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Stevens Wins UTA's Second Goldwater Scholarship

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Elijah Stevens , a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, is the second UTA student ever to be named a Goldwater Scholar. He earned Honorable Mention honors last year.

Elijah Stevens, Goldwater ScholarStevens has developed a particular interest in analytical and experimental advanced materials research, joining Dr. Stefan Dancila’s research group in the Ultra High Temperature Materials Characterization Laboratory. Under Dancila’s guidance, he has worked on a research project focused on the thermo-mechanical and non-destructive characterization of Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) carbon-carbon composite materials, a key technology for the advancement of hypersonic flight. TPS materials research represents the forefront of aerospace materials and structural research, which has applications in defense, space exploration, and hypersonic flight that may enable a five-fold reduction in flight time.

“Mr. Stevens is an outstanding student demonstrating a remarkable maturity level. I am impressed by his intelligent questions and remarks, his natural curiosity and the desire to learn and understand. He is a quick, focused learner and has demonstrated a positive attitude and enthusiasm, which will serve him well in his future endeavors as a student and scientist/engineer,” Dancila said. 

As he enters his final year of undergraduate study, Stevens is preparing to pursue a master’s degree and engage in rocket propulsion research. “Winning the Goldwater Scholarship will help me get through the rest of my undergraduate degree and compete for graduate scholarships that will get me into – and pay for – graduate school. More importantly, it is recognition of the quality education and mentoring I am receiving here at UTA.”

With Dancila’s recommendation, Stevens applied and was selected for the Summer 2012 NASA Academy Program at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. The experience provided him with further motivation for research, and focused his interest on the related field of rocket nozzle structures and gas dynamics, and turbo-machinery.

“The research I conducted in Dr. Dancila’s lab helped pave the way for me to receive a NASA internship and I am grateful for the opportunities he made available to me to truly succeed,” Stevens said.

Prior to coming to UT Arlington, Stevens served in the U.S. Army as a radio and security communications repairman. “In the Army, I experienced first-hand how engineering kept my fellow service members and me safe. My military service provided me with an additional perspective to rise up to the modern engineering challenges we now face.”

Dr. Mahera Philobos, assistant provost at UTA, was the person who brought the scholarship to Stevens’s attention. “Dr. Philobos’s encouragement and support throughout the process was invaluable to me,” he said.

“Elijah embodies the essence of dedication and commitment to the field of engineering and represents the best of UTA and the broader community,” Philobos said. “He is one of the most impressive and capable students I have ever met.  He has enormous potential to make exceptional contributions in this world, excelling in any endeavor he undertakes.”

College of Engineering Dean J.P. Bardet was thrilled to hear of Stevens’s accomplishment. “The Goldwater Scholarship is presented to the best students in the country, and Elijah represents the high caliber of students we work with every day in the College of Engineering. His determination and hard work have led to this award, and we are proud to have him as a student,” he said. 

Congress established the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program in 1986 in honor of the former U.S. senator from Arizona and 1964 presidential candidate. The program’s goal is to encourage a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships in the fields. The scholarship is awarded to about 300 college sophomores and juniors nationwide. A maximum of $7,500 per academic year is granted. The scholarship is awarded based on merit. The amount given is based on financial need.

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