Texas Tech Graduate Students Receive Fellowship

Written by Megan Robare

The Texas Tech University Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering announced two of its graduate students have been awarded National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowships.

Jonathan Foster, a graduate student from Big Spring; and Cameron Hettler, a graduate student from Lubbock, were awarded the fellowships by the Department of Defense. Foster and Hettler’s applications were selected by the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force, respectively, from more than 2,600 applicants. Their fellowships will cover full tuition and fees and a stipend every year for three years.

Jon Strauss, interim dean of the college, said Foster and Hettler are among an elite group of graduate students at Texas Tech.

“This prestigious award is an acknowledgement of the quality of our graduate students and is a recognition of the significant research activities in the Center for Pulsed Power and Power Electronics in the Whitacre College of Engineering,” Strauss said.

Foster will continue his research at the Center for Pulsed Power and Power Electronics at Texas Tech before completing his doctorate. His focus is in the area of high-power microwave breakdown, which is a phenomenon similar to lightning, except it is induced by an electric field that changes directions rapidly. After finishing at Texas Tech, he hopes to work for the Department of Defense or the Department of Energy.

“Receiving this fellowship means a great deal to me,” Foster said. “In terms of conducting scientific research, I think this shows that Texas Tech can compete with anyone in the nation.”

Hettler will continue his research and complete his doctorate at Texas Tech. His research is in the area of high-power silicon carbide switching. He will attempt to push the limits of semiconductors in high-voltage and high-power applications.

Hettler said receiving the fellowship is a high honor and is a tribute to the staff and faculty at the pulsed power lab. He said their professors and advisors provided them with the opportunities and established the groundwork for their research.

“At Texas Tech, we are fortunate to have some of the best faculty and facilities in the world in the area of pulsed power research,” Hettler said.

Foster and Hettler were also recipients of the Texas Tech Doctoral Fellowship during fall 2009. The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering was allocated four of the fellowships.

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CONTACT: Vittal Rao, chair of Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Whitacre College of Engineering, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-3533, or vittal.rao@ttu.edu.