Aerospace field after graduation, most likely in Houston or southern California. In his spare time, he enjoys golfing, tennis, and downhill skiing.


Takuhiro Suganuma

Electronics/ Recovery

Takuhiro is a senior studying Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, with minor in Mathematics. His study focuses are control and fluid. He did internship with Mitsubishi Heavy Industry during summer for MRJ support. After graduation, he is thinking of working for a company to learn and develop the best business practice for supporting an aircraft after the completion of its manufacturing, and apply the knowledge to the designing, and manufacturing process of an aircraft.


William Zach Morrow

Recovery Systems, Outreach

Zach is a senior and majoring in Aerospace Engineering with a high interest in fluid dynamics. He has been interested in space exploration since 1st grade, in which he read every space related book the school library offered. He does not enjoy running anymore but continues to love playing baseball and snowboarding. Zach is president of Club Baseball and has had an internship with Woodward Inc. the past three summers working on fuel metering units and pumps.


Chris Herbst


Chris is a mechanical engineering major in his senior year at the University of Minnesota. Last year, Chris was involved in a rocket design for an AISES competition. Also, Chris has work experience in machining, and CAD/CAM design. Chris will being applying his energy to building the payload.

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.