2020 Tillman Scholar
Michael is a first-generation American who was born to a family of Vietnamese refugees. Throughout his life, he has constantly sought opportunities to serve others. He served as a volunteer emergency medical service (EMS) first responder and firefighter for more than seven years. During the troop surge of 2009, he felt compelled to fulfill military service, joining the George Mason University Army ROTC program. Upon graduating from George Mason with a B.S. in physics, Michael was commissioned as an infantry officer and sent to Vicenza, Italy, where he served as a Ranger-qualified paratrooper and rifle platoon leader. He deployed once to the Middle East, and throughout Eastern Europe conducting counter-Russian aggression operations and NATO ally reassurance missions.
During his travel and deployments around the world, Michael saw how underdeveloped nations suffered from a lack of access to infrastructure and broadband internet. Recognizing this issue, he left the military to pursue a career in aerospace engineering to help change the world for the better. Space-based internet is currently being developed and tested, and Michael is interested in helping to enable that technology and make it accessible for all.
Michael completed his M.S. and Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. His research focused on providing robotic on-orbit servicing for mega-constellations, to achieve affordable space-based internet access to underserved communities throughout the world. He was also selected to the 2020 Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program