Undergraduate preparation reaps big rewards for NSF fellow

Sasha Kemmet, National Science Foundation fellow and graduate student in electrical and computer engineering, has already discovered something: her undergraduate activities at Iowa State not only prepared her for graduate school but also paved the way for her prestigious NSF Fellowship.

As an Iowa State undergraduate student, Kemmet assisted with an undergraduate course, EE 185 (Introduction to Electrical Engineering and Problem-Solving), designed to introduce first-year students to the EE program and problem solving. She felt that serving as a teacher’s assistant for this course was the most rewarding academic experience of her undergraduate career, and she valued helping other people understand a concept or idea while she became more fluent in the subject area. EE 185 is taught by Mani Mina, who mentored Kemmet as she completed her undergraduate curriculum, applied for graduate school, and received the NSF Fellowship. He now serves as her major professor.

Kemmet successfully applied for the NSF Fellowship during her senior year. She brought outstanding credentials to the application: service as a teaching assistant in an undergraduate course, strong leadership as president of the Iowa State Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers student chapter, service on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, experience in undergraduate research during her senior year, an internship with John Deere, and a summer experience in Washington, D.C., where she wrote a policy paper on wind energy.

Kemmet’s first year as a PhD student in electrical engineering was exciting. Her research involves developing a fiber optic switch to generate on/off signals for optical communication using magnetic material. At Mina’s suggestion, Kemmet submitted an abstract to an international conference on magnetics. As a result, she traveled to Spain for a poster presentation, meeting other researchers and learning about the latest magnetics technology.

Kemmet maintains an interest in policymaking related to technology. As she looks ahead, she sees herself becoming a professor at a research institution and mentoring students as she has been mentored.


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