FSU Engineering Student Receives Prestigious Department of Energy Fellowship

Dec 16, 2020 9:45 AM

For Frostburg State University engineering student Bria’ Johnson, getting to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy’s prestigious Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) program this past summer was a tremendous honor. She was even more honored when her research project was highlighted on the DOE’s official website.

Johnson spent the 10-week program working on “Materials Modeling and Simulation or Supply Chain Assessments” determining “the long-term creep strength and life” of a corrosion- and heat-resistant nickel-base alloy. Her research assignment was monitored by top scientists at the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy.

“My most valuable learning experience from being a part of the fellowship was the independent research skills I developed,” Johnson said. “Working independently has allowed me to grow academically, personally and professionally.”

A native of Washington, D.C., Johnson’s aspirations toward studying engineering reach back to her days of attending a STEM high school. When her focus shifted to how polymers, ceramics and composites are used in the manufacturing and design of products, she chose FSU’s engineering program and its concentration in materials engineering. Now a senior, she looks back at the benefits of the smaller class sizes and the ability to collaborate with her peers at Frostburg.

“I have enjoyed working in small groups on research projects tailored to all of the group members’ interests,” she said. “These projects have allowed me to determine what I’m most interested in.”

Johnson first heard of the MLEF program while attending a conference of the National Society of Black Engineers, which she served as both treasurer and vice president of the FSU chapter. “After speaking with the MLEF representative, I was excited to gain real-world, hands-on research experience.”

According to her FSU professors, Johnson’s motivation made her an ideal candidate for the MLEF program.

“Bria’ always impresses me with her high energy levels,” says Dr. Jamil Abdo, chair of the FSU Department of Physics and Engineering. “She combines intelligence, constancy and persistence to achieve required solutions. Her technical know-how about the latest developments is outstanding.”

“Bria’ has made her mark in materials engineering study and research at Frostburg in past 3 and a half years,” says Bria’s advisor, materials engineering professor Dr. Zhen Liu. “She has been heavily involved in project design, development and leadership, founding a capstone team for the next-gen smart window materials innovation, leading toward a solar energy application with environmental protection and economic efficiency.”

The DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy has hosted nearly 1,000 student fellows since 1995. Johnson plans to take her combined experiences at FSU and MLEF when she pursues a master’s degree in mechanical engineering after graduation, with hopes of using her skills to protect our country.

“I hope to work in the defense industry,” she adds.

For more information on the FSU Department of Physics and Engineering, call 301-687-4201 or visit the Engineering program web page.

Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit Frostburg State web site or FSU Facebook page. Follow FSU on Twitter @frostburgstate.