Katelyn Brinker, CNDE grad student, receives second NASA fellowship

Katelyn Brinker, a graduate student in electrical engineering, has received a second NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship (NSTRF).

The fellowship will support Brinker’s Ph.D. research developing chipless RFID nondestructive evaluation techniques, incorporating new tag designs and microwave imaging to increase utility.

NSTRF, which starting in 2020 is now the NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunities (NSTGRO) program, supports graduate students in their education and research into low technology readiness level (TRL) technologies to advance the space exploration capabilities of NASA. The program also provides support for awardees to present their work at conferences and provides the opportunity to perform research at NASA centers around the country.

Brinker first received the award in 2017 to support her master’s degree electrical engineering research at Missouri University of Science and Technology. During that time, she worked to develop embedded chipless RFID tags for materials characterization and structural health monitoring (SHM) and completed two research experiences at NASA Langley Research Center during the summers of 2018 and 2019. During these research activities, she worked in the Nondestructive Evaluation Sciences Branch with William (Cy) Wilson, her NASA research collaborator.

Brinker is now pursuing a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Iowa State University with Reza Zoughi, Kirby Gray (Battelle) Chair in Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of Iowa State’s Center for Nondestructive Evaluation.

When Brinker finishes her Ph.D., she hopes to work for NASA full time in a research position. This fall she worked as a Pathways intern at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC in the Telecommunication Networks & Technology Branch (code 566). The Pathways program allows students to complete work tours at NASA throughout their degree program and provides the opportunity to convert to full time employment after graduation. During her time at GSFC she helped design communication systems for future space exploration missions and completed part of her NSTRF research in the Flight Microwave & Telecommunication Systems Branch (code 567).

Brinker is also an active contributor to the Space Generation Advisory Council, the IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Society, and the IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu (IEEE-HKN).