Brandon Jones with students presenting award photo
Brandon Jones was selected to receive the 2017 ASE/EM LUNAR Council Teaching Award which was presented to him at the annual Fall Festival on Oct. 20.

Brandon Jones, an assistant professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at UT Austin, was selected to receive the ASE/EM LUNAR Council Teaching Award for 2017. He was presented with a plaque and a $500 check at the department’s Fall Festival on the East Mall on Friday, Oct. 20.

Each year, LUNAR (Leadership, Undergraduate Networking and Recruitment)—a council of ASE/EM student organization leaders—uses student feedback and numerical data to recognize a department professor who has made a made a positive impact on students’ educational experience through superior teaching.

Students chose to award Jones because of his ability to keep students engaged and his contagious passion for the subject material. Representatives of the council read student-submitted nominations aloud at the Fall Festival leading up to the surprise announcement of the winner.

“He went above and beyond in helping me understand the material and working with me to create a project based off the class for my research course. He really is an amazing professor, and in my opinion is one of the best this department has. I have learned more in his class than I have in any other class I have taken at UT by far, and I think he should be recognized for the care and passion he shows towards the subject and his students,” writes one student.

Another student writes about being inspired to work with satellites after graduation since having Jones as a teacher.

“He has helped me with anything I've asked about Spacecraft Dynamics and how what we're learning actually applies to real missions. His lectures are never boring and he explains the material really well so the whole class understands. His class is one of the most fun courses I've taken in UT. Taking his class has directed me to a more specific goal of working with satellites after I graduate.”

When asked how he felt when he received the award, Jones said, “A combination of honored and elated, especially since students nominate and select the awardee. I hope that my teaching continues to have a positive impact on our students.”

The responses to Jones’ teaching style are especially meaningful to him since his favorite part of teaching is engaging with students and creating a community of learners.

“I strive to make lectures interactive instead of a one-way transfer of knowledge,” Jones said. “It is thrilling when these interactions inspire new ways of conveying difficult concepts. In this way, I learn from the students while teaching them about aerospace engineering.”

Jones teaches Spacecraft Dynamics and has also taught a graduate level class on orbital debris. He began working at UT Austin in the Spring of 2016  after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he also worked as an assistant research professor.

Prior to his graduate education, Jones worked as a contractor at NASA Johnson Space Center and received undergraduate degrees in physics and mathematics at The University of Texas at Austin. His current area of research expertise is in orbital mechanics and focuses on the tracking and detection of orbital debris and robust mission design for spacecraft missions in highly perturbed environments.