University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering


Undergrad Student Earns Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention


Natalie Thayer

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, created in honor of Senator Barry M. Goldwater, recognizes undergraduate students for outstanding research achievements. This year Tam Nguyen, a mechanical engineering undergraduate student at the Cullen College, received honorable mention for the scholarship.

Driven by her passion for solving complex problems and working with mechanical systems, Nguyen began pursuing her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the Cullen College in 2014.

“When I see a problem with something in daily life, I often think about ways to solve or improve it,” she said. “I find the process of finding a solution very gratifying.”

As a research assistant for Haleh Ardebili, Bill D. Cook assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Nguyen studies the stretchability and ionic conductivity of porous solid polymer electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries. She said her research goals are to improve the safety and storage functions of lithium-ion batteries and to make them more affordable and accessible.

Nguyen is active on the UH campus, both in the lab and beyond. Earlier this year, she was recognized as the Cullen College’s outstanding junior for her academic achievements. She was a recipient of the 2015 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at UH. During the fellowship, she studied how chaos theory causes inaccuracies in weather prediction under the guidance of Cullen College professor of mechanical engineering Ralph Metcalfe. She is also a member of the Honors College and the UH Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) student organization.

After completing her undergraduate degree, Nguyen plans to pursue a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering with an emphasis on nanomaterials.

The annual list of scholarship and honorable mention recipients is publicized by the Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Learn more about the foundation at



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