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NPS Mourns Loss of Colleague, Rising Expert in Material Science

U.S. Navy photo by Javier Chagoya/Released

The Naval Postgraduate School is mourning the loss of Dr. Andy Nieto, a rising star in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department that passed away in a tragic accident at the young age of 33 while doing something he loved, scuba diving in the Monterey Bay.

The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) lost a rising star in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) department when Assistant Professor Andy Nieto tragically passed away in a scuba diving accident in Monterey Bay June 29, at the young age of 33.

Nieto joined NPS in 2018 after receiving a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from UC Davis. He became an NPS Teaching Fellow in 2020 and joined the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Program in 2021. He published 46 peer-reviewed publications, mainly exploring high-temperature ceramics and coatings to protect important equipment and vehicles from corrosion. 

Recently, he worked with fellow MAE faculty Research Assistant Professor Troy Ansell on materials and coatings to advance the resilience of turbine engines to the ingestion of particulates like sand, salt and dust. This research will help save the lives of service members, with the potential to also improve hypersonic technology. It’s clear in a recent video highlighting his work that Nieto had a natural talent for communicating complex scientific topics and was extremely passionate about this area of research.

In his free time, Nieto loved to travel and be outdoors, whether he was hiking, snowboarding, scuba diving, kayaking, or relaxing on a beach. He cared deeply for nature and the environment. Nieto also liked to work his brain in his free time as an avid chess player. He was climbing in the ranks and loved to play tournaments.

His legacy lives on through the many NPS students he taught and his wife, Richa, his family and his friends. His family honored Andy’s memory through a conservation fund with Point Reyes National Seashore, one of his favorite places to hike. Memorial gifts can be made in his honor to Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA). All donations should include the note: “In Memory of Andy Nieto.”

The NPS community was privileged to have Andy as a professor, colleague, mentor and friend.

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