Every year, Colleges and the Institute at large honor and celebrate their most outstanding students. At the 2017 Student Awards Celebration, over thirty College of Engineering Students were recognized.
The awards singled-out students for a variety of things: research achievements, best co-op, academic excellence, or simply the most “outstanding senior”. Many of the awards included a monetary gift as well as a plaque.
This year’s Student Awards Celebration took place on Thursday, April 20, in the Student Center Ballroom.
The students honored from the Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering were Madison Lynn Luther for the Aerospace Engineering Outstanding Senior Scholar Award and Yijang Li for the Donnell W. Dutton Outstanding Senior in Aerospace Engineering Award.
The students honored from the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering were Colin Huber for Outstanding Academic Achievement in Biomedical Engineering award, Shohini Ghosh-Choudhary for the S.K. Jain Outstanding Research Award in Biomedical Engineering, and Benjamin Ashby for the G.D. Jain Outstanding Senior in Biomedical Engineering Award.
The students honored from the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering were Taylor Gerhardi for the Chair’s Award – Outstanding Chemical and Biomolecular Junior and David Umo for the Chair’s Award – Outstanding Chemical and Biomolecular Senior.
The students honored from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering were William Disser for the Buck Stith Outstanding Junior Award in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Corinna Slater for the School Chair’s Outstanding Senior Award in Civil Engineering, and Grace Brosofsky for the School Chair’s Outstanding Senior Award in Environmental Engineering.
The students honored from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering were Daniel Canales for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Undergraduate Research Award, Nicole Barcori for the Most Outstanding Electrical and Computer Engineering Senior Co-Op Award, Ethan Everett for the Outstanding Computer Engineering Senior Award, and George Tzintzarov for the Outstanding Electrical Engineering Senior Award.
The students honored from the Steward School of Industrial & Systems Engineering were Alex Moran for the Alpha Pi Mu Academic Excellence Award, Harshil Goel for the Evelyn Pennington Outstanding Service Award, William “Alex” Berry and Cole Sutter for the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers Excellence in Leadership Award.
The students honored from the School of Materials Science and Engineering were Garret Lecroy for the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists Student Chapter Award for Graduating Seniors, Nicole Kennard and Marco Scaglia for the School of Materials Science and Engineering Outstanding Senior Award.
The students honored from the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering were John DiPrete, Brian Do, Kevin Pluckter, and Seth Radman for the Richard K. Whitehead Jr., Memorial Awards; Chelsea Silberglied for the School Chair’s Award – George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering; and Franklin Hailey Brown II for the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering Outstanding Scholar Award.
The student honored from Nuclear and Radiological Engineering was Paul Burke for the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement Award - Nuclear and Radiological Engineering Program, School of Mechanical Engineering.
Students who received college-wide awards were Hannah Greenwald for the Davidson Family Tau Beta Pi Senior Engineering Cup; Emily Reinhard for the Helen E. Grenga Outstanding Woman Engineer Award; and Andrew Denig, Emily Ferrando, Adam Fultz, Jonathan Jeffrey, Benjamin Lazar, Abigail McClain, Meghan Pollard, Michael Wang, Michael Waters, Jonathan Yaeger, and Areesh Zindani for the COE Honors Day Awards.
Over 30 College of Engineering students were given awards at the celebration last week
In a crowd of almost 80 bright individuals that were honored at the annual Faculty &Staff Honors Luncheon, 25 were from the College of Engineering. The luncheon occurred on Friday, April 21 and attendees received awards based on their excellence as researchers, teachers, mentors, and more during the past academic year.
Recipients were nominated by colleagues or students that think they deserve to be recognized for outstanding work, and are then chosen by a variety of different offices on campus and in the engineering community.
The awards are meant to maintain employee morale and pride, as well as recognize faculty and staff for exemplifying the Institute’s core values. Most awards were also accompanied by a monetary gift.
