Meet Fulton Schools' exceptional graduates of Spring 2017

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Meet Spring 2017’s Outstanding Undergraduates and IMPACT Award recipients

Every spring and fall, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering celebrate exceptional graduates and their commitments to academics, extracurricular activities and the Fulton Schools as a whole.

Students selected as Outstanding Undergraduates are honored for their exemplary academic performance. To qualify, they must graduate with a minimum 3.40 grade point average and have participated in major-specific or Fulton Schools activities. Those receiving an IMPACT Award have been singled out for their contributions to the Fulton Schools community in leadership, volunteer and service roles. Recipients must graduate with a minimum 3.25 GPA, and display evidence of their positive impact on our community.

These students have excelled in research, community service, entrepreneurship and outreach, leaving a lasting and beneficial impact on the Fulton Schools community, Arizona and elsewhere. Many of these graduates have served as extraordinary representatives of ASU through industry internships, volunteer efforts or as ambassadors to communicate the mission of the Fulton Schools and the university overall.

Read below about some of the exceptionally bright individuals graduating from the Fulton Schools in Spring 2017:

 

Outstanding Graduates

AHMAD ALTHEEB
Industrial Engineering

Ahmad Altheeb stayed connected with his home country of Saudi Arabia through involvement with the Saudi Students Club at ASU, including serving as social media coordinator.

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B.S.E. in Industrial Engineering
Hometown: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

portrait of Ahmad AltheebAhmad Altheeb hails from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and came to Arizona State University with a scholarship from the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the United States.

While at ASU he stayed connected with his home country through involvement with the Saudi Students Club at ASU, including serving as social media coordinator.

Altheeb says he came to ASU for the Fulton Schools’ “well-known industrial engineering program” and “great faculty.”

“For me, faculty and educational community differentiate universities from one another, because all accredited schools have very similar courses,” says Altheeb.

In particular, he says Principal Lecturer Linda Chattin was instrumental in his education.

“She cares about her students and was always prepared to deliver the best outcome in front of the class. That reflected on me as a student to be always prepared.”

Altheeb served as an undergraduate teaching assistant in one of her classes, Probability and Statistics for Engineering Problem Solving, from 2016 to 2017.

Altheeb was drawn to industrial engineering because of the emphasis on problem-solving.

“In our daily life, we have many problems that depend on multiple factors. Industrial engineers can deal with those problems and plan to do it the perfect way with no waste,” says Altheeb.

He plans to continue solving puzzles and plans to one day continue his education by pursuing a master’s degree in industrial engineering.

For now he’s excited to return to Saudi Arabia and begin a career.

CAMERON BARTEE
Software Engineering

Cameron Bartee is among the standout performers in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering for his academic and extracurricular achievements.

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B.S. in Software Engineering

Cameron Bartee is among the standout performers in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering for his academic and extracurricular achievements. His efforts have earned him the recognition of Outstanding Undergraduate in software engineering.
 
Bartee is among the Outstanding Undergraduates chosen to represent each of the Fulton Schools’ 25 undergraduate programs. These students are selected based on their academic achievements and 3.40 or higher grade point average as well as evidence of participation in one or more Fulton Schools, major-specific student engagement and community activities.

ABBY BOAZ
Construction Management

When Abby Boaz wasn’t reining horses with her family growing up, she could occasionally be found at construction jobsites with her father.

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B.S. in Construction Management
Hometown: Prescott, Arizona
Graduated from Prescott High School

portrait of Abby BoazWhen Abby Boaz wasn’t reining horses with her family growing up, she could occasionally be found at construction jobsites with her father. She loved being on-site, so it made sense when she followed in her parents’ alma mater chose ASU to following their professional footsteps. After touring campus with Dr. James Ernzen, Abby chose the Del E. Webb School of Construction as her academic home.

During her time at ASU, Abby has been trying to soak up as many experiences as possible. She joined Sigma Lambda Chi, was the vice-president of Advancing Women in Construction, the A.S.C. Reno Competition Virtual Design and Heavy Civil Team and the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women. Her biggest achievement included founding the National Association of Home Builders Student Chapter and representing ASU in the N.A.H.B. Student Competition for the first time in a decade.

Upon graduation Abby plans to work as a project engineer for Desert Star Construction, building luxury homes in the Valley. “To me, there is nothing more special than helping someone bring their dream to life and build a space in which they will bring family and friends.”

Not only will these future homeowners be living in a space that they will cherish, but they will also be able to rest assured that they were built using sustainable building practices.

Long-term, Abby aspires to be a vice president of a construction company, or perhaps start her own general contracting company. She wants to further sustainable building practices in the home building industry and this way she can take ownership of this mission.

LUKE ERICKSON
Environmental and Resource Management

Luke Erickson says his ultimate goal is to help corporations navigate the complicated environmental regulations that are in place so that ecosystems are protected and local economies can thrive. 

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B.S. in Environmental and Resource Management
Hometown: Gig Harbor, Washington
Graduated from K12 International Academy

portrait of Luke EricksonLuke Erickson’s undergraduate education began at Greensboro College before transferring to Arizona State University. Since the transfer, he’s been named to the Dean’s List every semester and been an active member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society.

