Engineering student 'electrified' to become first-ever UH Goldwater scholar

May 22, 2006

HOUSTON, May 22, 2006 - With his sights set on making strides in the areas of electricity and oil conservation, a University of Houston student only in his junior year already has extensive research experience that earned him a $7,500 Goldwater Scholarship for the 2006-2007 academic year.

One of the most prestigious awards available to undergraduate students, the Goldwater Scholarship provides funding to sophomore and junior students majoring in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering who plan to pursue a career in research. It was established by the U.S. Congress to honor the late Sen. Barry M. Goldwater and chooses recipients on the basis of academic merit. With only one third of applicants selected to receive this honor, Phuc M. Huynh, an electrical engineering major in UH's Cullen College of Engineering, was among 323 recipients selected from a pool of 1,081 candidates. He is the first student from UH to become a Goldwater Scholar.

"The Goldwater Scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarships available to undergraduates, and Phuc Huynh received this award over literally hundreds of applicants," said Ray Flumerfelt, dean of the Cullen College of Engineering. "His commitment and love of research make him a more-than-deserving recipient who will go on to represent the college well as he pursues his goal of becoming a professor and researcher."

Also a recipient of the Provost's Undergraduate Research Scholarship this spring, Huynh has an admirable grade point average of 3.89. Even so, Huynh thought his chance of winning the Goldwater was very slim because of the stiff national competition. Along with the assistance he received in perfecting his application from Karen Weber, his scholarship adviser in the UH Honors College, Huynh credits his research experience with Ji Chen, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UH, as two of the primary reasons he received the scholarship.

Chen and Huynh are modeling an infrared bandpass filter that can be used to increase the efficiency of converting thermal energy to electrical energy. This type of filter is designed to transmit a particular band of electromagnetic frequencies while excluding those of higher or lower frequencies. In the case of Chen and Huynh's study of the filter's behavior, the highest percentage of transmission was obtained at infrared frequency. At other frequencies, this percentage was very low.

"Along with the Rhodes Scholarship and the Marshall Scholarship, the Goldwater is among the most prestigious awards that an undergraduate can receive," said Donald Foss, UH senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "I am delighted to add my voice in congratulating this outstanding student. A faculty member is usually a key component to a student's success in such competition, and I was very pleased to learn of Professor Ji Chen's role in Phuc Huynh's work. Kudos to them both."

After graduation, Huynh, who emigrated from South Vietnam with his family, plans to earn a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. He hopes then to attain a position at a university where he can teach and conduct research. He is particularly interested in focusing on building effective hybrid engines to help conserve oil.

"Being a Goldwater Scholar means a lot to me," Huynh said. "It brings me one step closer toward my goal and gives me a better chance to compete for some prestigious graduate fellowships in the near future."
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

About the Cullen College of Engineering
UH Cullen College of Engineering has produced five U.S. astronauts, ten members of the National Academy of Engineering, and degree programs that have ranked in the top ten nationally. With more than 2,600 students, the college offers accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees in biomedical, chemical, civil and environmental, electrical and computer, industrial, and mechanical engineering. It also offers specialized programs in aerospace, materials, petroleum engineering and telecommunications.

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