SAVANNAH, Ga. (April 13, 2011) – Two civil engineering graduate students at Georgia Tech Savannah are among an elite group to be awarded fellowships under the 2011 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who have demonstrated outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well as the potential to strengthen the vitality of science and engineering in the United States. Brittany Bruder and Stephanie Smallegan will utilize the fellowships to further their education and conduct vital coastal engineering research.
Bruder and Smallegan are the first Georgia Tech Savannah students to be awarded these highly competitive fellowships. Both will receive an annual stipend of $30,000 that is renewable for three years, plus $10,500 each year for educational allowances. Applicants for the fellowship program submit a proposal to the NSF, which are reviewed by a panel of scientists, mathematicians, engineers and other experts in graduate education. Proposals must demonstrate how the student's research will enhance scientific and technical understanding, while benefiting society.
Bruder, a Ph.D. candidate in civil engineering at Georgia Tech Savannah who obtained her undergraduate degree from Columbia University, plans to study the applicability of tidal streams as a renewable energy source in Coastal Georgia while concurrently researching new tidal turbine technologies. Bruder plans to assess the tidal hydropower potential around Rose Dhu Island with the hopes of a potential turbine prototype installation. Rose Dhu, situated 10 miles from Savannah, is the future site of an educational center for the Girl Scouts of America. Bruder’s past accomplishments include completing an internship at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility studying tides in the Chesapeake Bay, working on stadium projects for the 2012 Olympic Games while interning in a London engineering firm, cataloging civil infrastructure legislation while interning for US Senator Jim DeMint, and being selected as a member of the national engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi.
Smallegan, who was recently inducted into the national engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, earned her undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech Savannah and has continued her Ph.D. level studies at the campus. Smallegan’s research will utilize video observations of nearshore processes at Cape Hatteras, N.C. to address the continual shaping of coastlines and the need for a prediction methodology of future shorelines in order to provide sustainable coastal management. She will look at the causes of longshore currents, model the effect of Diamond Shoals on surf-zone waves, and examine the relative importance of cross-shore transport and wave-driven transport. It will be the first coastal erosion study of this nature to be conducted at Cape Hatteras. Smallegan’s past research accomplishments include performing beach surveys and quantifying the volume of sand lost since nourishment as part of Tybee’s Beach Morphology Monitoring project. She also participated in a coastal erosion study conducted at Myrtle Beach, S.C. that assessed the accuracy of longshore currents estimated from video observations to in situ current profiler measurements. This research was presented at the fall 2010 AGU Conference in San Francisco and the Ocean Sciences 2010 Conference in Portland, Ore.
“NSF Fellowships are among the most esteemed awards a graduate student can receive for their scientific and engineering research,” says Director of Georgia Tech Savannah Dr. David Frost. “We are immensely proud of both of these students who are truly committed to finding unique and inventive ways to solve real-world engineering issues. Their research studies will have a significant impact on civil engineering challenges for coastal regions.”