Majoring in Environmental and Resource Management (ERM), Erickson is undertaking the Accelerated 4+1 program, which will allow him to complete a master’s degree in another year.

He was in part inspired in this decision by support from ERM professors Larry Olson, Kiril Hristovski and Al Brown.

“They were always very willing to answer my questions and helped me choose a path within the ERM degree,” says Erickson.

For Erickson, that path is leading him toward law school and an aspiration to work as an environmental attorney.

“I feel like I can have the biggest impact on the protection of the environment through the law,” says Erickson. He says his ultimate goal is to help corporations navigate the complicated environmental regulations that are in place so that ecosystems are protected and local economies can thrive. 

Erickson’s favorite hobbies are tied to his environmental passion: being outside playing a round of golf and nature photography.

He was a nationally ranked junior golfer before college and grew up competing around the country. As for his photography, you can see some of his work hanging in the Computing Commons Library on ASU’s Polytechnic campus or on his nature photography Instagram account (@LRE93).

Erickson says the most rewarding part of his undergraduate years are the friendships he has made.

“The ASU community was so welcoming to me as a transfer student and I cannot thank them enough for that…the Polytechnic community of students made that transition easy,” he says.

As for the hardest part, he says there were definitely some times during tough chemistry and water treatment courses that he felt frustrated and like he needed to “throw [his] book across the room.”

“However, with the help of faculty, other students and my own will to never give up, I persevered. I am a stronger and more knowledgeable person because of it,” he says.

“Thank you for challenging me ASU.”

ALEXANDER FRIAS
Aeronautical Management Technology

Alexander Frias remembers wanting to be an aviator from a young age.

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B.S. in Aeronautical Management Technology
Hometown: Chandler, Arizona
Graduated from Corona Del Sol High School

portrait of Alexander FriasRiding and repairing motorcycles has been Alexander Frias’s choice of recreational activity during breaks from the demands of earning his bachelor’s degree.

“It’s been a great way to spend the weekend to ease the stress of a long week,” he says.

After weekends of fixing and driving his choice of ground transportation, Frias returned to the challenges of learning his way around the technology and the piloting of aircraft.

He remembers wanting to be an aviator from a young age. In his first steps toward that goal he began to realize the amount of education he needed to make that happen.

“I wasn’t the best pilot at first,” he says, “but once the information started to sink in and I gained more knowledge about everything that goes into flying, it really improved my abilities in an aircraft.”

He learned well enough to pass his test for a private pilot’s license on his initial attempt.

“Passing on the first try was reassurance that I really could succeed,” he says. “After that I had six more check rides to earn different flying privileges, and I passed every one on the first try.”

He would then earn all of the flight certificates and educational credits to qualify him to be a flight instructor, which will enable him to get experience necessary to qualify to be an airline pilot.

That achievement, and becoming a flight instructor, have been the most rewarding parts of his college years.

“It was tough to balance classes and flight training, but it worked out and now I am passing on what I’ve learned to other aviation students,” he says.

After graduation, he’ll be back at work to gain additional flight training in pursuit of a job flying jets.

He credits Fulton Schools faculty members Marc O’Brien and Michael Hampshire for not only turning him into an aviator but also “helping me understand what the future would look like in an aviation career.”

It also helped, he adds, that “Arizona is great place to fly because of the weather.”

CHRISTOPHER HARTMAN
Manufacturing Engineering

Christopher Hartman’s engineering journey has been one of dedication and perseverance.

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B.S. in Manufacturing Engineering
Hometown: Erie, Pennsylvania

portrait of Christopher HartmanChristopher Hartman’s engineering journey has been one of dedication and perseverance. During his three years in pursuit of his degree he maintained a full-time career at Accutron-Crosstex, a medical device company, to support his family, while commuting 60 miles to the Polytechnic campus.

“This required as many as 10 hours a week of driving on top of 12-15 credit hours of classwork,” says Hartman.

Hartman is the first in his immediate family to graduate from college, and as a non-traditional student he says completion of the degree “has taken more dedication than anything I’ve done in my lifetime to be successful.”

He says it was made worth it by a handful of memorable experiences, such as the first time he made a catapult in Assistant Professor Micah Lande’s introductory engineering course during his first semester.

“At that time I was not totally committed to the idea of such a long commute but Dr. Lande’s enthusiasm and the catapult project sold me on the campus quickly,” he says.

After 20 years of experience in the manufacturing industry, Hartman says he can vouch that the faculty in the program have succeeded in making it “a real world learning experience” and an “amazing program.”

He will be continuing in his position of Manufacturing Manager at his current job of 17 years, and is planning to enroll in ASU’s online MBA program in the fall. 

Hartman says he came back to school for the opportunity to move up the ranks within Accutron-Crosstex, and also so he could tell his children “I accomplished this goal and they should as well.”

Hartman says his immediate plans include enjoying his hard earned summer break and a vacation!

Above all, he will continue to be a devoted father to his 11-year old Zachary and 8-year old girl Abigayle.

“Any time that I have that isn’t spent on school or work is spent with them,” he says.

NATHAN HOLT
Civil Engineering

Nathan Holt has always been interested in the things that mankind has built from the ancient wonders of the world to today’s largest bridges and skyscrapers.

