The Center for Non-Destructive Engineering (CNDE) awarded Mica Baquera with the 2017-18 Trapp Graduate Fellowship award.
The Fellowship is funded through the generosity of Orlin D. Trapp and Onnolee U. Trapp and is awarded to a graduate students with a research appointment in the Center for Nondestructive Evaluation. The Trapp Family have had a long association with Iowa State University and have a deep interest in and concern for advancing STEM education, and they particularly wish to see more U.S. citizen engineers and scientists obtain graduate education in fields which will have impact in the USA and wider technical community.
Mica Baquera received his BS in Metallurgical Engineering in 2005 and then an MS degree in Materials Science in 2007. Armed with newly found skills, he jumped into the working world and joined the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and initially focused primarily on the inspection of NDE procedures performed in nuclear power plants. He eventually moved to NRC Headquarters and was inspired to seek to obtain a PhD, and choose to join CNDE and seek a degree in Engineering Mechanics at Iowa State University. He is one of few Native American PhD students at Iowa State in engineering. His research is focused on advancing the state of the art of NDE for nuclear concrete containment inspection. He is developing numerical models for the optimization of ultrasonic inspection of heavily reinforced concrete structures. Once he completes his PhD, he is considering two potential paths. Baquera will either a return to the nuclear community to continue the advancement of NDE technologies or engage in teaching to help foster the pursuit of knowledge in the next generation. The Trapp Fellowship will enable him to meet his personal goals, and to be a role model to a community where only a handful of its members in any year (only 7 in 2015 across the USA) achieve a PhD in an engineering topic.