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Doctoral student receives funding for concrete research


One Texas State student took matters into his own hands after realizing he would need additional funding to support his research.

Ash Kotwal, materials science, engineering and commercialization doctoral student, was recently awarded one of 10 international Baker Student Fellowships from the American Concrete Institute.

Kotwal said he went through a vigorous process, filling out at least 100 applications before submitting his proposal.

Kotwal said this was the first time he had submitted a proposal without the help of Texas State professors.

“This is really the one I took on my own,” Kotwal said. “I went and made the connections on my own, so getting that award was a great opportunity and I was really grateful because of the support I get for my research.”

Kotwal said he is researching an innovative product line in which limestone is used to help manufacture and produce cement. The process is a better choice for the environment because it uses less energy and lowers carbon dioxide levels, Kotwal said.

John Schemmel, professor and director of Concrete Industry Management (CIM) program at Texas State, said he served as a mentor and technical advisor for Kotwal.

Schemmel said he nominated Kotwal for the fellowship after witnessing the hard work he put into his research.

“When I arrived here and started working with Ash, it was clear he was a very high achiever,” Schemmel said. “All the work was on him—I was just playing the role of being a mentor. For him to be a recipient is really gratifying.”

Kotwal also serves as mentor for undergraduate students in the CIM program.

Alex Burkhart, concrete industry management senior, said Kotwal was of the doctoral students who helped guide his own research.

“He’s extremely detail-oriented,” Burkhart said. “It’s hard to get anything past Ash, but that’s the great thing about him. He’s very particular, and it makes everything run smoothly.”

Once he became a finalist for the fellowship, Kotwal said he went through a panel of eight judges before being selected.

“It was a great opportunity to just network and hear feedback on the research that I am doing,” Kotwal said.

In addition to the Baker fellowship, Schemmel said Kotwal will additionally receive funding from Capitol Aggregates to continue his research.

Schemmel said Kotwal received an invitation to join the American Society for Testing and Materials’ Emerging Professional Program.

“He’s a very capable and high-achieving student doing relative research that could be put into practice almost immediately after he finishes his research,” Schemmel said. “All those things make him a noteworthy recipient for each of the scholarships.”

Schemmel said being able to work with students like Kotwal is one of the most rewarding parts of his job.

“It’s very rewarding for professors,” Schemmel said. “This is one of those things that makes it fun to come to work each day, when you’re working with an undergrad or graduate student and see them succeed with regional or national—or even international level such as Ash.”

Kotwal said he is hoping to finish his dissertation by the end of the fall semester.

“I’m extremely grateful,” Kotwal said. “Without the opportunities I’ve been presented at Texas State, none of this would have been possible.”