ChEMS Graduate Student Receives 2010 SMART Award

Matthew Weeks is first UC Irvine student to receive Department of Defense honor

Matthew Weeks, a fifth-year chemical engineering and materials science Ph.D. student, received a 2010 Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarship from the Department of Defense (DoD), the first ever for a UC Irvine student.  The SMART Scholarship for Service Program was established by the U.S. Congress to support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The program aims to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working at DoD laboratories.

The program kicked off in July as Weeks and the rest of the 2010 cohort attended the five day SMART orientation in Monterey Bay, Calif. The major highlights of the orientation were a tour of the USS Mobile Bay – an active duty Navy Cruiser in Monterey Bay that sailed up from San Diego Bay – and a host of military aircraft, including the UH-60 Blackhawk, E-2C Hawkeye, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18E Super Hornet, and F/A-18C Hornet.

Weeks’ scholarship, which covers full tuition and fees plus a living stipend, will fund the final year of his Ph.D. studies in the laboratory of Daniel Mumm, Ph.D., associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science.  Following graduation, Weeks will begin a position at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake, Calif.

As part of Mumm’s group, Weeks is currently working on an Office of Naval Research grant to understand the effects of the combustion of alternative fuels on gas turbine materials. The material system they are specifically interested in is the thermal barrier coating system that is responsible for protecting the hot-section structural engine components from the combustion environment temperatures and gases. Many of the new synthetic fuels, which are intended to replace and/or augment the use of fossil fuels, create significant materials challenges in gas turbine engines. Solving the materials challenges associated with the combustion of alternative fuels is a critical and necessary step toward their successful implementation.

Weeks received a B.S. degree in chemistry with minors in physics and mathematics from the University of Redlands in 2006, and an M.S. degree in materials science and engineering at UC Irvine in 2007. Upon his arrival at UC Irvine, he co-founded the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Graduate Student Association, and served as the organization’s president for four consecutive years.