December 23, 2020
A&A undergraduate Carter Vu has been named a 2020 Astronaut Scholar, an elite group of 56 students chosen from universities across the United States. Benefits include a $15,000 scholarship and the opportunity to present at the annual Scholar Technical Conference.
At the University of Washington, Carter is an active member of the Elementary Particle Experiment (EPE) in the physics department and A&A’s Ram Accelerator Lab. In the EPE, he is first undergraduate in the lab to have successfully designed monte-carlo simulations, simulated parton showering, and run macro-based analysis, in experiments advancing the understanding of the generic heavy Higgs boson. Currently a junior and a member of the ATLAS collaboration at CERN, he serves as a mentor to other students and is developing a tutorial to help new students tackle the Experiment’s steep learning curve.
In A&A’s Ram Accelerator Lab, Carter works alongside graduate students to maintain the accelerator and run routine operations while investigating the gas dynamics at play through computational fluid dynamics simulations. He says, “What is really engaging in the lab for me is witnessing the interplay of complex physics, chemistry and electronics to draw connections between experimentation, theory and what I learn in class.”
His interest in the intersection of the theoretical and experimental has also brought him to work with hydrogen power startup Ekona Power on a pulsed methane pyrolyzer, which aims to break down methane to produce energy through pyrolysis instead of combustion with oxygen. This innovative process could lead to a zero-emission, cost-effective method of energy production. Of this work, he says, “I’m working with blueprints and electrical schematics. I really enjoy the hands-on experience and the challenges of bringing theory to life.”
Carter plans to pursue a doctorate in aerospace engineering to work on expanding popular access to space technology.