Entrepreneur. SpaceX intern. CMU Dean’s List member. Carnegie Mellon sophomore Alexander Baikovitz’s accomplishments seem to keep stacking up. This CMU engineering student both creates and innovates wherever he finds himself, earning him his finest achievement yet: a Goldwater Scholarship.
This year, the competitive Goldwater Scholarship was granted to only 211 students from a pool of nearly 1,300 applicants. Created to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, it provides funding to students pursuing research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering.
The scholarship will help Baikovitz, a mechanical engineering and robotics student, finish his junior and senior years at CMU. He is specifically interested in “research on robots to operate in extreme environments that are inaccessible to humans.”
This is an extremely prestigious and competitive process.Gregory Rohrer, Department Head, Materials Science and Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
This area of research attracted Baikovitz to CMU, and he has not been disappointed since he arrived on campus. “It has been incredibly exciting to solve real world problems since my freshman year and to understand and to break down projects that have large impact.”
Baikovitz says that some of his greatest influences have come from the university. “I have learned so much from my peers and my professors. Specifically, Red Whittaker, one of the pioneers of field robotics, has been a great mentor and influence on my pursuit for a career in aerospace and nuclear robotics,” said Baikovitz. “It has been amazing to work with individuals that have both changed the world and changed me.”
While at CMU, Baikovitz has also secured a prestigious internship at SpaceX where he will be working on their Crew Dragon structure for their crew capsule, an internship he described as “a dream come true.”
“I would like to one day find myself in a place somewhere between industry and research. I believe that is where a lot of breakthroughs and innovations are coming from,” says Baikovitz of his future goals. “Receiving this scholarship will empower me to become a leader in robotics and its implementation in space.”
In addition to Baikovitz, materials science and engineering (MSE) junior Mari-Therese Burton received an honorable mention for the scholarship.
“It’s a huge honor to even be nominated by CMU because there are so many wonderful students,” said Burton. “As someone who wants to procure a career in research, it is encouraging and inspiring to have the affirmation that I have a place in that area.”
“This is an extremely prestigious and competitive process,” said MSE Head Gregory Rohrer in noting how proud MSE and the College are of Burton.
Burton works closely with MSE Professors David Laughlin and Michael McHenry to pursue her research passion in metallurgy. “They have helped me a lot with what I want to do when I graduate and also encouraging me throughout my research and to not be afraid to take risks.”
This collaboration has influenced Burton and provided her with insight into what she might want to do in the future. She hopes to get a Ph.D. and then gain industry experience. Burton has also considered becoming a professor of materials science.
In the meantime, Burton will be working this summer at Carpenter Technology Corporation, a specialty metals company that does alloy research development. Burton connected with the company through a lab project, as well as a CMU alum at the company she met at the Technical Opportunities Conference.
“This was all made possible by Professor McHenry who connected me with one of his former students, and the rest was history.”