Left: Tarina Naudé, Right: Kristi Naudé
A pair of sisters are realizing a goal this summer at Texas A&M University.
Kristi and Tarina Naudé, sophomores at LeTourneau University, are two of 15 students who landed a slot in the competitive Research Experience for Undergraduates site in Energy and Propulsion, a ten-week summer program where undergraduate students take part in graduate-level research. The REU site is facilitated by Dr. Eric Petersen, director of the Turbomachinery Laboratory. Five Turbo Lab professors, including Petersen, are mentoring REU students this summer.
Kristi is conducting her research under Dr. Waruna Kulatilaka. Her research uses Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) systems to analyze the plasma formed on solid, metalized propellants. Tarina, who is partnered with Dr. Adolfo Delgado, examines fluid-lubricated thrust bearings for Electric Submersible Pump (ESP) reliability.
The sisters’ interest in the REU program was sparked by their dad, Kristo Naudé, a senior engineer with NRG Energy. Kristo serves on the Pump Advisory Committee, a group of experts who oversee the Turbomachinery and Pump Symposia (TPS), organized by the Turbo Lab. The annual Symposia is a training and networking event for engineers and technicians in the turbomachinery, pump and related industries.
Kristi has attended TPS with her dad for the last three years and Tarina the last two years. Their dad informed them of the REU program and encouraged them to apply. While the sisters had a connection to the Turbo Lab, they earned their slots in the program on merit alone.
“Their grades and their extracurricular involvement shows that they are serious about becoming researchers in energy and propulsion,” said Dr. Petersen. “I think they have a lot to offer this program and that they will leave this summer having grown academically and professionally.”
In their free time, the sisters enjoy staying active by taking classes in taekwondo and krav maga. On weekends, they leave College Station and head home to Houston, where their dad teaches them more about machinery and pumps. They also spend time with their triplet, Annette. Annette also attends LeTourneau, where she studies nursing.
“I’ve enjoyed the research so far,” Kristi said. “I’ve never been good at chemistry, but I’m learning more every day with the help of my mentors as well as other students in the program.”
Kristi and Tarina delivered their midterm presentation in late June, and have five weeks left in the program. They will showcase their final project posters on Aug. 3.
“I’ve really enjoyed learning more about fluid dynamics, as well as other topics,” Tarina said. “I’ve had a great experience in this program.”
I think they have a lot to offer this program and that they will leave this summer having grown academically and professionally.
Dr. Eric Petersen
Turbo Lab director
The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) Turbomachinery Laboratory makes a vital impact on turbomachinery and related industries through research, education and professional workforce development.