July, 2010

Four Penn State students — Chad Althouse, Kevin Cheng, Carolyn Denomme and Thomas Walker — have all been honored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. The fellowship gives them the chance to spend 12 weeks of this summer, May 22-Aug. 11, conducting research in Gaithersburg, Md., on behalf of the NIST. The fellowship selects approximately 100 students each year from the entire nation and gives them an opportunity to conduct some of the best research with which an undergraduate can be involved.

Althouse, a sophomore majoring in material science and engineering, has already had several research experiences, and believes that his experience helped rise him above the other applicants. The loss of 12 weeks of summer comes as no shock to Althouse since he has spent most of the past three summers conducting research for the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation (NSF). His NSF research program, run through Lehigh University, gave Althouse the opportunity to research not only at Lehigh, but also in Bonn, Germany, an experience that Althouse found extremely interesting. Althouse will be at the NIST SURF Electronics and Electrical Engineering lab this summer conducting his research. After he finishes his undergraduate degree, Althouse wants to pursue his Ph.D. and wants to someday lead a research team of his own.

Cheng, a junior majoring in electrical engineering with a minor in mathematics, said that he was immediately attracted to the program because he views it as a way to gain extremely valuable research experience and as a means to gain important knowledge. Cheng says the writers of his recommendation letters played a crucial role in helping him get the scholarship. He will be conducting his research in the NIST SURF Physics lab this summer, and says that he in incredibly eager to begin working on his project and views this upcoming summer as one of the most important summers of his life. Cheng wants to pursue a master’s degree at Penn State once he graduates, and he would like to someday work as a researcher for either NIST or IBM.

Denomme, a junior Schreyer Honors College scholar majoring in engineering science with a minor in mechanical engineering, will be researching the magnetic levitation of mass standards in the NIST SURF Manufacturing Engineering lab. Denomme has spent the past four summers working on various research projects and couldn’t be more excited to spend this summer working on a new one. Denomme is president of the Engineering Science Student Council and is the senior campus representative for Apple Computer. With both of Denomme’s parents employed at the University of Kentucky, she found herself hooked on the university way of life from an early age, and now sees academia as a place she could spend her life learning and teaching. Denomme plans to pursue a Ph.D. and wants to someday get a professorial position so that she can have interaction with students, as well as have the ability to keep learning and the opportunity to continue research.

Walker, also a junior Schreyer Honors College scholar majoring in engineering science, wanted to go after the NIST SURF program because of its prestige, its ties to the federal government and his love for developing technology. Walker will be conducting his research at the NIST SURF Electronics and Electrical Engineering lab. He is the commonwealth representative in the Society of Engineering Science, and tries to help students learn about the engineering science major. Walker wants to go after a master’s degree once he graduates and would like to pursue it at Penn State because of his attachment to the great faculty in the Engineering Science Department. Walker wants to end up doing applied research on antenna engineering and electromagnetics and says that a teaching position could prove interesting.

Story by David Anderson, undergraduate intern in the Office of University Fellowships.
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