NSF Selects UA Student for Competitive Fellowship

  • May 3rd, 2017
Megan Hathcock

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A graduating senior at The University of Alabama accepted admittance to the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

Megan Hathcock, from Huntsville, who studied mechanical engineering, is one of 2,000 NSF Graduate Research Fellows selected from more than 13,000 applicants to receive financial support for graduate studies.

Since 1952, NSF has provided fellowships to individuals selected early in their careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering.

The ranks of NSF Fellows include individuals who have made breakthroughs in science and engineering research and become leaders in their fields.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is part of NSF’s overall strategy to develop a globally engaged work force necessary to ensure the nation’s leadership in advancing science and engineering research and innovation.

By underwriting the training of graduate students with the demonstrated potential to be high-achieving scientists and engineers, the Graduate Research Fellowship Program represents long-range investments for the future of society, according to the NSF.

Hathcock, daughter of Kathi Booher Hathcock and Cliff Hathcock, is seeking a career researching structural dynamics and plans to attend the University of Michigan.

As an undergraduate researcher at UA, she created a method to tell if a type of federal emission test of diesel engines becomes invalid during the test. She also worked with programming electronic throttles on small generators to reduce emissions and increase efficiency.

For the past two years, Hathcock served as technical lead for mechanical engineering as part of the EcoCAR 3 team, which is turning a Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid electric vehicle as part of a national contest.

For her work on the team, she received the 2016 GM Women in Engineering Award, given to women on EcoCAR 3 teams who demonstrate outstanding technical excellence and accomplishments. She also served as lead on a group of students who replaced the aluminum hood of the Camaro with one made of graphene and carbon fiber.

A National Merit Finalist out of Grissom High School, Hathcock is a student in the Computer-Based Honors Program and is a member of the national engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi and the mechanical engineering society Pi Tau Sigma.

She is also a member of the UA chapters for Society of Women Engineers and American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Her other activities on campus included the Honors College Academic Honor Council and member of the UA Million Dollar Band drumline for two years.

Off campus, she is a NASA Pathways Intern in loads, dynamics and strength at Marshall Space Flight Center, and she served as a college student tech senior systems engineer for Lockheed Martin Missile Defense Systems in Huntsville.

Hathcock’s work at NASA led to co-authorship on a paper presented at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Science and Technology Forum and Exposition in January 2017.

Along with Hathcock, Matthew Miller, who graduated in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from UA, was selected for an NSF fellowship. Miller is pursuing a doctorate degree at the University of Texas.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.