Three Engineering Students Named 2018 University Scholars

The University of Connecticut recently released their list of 2018 University Scholars—and three of the 25 named are from the School of Engineering.

The three students who received that designation were: Thomas Chessman, Eric Lepowsky, and Hetal Patel.

The University Scholar Program is one of the most prestigious programs for undergraduates and is a great opportunity for motivated and academically talented students to get more from their last three undergraduate semesters. The program is available to students from all of the University’s schools and colleges, and allows students to design and pursue an in-depth research or creative project and to create an individualized plan of study that supports their academic interests during their final three semesters, according to the program’s website.

No more than 30 University Scholars are selected each year, and winners throughout the years have created toys to help autistic children learn, produced advances in stem cell research, invented processes for running campus buses on cooking oil, and much more. Admission is based on an application submitted during the first semester of a student’s junior year,

Chessman ‘19, a mechanical engineering major, whose project title is “In-Process Monitoring and Thermal Image Processing for Real-Time Feedback Control,” is building a control system that can improve final product quality in Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). SLS is an additive manufacturing technique that involves using a laser to melt powdered material together, layer by layer, in order to create a 3D product.

Chessman said that the reason he applied was to go beyond the status quo:

Thomas Chessman ’19


“Initially I saw the program as an opportunity to push myself. The idea of completing an intensive project designed by myself before graduation was attractive to me. Being a part of the program and graduating with the distinction was an achievement I desired.”

Lepowsky ‘19, a mechanical engineering major, whose project title is “3D Printing of a Degradable, Photo-Polymerizable Material for Application to Drug Manufacturing,” is addressing current approaches to 3D printing for drug manufacturing, which have not yet accessed the high-resolution fabrication method of inkjet-based printing. The goal of his research is to fill this void in the field by working towards the development of an inkjet 3D printer compatible with a biodegradable, photo-polymerizable material for the direct-write printing of pharmaceutical products.

In reflecting on this accomplishment, Lepowsky stated that this had been a goal of his since day one at UConn:

Eric Lepowsky ’19


“I am very honored and excited to have been named a University Scholar. I had been looking forward to applying to be a University Scholar for some time, so achieving this distinction has come with a great sense of pride. It is incredibly rewarding to be recognized for my accomplishments to date and I am looking forward to working on and seeing my own project come to fruition.”

Hetal Patel ‘19, a materials science and engineering major, is working on a project titled “Cryogenic Dislocation Nucleation Study on the Body-Centered Cubic Metals by Using Spherical Nanoindentation.” Her project aims to study dislocation nucleation behavior in Body-Centered Cubic metals, as a function of temperature, by using the in-situ InSEM (SEM = Scanning Electron Microscope) cryogenic spherical nanoindentation system. This will also allow her to obtain the Peierl’s barrier— the maximum possible strength defined at 0K. Research outcomes will have direct applications in designing mechanically reliable small sensors and devices for deep space exploration and future low temperature aeronautical applications.

Discussing what it means to be a University Scholar, Patel stated:

Hetal Patel ’19


“It feels great to be the first University Scholar in the MSE department and to represent one of the many amazing labs conducting exciting research within MSE. I am excited to get this experience before pursuing research at the graduate level, because it will prepare me well.”

To learn more about the University Scholars program, please visit:

Published: February 12, 2018