Passionate about learning and fuel-efficient travel

With undergraduate degrees from both Beloit College and Washington University, Aidan Murphy’21 is embarking on a PhD as the next step toward a career in aerospace engineering.

As early as high school Aidan Murphy’21 knew he wanted to be an engineer. A legacy student (both of his parents are Beloit graduates), he chose Beloit neither for its proximity to his home (he’s from Beloit and took classes at the college as a Porter Scholar) nor the family connections, but on the basis of the individualized advising he’d receive.

“I’d already visited a number of colleges, but during a campus visit at Beloit, I saw how much professors care about their students. They give each student the individualized attention the student needs.”

That care extends beyond graduation. When Aidan was considering an invitation form Washington University in St. Louis to do a PhD there, among the people he consulted before accepting the invitation was associate professor of physics, engineering, and astronomy Britt Scharringhausen, who’d been his advisor and teacher.

Aidan likes movement. At Beloit College, he played frisbee and volleyball, and on weekends, refereed hockey games, an activity he’d begun in high school. That interest extended to his pre-engineering studies; early on at Beloit he developed an interest in the movement of fluid. That then led to a BS in mechanical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, where on the side he is the Aerodynamics, Body, and Composites System Co-Lead for WashU Racing.

Why was a PhD the logical next step for Aidan, when a master’s would be enough to work in aeronautics?

“People I talked to in the aerospace industry, professors at Wash U, and Britt at Beloit convinced me that with a PhD, I’d have a leg up in the aerospace industry. I’m pretty passionate about making travel more fuel efficient, and with a PhD, I’ll be able to supervise a team of engineers to take on a specific aspect of that. I also simply love being in school. I love learning.”

Aidan was one of a handful of students in Wash U’s mechanical engineering program to win a Deans Select Fellowship to launch his doctoral studies in aerospace engineering. He attributes that not only to his performance in his engineering studies and two summer internships, but to his liberal arts education.

“I’ve been asked at Wash U why I write so well. But then I took three writing courses at Beloit and a fourth at Wash U, and I had taken advantage of Beloit’s super large liberal arts program.” He also notes that three-two engineering students stand out from the engineering students who didn’t study the liberal arts. “They’re got a much greater breadth of knowledge. They even carry themselves differently.”

His advice for other Beloiters? “Find your friend group. They’ll help motivate you and will make you a better person. You’ll work hard at Beloit, but those long hours spent studying in the library won’t seem like work if you are there together with friends. And it won’t matter if they don’t major in the same thing.”

By: Elizabeth Brewer
September 10, 2021

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