Sharlotte Bolyard is flying
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff
By Charlotte Crystal
Sharlotte Bolyard is dealing with an embarrassment of academic riches.
The fourth-year student of aerospace
engineering was accepted into doctoral
programs at the University
of Texas-Austin, the University of California-Berkeley, Brown University,
MIT (two programs accepted her — mechanical engineering and aeronautics and
astronautics), and Cal Tech.
They all offered her fellowships, but she doesn’t need them, and they weren’t
a factor in her decision.
to go with aeronautics at Cal Tech, the alma mater of her faculty adviser
Ioannis Chasiotis, because of the theoretical bent of its program,
scenic beauty of Pasadena, Calif., didn’t hurt.
To cover her graduate school expenses, she will draw on not one but two
prestigious national fellowships — one from the Department of Defense and one from
the National Science Foundation. The DOD Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship
provides three years of full tuition plus an annual stipend starting at $27,500,
and the NSF grant pays $11,000 a year toward tuition plus a $30,000 annual
And what career does she have in mind?
think I want to be a professor,” Bolyard said. “The professors
I’ve met here have been wonderful, selfless people who have given up
great careers where they could make a lot more money
with a lot more prestige so they could teach and do research.”
And in the crucial area of finding money for research, Bolyard already
displays a prodigious talent. As a second-year student, she won
a scholarship from
the Society of Women Engineers. As a third-year student, she
won support from the
Virginia Space Grant Consortium to investigate hypersonic aero-thermo
dynamics, a project for which she received funding again this
year. As a fourth-year
student, she won a Harrison Award to fund her study of fatigue
characteristics of micro-electro-mechanical
systems. And in each of the past three years, she won a scholarship
from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Cheerful and unassuming, Bolyard is an Air Force brat who was
born in Albuquerque, N.M.; lived in the Panama Canal Zone;
ated from high school in Clifton, Va.
from hardworking people,” Bolyard said. “My parents instilled
in me a wonderful work ethic. ... I’m glad to have the chance
to learn something [to] make me a better person.”