Noël Bakhtian B.S.E. '05 has received a 2005 Winston Churchill Scholarship to conduct graduate study for a year at the University of Cambridge in England.
Bakhtian, who is from Fort Myers, Florida, graduated in May with a double major in mechanical engineering and physics. The Churchill Scholarship Program, established in 1959, enables outstanding American students to conduct graduate studies in engineering, mathematics, and the natural and physical sciences at Churchill College, Cambridge University. Ten of the scholarships are awarded each year by the Winston Churchill Foundation of New York City.
"My parents were speechless when I told them," says Bakhtian. "I think I had forgotten to mention to them that I had applied for the scholarship."
Bakhtian, who has studied abroad in Paris and in Sydney, plans to continue aeronautical research that she began as a Pratt Undergraduate Research Fellow, working with professor Earl Dowell, a mechanical engineer who specializes in aeroelasticity. For more than a year, Bakhtian has used wind-tunnel experiments and simulations to study the "flutter" of airplane wings during flight. Flutter, which is similar to a flag flapping in the wind, can become severe enough to destroy the aircraft. Bakhtian is working to improve the computational models of this effect. She has prepared abstracts and given presentations on her research and is preparing a paper for peer review.
As an undergraduate, Bakhtian was co-president of Duke's chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a resident assistant for her dormitory, president of the Chapel Choir, and a founding board member of the Persian Students Association. She is a member of several engineering, physics, and national academic honor societies. After graduation and her year at Cambridge, Bakhtian plans to pursue a Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering and then apply to NASA's astronaut program.