Henrique Teles Maia awarded NSF Graduate Research and GEM Fellowships

Henrique Teles Maia
Henrique Teles Maia, currently completing dual degrees in computer science and mechanical engineering, has recently been awarded two prestigious fellowships, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship and a GEM Fellowship awarded by The National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science (GEM).
Both provide tuition and living stipends that will allow Maia to pursue doctoral studies. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines, provides three years of financial support (a $34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education to the graduate institution). Maia was one of 2000 students funded out of 16,500 applicants, and one of only 40 chosen between applicants based in New York.
The GEM Fellowship, which is intended to increase the number of minority students pursuing doctoral degrees in the natural sciences (including computer science), likewise covers tuition and provides a living stipend. In addition, GEM promotes opportunities for individuals to enter industry and arranges paid summer internships for GEM fellows.
Neither fellowship ties Maia to a particular research path, giving him the freedom and flexibility to change his research focus, an important consideration since Maia has yet to begin his graduate studies and is interested in computational mechanics, which models the dynamics of physical objects and has applications in both engineering and computer graphics.
He has a great start. As an undergraduate already pursuing research as part of the Columbia Computer Graphics Group, Maia has been studying in particular contact mechanics, which concerns the principled treatment of interactions that occur on surfaces of bodies that collide or are in contact with one another. Maia is working to develop new methods to compute friction and collision contacts to more realistically simulate dynamic physical phenomena at large scales, as in landslides for example. More than just visually representing such phenomena, Maia wants the simulations to incorporate real-world variables with enough levels of detail to reveal patterns in the underlying physics. In so doing, he hopes to inspire work in other branches of engineering.
Maia will complete his undergraduate degrees this May before beginning his GEM summer internship at Adobe Research in Seattle. After a year of travel and industry work, he will return to Columbia to start his PhD studies in Computer Science under the direction of Eitan Grinspun and Changxi Zheng.
Posted 4/10/2015