By ANDRIANNA MARSTON
Chad Whitney’s award for the development of micro-scaled
radiation detectors might be the answer to extended space travel for NASA.
Whitney, a graduate student of engineering, was this
year’s recipient of the Louisiana Space Initiatives Graduate Fellowship Award.
The award provides $20,000 per year for four years to promising students
involved in research of interest to NASA.
“Existing technology is basically made of large radiation
detectors that are expensive and often too heavy to take into outer space,”
“So my group has taken the effort to miniaturize the
radiation devices, resulting in an inexpensive product that is easy to
implement,” Whitney said.
These radiation detectors are the smallest in the world,
which helps NASA to travel in space without being held down by heavy devices,
NASA will not be the only organization able to benefit
from the development of the devices, Whitney said.
“The major motivation for the development of this research
was for homeland security,” Whitney said. “Because radiation detectors are so
big, we can only check a limited amount of packages imported and exported into
“Since security is such a big issue right now, this
development can also increase the amount of packages that are checked because
the detectors are so small,” Whitney said.
He said the creation of the radiation detectors is a
research project he has been working on since the end of his senior
“I received my undergraduate degree from Tech, and I was
working on this development as a part of my senior design project with the
guidance of Chester Wilson,” Whitney said.
He said upon completion of his undergraduate degree,
Wilson, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and a research
associate for the Institute for Micromanufacturing,
persuaded him to stay for graduate school.
“I feel like we have one of the best research facilities
in the state,” Wilson said. “Staying at Tech to do graduate school is a good
way to be involved in some of the leading cutting-edge technology.”
Wilson said Whitney’s honor from LaSpace
has built a positive image for the university.
“[Whitney’s] research shows that the external community
is supportive of the research at Tech,” Wilson said.
Whitney said the IfM also
played a major role with his decision to stay at Tech for graduate school.
“Because the facility allows undergraduates to
participate in research studies, I knew what type of environment I would be
working in if I were to stay here and do graduate school,” Whitney said. “So I
knew the benefits of pursuing a graduate degree would be beneficial.”
Kris Lucas, a junior speech communication major, said he
feels Tech will benefit from Whitney’s award.
“The results from [Whitney’s] honor definitely brings
positive recognition to our campus,” Lucas said. “[Whitney’s] honor can also be
used as a recruitment tool for new students to our campus,” Lucas said.
Whitney said his research award should set a standard for
“My award should motivate other students to submit their
research to fellowships such as LaSpace,” Whitney
“If I can receive a prestigious honor, anyone can.”