ZEIK's homepage


Contact Information

zahrak (at) alum (dot) mit (dot) edu


Continuing Education (2011-Present)
Massachusetts College of Art and Design , Boston, Massachusetts
  • Classes: Introduction to Industrial Design

Masters of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics (2008)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology , Cambridge, Massachusetts

Bachelor of Engineering with High Distinction (2005): Aerospace Engineering
Carleton University , Ottawa, Canada

  • Stream: Aerodynamics, Propulsion and Vehicle Performance
  • Class Rank: 1/65 in Aerospace Engineering | 9/325 in All Engineering
  • Awards
    • Kipling Award “for scholarship, leadership and service to the engineering and university communities” (2005)
    • Senate Medal for Outstanding Academic Achievement (2005)

Work Experience

January 2009 - Present
Air Traffic Control Research Engineer, Engility Corporation – Billerica, Massachusetts

  • Design experiments to evaluate feasibility of novel air traffic control concepts
  • Develop algorithms and models of aircraft flight procedures, human air traffic controller actions and air traffic control automation software in collaboration with in-house software and analysis team as well as external consultants
  • Deliver presentations to clients on analysis process and results as well as to industry professionals through participation in conferences

June 2008 - December 2008
System Engineering Intern, Education Associates Program, NASA Ames Research Center – Moffett Field, California

  • Conducted various trade studies involving subsystem interactions for the Lunar Atmospheric and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission; Liaised with subsystem designers to assess impacts of design changes to other subsystems; Provided study results to managers in a succinct form to facilitate system-level decision-making
  • Assisted the Mission Design Center with various missions in a system engineering capacity; Tasks included mission objectives and requirements identification and flow-down, defining system-level trade study parameters, integrating subsystem information, highlighting and investigating subsystem interactions, and evaluating various subsystem designs against performance requirements

November 2006 - May 2008
Research Assistant, System Architecture Research Group, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Cambridge, Massachusetts

  • Developed a Matlab tool for design space exploration of Planetary Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) vehicles including trajectory modeling and propulsion system sizing as part of thesis research
  • Conducted parametric analysis to identify factors with greatest impact on the EDL design space for human Mars missions and evaluated promising vehicle designs in collaboration with members of the System Architecture Research Group working on structures and other spacecraft subsystems
  • Identified critical areas of research and development to improve the capability of EDL vehicles for human Mars missions
  • Results of this work contributed to a NASA-funded study interfacing with the Mars Architecture Working Group

February 2006 - March 2006
Student, Short Training Program, Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics – Rhode-St-Genèse, Belgium

  • Set-up and conducted wind-tunnel tests for a planetary re-entry vehicle geometry to investigate stability characteristics in both the subsonic and supersonic flow regimes
  • Analyzed data for validity and helped identify the origins of discrepancies
  • Troubleshooted and solved problems identified with the test set-up

September 2005 - December 2005
Intern, Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program – System Engineering Team, Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Cambridge, Massachusetts

  • Developed the System Requirements Document (SRD) and conducted requirements flow-down for the Mars Gravity Biosatellite (MGB) System
    • The Mars Gravity Biosatellite System consists of a bus and re-entry vehicle that form a spinner spacecraft providing artificial Martian gravity for a cohort of mice and enabling return of the specimens at the end of a 5-week long mission; the purpose is to study the effects of Martian gravity on mammals in preparation for future human missions to Mars
  • Identified various requirements management software packages, developed selection criteria, conducted software evaluation and selected the one most suitable for the MGB System
  • Prepared Operations Plan for recovery of the MGB re-entry vehicle at the conclusion of the mission

National Research Council Canada (NRC)’s Women in Engineering and Science Program
One of twenty-five women chosen from across Canada to complete three four-month internships with NRC researchers on projects of the students’ choice

May 2005 - September 2005
Summer Student, Institute for Aerospace Research – Flight Research Laboratory, NRC – Ottawa, Canada

  • Developed a Matlab program to recognize various aircraft manoeuvres from a flight data set
  • Validated the program using data from different aircraft including turbojets and turboprops
  • Assisted with instrument calibration and data collection for a flight test program
  • Contributed to the development of an aerodynamic modeling program that automates the process of using flight data to find stability and control derivatives of an aircraft for development of a simulator model

May 2004 - September 2004
Summer Student, Institute for Aerospace Research – Propulsion Laboratory, NRC – Ottawa, Canada

  • Worked on two different turbine engine diagnostics projects with little supervision
  • Conducted review of various engine aerothermodynamic models to identify the one most suitable for modeling a turbine engine for fault diagnosis
  • Explored the “Bond Graph” modeling technique in detail to assess its capabilities and limitations in relation to engine diagnostics modeling
  • Helped devise and set-up a lab bench experiment for electrostatic monitoring of turbine engine gas-path debris; Planned and conducted tests using this setup

May 2003 - September 2003
Summer Student, Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology, NRC – Ottawa, Canada

  • Created virtual model of a lube oil filtration system and simulated oil flow through it using Computational Fluid Dynamics software (Fluent) with special emphasis on laminar-turbulent flow transition; the purpose was to identify the cause of less-than-expected productivity
  • Results of this work contributed to a poster presented at the meeting of the North American Membrane Society (June 26-30, 2004) and a paper published in the Journal of Membrane Science (2005)

June 2002 and August 2002
Summer Student, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Saskatchewan – Saskatoon, Canada

  • Prepared (cut, mounted, polished and etched) metal samples and successfully performed hardness tests on them with little or no supervision


  • Fluent in English and Urdu and possess a basic knowledge of French through participation in a summer French Immersion program
  • Work well with a wide variety of people having lived in six different countries
  • Proficient in the use of the following computer programs: MS Office, Matlab, Fluent, Gambit, CFX, Pro/Engineer, ANSYS Workbench, IntelliCAD, LabView (basic knowledge), ASTOS, Aerodynamic Preliminary Analysis System | Languages: C++, Matlab, HTML)
  • Fabrication skills: precision metal machining, MIG welding, casting and moldmaking, woodworking

Professional Affiliations

  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Member
  • Sigma Xi, Associate Member


Extracurricular Activities