Press Release

Nebraska Teen First Recipient of Scholarship Program Offered to TARC Participants

By SpaceRef Editor
May 10, 2012
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Inaugural year of scholarship established in the memory of Brendan Kutler

Los Angeles, CA (May 12, 2012) – The Brendan M. Kutler Memorial Scholarship Program is pleased to announce that the first recipient of the newly established award is Aaron Lewis Ashley of Gretna, Nebraska. Aaron is currently in his senior year at Gretna High School.

The head of Gretna High School’s rocketry team which participated in the Aerospace Industries Association’s (AIA) annual Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC), Aaron embodies the legacy of the young man for whom the scholarship is named. A gifted student who has overcome a range of personal and family challenges, Aaron has extensive intellectual interests and accomplishments ranging from competition-level piano and percussion, astronomy and Boy Scouts. Above all, Aaron has utilized his talents to not only help himself succeed but also to lead and help others advance. Aaron has been accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) this fall to study engineering. Aaron dreams of one day being instrumental in advancing the exploration of space.

Aaron distinguished himself in a field of some eighty applicants who qualified for this scholarship, in both his written application and his oral interview among finalists. This was an impressive feat, considering the caliber and accomplishments of this top-notch group of student leaders.

TARC, a student competition to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics, is sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association and the National Association of Rocketry. Established in the honor of Brendan M. Kutler, who suddenly and unexpectedly died in his sleep on December 29, 2009, at the age of seventeen, the $5,000 annual, four-year scholarship is open to all students who participate in the TARC competition during their Junior or Senior years of high school.

The new scholarship was announced to the students and parents in attendance at the TARC finals in the Plains, Virgina last year by Terence W. Lyons, CEO of AmSafe Industries Inc., a manufacturer of aviation safety products and a member of the Aerospace Industries Association, and a member of the scholarship selection committee. Mr. Lyons remarked: “We are establishing this scholarship in the honor of Brendan Kutler, who, along with his teammates from Harvard Westlake School in Los Angeles competed in TARC in 2008, reaching the Finals and placing 13th in the nation overall. Rocketry was just one of Brendan’s many diverse interests. Brendan was an extraordinary young man who found ways to connect with people all over the globe. With grace and humility, Brendan strived to use his talents to support others and to make the world a better place. It is in this spirit and in his honor and memory that we have established this scholarship. In an era where more often than not we hear about what is wrong with our upcoming generation, Brendan was a shining example of what is good in so many of today’s young people. Through this scholarship, we hope to identify other young men and women with similar traits, values and aspirations and to help them, through education, to make a positive impact as tomorrow’s leaders.”

About Aerospace Industries Association:

Founded in 1919 only a few years after the birth of flight, the AIA is the most authoritative and influential trade association representing the aerospace and defense industry. Based in Arlington, Va., AIA represents nearly 350 aerospace and defense manufacturers and suppliers. The association is at the forefront of critical issues, such as ensuring a strong U.S. industrial base, advocating for defense modernization and acquisition reform, increasing deployment of Next Generation Air Transportation System technologies and equipment, modernizing export controls, and obtaining additional resources for aeronautics research and space exploration. For more information, visit

About Brendan Monroe Kutler: To learn more about Brendan Kutler, this scholarship’s inspiration, and his passion for life and thirst for learning, visit

About the Scholarship: An application to be considered for next year’s scholarship award will be available this fall by downloaded from The scholarship selection committee includes Terry Lyons, former CEO of AmSafe, Inc.; Jacob Hazard, teacher at Harvard-Westlake School (Brendan’s computer science teacher and rocketry advisor); and Jon Kutler, Brendan’s father.

Terence W. Lyons
(310) 720-1357

Jon B. Kutler
(310) 471-3772

SpaceRef staff editor.