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B.S.E in Civil Engineering
Hometown: Buffalo, Wyoming
Graduated from Buffalo High School

portrait of Nathan HoltNathan Holt has always been interested in the things that mankind has built from the ancient wonders of the world to today’s largest bridges and skyscrapers.

Holt, who received a National Merit Scholarship, made a college visit to Arizona from his home in Wyoming to visit the University of Arizona, but decided he may as well visit ASU as well while he was in the state.

“Obviously, ASU left a lot better of an impression,” says Holt. “I just loved the campus; it felt alive and there was a lot of opportunity.”

It wasn’t until sometime in his sophomore year that he knew for sure that he wanted to be a civil engineer.

“I was going to classes in College Avenue Commons and I realized that I wanted to be a part of designing and building buildings that can make an impact like it has,” says Holt.

Holt participated in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative for two semesters on two separate research projects. One involved research in the transport of the bacterium Legionella through reclaimed water and the other involved the susceptibility of Phoenix’s roadway infrastructure to precipitation changes from climate change.

He also participated in the Engineering Projects in Community Service program where he helped create a master plan for a city park in Show Low, Arizona.

Holt also served as president of ASU’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and was involved with Engineers Without Borders.

“I’ve tried to be involved in as many organizations as I can to get experience both in my education and in leadership outside of the classroom in order to start getting that project experience,” he says.

The Barrett, the Honors College student looks forward to making the world a better place and improve people’s lives.

“I want to design buildings that create better living and work environments for their tenants and allow them to be more productive as well as find more satisfaction in their homes and workplaces,” he says.

But before he’s out in the real world, Holt will continue on at ASU as he looks to complete a 4+1 master’s degree in structural engineering starting in the fall.

KALEIGH JOHNSON
Chemical Engineering

Research has been at the center of Kaleigh Johnson’s academic career since she was first introduced into the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative.

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B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering
Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona
Graduated from Highland High School

portrait of Kaleigh JohnsonResearch has been at the center of Kaleigh Johnson’s academic career since she was first introduced to the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative.

“Research has been both the most challenging and most rewarding experience of my degree,” says Johnson. “I love being able to see good results from something that I put countless hours into building. It gives me an indescribable sense of accomplishment that I have not experienced anywhere else.”

Her dedication to research has earned her a litany of awards and scholarships, including funding for her FURI work, the Grand Challenge Scholars Program Research Grant and the Gore Funding Grant from W.L. Gore and Associates. Johnson, also a student in Barrett, the Honors College, also received the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship in 2016, which recognizes excellence in science, math and engineering. She’s also been awarded five other scholarships from ASU alone.

Johnson was an active participant in the Grand Challenge Scholars Program, traveling to the National Academy of Engineering GCSP Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. in October 2016 to represent ASU at the president of the Grand Challenge Scholar Alliance.

Alongside Amy Trowbridge, lecturer and director of ASU’s GCSP program, Johnson worked to increase program retention and recruitment.

“I have very much enjoyed working with her, both as my mentor to guide me through the program, and as a fellow engineer with a sincere commitment to inspiring the global engineering leaders of tomorrow,” said Johnson of Trowbridge.

Johnson plans on attending the California Institute of Technology following graduation to pursue her doctoral degree in chemical engineering.

Looking to the future, Johnson hopes to make an impact through sustainable industrial biotechnology.

“I want to be a part of eradicating energy waste by using natural biological processes and “nature’s factories” — microbes — to replace energy-intensive and inefficient chemical processes,” she says.

KEVIN LIAO
Computer Science

When choosing a college major, Kevin Liao says, “I thought to myself, ‘Well, I spend all my time on a computer, so why not make a living out of it.’”

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B.S. in Computer Science
Hometown: Chandler, Arizona
Graduated from Hamilton High School

portrait of Kevin LiaoWhen choosing a college major, Kevin Liao says, “I thought to myself, ‘Well, I spend all my time on a computer, so why not make a living out of it.’”

He proceeded to become about as deeply immersed in the field as an undergraduate can get.

Beyond the many computer science courses he took, he became a researcher in ASU’s Security Engineering for Future Computing laboratory, working on computer security and privacy and programming languages.

He did his Barrett, the Honors College thesis, through a Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative project aimed at enhancing the security of the World Wide Web.

He spent last summer as a research assistant at the University of Maryland, College Park, helping to examine the security of digital forms of currency, called cryptocurrencies.

Liao served three semesters as an undergraduate teaching assistant for courses in computer programming — an experience in which he says “I discovered my passion for teaching.”

He joined First Gen Scientists, where he created a course the group could use to introduce youngsters to computer science.

Those accomplishments helped him to earn a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Liao will now seek a doctoral degree in computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Despite his own achievements, he says the most rewarding part of his undergraduate years was “seeing my friends and peers getting coveted internships and publishing phenomenal research papers.”

The most challenging part, he adds, “has been keeping up with them.”

For shaping his career aspirations, he credits Fulton Schools Assistant Professor Adam Doupé.

