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Cadet Klimowicz Sustains a Scholarly Summer

Kadee Klimowicz

Kadee Klimowicz walks dual paths in her regularly scheduled life as an Engineering Vol, so it’s no surprise that she sought to blaze new trails between semesters as an Air Force Research Lab Summer Scholar.

Klimowicz is a civil engineering major from Spring City, Tennessee, and also a cadet in UT’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Her current school focus is on water resources and construction, but last semester she worked with Assistant Professor Shua Li researching autonomous robots in construction. The project seeks to improve safety on construction sites using convolutional neural networking. Amid all that, her interdisciplinary paths began to cross.

“This summer I participated in materials science engineering with an interdisciplinary twist of computer science for simulating the detonation of energetic materials,” said Klimowicz. “This was an entirely new avenue for me.”

She found herself in Destin, Florida, working at the Eglin Air Force Base Research Lab with an array of Department of Defense chemical and mechanical engineers, notably her mentor Barrett Hardin, also a civil engineer.

“This summer was an exponentially growing and learning experience in comparison to staying in Tennessee,” she said. “It as an intense work schedule, allowing for a real-life glimpse of how DOD’s scientists collaborate with other countries all over the world to better understand our natural world and improve how we can adapt.”

Getting to know other Summer Scholars from across the country “balanced the equation” for Klimowicz between stress and summer vacation. She topped off her experience giving an address to an audience of Energetics Department staff, speaking about her successes and engineering methods with simulations of energetic materials.

“To be able to have 40-plus successful scientists and engineers listen about what you have discovered was truly an intensely terrifying, yet accomplishing event,” said Klimowicz. She was also excited to learn that Hardin will also be using her data in an upcoming journal article.

“Cadet Klimowicz’s selection as an Air Force Research Lab Summer Scholar is a true testament to her academic and leadership success to date,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Castillo, commander and professor of aerospace studies with the Air Force ROTC at UT. “The Air Force needs leaders prepared to tackle the unknown challenges of tomorrow and the operational exposure she gained through this program will be critical as she completes her education.”

Klimowicz, a self-described “Army Brat,” grew up knowing the importance of service and giving back to those who came before. She looks forward to graduating with a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force and going into development engineering on active duty or exploring sustainability solutions for the Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers (REDHORSE). Toward these goals, her summer experience instilled in her the hands-on importance of computer simulation and interdisciplinary collaboration on future innovation, and also the value of clear communications in engineering.

“I am interested in civil engineering for the practicality of the subject, specifically focusing on green sustainability,” said Klimowicz. “My goal is to be able to create systems in our cities that can last generations and better the planet.”