Alumni Engagement Medal Award 2022Chris Zeller Headshot

Principal Engineer, Ball Aerospace
Boulder, CO

Professional Background

Christopher Zeller is a Principal Spacecraft Systems engineer at Ball Aerospace. Mr. Zeller has worked for over 22 years in the aerospace industry designing, analyzing and operating spacecraft for NASA, commercial and classified customers. Mr. Zeller is currently the lead systems engineer on a communications payload constellation. In prior assignments he completed delivery of a constellation of gimbals for a payload and was a systems engineer the Joint Polar Satellite System which provides weather forecast for the US. Throughout his career he has contributed to over 10 operational spacecraft serving as a systems engineer, aerothermal analyst, orbit analyst, power systems engineer, communications systems engineer and risk manager.

Mr. Zeller started his career with Raytheon Systems Company designing ground stations for communications satellites for international customers. He was also an orbit analyst for the Ikonos satellite, the world’s first high-resolution commercial imaging satellite. Mr. Zeller is an Associate Fellow with the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and has served as the Rocky Mountain chapter chairman in 2013 and programs chairperson for over 15 years as well as ATS conference chair for 2019 and 2021. Zeller earned his Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1999 and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois in Aeronautical Engineering in 1997.

Contributions to you the Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department over the past year

Christopher Zeller was the Conference Chair for the Rocky Mountain AIAA Annual Technical Symposium for 2021 (and 2019). Both events were held here at CU Boulder at the UMC. The 2021 Annual Technical Symposium, held on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021 was the largest ever, bringing in over 300 faculty, students and industry partners in the aerospace community from all over Colorado. He did an excellent job highlighting all of the research focus areas of the Ann and H.J. Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department. There were over 90 technical sessions throughout the day in seven rooms all over the University Memorial Center. Mr. Zeller spent over 360 hours planning the symposium from finding speakers, getting sponsors to reading all of the technical papers to planning every last detail of the event.

Mr. Zeller's contributions includes bringing major attention to the department from partners in the aerospace industry and other academic institutions across the State by highlighting over 15 areas of research in the Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department. This event engaged CU Boulder students, staff and faculty many of which were able to network with leaders from the aerospace industry, government agencies and the military. Some of these connections lead to jobs and internships for the students and collaborations with companies (including funding) in the aerospace industry for the Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department.