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The Department of Aerospace Engineering named Ph.D. student Jacek Garbulinski the 2021 Alexander Brown Scholarship and Leadership Award recipient. Award recipients are selected based on demonstrated innovative research practices, visionary leadership, and impressive effort in his or her academic pursuits.

Garbulinski has spent most of his life learning how to use engineering to build advanced mechatronic systems. The son of a biology teacher, and a hydraulics engineer, Garbulinski inherited a passion for engineering and nature which he has cultivated into research exploring engineering challenges ranging from space exploration technologies to bio-inspired robotics.

Currently, he is working with Professor Norman Wereley in the Composites Research Laboratory, where his research focuses on control and structural properties of continuum soft robots that utilize pneumatic artificial muscles. Some of that work, “Characterization and Analysis of Extensile Fluidic Artificial Muscles,” was recently published in Actuators.

He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Science and Technology in Kraków, Poland, where he majored in Automatic Control and Robotics. While pursuing his undergraduate studies, Garbulinski’s interest shifted towards space-exploration technologies at the time of SpaceX’s first successes in reusable orbital rockets (2015).

During that time, he worked with a student group, AGH Space Systems, on space-related projects such as constructing student rockets, developing CanSat planetary probes, and supporting work on a Mars analog habitat. He also interned at the Space Technologies Center at the Institute of Aviation in Warsaw, Poland, and he represented his alma mater as a finalist at the American Astronautical Society’s CanSat Competitions in 2017 and 2018.

He has received multiple awards for his academic work including the Stalowa Wola Mayor Scholarship, the AGH University President Award for BETA Sounding Rocket System and an Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis Award for his bachelor thesis on rocket flight modeling. His also received professional development support from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

After receiving a Fulbright Graduate Student Award to pursue a master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering in the United States, he chose to come to the University of Maryland for its top-ranked graduate program. At Maryland, he pursued coursework related to robotics in the aerospace context with an additional interest in structures and materials, and transitioned to the Ph.D. program after two years.

Garbulinski is a representative of aerospace graduate students in the Graduate Student Government (GSG) as well as a participant in the Department of Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student Advisory Committee. He also leads efforts to support the inclusion of international students from underrepresented countries at the university by organizing events that foster mutual intercultural understanding.

After graduation, Jacek plans to continue his growth as a researcher working on impactful technologies in the field of robotics and aerospace engineering.

The Alexander Brown Scholarship and Leadership Award consists of a monetary scholarship and a commemorative medal.

Established in 2011, this award honors the memory and achievements of the late Alex Brown, who was a Ph.D. candidate in the Aerospace Engineering program. Well known for his energy and great leadership skills, Brown inspired and encouraged others to excel in education and research, as well as leadership and service.



April 21, 2021


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