The luncheon was held from noon to 1:30 in the Student Center Ballroom.
Honorees from the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering include Joe LeDoux for the Curriculum Innovation Award, S. Balakrishna Pai for the Innovation and Excellence in Laboratory Instruction Award, and Manu Platt for the GT Faculty Award for Academic Outreach.
The honoree from the schools of BME, Chemistry, and Biochemistry is Younan Xia for the Outstanding Faculty Research Author Award.
Honorees from the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering include Ryan Lively for the Sigma Xi Young Faculty Award and William Koros for the Sigma Xi Sustained Research Award.
Honorees from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering include Omer Inan for the Sigma Xi Young Faculty Award; Muhannad Bakir, Madhavan Swaminathan, and Manos Tentzeris for the Outstanding Achievement in Research Program Development Award; Deepkraj Divan for the Outstanding Achievement in Research Innovation Award; Ghassan AlRegib for the Steve A. Denning Faculty Award for Global Engagement; Mark Davenport for the Class of 1940 W. Roane Beard Outstanding Teacher Award; Mary Ann Weitnaur for the Outstanding Service Award; and Pamela Bhatti for the Class of 1934 Outstanding Interdisciplinary Activities Award.
The honoree from the Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering is Chuck Zhang for the Outstanding Achievement in Research Program Development Award.
Honorees from the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering include Susan Thomas for the CTL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards; and Suresh Sitaraman, Samuel Graham Jr., Lenna Applebee for the Outstanding Undergraduate Academic Advising Award for Staff, and Peter Hesketh for the Outstanding Achievement in Research Program Development Award.
Honorees from the School of Materials Science and Engineering include Zhiqun Lin for the Sigma Xi Faculty Best Paper Award, Stephen Edwards for the Outstanding Achievement in Research Enterprise Enhancement Award, Mark Losego for the CTL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards, and Seung Soon Jang for the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor.
Almost 80 faculty and staff members were praised for their excellence on April 21.
For the second time in just a few years, associate professor of mechanical engineering Alper Erturk was recognized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineering for early career accomplishments. This time, the 2017 C. D. Mote Jr., Early Career Award honored him for excellence in his research on vibration and acoustics.
The Mote Award was bestowed by the Technical Committee on Vibrations and Sound, which falls under the Design Engineering Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME). This prestigious award recognizes only one outstanding researcher per year.
Erturk’s research centers on smart structures and dynamical systems with the intent of applying his findings to problems such as the conversion of ambient vibration to electricity, aquatic locomotion devices, and wave propagation.
In order to qualify for the Mote Award, a researcher must have been a member of ASME for three years, be under the age of 40, and be nominated within 10 years after obtaining their last degree. The C. D. Mote Jr., Early Career Award specifically is named for the current president of ASME.
Erturk was nominated for this award by Professors Daniel Inman and Kon-Well Wang, who are both collaborators of his from the University of Michigan.
The award includes a $1,500 honorarium, and the opportunity to attend and give an extended presentation at the 2017 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences in Cleveland.
When Erturk was previously recognized, it was with the 2015 Gary Anderson Early Achievement Award, which came from the Adaptive Structures and Materials Systems Technical Committee for his scholarly contributions to that field. His nomination for the award was an indication that he had already had an impact on the field of adaptive structures and material systems.
The C. D. Mote Jr., Early Career Award was granted for research excellence
In a testament to the monumental impact his research has made during a career that began only a few years ago, Baratunde “Bara” Cola has won the prestigious Alan T. Waterman Award.
Cola, an associate professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, was honored for his development of new engineering methods to control light and heat in electronics at the nanoscale. The Waterman Award is widely regarded as the nation’s highest honor for early-career scientists and engineers.
The award, bestowed by the National Science Foundation, recognizes one outstanding researcher per year who is under age 35. This year, however, seems to be even more special. It is the first time that a professor from Georgia Tech's Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering has been selected. In the 42 years the award has been distributed, it is only the second time that two researchers have been recognized in the same year.
