ECE graduate student Drew Schiltz was selected to receive a 2013 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) for his outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well as his potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise.
A highly competitive award, the GRF program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. As the oldest graduate Fellowship of its kind, the GRF program has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. Past Fellowship award recipients include numerous Nobel Prize winners; U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu; Google founder, Sergey Brin; and Freakonomics co-author, Steven Levitt.
Schiltz - who is advised by Professor Carmen Menoni, a highly decorated researcher and longtime member of the ECE faculty - is pursuing his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Colorado State University. He earned his bachelor's degree from Winona State University in his hometown, Winona, Minnesota, where he studied physics and composite materials engineering. Schiltz also participated in two NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs) programs at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Colorado. These experiences sparked his interest in electrical engineering.
"I loved my undergraduate studies, but I didn't want to make it a lifestyle. Through my REUs, I discovered electrical engineering, which seems like a hybrid of my previous work," Schiltz says. He adds, "I am extremely interested in Professor Menoni's work, and the ECE department has unique facilities and powerful lasers that are critical for my research."
Schiltz's research focuses on optical interference coatings, with the goal of making interference coatings that are more resistant to high-power lasers that produce short, high energy pulses. Through this work, Schiltz and his fellow researchers want to better understand laser/materials interactions and determine ways to improve performance of multilayer structures - a difficult challenge that researchers around the world are trying to overcome.
NSF Fellowship recipients benefit from a three-year annual stipend and allowances for tuition and fees, opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research. In addition to the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Schiltz also received a prestigious scholarship from the Directed Energy Professional Society, the premier organization for the exchange of information on the development and application of directed energy, which includes both high energy lasers and high power microwaves.