Alumni Profile: Jason Kyle Cornelius

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St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg

Jason Kyle Cornelius

CIEE Program Term: Spring 2018

Home school: Penn State University

Major: aerospace engineering

NASA helicopter Ingenuity, which made history by becoming the first to successfully fly on Mars, is part of a larger NASA program to send robotic rotocrafts to other planets. Jason Cornelius’s research supports the Dragonfly program that aims to put a space helicopter on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, in the 2030’s. Jason is currently an NSF Graduate Research Fellow in the Penn State University’s Department of Aerospace Engineering. Following the completion of his PhD in a few years, Jason plans to begin working at the NASA Ames Research Center where he will continue his career in rotorcraft engineering.

Jason came to St. Petersburg in 2018 to participate in the Russian Language program, in order to fully immerse himself in Russian language and culture. Jason says of his time in St. Petersburg: “My time spent in Russia makes for some of my most fond memories. I’ll never forget how daunting a task learning Russian first seemed when I fully immersed myself in Russian courses, Russian friend groups, and a Russian host family. With much effort, my skill in Russian quickly progressed and I noticed myself understanding more and more of the new world around me.  I have many traveling memories that stand out from my time in Russia, but a few of my favorites were going with a group of friends to our friend Egor’s dacha, visiting the Cosmonaut Museum in Moscow, and hiking the mountain ranges in Kazbegi, Georgia, during the CIEE travel week.”

When planning his future career, Jason is driven by the goal of improving relations between the US and other countries, such as Russia and China. This notion, Jason admits, stems in no small measure from having participated in the CIEE study abroad program.  “Spending four months in Russia was something I never could have even fathomed when I first began my undergraduate studies at Penn State. It changed a lot of my perspectives about the world around me and turned me into a continual learner. After returning home, I found myself filled with this desire to try and improve the relations between our two countries, which I still look for opportunities to do to this day. I strongly believe that my future will involve Russia’s language, people, and culture to some extent, and I greatly look forward to finding out how it will play into my journey.”

In June 2021, Jason came to St. Petersburg to attend the Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX-2021), which brought together astronauts, heads of industry, scientists, engineers, policy makers, entrepreneurs and educators from many countries to discuss current challenges and future developments in international space exploration. His presentation, “Development of a Private Space Sector in the U.S. and Russia” was prepared in cooperation with his Russian and US colleagues from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Moscow) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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