Cola was recognized for piloting a breakthrough other researchers have been attempting to overcome for decades. He and his team created something called an optical rectenna, which effectively and efficiently turns light into direct current. The research involves carbon nanotubes to collect light and rectifier diodes (which are nanotechnology-enabled mechanisms) to convert this light into electricity.
The device they created promises to create extremely efficient solar cells that can power all kinds of technology. Potentially, the optical rectenna could double solar cell efficiency at a tenth of a cost.
The Waterman Award includes a one million dollar grant over five years, which aims to provide the resources for a researcher’s next significant discovery.
Cola and his team have also made other significant discoveries, “including the first thermally conductive amorphous polymer, the first practical electrochemical cell for generating electricity from waste heat and the first evidence of thermal energy conduction by surface polaritons,” according to a statement from the NSF.
Cola’s research in nanotechnology innovations has also led him to found Carbice Nanotechnologies, Inc. By facilitating heat removal from computer chip testing stations, carbon nanotubes will allow for cheaper and faster production of chips.
In addition to his deep involvement in engineering research, Cola is very involved in the betterment of his students and colleagues. In 2015, Cola participated in the NSF’s Innovation Corps at Georgia Tech, which helped participants to take an entrepreneurial look at the potential effects of their research. He is also co-founder of the Academic and Research Leadership Network, made up of over 300 engineering researchers from underrepresented minority groups.
Cola will be recognized for his accomplishments at a NSF dinner in Washington D.C. next month. By his side will be the other winner of this year’s Waterman Award, John. V. Pardon of Princeton University.
Competition for the Waterman Award is very stiff, and being honored with the grant is an indication of certain current and future impacts on the science and engineering world.
Baratunde “Bara” Cola was awarded with a million-dollar grant for nanotechnology breakthroughs.
Last year, 17 Georgia Tech professors and researchers were granted CAREER awards – more than those at any other college or university in the country.
Nine researchers in the College of Engineering were awarded these Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards from the National Science Foundation. This prestigious award recognizes achievements already made as well as future potential in faculty who are just beginning their careers and who are sure to contribute greatly to the fields of science, computing, and engineering.
While Georgia Tech is not the largest university in the country or the highest-ranked, the fact that so many faculty members were granted CAREER awards is an indication of certain future growth. As these young researchers mature and continue to make an impact, the reputation of Georgia Tech as a source of groundbreaking discoveries as well as brilliant engineers is sure to grow.
“Georgia Tech’s faculty’s successes in winning CAREER awards is a clear signal that Tech is hiring the future leaders in their respective fields and providing an environment that enables them to grow and succeed,” says Kimberly Kurtis, the associate dean for faculty development and scholarship.
These researchers are also teachers, and all have joined Georgia Tech staff in the last few years. Their expertise spans a wide range of engineering disciplines, including systems, chemical, electrical, civil, and mechanical engineering.
Their topics of research vary just as widely. One assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Jonathan Rogers, was awarded for his proposal titled “Causation in Dynamical Systems: Bridging the Gap Between Data Analytics and System Identification.” It explores how developments in data analysis tools are helping to change the system identification algorithms for large and complex problems.
All projects have educational benefits to students at Georgia Tech, since professors intend to include undergraduate and graduate students in their research endeavors. However, some professors use the grant proposals for teaching specifically by asking for resources to provide undergraduates with hands-on learning and research experiences.
Chloe Arson, an associate professor of civil engineering, received her grant for a proposal titled “Multiphysics Damage and Healing of Rocks for Performance Enhancement of Geo-Storage Systems - A Bottom-Up Research and Education Approach.” The money granted to Arson will help her to conduct research and educational activities to give students a more complete image of microscopic theories of rock fracture fragmentation and the ability to assess the environmental impact of things like energy geotechnologies.
