How high can he fly?

A love of aviation that started when Mark Maloney was just a kid has had the chance to take off and soar at Iowa State University, due in part to the Johnson Transfer Student Scholarship he received.

Mark Maloney remembers the exact day he fell in love with aviation.

He was 10, and his parents had taken him to Iowa City to attend a “fly-in” at the municipal airport. Over a breakfast of pancakes and juice, aviation buffs who’d flown in were catching up with each other and showing off their planes. But they were also there to answer questions from the visiting public.

“I was able to just go and look in the planes. I even got to take a few rides,” Maloney said. “Afterward, it was all I could think about.”

A visit to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla., around the same time sealed the deal. “That trip gave me an introduction to the whole world of aviation and space travel and the adventure of it all. It was eye-opening and really showed me
all the possibilities.”

howhighFrom there, Maloney’s fascination with aeronautics and aviation only grew. With 17 the minimum age for obtaining a pilot’s license, he settled for doing ground-school training on a sit-in basis when he was just 14. Immediately after his high school graduation in May 2009, Maloney took his pilot’s exam. By December,
he had his license to fly.

By then his father had purchased a used plane, “a Cessna 150 from the ’70s – older, but still a good plane,” Maloney said.

After graduating, he lived at home and attended Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for two years to save on the cost of college. But to realize his career goals, he knew that he would need a four-year degree from a university with a top-notch aerospace engineering program. Once more, Maloney set his sights and was admitted to Iowa State University in fall 2011.

He was able to attend Iowa State with support from the Johnson Transfer Student Scholarship, created specifically for students like Maloney who are trying to save on the cost of a college education by putting in their first years at a community college.

Maloney has been delighted with what he’s been able to do at Iowa State. He became involved with Cyclone Business Jet, an organization that brings together primarily engineering, design, and business undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience designing a 10-passenger business jet. Maloney worked on the structures team, using the state-of-the-art simulation software ANSYS to create design models.

He also participated on the performance team and is proud to be among only a few undergraduates to use Iowa State’s wind tunnel, which allows highly accurate testing of scale models in winds up to 110 mph.

Maloney is looking forward to graduating from Iowa State next spring with a degree in aerospace engineering and an entrepreneurship minor. He wants to use his education to design better aircraft, or perhaps he’ll indulge his love for being behind the control stick and become a commercial pilot. “No matter what I do,” he said, “I want flying to be a part of my life.”

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