MACON – Mercer University School of Engineering senior Maison Clouatre was recently selected to receive the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship.

The NDSEG Fellowship is designed to increase the number of U.S. citizens or nationals trained in disciplines of science and engineering of military importance. Applicants submit a research proposal to the program in response to the current research interests of one the following agencies: the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Army Research Office (ARO) or the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Fellows are paired with mentors who are current research scientists for the DoD.

Clouatre submitted a proposal to AFOSR regarding a new framework for controlling quantum bits, or qubits, which are the fundamental building block of quantum computers and quantum information systems. The proposed framework will address current knowledge gaps, such as how to identify the dynamics of qubits that are heavily coupled to their environment and how to use control theory to mitigate the effects of this coupling.

“I have no words to describe the emotions that come with this award. I have immense gratitude for my mentor, Dr. Makhin Thitsa, who molded a naïve teenager who knew nothing about math or engineering into the aspiring academic I am today. This award is byproduct of the priceless investment that she has made in me over my four years at Mercer,” said Clouatre. “I am also grateful to my new mentors, Professors John Valasek and Mark Balas at Texas A&M, for graciously welcoming me and my quantum control research into their group.”

Clouatre, from Mount Airy, is a senior double-majoring in electrical engineering and mathematics. He will begin a Ph.D. program in aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University upon his graduation from Mercer in May and plans to become a research professor.

At Mercer, Clouatre conducts research in the lab of Dr. Thitsa to develop intelligent control systems for laser microscopes, unmanned aerial vehicles and city traffic networks.

“Maison contacted me because he was interested in my research while he was in high school. This is how passionate he is about research. Once he got to Mercer, he was ready to hit the ground running,” said Dr. Thitsa. “Sometimes during research discussions, I forget he is still an undergraduate student because his intellect is so much ahead. He has published three articles in peer-reviewed journals and one under review. He was the lead author in three of them. Raw talent, perseverance and emotional intelligence are a few characteristics that describe Maison. It is indeed a pleasure to mentor him in my lab.”

Clouatre has held visiting research positions at the Vehicle Systems and Control Laboratory in Texas A&M’s School of Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Tech Research Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has published peer-reviewed journal articles on the control techniques he has developed, and his work has been presented at conferences such as the Photoluminescence in Rare Earth Materials Conference in Nice, France, the Materials Research Society’s Fall Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium in Houston, Texas.

He is a Goldwater Scholar, Stamps Scholar, president and treasurer of the Georgia Beta Chapter of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, member of the School of Engineering Honors Program, and has served as a supplemental instruction leader for physics and built analog guitar amplifiers for Mercer Music at Capricorn.

Earlier this semester, Clouatre was selected for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), which recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. He was also awarded a $10,000 fellowship from Tau Beta Pi for the 2022-2023 academic year.

About the School of Engineering

Mercer University’s School of Engineering, founded in 1985, offers innovative and academically challenging programs that provide students with a comprehensive education, featuring a solid foundation in mathematics and sciences, a core engineering curriculum, a range of courses in engineering specialties and a strong emphasis on communication technologies. The School is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top three master’s-degree-level engineering schools in the Southeast. Known for its breadth of instruction in its undergraduate program and its five-year joint bachelor’s and master’s degree program, the School combines technical education with hands-on laboratory experience. Mercer engineers can look forward to joining fellow alumni in companies such as Robins Air Force Base, Mercer Engineering Research Center, Northrop Grumman, Georgia Power, Manhattan Associates and Gulfstream Aerospace.