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NASA Names Haase a 2013 Space Technology Research Fellow

Nancy Davis • DATE: July 26, 2013

John Haase, a graduate student in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, has been selected by NASA as one of the 65 graduate students to be named a 2013 Space Technology Research Fellow (STRF). Part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, the STRF program challenges students to examine ideas and approaches that are critical to making science, space travel and exploration more effective, affordable and sustainable. The fellows conduct innovative space technology research — developing, testing and flying hardware for use in future missions — on their respective campuses, at NASA centers and at nonprofit U.S. research and development laboratories.

Haase’s research as a space technology fellow will explore the use of carbon-based nanomaterials and microscale geometry for enhanced thermionic energy conversion in space applications. Specifically, he will be working to improve the performance of thermionic energy converters, which convert heat into electricity and can be used to generate electricity from the sun’s heat in both manned and unmanned space missions.

Haase aims to develop functional thermionic energy conversion devices using novel materials such as diamond, carbon nanotubes, and graphene that he will synthesize with atmospheric-pressure plasma jets. With these robust materials, Haase’s research may also be used on Earth as a source of renewable energy to convert sunlight or the heat from power plants into electricity. As an STRF, Haase will travel to a NASA facility to collaborate with NASA scientists.

Haase is also an Arthur J. Schmitt Presidential Fellow, an honor bestowed on the University’s top graduate students in science and engineering. In 2012 he graduated magna cum laude from Kettering University in Flint, Mich., where he majored in engineering physics and mechanical engineering. He is part of the Small Scale Transport Group at the University studying thermionic energy conversion under his graduate advisor David Go, assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering.

These fellowships and research activities are part of a renewed emphasis by NASA on technology. The program is designed to inspire the nation's students and contribute to an innovation-driven economy. “Our space technology development and innovation pipeline sees a natural on-ramp for new ideas coming from America’s graduate researcher community,” said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology in Washington. “By partnering with and investing in America’s brightest minds, we are guaranteeing a great future for NASA and the nation. These technology research efforts will bolster America’s competitiveness in a knowledge-based, global technology economy while enabling our space exploration goals.”

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