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The Sky is Not the Limit

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lex GonzalezPeople draw inspiration from many sources—books, poems, other individuals. Doctoral student Lex Gonzalez’s inspiration came from a movie, October Sky, based on the true story of a coal miner’s son who became a NASA rocket scientist. While he isn’t a rocket scientist yet, Gonzalez has worked on two NASA-contracted projects and a third through an invitation from the space agency.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering here in 2009 and stayed to become one of the 1,036 Ph.D. students enrolled at UT Arlington in fall 2010. His NASA research has spanned long-haul commercial transports for 2050 to hypersonic vehicles flying at up to 12 times the speed of sound. His work on hypersonic vehicles may be incorporated into NASA’s next X plane.

Gonzalez decided to forego earning a master’s degree, choosing instead to work straight toward a doctorate. To do that, he had to quit his job as a bank teller, his only source of income. However, because of his research and academic achievements, he received a two-year Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to Doctorate Fellowship that provides more than enough funding to pay for books, tuition, and living expenses.

Originally published in 2010 President's Report.