“He has been instrumental in helping me grow as both a researcher and an educator, and is one of the reasons I want to become a professor,” Liao says. “As a researcher, he has taught me the ropes from tackling a novel problem, to writing a cogent research paper, to delivering an effective research talk. As an educator, he simply leads by example, and I try to capture his clarity and charisma in my own teaching.”

Beyond his career, Liao wants to eventually get married and become a father. “But for now,” he says, quoting dialogue from “The Big Bang Theory,” “science is my lady.”

NATHAN LONDON
Materials Science and Engineering

As a child, Nathan London liked playing with LEGO building blocks and in school, math and science drew his attention from a young age.

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B.S.E. in Materials Science and Engineering with minor in Physics
Hometown: El Paso, Texas
Graduated from Mohave High School

portrait of Nathan LondonAs a child, Nathan London liked playing with LEGO building blocks. In school, math and science drew his attention from a young age.

Those interests eventually made his decision to study engineering in college a logical choice.

Watching a lab presentation on materials research at a session of the Fulton Schools’ Summer Engineering Experience just before his senior year in high school led him to a specific major.

By his senior year at ASU he was tackling a complex Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative project in materials science and engineering using electrospinning synthesis to create nanowires for use as a solid-state electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries.

After graduation he plans to continue his education by pursuing a doctoral degree in the field at Cornell University.

London’s undergraduate accomplishments included many outside the classroom through leadership positions in several student organizations, especially Materials Advantage, AstroDevils (an astronomy club), the Barrett Honors College Council, and the Barrett Leadership and Service Team.

In the latter group he coordinated a tutoring program for underserved children through a local school and then as social service director led a committee that planned events to support the local community near ASU in Tempe. He would later become president of the organization.

Among all of his achievements, he says one of the most memorable experiences remains the final project in an Introduction to Engineering course he took in his freshman year. Students were challenged to design a device to enable them to walk on water.

“We were at the home of one of my group’s members cutting and gluing PVC pipe together to make this strange looking structure with Styrofoam attached to make it float,” he says. “The incredible feeling I had on the day that we presented our device and it worked almost perfectly is something I will remember for a long time to come.”

One his most valuable learning experiences came after a favorite professor, Shahriar Anwar, gave him an opportunity to be an undergraduate teaching assistant.

“Helping students work through the course material really helped me to better understand that material,” he says, “and to become better at communicating my thought processes.”

DANIEL MARTIN
Computer Systems Engineering

Daniel Martin’s undergraduate years show the signs of a student striving to follow in the footsteps of the pioneers of computing.

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B.S.E. in Computer Systems Engineering
Homeschooled 
Hometown: Scottsdale, Arizona

portrait of Daniel MartinDaniel Martin’s undergraduate years show the signs of a student striving to follow in the footsteps of the pioneers of computing.

For his Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative project he created a mobile app to enable law-enforcement agencies to more easily map crime data by time and pinpoint high-crime areas.

The Barrett, the Honors College student was vice president of the ASU Linux Users Group, which educated students about the advanced computer operating systems and kept the local Phoenix-area community of Linux users connected.

He was the webmaster and a vice president of the ASU chapter of Eta Kappa Nu, which is just one of several honor societies he joined.

Martin represented the Fulton Schools in the ASU Academic Bowl, helping keep engineering student teams among the most consistently high-performing contestants in the annual competition.

This past year, he served on the student government Technology Advisory Board, which advises the university’s chief information officer on new technology-related initiatives.

A highlight among his endeavors was a 2015 summer internship with the National Center for Toxicological Research, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration research facility. There he worked with a team of biologists and computer scientists to develop an application to identify species of pest beetles from specimen photographs.

Martin got the opportunity to demonstrate the application at the 2016 international conference of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

His aspirations remain focused on what he hopes to help accomplish in his field of study.

Computer systems engineers “not only know software, but also how much more we can do with new advances in hardware. And with the rise of the internet of things and machine learning, people now can easily collect and process huge amounts of data to use in decision making,” Martin says.

“In fields like healthcare, this advance can mean the difference between life and death,” he says, “so computer systems engineering is poised to make impacts in critical areas.”

Martin will be broadening his skill set soon after graduation. He will spend the summer at the the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a leading federal research and development institution, where he’ll work on projects in the area of deep learning, which involves development of machine learning algorithms.

In the fall, he’ll begin pursuit of a master’s degree in machine learning at Carnegie Mellon University.

KANTANA SURIYO MCKEEN
Graphic Information Technology

Kantana Suriyo McKeen did not start out believing she’d be an engineer. Initially, she planned to be a secondary education teacher after studying in Bangkok.

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B.S. Graphic Information Technology
Graduated from Phontongpattanawittaya School in Roi Et, Thailand, and Suan Dusit University in Bangkok, Thailand

portrait of Kantana Suriyo McKeen Kantana Suriyo McKeen did not start out believing she’d be an engineer. Initially, she planned to be a secondary education teacher after studying in Bangkok.

“It’s still hard for me to believe that I am where I am from where I started,” McKeen says.

From Thailand, life brought her to Phoenix, where she attended community college to improve her English and earned her associate’s degree in web development. A little encouragement then led her to ASU.

“I started with an interest in web design and development and found that much of design is around working with photography,” McKeen says.

This discovery sparked a new passion for photography. She took advantage of all the opportunities she could find at ASU, including classes, the photography club and a study abroad course in photography.