Still more faculty members intend to create programs that will educate underrepresented groups of students. Asegun Henry wants to recruit African-American and women undergraduates, high school music teachers and high school students for a summer program that will help them create an app and provide an innovative new way for students to learn chemistry: through the sonification of every element on the periodic table. His proposal was titled “Engineering Heat Conduction through Alloys and Surfaces.”
The principal investigators in engineering fields at Georgia Tech that were recognized were Guangui Lan, Alejandro Toriello, Nga Lee Ng, Jonathan Rogers, Shuman Xia, Alenka Zajic, Chloe Arson, Phanish Suryanarayana, and Asegun Henry.
Kurtis says that winning one of these awards opens many doors for young faculty at Georgia Tech, because the money granted provides a foundation for the impact they are sure to make during their time at the Institute.
The grants came in amounts up to $500,000 in order to allow faculty to continue their research. Some awards are ongoing, and will continue to benefit the researchers and the school for as late as 2022.
Georgia Tech researchers won more CAREER awards than any other college or university
Instead of waiting for graduation, Olatide Omojaro sees it as his responsibility to begin making a difference in the world sooner rather than later.
Omojaro, a computer engineering major in his third semester at Georgia Tech, puts his technical skills and kind heart to use through his involvement with African Research Academies for Women (ARA-W). The organization aims to improve opportunities for STEM education in women in developing countries, which is something that Omojaro feels strongly about.
“To be honest, I was born in Nigeria – I know the state of the way things are there too,” says Omojaro. “There is no point if I am capable of impacting change and I am not doing it, which is one thing I am always very conscious about.”
The organization was started by some of his friends at Georgia Perimeter College, which he attended after he moved to the United States from Nigeria in 2011. The students knew Omojaro would be interested, and ever since he was asked to join he has been all in.
In the three years the program has been operating, 33 women from Ghana have been sponsored and enrolled in a ten-week summer research program at various institutions in Ghana. They are then set on a path to finish their undergraduate degree and apply to graduate school.
"Overall, we want them to take their interests and passion, combined with their skills to collaborate with each other in tackling world issues,” Omojaro says
Omojaro serves on the executive board of ARA-W and collaborates with engineering and medical students from Yale, Emory, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
ARA-W hopes to expand to create a one-year fellowship program in Nigeria in the next few years, as well as develop an exchange program that will allow women to come to the United States for their studies; this is the project Omojaro is currently spearheading.
Omojaro dedicates a great deal of time and effort to working to help these women. His efforts were bound to get noticed; sure enough, Omojaro recently received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. It is a prestigious program that grants national recognition to people who have clocked many hours of service for the benefit of others.
“It was of course surreal,” says Omojaro, who didn’t even know he was nominated for the award. “My contribution is actually making a difference and an impact, even if most times it doesn’t seem like it.”
Omojaro is also an active member at the Center for Engineering Education and Diversity. It is a program that aligns with his interests in diversity and STEM, and he is inspired by the people who work there.
“I come here [to CEED] and I see that people give up their time to see that other people do better. They are very selfless, and they give their time and their effort to work to make sure we have a stress-free, smooth experience on campus,” Omojaro says.
When he has extra time, he and his friends participate in the CREATE-X program, which helps Georgia Tech students make their entrepreneurial aspirations a reality. Through the program, they are developing a cost-effective product that will measure water temperature, pH, light and other factors in both saltwater and freshwater fish tanks. Their idea made it to the semifinal round of the InVenture Prize competition.
While his involvements might indicate otherwise, Omojaro is not all work and no play. He is a brother at the Sigma Pi fraternity and an avid fan of the Manchester United soccer team.
In the future, Omojaro looks forward to getting his undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech and moving on to get a doctorate degree in computer science with a focus in artificial intelligence, robotics, or machine learning. He plans to continue to work with ARA-W to expand their program and help more women become scientists and engineers.
