Pezeshki Named Astronaut Scholar

Harvey Mudd College physics major Kaveh Pezeshki ’21 has been named an Astronaut Scholar for the 2021–2022* academic year by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF). He is the 27th Harvey Mudd student to receive the honor.

The ASF selects college students pursuing careers in science, engineering and mathematics who exhibit initiative, creativity and excellence in their chosen field and provides opportunities for mentorship and professional development with industry professionals as well as a $10,000 scholarship prize.

Pezeshki is actively involved with research groups on campus and is interested in pursuing a career in physics and engineering. While at Mudd, he has pursued opportunities to work in chip design and electronics, both in academic and personal work.

“I’m most excited for the Astronaut Scholar technical conference,” Pezeshki says. “I’m looking forward to learning about other scholars’ research and to present and receive feedback on my work.”

Typically, as part of the scholarship program, Astronaut Scholars are invited to attend the ASF Innovators Weekend in Washington, D.C. and participate in the Astronaut Scholars Technical Conference, where scholars present their research and meet fellow Astronaut Scholars and industry professionals. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person event has been reformatted to an online platform to allow scholars to virtually meet and present their research to a captive audience. The in-person event has been tentatively rescheduled for late 2020.

During summer 2020, Pezeshki interned at a small optoelectronics startup in the Bay Area, primarily designing high-speed photodetectors for new computing platforms. He hopes to have a paper ready to publish by the end of the summer.

At Harvey Mudd, he is a member of the Department of Engineering’s Clay-Wolkin Fellowship program, advised by David Harris, Harvey S. Mudd Professor of Engineering Design and associate department chair. The program provides students with opportunities to pursue basic and applied research initiatives in very-large-scale integration (VLSI) design. Pezeshki joined the fellowship program as a first-year student and has worked with Harris on digital and chip design.

“I’m incredibly grateful to Professor Harris,” says Pezeshki. “He’s been an amazing research advisor and has pointed me toward so many cool opportunities.”

Pezeshki is also a co-systems administrator of the engineering department’s server. He assisted in designing and building the current server and is responsible for setting up and maintaining software for courses and research groups.

In addition to his research and academic work, Pezeshki and his roommate, Kye Shi ’21(CS and mathematics), design “room improvement projects” in their free time. Recent projects include a double-featured pulley control that allows Pezeshki to adjust room lights from his bed and Slack-controlled LED lights for the room.

After graduation, Pezeshki plans to pursue a PhD in applied physics and engineering and specialize in solid-state devices.

The ASF is a nonprofit organization established in 1984 by the six surviving members of America’s original Mercury astronauts. The Astronaut Scholarship is the nation’s largest, merit-based monetary award given to science and engineering undergraduate students. Harvey Mudd College is one of 41 institutions—and the only non-doctorate granting school—selected by the foundation to participate in the program.

*Pezeshki was able to defer his original 2020–2021 Astronaut Scholar award due to the pandemic.