“ASU not only allowed me to explore this new-found passion, but also allowed me to integrate it into my studies,” she says.

She thanks Associate Professor of Practice Penny Dolin and Lecturer Chad Westover for their help in connecting web and photography for her degree.

“They helped me improve my photography skills beyond what I thought I could do,” she says. “I feel I got much more than a degree in Graphic Information Technology.”

Her passion and skills earned her an award for being the most active member of the GIT photo club and first in show at the 2016 and 2017 Polytechnic Photographic Showcases. She also earned the Renee and Arthur Horowitz Scholarship for GIT students and three other university grants and scholarships.

As her experience grew through student work and internships, so has her enthusiasm for the future.

“I have a few job opportunities lined up as well as some freelance jobs,” she says. “I am super excited about getting out there and to begin building a career.”

JOSHUA OREMLAND
Aerospace Engineering

Joshua Oremland chose to attend ASU because of the highly ranked Barrett, the Honors College.

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B.S.E. in Aerospace Engineering (Aeronautics)
Hometown: East Brunswick, New Jersey
Graduated from Chaparral High School

portrait of Joshua OremlandJoshua Oremland chose to attend ASU because of the highly ranked Barrett, the Honors College. Upon acceptance, he received the New American University Scholar — President’s Award scholarship and has earned Dean’s List recognition every semester.

The Outstanding Graduate for the Aerospace Engineering program will also complete a minor in materials science and engineering.

Besides excelling in academics, Oremland is an avid athlete. Throughout his years at ASU, he competed in intramural football, soccer, softball, volleyball, basketball and racquetball. At home in Scottsdale he also works as a tennis instructor.

After graduation, Oremland will work at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona, as an engineer for the guidance, navigation, and control department. Working in industry might not be all that’s in his future.

“I have always seen myself as a university professor, hoping to continue my education with a master’s and doctorate in an engineering field,” he says.

No matter where his career takes him, he’s looking forward to being involved in aviation and flight sciences.

AIDAN PAYNE
Information Technology

Aidan Payne was unsure of which program to pursue, but he knew he wanted to develop a broad understanding of modern computing.

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B.S. in Information Technology
Hometown: Sebastopol, California
Graduated from Analy High School

portrait of Aidan PayneWhen starting college, Aidan Payne knew he wanted to study computers, but was unsure of which program to pursue. He ultimately settled on Information Technology, as he wanted to develop a broad understanding of modern computing.

While he was confident he’d made the right decision in pursuing IT, true validation arrived in his senior year during work on his capstone project.

“The capstone project provided the little bit of guidance I need to focus my efforts, but also gave me the freedom to tackle problems as I saw fit,” says Payne. “The knowledge and experience I gained provided me with a new perspective on what I have learned throughout the program, and reassured me that I had chosen the right path.”

Payne plans on leveraging his education to support the technology that’s come to define our lives.

“Technology is a vital part of modern business, communication, and even our culture,” he says. “Society has come to rely on devices and tools that were simply unheard of 20 years ago, and I’m excited to be a part of what is to come.”

Though Payne notes that it may feel like the world is changing faster than ever, he’s a firm believer in a bright future powered by engineering.

“The future is at our doorstep, and it brings with it science fiction fantasies of driverless cars and delivery drones,” says Payne. “Engineering has played a vital role in getting us where we are today, and it will continue to drive us ever forward in pursuit of a better world for all.”

Payne is currently enrolled in the 4+1 program and will begin work on his master’s degree in the fall. He plans on completing his graduate work in two semesters and achieve his goal of graduating with both degrees within four years.

SANDY POLUS
Mechanical Engineering

Engineering was a likely path for Sandy Polus since he’s always had a passion for building and designing things, and his father is a mechanical engineer.

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B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Nineveh, Iraq
Graduated from QaraQosh High School

portrait of Sandy PolusEngineering was a likely path for Sandy Polus. He’s always had a passion for building and designing things, and his father is a mechanical engineer.

Arizona State University was a logical place for him to study, once he moved from Nineveh, Iraq, to the United States.

“I chose ASU because I heard it has a great Mechanical Engineering program,” Polus says, “Also, my family lives in Arizona and I did not want to live far away from them.”

At ASU, Polus worked on mechanical and aerospace engineering projects in and out of the lab with Professor James Middleton and Professor of Practice Luis Bocanegra. Polus evaluated and tested Mechanical and Aerospace Laboratory equipment efficiency for future experiments with Middleton; with Bocanegra, Polus analyzed the performance of one of the water chillers at the ASU Tempe campus chilled water plant, which reclaims gray water for use in cooling towers for campus chillers.

Polus received a university grant to support his studies and has been consistently recognized on the Dean’s list. He also is a member of the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society.  

He currently interns for the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Traffic Signals Management and Operations Group where he builds and tests traffic signal cabinets for the statewide road system and helped develop a warning system for wrong-way drivers as part of his capstone project.

After graduation, Polus will continue his education in the 4+1 program to earn his master’s in mechanical engineering.

Before he resumes his studies this fall, Polus plans to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and will intern with the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant.

When he’s not working as an engineer, Polus is a professional musician and enjoys spending time with his family as a newlywed.

