Union graduate prepares to study abroad at Cambridge

By Dick Mason, The Observer January 21, 2013 01:22 pm

By Dick Mason

The Observer

Kysen Palmer sat in the front row of the east bleacher seats of the Union High School gym editing, in a small notebook, the text of a talk he was preparing to give. His was a presentation meant to inspire the UHS students filling up the bleacher seats behind him.

Minutes later he closed his notebook, stepped before the UHS students and asked them to open their minds to new

“From here you can go anywhere,’’ said Palmer with microphone in hand during a school assembly.

Palmer spoke with enormous credibility for “anywhere’’ is his next destination. He will leave on Thursday for the University of Cambridge in England. Palmer has received a full scholarship to attend Cambridge for the next three years where he will earn a doctoral degree in engineering. 

“I am really excited,’’ he said.

Palmer, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Idaho, both in engineering, was offered a chance to attend the University of Cambridge after working for The Boeing Co. in the Seattle area last summer. 

Boeing and Cambridge have a joint partnership studying high-temperature superconductors. 

Boeing officials were so impressed with Palmer’s work last summer that they thought he would be a perfect fit for their Cambridge partnership program and asked him to apply. The application Palmer submitted was the only one Boeing accepted.

Normally it also accepts applications from students at schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology. 

Palmer was told the offer of a full scholarship from  Cambridge stood only if he could start attending classes there in January.  Palmer agreed to the rushed timetable. To meet it he had to move up the date of the completion of his master’s degree work at Idaho and his wedding.Palmer and Megan Feller of Caldwell, Idaho, were engaged in August and had planned to wait at least a year before getting married. They chose to get married instead on Oct. 27 because this would make it easier for Megan to get the visa she needed to join Kysen in Cambridge, England.

“We definitely had not expected (to get married so quickly),’’ said Palmer, who now lives with his wife in Caldwell.

The graduate work Palmer had to finish up involved the study of flywheel energy storage for NASA. He was a member of a research team which examined how magnetic bearings can be used in energy-generating flywheels. The magnetic bearings cut the friction caused by traditional bearings.

Palmer said that after earning his doctorate from Cambridge he will be interested in continuing to work on the development of high speed magnetic bearings. 

Palmer, who was the valedictorian of his UHS class, credits the education he received in the Union School District with playing an important role in the success he has experienced.

“The education I received was so personalized,’’ he said, pointing out that this is true of all students who attend Union School District. “The teachers took an interest in  making sure that I got all the information I needed. They made sure I had a solid background and all of the fundamentals.’’ 

He also said he was aided  by the opportunity while in high school to attend classes at Eastern Oregon University and ones offered at UHS via Oregon Institute of Technology.

The positive experiences Palmer had in small classes in Union and at EOU influenced him when choosing a college to attend after high school. Palmer chose the University of Idaho over Oregon State University because of its smaller class sizes. 

Palmer developed a passion for engineering at Idaho and UHS. Today, he is encouraging UHS students to find career paths they have a zeal for.

“One thing which will set you apart is your willingness  to try and continue to work hard,” Palmer said. “If you find something you enjoy it will be a lot easier to work hard at it.” 

At Cambridge, Palmer will study at Darwin College, a postgraduate college. Darwin is one of 31 colleges at Cambridge, a public research university founded in the early 1200s. 

Today, it is the second oldest university in the English-speaking world next to Oxford and widely considered among the top five universities in the world. Eighty-nine people who attended Cambridge have won the Nobel Prize since 1904, according to the university’s website.  

Palmer, 23, is looking forward to studying at Cambridge even though he expects the experience to be  “a little nerve wracking’’ at first.

“I feel that it will be a good learning environment,” he said. “I think I will have fun.’’