NYU Tandon student wins ASNT Fellowship

Caleb Beckwith’s research is recognized by the American Society for Nondestructive Testing

Nondestructive testing (NDT) has been called one of the most critical industries you’ve never heard of. 

That might be true for some people, but the mechanical engineering graduate students working in Professor Nikhil Gupta’s Composite Materials and Mechanics Laboratory are not just deeply familiar with the field, they are doing important work to advance it.

NDT involves inspecting materials, components, and assemblies to find defects and damage without harming or affecting their functionality. It helps ensure product integrity and reliability and prevent catastrophic failures in industries ranging from aviation and power generation to automotives and construction. 

Caleb Beckwith
Caleb Beckwith

Ph.D. candidate Caleb Beckwith is working with metamaterials — a term that refers to materials engineered to have properties rarely observed in naturally occurring materials. “A metamaterial’s functionality generally involves the manipulation of or interaction with waves of various frequencies or wavelengths,” he explains, “and since most advanced NDT methods,  including micro-CT scan, ultrasonic testing, and thermal imaging, use wave interactions with the materials, the applicability of the existing NDT methods is unclear.”

There is particular interest among those working with additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing), who would benefit from using NDT methods to test unique or small-production-run structures created for specialized use, and Beckwith is endeavoring to help meet their needs. 

His paper, "Wave Interactions of Architecture Metamaterials for Defect Detection and Mechanical Property Measurements," recently attracted the attention of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing, which awarded him a fellowship and funding for his research.

"I am thrilled that the ASNT has recognized the high caliber of Caleb's research and its enormous potential,” Gupta says. “His intellectual curiosity and scientific rigor make him a credit to my lab, and I'm excited about all that he will achieve in the future."   

Beckwith, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, in a family with Native American ancestry, had first developed an interest in mechanical engineering while watching “Avengers" cartoons as a child. “Like a lot of kids, I was fascinated by Iron Man,” he recalls, “and being able to build a mechanized suit of armor seemed like something I’d like to learn to do.” 

Luckily, his public high school offered foundational engineering courses, and it maintained a close connection to a nearby trade school, allowing Beckwith to take courses in practical topics like automotives and warehouse management. He was well-prepared in 2018, when he arrived at the New York City College of Technology (known as City Tech), which is part of the City University of New York system, to earn his bachelor’s degree, and he quickly became a go-to tutor for his friends and fellow mechanical-engineering majors. He continued to volunteer at CUNY after graduating in 2021 and has mentored underrepresented students in its summer STEM programs. 

He’s projected to earn his doctoral degree in 2026 and believes his path is clear: more research, more teaching and volunteering, and, if his work continues to progress, advances in NDT with the potential to make the world a safer, more resilient place.

Watch Caleb talk about his research at the 2023 Research Excellence Exhibit:


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