Q & A with Steven Zeltmann: TMS Structural Materials Division Scholarship Awardee

When the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) holds its annual meeting and exhibition in March 2015, Steven Zeltmann will be there. The mechanical engineering major was recently announced as the recipient of a generous scholarship from the organization’s Structural Materials Division, and his award will be presented him in Orlando, Florida, during the division’s council meeting. “I'm very excited about the scholarship and the exposure it's given me and the Composites Materials and Mechanics Laboratory here at the school,” Zeltmann says. We recently sat down to learn a little more about the promising sophomore.

Q: What are your future plans?
A: I'm already in the BS/MS program, but after that I hope to complete a PhD. I'm seriously considering becoming a professor, since I love to be on the leading edge of the field and also truly believe in sharing knowledge as broadly as possible.

Q: Do you have a particular dream product that you'd like to see as a result of your work? The world's fastest car or some type of airplane? Something potentially lifesaving?
A: The field that most of my work is in, nanotechnology, already looks like it could bring about some amazing innovations. We're looking at batteries with massively increased capacity, ultra-strong lightweight composites, plastics that block radar for stealthy ships and planes, etc. But the really exciting thing about this field is how much we don't know: how many innovative products nobody has stumbled upon yet. But we're close, so I hope to be one of those people who discovers the next big thing.

Q: What initially sparked your interest in materials science? Were you one of those kids always taking something apart to see how it was made?
A: In some sense, I am still that child who takes things apart to see how they're made. (See our World Cup soccer ball video, for instance.) I'm very grateful to the summer research program here at the School of Engineering, which is what got me started working in the lab under Professor Nikhil Gupta.

Materials science is really interesting to me because it combines so much fundamental science (chemistry and especially physics) with something tangible. What we study is how the microscopic structure of materials dictates the properties we observe on the macroscopic scale. So we achieve a truly deep understanding of the physics of materials.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us.
A: I’d like to add that Dr. Gupta and I are going to start a chapter of Materials Advantage, which is the on-campus society that encompasses TMS and three other materials-science professional societies, so watch for news of that.

For more about Zeltmann’s work in the lab, check out this video...

Steven Zeltmann - Carbon Nanofiber Reinforced Syntactic Foam from NYU School of Engineering on Vimeo.