Morel Fellowship Awarded to Student Researching Airline Sustainability



By Simon Morrow
Nickolas Payne

The Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology has selected Nickolas Payne as the recipient of the 2022–2023 Thomas and Josette Morel Graduate Fellowship. Payne will be joining Illinois Tech in fall 2022 when he begins the mechanical and aerospace engineering Ph.D. program.

Payne completed his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at Bradley University in 2020. As an undergraduate, he was selected for a National Science Foundation undergraduate research internship at Florida State University where he conducted research in the hypersonic laboratory of the Florida Center for Advanced Aero-Propulsion. During his Ph.D., Payne aims to help address the sustainability issues facing the airline industry by studying alternative propulsion and noise control technologies.

The Thomas and Josette Morel Graduate Fellowship was established in 2019 with a generous grant from Thomas Morel (M.S. ME ’69, Ph.D. ’72) and Josette Morel (M.S. ME ’69, Ph.D. ’73). The fellowship is dedicated to the memory of Illinois Tech professors and teachers Andrew Fejer, T. Paul Torda, and Mark Morkovin, who greatly inspired the Morels. 

Thomas Morel was a part of the team that developed the Blue Flame, a rocket-powered car that set the land speed record of 622 mph in 1970. He contributed to the aerodynamic design of the car, which helped it to achieve such great speeds. He is also the founder of Gamma Technologies, LLC, where he currently serves as chairman and technology adviser. 

Thomas Morel was also responsible for the development of GT-POWER and GT-SUITE, which are virtual simulation software used by all major engine, power train, and vehicle manufacturers worldwide, with a total of more than 500 customers. 

Photo: Nickolas Payne