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Illini Aero Connections - Entrepreneurship

Event Type
Department of Aerospace Engineering
wifi event
Sep 21, 2021   5:00 - 6:00 pm  
Nikhil Agarwal (BS '12), Mike Miller (BS '76) and Andy Putch (BS '15) 
Courtney McLearin
Originating Calendar
Department of Aerospace Engineering Events

Illini Aero Connections is a seminar series that aims to prepare AE students for thriving in the professional world, provide a forum for students and alumni to connect and learn from each other, and offer alumni frequent opportunities to interact with the department. Topics discussed are relevant to aerospace engineers, but go beyond the traditional classroom lessons. Speakers include both recent and senior alumni along with industry professionals who are eager to share their expertise and experience.


The first session will cover entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs play a vital role in industry development. Hear from three AE alums about the challenges, risks and triumphs of starting an aerospace business. Nikhil Agarwal, Mike Miller and Andy Putch will discuss how they moved from corporate positions to starting their own business, how they raised capital and gained support, how to transition research into a start up, what their most difficult challenges were and how their experience at Illinois prepared them to meet those challenges. 


To join us for this virtual event you must register. Don't miss your opportunity to hear from these alums and learn about the journey into entrepreneurship. 



Nikhil Agarwal - Co-founder at Juno (BS '12)

Nikhil is a founder of Juno. In 3 short years, Juno has been able to help families with more than $400M of low interest rate student loans. Previously, Nikhil graduated from Harvard Business School, worked at Boeing for 6 years in Product Development / Engineering and studied Aerospace Engineering at UIUC. 


Michael Miller - Managing Director and Founder at Comspace Development (BS '76)

Michael has years of experience as a venture capitalist, investment consultant, entrepreneur, executive, and engineer. He is the Managing Director and co-founder of Comspace Development LLC, a private venture investment, strategic management, and consulting firm specializing in the development of global ventures in aerospace, telecommunications, and information technologies. Through Comspace and affiliated companies he has led, evaluated, structured, negotiated, and managed investments in dozens of technology companies and has been a director and advisor on many private corporate boards.


Michael received his MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth Graduate School of Business and holds degrees in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois.


Andy Putch - Founder at Sitescape, (BS '15)

Andy co-founded his first startup, FreeSkies, at UIUC with two of his aerospace classmates. After struggling to scale the company he started a drone real estate photography and mapping business which led him to DroneDeploy, where he led solutions for survey & construction and the drone flight app team. Today, he’s the founder and CEO of SiteScape, working on iPhone scanning for commercial construction. 

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