Tuscaloosa, Alabama – A University of Alabama graduate student in the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering placed second in the oral presentation competition at the 2014 National Black Graduate Student Association conference.
Joseph Waters, who serves as vice-president for the African American Graduate Student Association at the University, gave a presentation based on his research in renewable energy sources.
At the University, Walters works with Drs. Patrick Kung and Seongsin “Margret” Kim, both associate professors of electrical and computer engineering. With their guidance, Waters works on campus in the Central Analytical Facility, where he studies fabrication and characterization of semiconductors for the application of renewable energy.
In his presentation, he explained that zinc oxide, a semiconductor with wide band gap, allows molecules to break down at higher voltages and the ability to sustain high electric fields. Waters asserted that, because the amount of energy consumed globally continues to increase annually, research on a high efficiency solar cell source is becoming critical because of the need for more renewable energy, like water, wind and solar energy.
At the conference, students from a broad array of academic disciplines gave presentations. Waters said it was critical to explain his research without scientific jargon.
“More times than not, people get caught up in the language of science and end up missing the definition of why things are important,” Waters said. “When it comes to larger audiences, I believe The University of Alabama Engineering professors and staff have properly prepared me for presenting my research.”
In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s College of Engineering has more than 5,800 students and more than 130 faculty. In recent years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz, Boren, Mitchell and Truman scholars.