“My dream is to have kids, a full-time job and a happy life,” Polus says.

MARÍA JOSÉ QUEZADA
Biomedical Engineering

María José Quezada — known around campus as “Joe” — has been a leader in coordinating efforts for Hispanic and Latino students young and old.

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B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering
Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico

portrait of María José Quezada

María José Quezada — known around campus as “Joe” — is an international student from Mexico City who has been a leader in coordinating efforts for Hispanic and Latino students young and old.

As an engineering peer mentor, she helped dozens of freshmen students to connect with a strong campus community and important student resources. As an E2 Camp Counselor she welcomed students to the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

And her achievements as an undergraduate researcher interested in neurorehabilitation can’t be ignored.

As part of the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative, Quezada conducted research in the Human Mobility Lab for several semesters, with a focus on the effect of startle reflex in stroke rehabilitation therapy. She was able to present this research at two national conferences with funding support from the Grand Challenge Scholars Program and the Fulton Schools.

She also earned a 10-week spot at an MIT Summer Research Program in which she adapted the Microsoft Kinect game interfaces for MIT Skywalker robot for cerebral palsy and stroke patients gait rehabilitation.

“There is a lot to discover and understand about the way our brain communicates with our body to perform functional tasks,” says Quezada, who plans to pursue a dual doctoral degree in biomedical engineering and physical therapy at Northwestern University to develop better technology and rehabilitation tools.

Quezada is also graduating as a Grand Challenge Scholar.

But perhaps most meaningful has been her involvement with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE de ASU) student organization.

As president, she oversaw 70 active members and 110 national members. She helped coordinate social and sporting events, study sessions, as well as industry and professional workshops with companies such as Intel and Texas Instruments.

In addition to working with the local Sí Se Puede Foundation, the student organization hosts Noche de Ciencias (“Science Night”) at local elementary schools, middle schools and high schools once every semester.

“SHPE has given me unique opportunities, allowed me grow professionally, provided interaction with some of the most passionate driven students and made me feel part of what we call ‘the SHPE familia’,” says Quezada.

CARRIE RUSSELL
Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Juggling the responsibilities of a single parent with the demands of completing a degree have been both challenging and rewarding for Carrie Russell.

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B.S. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Hometown: Pueblo, Colorado

portrait of Carrie RussellJuggling the responsibilities of a single parent with the demands of completing a degree have been both challenging and rewarding for Carrie Russell.

A typical day for Carrie starts with a mad dash to daycare, tumble time or ballet and an often theatrical performance of going to bed, and it doesn’t end there. Then she works on household chores and cleanup after “Hurricane Emma,” and she’s not done yet. Finally comes the time to work on Blackboard response posts, comprehensive reading and writing assignments and group projects.

“Every night at that moment, my resolve and my commitment to my educational goals were tested,” Carrie says. “I won that battle more often than not, choosing to pour myself a cup of coffee over falling down onto the couch for a nap.”

Choosing to stay dedicated to her studies meant dishes sometimes went undone, and the house wasn’t as tidy, but it has paid off — Carrie is graduating summa cum laude this semester.

“Completing my degree has been a long-time personal goal, and I hope my achievement can serve as an example for my daughter, other student-parents and those who have taken a less traditional path to graduation,” she says.

Her daughter and engineering aren’t Carrie’s only loves and pursuits. During her time living and working abroad, she developed a passion for the underwater world through diving.

“I have had the unique opportunity to live and work aboard diving vessels off the western coast of Thailand and the southern coast of Bali,” Carrie says. “My diving experiences have spanned from the Red Sea in Egypt to Komodo National Park in southeastern Indonesia.”

She hopes one day to integrate diving and engineering in her future career.

“Someday I hope to combine this passion with my degree in human systems engineering — the best of both worlds!”

JESSICA SARCEDA
Technological Entrepreneurship and Management

Jessica Sarceda always knew she had “a bit of an entrepreneurship spirit and the drive to make an impact on the world.”

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B.S. in Technological Entrepreneurship and Management
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Graduated from North Canyon High School

portrait of Jessica SarcedaJessica Sarceda always knew she had “a bit of an entrepreneurship spirit and the drive to make an impact on the world.”  

So she seemed destined for a major in college that she describes as a “combination between engineering, business, and design,” in which students “learn the fundamentals of business, but we also explore innovation and creativity so we can to go off and create our own technology-based ventures.”

To her delight, she found the “greatest mentors” among the professors and leaders of the Technology and Entrepreneurship program.

Her professors have helped her find an internship at the telemedicine software company eVisit, and been guiding her on steps toward a career after graduation.

She points in particular to Lecturer Aram Chomina-Chavez. He helped her understand the fundamentals of finance and international business, connected her to other helpful mentors and opened doors to potential opportunities to pursue an MBA, she says.

Sarceda’s goals are rooted in more than aspirations to be innovative and successful in business.

“I want to someday create a company that can improve the lives of others, and that could have a positive impact on the environment,” she says.

After graduation, she plans to get more industry experience as a product manager at eVisit before pursuing an MBA.

