The MUST Report (September 2013)
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>>> CLICK HERE <<< The MUST Report is always looking for stories and professional opportunities to share with MUST scholars and alumni. If you would like to contribute, please email us. Suggestions and comments are also welcomed.

MUST Project Updates


Travel Awards

The NASA MUST Project offers conference travel awards to MUST Scholars who wish to participate in STEM related conferences. A committee comprised of members from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Institute and NASA will collectively review applications and grant awards based on the selection criteria detailed in the application. The Travel Award is to be used for conference registration fees, travel costs, lodging, meals and/or presentation materials. Scholars can apply for more than one conference, but priority is given to those scholars who have not previously received a travel award. Click here to download the Travel Award application.

Tutoring

The MUST Project also offers financial assistance to current MUST scholars who wish to receive tutoring. Scholars are eligible to receive up to $500 per semester. Tutoring compensation is fixed at $10/hour for tutors who do not hold bachelor’s degrees, $20/hour for tutors who hold bachelor’s degrees in the subject(s) being studied, and $30/hour for tutors who hold master’s or PhDs in the subject(s) being studied.  Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. To download the Tutoring Award application, click here.

Good Reads


The Geography of Hiring in Alternate STEM Careers
An article from the Chronicle in Higher Education
“I am truly surprised by how few students receive career counseling that urges them to consider not only their aptitudes and skills, but also what kind of whole life they want to live. Because let’s face it: Some higher-education and career decisions come saddled with strict geographic restrictions.” Click here to continue reading.
 
Why Cleaning Up Your Credit History Can Help You Land a Job
An article from the Brazen Careerist Blog
“You may not be aware of it, but your credit history has more to do with your career potential than you think.” To continue reading, click here.

How to Spot a Company that Truly Values Its Employees
An article from the Brazen Careerist Blog
“Smart companies know that “valuing employees” isn’t just a box to be checked off.” To learn what to look for when evaluating potential employers, click here.
Credit: Sean McNaughton and Samuel Velasco, National Geographic and 5W Infographics

PHOTO of the MONTH: Fifty Years of Exploration
Check out this infographic depicting nearly 200 solar, lunar and interplanetary missions. Click on the photo or here to zoom in. Thanks to National Geographic

MUST Scholars at Work

Developing a Solid-State Ultracapacitor

By Aida Cortés-Peña, NASA MUST Scholar
During my internship at Marshall Space Flight Center I assisted on the development of a solid-state ultracapacitor to replace batteries in space vehicles. Currently, NASA uses rechargeable batteries that utilize silver zinc or lithium ion electrochemical processes. These current state-of-the-art rechargeable batteries cannot be rapidly charged, contain harmful chemicals, and suffer from early wear-out mechanisms. A solid-state ultracapacitor is a EEE part that offers significant advantages over current electrochemical and electrolytic devices. The objective of this research is to develop an internal barrier layer capacitor (IBLC) using novel dielectric materials with a focus on these advantages.
Aida Y. Cortés-Peña configuring the belt muffle furnace to sinter dielectric materials, and performing screen printing, a 3D additive thin film deposition technique, to print an Ultracapacitor test cell.
The reduction process of atomic layer deposited (ALD) film coatings of alumina (Al2O3) and silica (SiO2) on barium titanate (BaTiO3) nano-particles was studied to determine an optimal synthesis profile. The barium titanate particles varied in diameters ranging from 200nm to 730nm, and coating configurations from uncoated to 10nm. The materials were sensitized at different temperatures and durations in a furnace purged with a reducing forming gas atmosphere (96% N2, 4% H2) to make the BaTiO3 slightly conductive. The coating then serves as an insulator, resulting in millions of nano-capacitors in parallel. Color change in the powders was observed for signs of reduction, a necessary step to make the BaTiO3 semi-conductive. The nano-particle powders are densified into pellets and then are characterized using a dielectric test fixture for a range of frequencies. Densification and sintering are evaluated using scanning electron microscopy techniques. Ultimately, the samples showing the most promising electrical characteristics of permittivity, dissipation factor (tan δ), and equivalent series resistance (ESR) were chosen for dielectric ink formulation, electrode deposition, and characterization.

My research is leading to a revolutionary breakthrough were chemically harmful batteries can be replaced for a solid-state ultracapacitor. This will improve life on earth and better technologies for deep space exploration. The NASA MUST internship has given me the opportunity to work with experts in the field of Materials Science and become part of a team. Thanks to the MUST project I have gained hands-on experience performing cutting-edge research. My summer experience at Marshall Space Flight Center has inspired me to pursue graduate studies in the field of Materials Science and apply to NASA’s CO-OP program during my PhD.

NASA Professional Opportunities

Adapted from NASA Education Express, September 19th Issue

NASA Seeks America's Best and Brightest for Space Technology Research Fellowships
NASA is seeking applications from U.S. graduate students for the agency's Space Technology Research Fellowships. The research grants, worth as much as $68,000 per year, will coincide with the start of the 2014 fall term.

Applications will be accepted from students pursuing or planning to pursue master's or doctorate degrees in relevant space technology disciplines at accredited U.S. universities. The grants will sponsor U.S. graduate student researchers who show significant potential to contribute to NASA's strategic space technology objectives through their studies. The application deadline is November 13, 2013. For more information and instructions on how to submit applications, please click here.

National Science Foundation - East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes
The National Science Foundation's East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes, or EAPSI, provide U.S. graduate students an opportunity to spend eight weeks (10 weeks for Japan) during the summer conducting research at one of seven host locations in East Asia and the Pacific: Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan.

EAPSI is open to graduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and are enrolled in a research-oriented master's or doctoral program in science or engineering. Applicants must propose a research project in a field of science, engineering or STEM education supported by NSF, including Engineering; Computer and Information Science and Engineering; Mathematical and Physical Sciences; Biological Sciences; Geosciences; Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences; Education (STEM); and Multidisciplinary Research in these fields.

The National Science Foundation provides EAPSI Fellows with a $5,000 stipend and roundtrip airplane ticket to the host location. 

The application deadline for summer 2014 is Nov. 25, 2013. For additional information, visit http://www.nsf.gov/eapsi.
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