Jonathan Webb

President, Program Director

Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering (Dynamics and Controls, Aerospace Systems Design)

Jonathan Webb is a senior from New York who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering as well as an Entrepreneurship Certificate. This year will be his fifth and final year on the team. Jonathan has been with Orbital since its creation in 2015 and could not be more excited to lead such a passionate, enthusiastic, and driven team. Outside of Orbital, Jonathan is an avid tennis player, skier, and member of Purdue Bands & Orchestras. You can normally find him playing drums in Mackey Arena as a member of the Purdue men’s basketball pep band. Jonathan is an aspiring flight controller at NASA and hopes to pursue that goal after graduation.


Colin samuels

Chief Engineer

Colin is a Senior in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. He's always been interested in how things move and loves to tackle new problems. This is his fourth year on the team, so he is very excited about what's to come this year and is confident in the team's drive and work ethic. In addition to his technical work on Orbital, Colin has done a variety of outreach work for elementary children. He really enjoys the opportunity to spark an interest for engineering in the minds of young students. He's also a Mechanical Engineering mentor for other students at Purdue. Outside of school, Colin enjoys any kind of game, whether its intramurals, board games, or Purdue sports. He hasn't missed a home basketball game in two years and just can't get enough of the Mackey environment!


Matt Powell

Director of Research and Development

Senior in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering (Propulsion, Dynamics & Controls)

Matt is originally from Chicago, IL. He found his passion for space exploration at a young age after being inspired by his 6th-grade astronomy teacher. This then lead Matt to Purdue to pursue an aerospace engineering degree and future plans to work in the space industry. After hearing about the ambitious goals of Purdue Orbital, Matt was eager to join the team as a freshman. He now serves as the R&D Director, ready to advance Orbitals rocket capabilities.


Aaron Baum

Chief Systems Engineer

Aaron is a Junior from Pittsburgh, PA. He joined Purdue Orbital after hearing about their mission and sharing a passion for exploring space and finding a more cost-effective method to reach it. His interest in systems engineering was kickstarted in high school when he worked as a systems engineering for a robotics team. When not working with Orbital, Aaron can be found swimming or working on personal projects.


Emily Anderson

Operations Director

Junior - Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering

Emily is a junior from Orange County, California majoring in Aerospace Engineering and minoring in Management. Her excitement for space led her to join Purdue Orbital at the start of her sophomore year and has been in love with the organization ever since. Outside of Orbital, Emily enjoys working out, dancing, and learning about new ways to save the environment.


Sean Heapy


Sean is a senior in aeronautical & astronautical engineering here at Purdue. Sean has had a fond interest in rockets since a young age and has since acquired his hobby certifications and a deep enthusiasm for the field. Sean has been involved with funding and treasury work with various organizations at Purdue as well. As treasurer he manages Purdue Orbital's budget and keeps the organization financially stable. Sean is from Canada originally and enjoys writing and hiking on his spare time.


Josh Fitch

Design Lead for Mission Design

Josh is a sophomore studying Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering. He plans to focus in Dynamics and Controls and is interested in interplanetary flight dynamics. He is passionate about human space exploration and discovering ways to economize space and make it affordable for the masses. He even hopes to go into space himself one day! Josh enjoys traveling, running, reading, and exploring new places with friends!


Ken Sodetz

Ground Station/Telecommunications Design Lead

Senior- Computer Science (Software Engineering and Machine Intelligence)

Ken is originally from Washington D.C, but mostly grew up in Chicago, IL. He joined Purdue Orbital as a result of his passion involving space exploration and the advancement of the technology that comes from the industry. Outside of Orbital, Ken enjoys playing tennis, riding his bike, and working on personal projects.


Colin Miller

Avionics Design Lead

Senior- Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering

Colin is from Baltimore and was interested in space from an early age but what really kicked it off was when he saw a launch from Wallops carrying a probe to the moon. Outside of Orbital, he'll often be practicing French horn in Elliott, taking care of his plants, or listening to music.


Lorin Nugent

Launch Structure Design Lead

Junior - Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering

Born and raised in Champaign, Illinois, Lorin grew up flying with his dad. His passion for space brought him to Purdue, where he joined Orbital in 2018. Lorin is also very active with Purdue Bands and Orchestras and spends most of his free time in the corec. He hopes to eventually work for NASA in space exploration.

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Maria Soare

Payload design lead

Maria is from Bucharest, Romania and her interest for planes came from her dad and after that she discovered the space. When her parents bought her a Lego rocket she dreamt about building a real one and this became real when she joined Orbital. Outside of the team, she likes playing tennis and she is also part of Purdue Fencing Club.


Matt Popplewell

GNC Deign Lead

Matt is from Philadelphia, is currently studying Aerospace Engineering, and is enthusiastic about leading the future of the field. He became fascinated with all things aerospace as a kid watching planes at the airport and star gazing. He also enjoys playing soccer and hanging out with friends.


Jakob Smith

Flight Systems Design Lead

Senior - Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering (Aerospace Structures, Aerospace Systems Design)

Jakob is a senior from Westfield, Indiana. He has been with Purdue Orbital for three years, originally joining his sophomore year as a part of the Small Scale Testing team, and then switching to Flight Systems his junior year. He found his interest in the aerospace industry after taking a class dedicated to the subject in high school. He chose Purdue for its world-renowned, quality education as well as its closeness to his home. In his free time, he enjoys listening to and discovering new music, reading, and learning about history.


Kolin Palmer

R & D Verification and Validation Design Lead

Kolin is a junior majoring in Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering. Kolin is from Highland Indiana, which is about 45 minutes from Chicago. His curiosity and wonder about space has drove him to pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering. Outside of the usual school work Kolin likes to play golf, watch sports, and listen to music.


Nick Masso

Commercial Rocket design lead

Nick was born in Cleveland Ohio. He has been building and flying model rockets since fourth grade, and at Orbital, he can use those skills to put new projects up in the air. He is also enamored by 3D printing, and will take every opportunity to CAD something fun. Outside of Orbital, he likes to skateboard and play piano.


Kristen Fleher

Propulsion Design Lead

Senior- Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering (Design and Propulsion)
Kristen is from St. Louis Missouri and first joined orbital two years ago. She fell in love with aerospace engineering through glider competitions in high school. Outside of Orbital Kristen is the executive director of Big Man on Campus, the second largest philanthropy on campus. In her free time she enjoys painting, dancing, and spending time with her friends.


Ethan Wahl

Special Projects design lead

Ethan Wahl is the design lead for Special Projects under the R&D division of Purdue Orbital. He is a Senior in Aerospace Engineering with a focus on Dynamics and Control. Ethan was originally going to be a Mechanical Engineer, but after he joined Orbital his freshman year, the experience and the people convinced him to switch to AAE.


Cullen Dahleen

D&M Design Lead

Cullen is a Senior studying AAE with a concentration in aerospace systems design and aerodynamics. Originally from Chicago Il, this is Cullen’s third year with Purdue Orbital where he worked as a member of Hybrid Rocket Team before becoming Design Lead for Experimental Rocket and subsequently Chief Systems Engineer for Spring 2019. Cullen has done multiple internships with Bell Textron working in the emerging On Demand Mobility and air taxi field performing work in the areas of systems integration, acoustics and model-based systems engineering as a part of their Innovation Team.