Mitchell Young Becomes 2nd Temple Goldwater Scholar

Mitchell J. Young, a sophomore physics and mechanical engineering double major, has become the second Temple University student in as many years—and the second student ever—to win a prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

The Goldwater Scholarship is the most prestigious STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) award for undergraduates. Ruth Ost, the senior director of the Temple University Honors Program, of which Young is a member, calls it “the Rhodes Scholarship of STEM.”

Young was one of just 496 U.S. college students selected for the scholarship this year from a pool of over 5,000 college sophomores and juniors nominated by 443 academic institutions.

“It was a bit shocking when I first learned I about it,” says Mitchell, who is from Springfield, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. “Now it’s become something I am very proud to have accomplished.”

The scholarship will award Young $7,500 for tuition, housing and fees for both his junior and senior year. “It helps relieve the financial burden of attending college, gives me more freedom regarding where I want to go to graduate school and it makes it easier for me to focus more on my undergraduate research,” says Young.

Young originally planned on majoring only in mechanical engineering, but then added a physics major to include a more theoretical and mathematical basis for solving complex problems. During the summer of 2017, Mitchell worked in a mechanical engineering lab at Temple. Simultaneously, at the suggestion of Carnell Professor Michael L. Klein, dean of the College of Science and Technology, he began working as an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of Professor Virgil Percec, a chemistry professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Among his investigations: helping develop and design new 2-D and 1-D polymers capable of hydrogen bonding, as well as creating visualizations of designed polymers and simulating x-ray diffractions.

“I like being able to collaborate between universities, meeting people both inside and outside of Temple and getting to know people who have made some incredible contributions to the scientific community,” says Young, whose mother, Michele, is a senior administrative assistant in the College of Science and Technology.

Young hasn’t decided whether he will pursue a career in academia or industry, but as he indicated on his Goldwater Scholarship application, he plans on earning a PhD in materials science/engineering in order to conduct defense-related research of advanced materials.

Marcus Forst, who is also a physics major, last year was the first Temple student to be named a Goldwater Scholar. After graduation, Forst will pursue a PhD in applied physics at Stanford University in fall 2020, where the full cost of his attendance will be supported by an esteemed Knight-Hennessy Scholarship.

-Bruce Beans