Sarceda is already a member of the founding groups of two startup ventures. She’s hoping those not only turn out to be viable enterprises but also enable her to eventually “inspire young women to get involved in the tech industry and help them understand all of the great opportunities.”

Among the most valuable lessons she’s learned during her undergrad years is the importance of getting involved in things beyond classes.

She served as the vice president of the ASU student Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship club, was a member of the international women’s sorority Alpha Phi, and got involved with other campus organizations.

“You learn how to grow as a leader and you learn how to apply what you are learning in college by joining various organizations,” she says. “That’s important because companies are looking for people with leadership skills and the ability to implement what they learned throughout college while on the job.”

More than that, she adds, is that student organizations provide opportunities for friendships and professional collaborations that can last throughout life.

HANNAH SWIECZKOWSKI
Informatics

Hannah Swieczkowski wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to study when she started at ASU, but she liked computers and wanted to get a deeper understanding of them.

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B.S. in Informatics
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Graduated from Shadow Mountain High School

Portrait of Hannah SwieczkowskiHannah Swieczkowski wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to study when she started at ASU.

“I took a lot of different types of classes and ended up taking my first programming class in Java, because I always liked computers and wanted to get a deeper understanding of them,” says Swieczkowski.

After that, she was hooked on programming, but remained interested in the arts. She spoke with her advisor about combining the two, and she was introduced to informatics.

“Informatics was the perfect combination of technology and creativity,” says Swieczkowski. “I got a technical understanding of computers and information systems while still being able to be creative at the same time.”

Swieczkowski’s commendable academic performance has been a staple of her undergraduate years. A recipient of the New American University Scholar President’s Award, she’s put the scholarship to good use, earning a spot on the Dean’s List every semester and securing a coveted Moeur Award for her 4.0 GPA. Swieczkowski was also a finalist for the Riva Yares Arts and Humanities Award, which recognizes the bold artistic vision of undergraduate students.

Swieczkowski draws inspiration from Grace Hopper, famed computer scientist and U.S. Navy rear admiral who invented the first computer compiler.

“She is not only a role model to me because of her many computing accomplishments, but because she was an amazing leader who persevered to get her vision out there,” says Swieczkowski. “I hope to be as fearless and inspiring as Grace someday!”

After graduation, Swieczkowski will be putting some of that fearlessness to use and relocating to Austin, Texas, where she’ll work as a technology analyst for Accenture.

“I’m extremely excited to get to work with new and upcoming technologies as well as to help organizations grow creatively by utilizing this innovative technology,” says Swieczkowski.

TIMOTHY TAYLOR
Construction Engineering

People generally get into construction because they want to build things. Tim Taylor wants to blow stuff up.

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B.S.E. in Construction Engineering
Hometown: Goldsboro, North Carolina
Graduated from Ramstein American High School, Ramstein AFB Germany

portrait of Tim TaylorPeople generally get into construction because they want to build things. Tim Taylor wants to blow stuff up.

“I decided to study engineering primarily to become an explosive demolitions expert, specializing in building demolition,” says Taylor. “Construction engineering is the best way to get into the explosive demolition field, given that it does not have a dedicated major of its own.”

Don’t mistake Taylor’s penchant for destruction as indicative of his character. Despite being a self-confessed “adrenaline junkie” with a love of motor and shooting sports, he’s consistently proven himself as a dedicated, outstanding student. His measured, careful approach to schoolwork earned him a New American University President’s Scholarship and a place on the Dean’s List every semester.

Taylor has a similar approach in mind with regards to demolitions, his ultimate career goal.

“An explosive demolition of a skyscraper or high-rise in a dense urban area would likely be a high point in my career, especially if the operation is performed safely and successfully,” he says.

Aside from dreams of demolition, Taylor’s exact plans remain undetermined. He wants to experience “as many facets of life as possible” before he finds a career, and is considering service in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Peace Corps following graduation. Though he has no plans to attend graduate school, he expects he’ll be a student once again at some point in life.

Taylor doesn’t know where life will take him, but he’s got a good idea of where he wants to end up.

“My dream home and lifestyle would be a modest house with access to large amounts of land where I could ride dirt bikes, drive rally cars, shoot and play,” he says.

MELISSA THOMAS
Engineering Management

Melissa Thomas has always wanted to be a Sun Devil. When she decided to go back to school, ASU was the natural choice.

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B.S.E. in Engineering Management
Hometown: Ahwatukee in Phoenix, Arizona
Graduated from Monarch High School 

portrait of Melissa ThomasMelissa Thomas has always wanted to be a Sun Devil. When she decided to go back to school, ASU was the natural choice.

Originally Thomas wanted to be a doctor, but the anatomy class showed it wasn’t for her. She then realized engineering could be the intellectually challenging career in healthcare she dreamed of.

“I learned that I could still make an impact in healthcare by studying engineering and applying it in the medical field,” Thomas says.

First a biomedical engineering major, hands-on experience in healthcare led to a change.  

“I learned that I enjoyed the management side more than the technical side of engineering, so I changed my major to engineering management.”

During her studies, Thomas worked for three years in the sustainability division at a large medical device company, which confirmed her choice of engineering management.

“I realized I was on the right path when, through analytics, I was able to save a hospital thousands of dollars that they could use on other things, such as better facilities and more resources,” she says.

