University of Maryland (UMD) doctoral student Michael Bonthron, a research assistant at the mechanical engineering department’s Tubaldi Lab, has been selected for a National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship. Awarded by the Department of Defense (DoD), the fellowship is part of a program aimed at building a broader pool of high-achieving U.S. scientists and engineers.
Bonthron, who has just completed his first year as a doctoral student, works with UMD mechanical assistant professor Eleonora Tubaldi.
“Our work focuses on mechanical metamaterials, which are engineered structures that can have unique mechanical properties,” he said. “We design structures that have properties that don’t occur in a traditional material, or that respond in unique ways.” Applications include designing aircraft wings, hi-tech ship components, or creating smart materials that can adjust their properties in response to stimuli.
A native of the Chicago suburbs, Bolthron majored in mechanical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology and went on to earn a master’s degree in applied math from DePaul University, In researching doctoral programs, he says, his aim was to join a research group with a focus on the analytical and computational side of engineering. Given these interests, he said, the Tubaldi Lab is a perfect match.
With support from the NDSEG Fellowship, Bonthron will be able to dive deep into the analytical approaches that have come to fascinate him. His specific areas of focus at the lab, and in his doctoral research, will be on developing analytical models that can predict how a given set of metamaterials will behave, as well as on computational tools that allow these predictions to be scaled up to cover larger structures. In addition, he will be carrying out experimentation designed to validate the models.
NDSEG Fellowships, which include full tuition coverage plus a stipend, are highly competitive, portable awards granted to U.S. citizens and nationals. Awardees are given the opportunity to work with a mentor who can share expertise and provide career-building guidance. “The stipend is fantastic, and the mentorship opportunity is equally valuable,” Bonthron said.
The Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded nearly 3,400 NDSEG fellowships since the program began in 1989.
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