Kirt Leadbetter scores prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for achievements in chemical engineering


Marti Elshaug

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Kirt Leadbetter scores prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for achievements in chemical engineering

UND student Kirt Leadbetter is a little busy these days, and that's the way he likes it.

A native of Park Rapids, Minn., Leadbetter is pursuing a combined graduate and undergraduate degree in chemical engineering on a five-year program. He has already completed minors in biology, chemistry and mathematics.

"The engineering program at UND is great; it allows for students to choose their own path," Leadbetter said. "Making opportunity happen is an active process; you can't wait around for it. In the chemical engineering program here at UND, I feel this idea is supported. The faculty and staff focus on students and their success. I can say without a doubt that has had an impact on me.

Leadbetter has not only done a lot with his time at UND, he's excelled at it, too! He recently was selected to be a 2013 Goldwater Scholarship recipient. The Goldwater Scholarship is considered the most prestigious award that can be won by an undergraduate student in the sciences. Leadbetter earned his after writing several essays and receiving strong recommendations, in addition to his an impressive academic and research achievements.

"I have great appreciation and thanks for both my research advisor and academic advisor, Dr. Juergen Fischer and Dr. Mike Mann," he said. "Without them, I would not be who I am today or where I am today."

After Leadbetter completes his master's degree and thesis on the "electrodeposition of aluminum form ionic liquids," he has no plans to be idle. In fact, his next goal is to enroll into a doctoral program.

"I will focus on computational combustion chemistry applied to rocket-engine design," Leadbetter said. "So far, my goal dissertation project specifically focuses on development of electrospray ionization propulsion systems. After this, I plan to teach and research at a university or research at a government lab, although I am watching and considering options in the private sector."

In the past year, Leadbetter also has been awarded the Minnesota Power Undergraduate Scholarship and three engineering directed scholarships, plus he belongs to a number of honor societies.

Outside of school, Leadbetter has obtained his Emergency Medical Technician certification, trained hospital dogs, actively trades equity and has begun to pursue entrepreneurial interests.

"I am currently in the process of starting an apartment construction and investment venture here in North Dakota." Leadbetter said.

If that wasn't enough, he's been involved in a local climbing club, snow kiting club and a group of students advocating for conceal-and-carry rights on campus.

Another organization he belongs to that's close to his heart is the Poweron Group.

"This group aims to bring excitement and open up opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to students in grades K-12." Leadbetter said.

Marti Elshaug

University and Public Affairs student writer

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