Katelyn Brinker, a master of science student in electrical engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has earned a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship (NSTRF). Brinker joins a small group of students from throughout the United States who show potential to contribute to NASA’s goal of creating innovative space technologies for the nation’s science, exploration and economic future.
The three-year fellowship includes a stipend for students’ research work, tuition allowance, faculty advisor allowance and an on-site NASA experience. Brinker, originally from Highland, Illinois, will work on a project titled “Passively-Coded Embedded Wideband Microwave Sensors for Material Characterization and Structural Health Monitoring (SHM).”
Brinker’s research will focus on monitoring complex materials and structures by developing passively-coded miniature embedded wideband microwave sensors. Each sensor will consist of an antenna specifically designed to have a number of resonances in its reflection property. It will be embedded in materials, such as those used in composite fuselages and astronauts’ habitats, and because they are passive, the sensors will not need a power source.
In the case of a planetary habitat, astronauts could easily inspect their homes for damage using a simple transceiver, and perform repairs or preventative maintenance if necessary. This practice would increase the astronaut’s safety and minimize the risk of structure failure while they explore and are faced with the unforgiving environment of space.
Brinker’s faculty advisor is Dr. Reza Zoughi, the Schlumberger Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Missouri S&T. Her work will be supported by Missouri S&T’s Applied Microwave Nondestructive Testing Laboratory.
For more information about the fellowship, visit nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/strg/nstrf_2017.