Professor honored with fellowship for research work with NASA


The Appalachian Online

Tommy Culkin

A physics professor at Appalachian State University was recently named a Fellow in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Sid Clements received the recognition due to his research contributions that he has made to the study of electrical engineering over several years. His most notable research accomplishments were working on evaluating and eliminating electrostatic hazards for NASA over the past 10 years.

Clements said this work went to improving and repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. Clements has also worked on preventing explosions from happening on spacecraft for the past 11 years.

“Space shuttles are powered by hydrogen and oxygen,” he said. “On space shuttles, there have been known hydrogen leaks. If you have some flammable gas, you can ignite it with a small, electrostatic spark, and possibly explode the space shuttle.”

Clements helped create a way of getting dust off the solar panels of the Mars rovers.

“Dust on the solar panels of the Mars rovers are definitely hazardous to it’s life,” Clements said. “Dust particles settle on [the rover’s solar panels] every day and eventually block more light, and eventually it runs out of sunlight and dies.”

The title of Fellow is a very prestigious one, said Anthony Calamai, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“[Becoming a Fellow] is a huge award,” Calamai said. “Only 0.1 percent of members ever attain that status.”

IEEE members must be a part of the organization for 10 years before they are eligible to become a fellow.

The IEEE is the largest association of technical and electrical engineering in the world. They work to promote the development of new knowledge practices within the field of electrical engineering, Calamai said.

Clements received his physics degree from Texas Tech University and while he was an undergraduate student, he worked in research on solid state physics. He earned his PhD in experimental nuclear physics from Florida State University, where he later worked as a postdoctoral researcher in applied electrostatic.

In addition to the major research contributions Clements has made to his field, Calamai said Clements is also a world-class educator.

“Since Dr. Clements came to Appalachian, he has been an outstanding teacher and mentor to our students,” Calamai said. “He was renowned as a research scientist before he came to Appalachian, but here the teaching priority took over, and he has been a fabulous teacher in our undergraduate and our graduate programs.”

STORY: Thomas Culkin, News Reporter