Eric Hinkson

Arizona state university polytechnic
Mesa, az

Electronics Engineering / Alternative Energy

Principal Investigator: Dr. Robert S. McCann
Project: Habitat Demonstration Unit Pressurized Excursion Module

Education and Experience:

From a very early age, I knew that I was destined to live a life in pursuit of the sciences. My favorite toys growing up were Legos, K'nex, and of course the "classic" Erector sets. Basically, I was into anything that involved building something with my hands to achieve some purpose. When my family purchased our first computer I was very young, and I was absolutely intrigued. Immediately, I had deconstructed the giant computer tower, examining every component to determine its purpose. Of course my parents were mortified that I had taken apart such an expensive piece of equipment, but I was able to put everything back together, bringing the machine back to 100% functionality. It was from that moment that I was sure I needed to pursue an educational path that involved computers and electronics in one way or another.

In high school I took many courses on web design and computer aided drafting applications such as Autodesk's AutoCAD. My freshman year I helped to design, build and eventually pilot a solar powered boat in Tempe Town Lake for SRP's (Salt River Project) solar powered boat races.

One driving characteristic of my personality is that I have a passion for being a part of something larger than myself. Hence, I am involved in multiple organizations such as my Fraternity, the Salvation Army, and other various clubs around campus and town. It was this same desire to contribute to something larger than myself that made me choose a path to focus my education and life's goals on improving the planet we live on by studying and bettering today's alternative energy technologies. My program's focus is on the solar-hydrogen cycle, whereby energy is derived from the sun using photovoltaic modules and may be stored for later use as hydrogen in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. Thanks to the ASU/NASA Space Grant, I have been privileged to be able to work on research to improve performance and durability of these fuel cells while reducing their overall cost for the past year. As a part of this program I had the opportunity to work on two projects for the U.S. Army that allowed me to perform research in ASU's Center for Solid State Electronics Research (CSSER), a class-100 clean room.

It is this same desire to contribute to a much larger picture than myself that brings me to seek education and opportunity from the NASA Academy at Ames. If I can be part of engineering project teams that allow for the exploration of space for the betterment of humanity, my lifelong desires will be greatly satisfied. Moving Forward This year I received an award from the Department of Defense, known as the SMART Scholarship award, which begins in the Fall 2011 semester. As a part of this program I will have the opportunity to work with the U.S. Army as a civilian engineer in the Information Systems Engineering Command (ISEC) at Ft. Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

I am extremely excited about this summer's research opportunity at the NASA Academy at Ames. It has always been my desire to be on the cutting edge of technology and innovation, and no organization can provide me that opportunity better than NASA. I know that the knowledge learned there and the people that I meet will change my life forever, in a very positive manner. Once I have been exposed to life as an engineer with NASA, I don't expect that I will be able to be satisfied with any other career path.