For aerospace engineering doctoral student Sydney Giannuzzi, 2023 turned out to be a stellar year. She not only completed a summer internship with Raytheon Technologies, but was recognized for her outstanding contributions with an Innovation Achievement Award. 2024 brings another cosmic leap in her career — a slot on the Aviation Week Network 20 Twenties list.
Giannuzzi is one of 20 students from around the world who were selected for the honor, which recognizes individuals who are on track to change the industries of aerospace, aviation and defense. Nominees are evaluated on their academic performance, civic contributions, personal challenges and the value of their research.
This year, 100 students from 48 different colleges and universities in 13 countries were nominated, which is the largest pool to date.
“Every year the nomination pool grows, and the competition gets harder and harder,” says Aviation Week NetworkPresident Greg Hamilton in a release. “We applaud these rising industry stars and are inspired by their achievements.”
The honorees will be celebrated at the 20 Twenties Awards Luncheon and the 66th Annual Laureate Awards and Dinner, to be held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. on March 14. The UCF Knight will be in attendance and looks forward to meeting the other nominees.
“It’s an honor to be selected to be a part of this group of talented and driven individuals. I look forward to meeting and connecting with them,” Giannuzzi says. “I am also immensely grateful to my advisor, Dr. Jeffrey Kauffman, for nominating me to even be considered for such an award. He is such an incredible supporter and advocate for his students.”
With the support of Kauffman, the current director of the aerospace engineering program, and Seetha Raghavan, the former program director, Giannuzzi is the fourth woman from UCF to be named a 20 Twenties awardee. She is also one of 12 women included in the Class of 2024, reflecting Aviation Week Network’s commitment to diversifying its group of evaluators and applicants. Giannuzzi says that assembling a diverse list of winners today can impact the workforce of tomorrow.
“Highlighting a wide variety of individuals in aerospace from unique backgrounds shows how we all can provide different insight and skills to progress the industry,” she says. “Showing a diverse group can help us inspire the next generation of aerospace engineers to pursue their passion for air and space no matter where they come from.”
What advice does Giannuzzi have for the next generation of women aerospace engineers? She says that people are more willing to help than you might think, so don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout your academic journey.
“Advocate for your learning and success,” she says. “There are so many people who want to see you succeed but you have to take control of your learning.”