Federico Scurti (North Carolina State University), Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Graduate Winner, for his work "SMART Conductor and Enhanced Optical Fiber Sensors."

Federico Scurti is a PhD candidate in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at North  Carolina State University (NC State). He is currently a visiting PhD student at Pennsylvania State  University in the College of Engineering. Federico grew up in Pescara, Italy and before becoming an engineer, he studied classical guitar from ages 8-18. At eight years old, he was admitted to a 10- year degree program at the prestigious Luisa D’Annunzio Conservatory in Pescara, Italy. Upon receiving his conservatory degree in Classical Guitar ten years later, he simultaneously graduated from high school and went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Energy Engineering, and a   subsequent master’s degree in Energy and Nuclear Engineering, which he received with honors, at the University of Bologna in Italy. While pursuing his master’s degree, he spent a semester as a visiting student at the Faculty of Nuclear Sciences of the Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic. As an inventor, Federico has discovered how to combine his artistic creativity as a musician with the technical skills that he has acquired from studying science and technology.

Federico’s research interests in enabling applications of High-Temperature Superconductors (HTS) arose when he began to understand the unrealized potential of HTS. During his early college studies, he became fascinated with the mysterious origin and extraordinary properties of superconductivity. As his studies progressed, he discovered that if the engineering challenges in this field were not addressed, HTS technologies would never be brought to fruition. This realization motivated him to pursue his current PhD studies at NC State, focusing on failure mechanisms of HTS and methods to prevent them. Federico’s inventive work in this area earned him the 2019 $15,000 “Move it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. Some of Federico’s prior accolades include receiving the IEEE Council on Superconductivity Graduate Study Fellowship in 2017, and winning first place in the 2016 Triangle Student Research Competition in the Electrochemistry, Electronics and Sensors category.

In addition to research and innovation, Federico is passionate about mentoring and has made a point to work with and advise undergraduate students throughout his PhD career. He continually participates in outreach and recruiting activities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and for three years has volunteered as a Small Pack Leader at NC State, advising a group of first-year international graduate students, to help them transition smoothly into graduate school. Since 2017, Federico has served as Chair of the Young Professionals Committee of the IEEE Council on Superconductivity (CSC) in his community. His focus has been twofold: broadening the reach of the CSC so that the resources and opportunities they offer can reach the largest base of Young Professionals (YPs) possible, and creating a strong network of long-lasting relationships amongst YPs in the community. As a mentor, Federico encourages students to focus on using both fundamental knowledge and creativity in their work. He believes that mastering research and innovation is all about becoming familiar with using fundamental knowledge to solve problems in an imaginative way.

See Federico's interview discussing his research here.

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