Omojaro is motivated by his family, and said that his recent volunteering award “made my mom happy. There’s a big motivating factor behind that.” He hopes to continue to make family and friends proud in the future.
Olatide Omojaro works with African Research Academies for Women to increase STEM opportunities
Four biomedical engineering students are new members of the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) program, which trains and encourages students to be better leaders and bring new opportunities, creativity, and entrepreneurship to their campuses.
Julie Leonard-Duke, Monali Shah, Fang Shi, and Jason Weis are now a part of this global initiative. Run by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, the UIF program “empowers students to become agents of change at their schools,” according to a press release.
The general goal of the Georgia Tech Fellows is to analyze the environment on campus and search for the ways to educate their peers about creativity, design, and innovation. Students at other schools have created student innovation spaces, hosted events to build experience, and even created new courses.
Leonard-Duke, Shah, Shi, and Weis have recognized that Georgia Tech’s programs such as the Inventure Prize and the Create-X program are widely known and utilized, they are largely focused on solving sponsored problems that are set before them. The Fellows know that design-based thinking is extremely important, and want to bring a project-based-learning style class to campus that encourages students to find their own problems.
"We hope to develop a vertically integrated program that can place freshmen students in a specific project that they can continue throughout their years at Tech," Shah (left) said. "This would be similar to an extended version of a Senior Design Capstone project."
It took them a while to get there, though. They’ve already poured many hours of work into coming up with a way to improve life and education at Georgia Tech.
"I think that understanding and going through the design thinking process is something that every engineer should do. We found that Georgia Tech students are really good at solving problems, but not as accustomed to finding their own problems to solve," Weis (left) said.
The first thing that students do as newly appointed Fellows is participate in a six-week online training program that introduces them to design thinking, investigation of the campus ecosystem, and the Lean Methodology, a scientific approach to quickly creating an effective startup.
"Although the training was online, it also involved a lot of work in person because we had to interact with students and faculty here at Tech," Shi said. "It was a great way to learn more about Tech's entrepreneurial landscape and it was a really good experience overall."
After they finish their training, all students accepted into the UIF program in the last year will travel to California for the annual Silicon Valley Meetup. Here, they will meet students from all over the world, as well as confer with industry professionals and leaders from companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Adobe.
The four Fellows at Georgia Tech compose what the program calls a “Leadership Circle,” and they were paired with Joseph Le Doux, an associate professor in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering.
The students and Le Doux came together through happy circumstance; he mentioned the opportunity to apply for UIF during a workshop he held last semester called “Create the Next in BME,” which was intended to generate ideas about the future of BME education.
“Four students requested to be involved and the rest is history!” Le Doux said.
He thinks that the students have some bright ideas to implement in the BME department, which he will be in the perfect position to help pilot as associate chair for undergraduate learning and experience.
“Ultimately, of course, they will want to propose changes that will impact all students at Tech, not just BMEs,” Le Doux said. “They are excited to bring some of those ideas to life.”
Last year, Georgia Tech became part of the KEEN Network, a collaboration of hundreds of undergraduate engineering programs that works to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in students and faculty. It is through this program that Georgia Tech’s four students will receive funding to travel to the Silicon Valley Meetup and begin to implement their ideas.
"We are still working on finalizing some of the details right now, but hopefully we build a class that connects Georgia Tech, the city of Atlanta, and the design thinking process so that Tech students will graduate as more holistic engineers, better prepared to start their careers or enter graduate school," said Weis.
Twice a year, UIF selects members to join its ranks of what is now around a thousand students. This spring, 224 students were named Fellows, and they come from 58 institutions in seven different countries.
In addition to the meetup, members of UIF are provided with mentors, a network of peers, and regular conferences. They collaborate with their faculty members throughout the year and meet often with deans, advisors, and other higher-ups in their own school’s administration in order to get things started.
The Stanford program will help students bring new ideas to Georgia Tech