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Zachary Marshall

Zachary Marshall

2020 Astronaut Scholar


Orland Park, IL


Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering


College of Engineering / Honors College


Zachary Marshall is the recipient of the Astronaut Scholarship sponsored by Jim Hays in memory of Gene Cernan. With experience in four Purdue colleges, he focuses on a broad array of issues in aviation, from the technical details to problem-solving to management. His particular research focuses on uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs). 


“I am continually captivated by the complexity and majesty of autonomous flight and am also frustrated by the time and fuel waste of traffic congestion. Electrically powered UAVs [uncrewed aerial vehicles] afford revolutionarily sustainable and scalable solutions in rescue, security, delivery of medicine, mail, and food, and even personal mobility,” Marshall says.


However, UAVs offer a particular challenge in terms of air traffic control. Marshall has been conducting research on the sensor technology needed to keep UAVs well out of the flight paths of traditional vehicles. Marshall says of his research and business goals, “I envision a crowdsourced network of inexpensive and lightweight UAV transceivers, connected by the new antenna system, that interface in real-time with flight vehicle tracking algorithms to notify airspace users of impending airborne drone separation conflicts and direct corrective action.”


Marshall is well prepared to engage with these challenges. He has worked in multiple Purdue aviation design teams and is also the president of the Purdue chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. On the management front, he placed second in the nationwide Airport Cooperative Research Program University Design Competition, in which the Federal Aviation Administration judged teams on airport planning. He is the founder of the Purdue Space Program Spaceshot Team, which seeks to launch the first student-made, liquid-propelled rocket across the Kármán line into space.