Alexandros (Alex) Papamatthaiou, a senior in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences, is the 2021 recipient of the Engineering Physics Thesis Award given by Princeton’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He recently completed his Engineering Physics certificate. He received this award for his exemplary work on his senior thesis working with Princeton’s Space Physics group under the direction of David McComas, Professor of Astrophysical Sciences and Vice-President of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Jamie Rankin, Associate Research Scholar. The group is preparing to build and calibrate the Solar Wind and Pickup Ion (SWAPI) instrument for NASA’s upcoming Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission. Alex made critical contributions to the mounting assembly for a 3-axis motion system to be installed on the main ultra-high vacuum chamber of the ion beam system. The SWAPI instrument, and future space flight instruments, will be secured to this system for precision calibration. Papamatthaiou is also credited with developing, testing, and validating the system’s motion control software.
The Engineering Physics Award is given annually to a junior or senior Engineering Physics student whose independent or thesis work is outstanding and has significant physics content (if the student is an engineer), or engineering content (if the student is a physicist). Students are nominated for the award by their advisor and a winner is selected by an Executive Committee comprised of Engineering Physics faculty. The prize is awarded on Class Day in the department of the student’s major and the winner is presented with an award letter and a monetary prize.