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Two MEMS Graduate PhD Candidates Named Department of Defense Fellows

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 4, 2017) … The United States Department of Defense (DoD) announced that Emily Cimino and Erica Stevens, PhD candidates in the Materials Science and Engineering PhD program at the University of Pittsburgh, were awarded National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowships. The award covers the fellows’ full tuition and required fees, not including room and board, and $153,000 in stipend funds over the course of the 48-month program tenure.

Emily Cimino2Ms. Cimino is working in the research group of Brian Gleeson, the Harry S. Tack Chair Professor and Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS). She is researching the hot corrosion of a second generation nickel-based superalloy supplied by Pratt & Whitney, an aerospace manufacturer headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut. The goal of her research is to understand the mechanism of hot corrosion as a function of temperature and sulfur dioxide content and to establish methods that may reduce alloy degradation via hot corrosion. Ms. Cimino earned her bachelor’s degree at the Pennsylvania State University. 

“Being awarded the DoD fellowship is a huge plus because I have a source of funding until I graduate, and I can solely focus on research,” said Ms. Cimino. “I hope to advance current understanding of hot corrosion, and I hope to take full advantage of the resources I have at Pitt, namely characterization equipment necessary for this research as well as knowledgeable faculty.”

Erica StevensMs. Stevens received funding for her research into additive manufacturing magnetocaloric materials, or materials that change temperature with magnetic field changes. She is pursuing her PhD under the supervision of Markus Chmielus, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. She received her undergraduate degrees in materials science and engineering at Pitt as well as a bachelor of philosophy degree through the University Honors College.

“Magnetic refrigeration, or refrigerators that use magnetocaloric materials, is currently being developed, but their highest reported efficiency is around 20 percent, while theoretical is 30 percent,” said Ms. Stevens. “During the fellowship, I could be integral in increasing the efficiency of refrigerators by another 10 percent, saving consumers on electricity bills and contributing to lowering emissions from power generation. A large portion of our electricity generation as a nation goes to refrigeration.”

The selection process for NDSEG fellows consists of a panel evaluating the candidate as a whole and review of the candidate’s research project by the DoD. The Air Force Research Laboratory, the Office of Naval Research and the Army Research Office sponsor NDSEG fellowships; and the American Society for Engineering Education administers the award.


Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Contact: Paul Kovach