FLORENCE, – Dr. Martin Heimbeck, a 2006 graduate of the University of North Alabama, is one of two recipients from Alabama of a 2019 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He was nominated by the Department of Defense for his work in Huntsville at Redstone Arsenal for the CCDC Aviation and Missile Center.
The award is known as the PECASE and was established in 1996. It is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.
Heimbeck received the award as part of a formal ceremony in July in Washington, D.C. The award is based on his research on terahertz radiation, the region between microwave and infrared waves.
“It has properties that can see through certain materials, like opaque plastics, nondestructively. It provides information about them, to see if there is any damage to the interior structure,” said Heimbeck. “This technology can be applied to composite materials, which are of high strength but of low weight, used on helicopters, so that we can see any defects in the structure before they can lead to failure. It’s analogous to X-rays we use to look at our bones.”
Heimbeck attended UNA as an international student from Germany.
“The last two years of high school in Germany are focused on what you think you want to do. I had already taken those classes, so I knew. I already specialized in a science and technology path,” he said. “I’ve always been better in math than in the arts.”
Heimbeck has fond memories of being on campus and its proximity to downtown. He loved having a smaller campus experience while also getting a great education.
“I made some very good friends on campus. We played a sort of unofficial Frisbee golf course that ran through campus. My girlfriend, who is now my wife, Amber, was also a Physics student there,” he said. “And I had a great professor, Dr. Brian Thompson, who was a mentor to me.”