Long term, she wants to build on her experience of making a positive impact on the healthcare system.

“I would like to continue to help make healthcare more sustainable, but I would also love to be a part of the future of using Big Data in healthcare,” Thomas says. “I believe the future in healthcare is using Big Data to help connect doctors and make better diagnoses and decisions through analytics of patients around the world.”

When she’s not flexing her technical skills, Thomas likes to challenge her creativity through photography.

“It’s nice to get behind a camera and take time to notice the little things that we so often take for granted,” she says.

CODY VAN CLEVE
Engineering (Robotics)

Though he was always interested in engineering, Cody Van Cleve was leaning toward studying business, until he took a tour of ASU’s Polytechnic campus on a whim.

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B.S.E. in Engineering (Robotics)
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Graduated from Ironwood Ridge High School

portrait of Cody Van CleveWhen it came time to decide where to go to college, Cody Van Cleve was at a crossroads. With his parents claiming both the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University as alma maters, he was unsure where he’d end up.

After looking at some out-of-state colleges, he took a tour of ASU’s Polytechnic campus on a whim.

“I fell in love with it,” says Van Cleve, a student in Barrett, the Honors College. “I knew almost instantly this was the place where things were happening that I wanted to be involved in.”

Though he was always interested in engineering, Van Cleve was leaning toward studying business. He saw the emphasis on entrepreneurship at the Polytechnic School as another selling point.

“I didn’t have to choose — here I got the hands-on learning, the technical expertise, the entrepreneurial connections,” he says. “Everything I wanted was here.”

It ended up being a good choice for Van Cleve, who’s gone on to distinguish himself inside as well as outside the classroom, even representing ASU on the global stage. In addition to earning the Moeur Award — reserved for students with a cumulative 4.0 GPA — Van Cleve travelled to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, for an entrepreneurial research effort. He also performed Fauré’s Requiem as part of the Barrett choir in Paris to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

But Van Cleve’s most memorable and rewarding moments at ASU came from the people he’s met and worked with throughout his undergraduate years.

“Getting to work with other students and helping them succeed was really rewarding,” he says of the various jobs he’s held at ASU. “Watching someone experience engineering for the first time and convincing them they’re capable of it is incredible.”

But at the top of his list? Van Cleve says his defining moment at ASU was meeting his fiancé, a fellow engineering student.

“I never expected to meet the love of my life in engineering, but I did,” he says. “And she’s pretty amazing.”

The pair are slated to get married in October, and Van Cleve will continue his education at ASU in the 4+1 program after graduation, pursuing his master’s degree in systems engineering.

STEPHANIE YAMAMOTO
Electrical Engineering

A Fulton Ambassador, dancer and taiko drum performer, it’s clear that Stephanie Yamamoto doesn’t mind being in front of crowds.

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B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Graduated from Horizon Community Learning Center

portrait of Stephanie YamamotoStephanie Yamamoto is pretty comfortable in the spotlight. A devotee of partner social dancing — Fusion, Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing, and more — for eight years and 13 years of experience playing taiko drums as a student, performer, and most recently a teacher, it’s safe to say the electrical engineering major doesn’t mind being in front of crowds.

Upon arriving at ASU, Yamamoto joined the Fulton Ambassadors, to teach prospective students and their families about the Fulton Schools. She distinguished herself with the Ambassadors, winning both the Fulton Ambassador of the Year for 2014-2015 as well as the Leadership Award the following year.

Just as she served as a public face for the Fulton Schools on campus, Yamamoto recently returned from representing ASU engineering abroad, studying at the National University of Singapore.

“There’s nothing quite like taking yourself completely out of your comfort zone, it really gives you perspective and helps you realize what you truly need in your life to be fulfilled,” says Yamamoto of her time in Singapore. “It also allowed me to have incredible experiences such as backpacking Indonesia solo, hiking into an active volcano, and seeing Komodo Dragons up close.”

While she enjoyed her time exploring Southeast Asia, Yamamoto wasn’t able to turn her engineering brain off, noting “seeing the electrical systems and wiring in some of these countries was nerve wracking!”

Upon graduation, Yamamoto will go to work full-time for Burns & McDonnell, an engineering, architecture and consulting firm she’s been interning with for the past two summers. She’s considering pursuing graduate studies in the future, and hopes to be able to use what she has learned to contribute to society.

“I just want to bring positivity to this world, and I hope to do that within my career as an electrical engineer,” says Yamamoto.

IMPACT Award Recipients

ANNGELA ADAMS
Biomedical Engineering

Anngela Adams hopes to have an impact on the world through medicine.

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M.S. in Biomedical Engineering
B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Graduated from Mountain Pointe High School 

Anngela AdamsAnngela Adams hopes to have an impact on the world through medicine.

“My career goal involves serving my community as a physician, so I chose biomedical engineering at ASU because this major would best prepare me for medical school,” Adams says.

The biomedical engineering graduate student believes engineering plays an important role in health.

“Engineering is changing the world by improving health outcomes for individuals around the world and providing unique, innovative solutions to challenges,” Adams says.

As a graduate teaching assistant, she was able to see a variety of ways engineering students at the Fulton Schools are making a difference.

“One of the most rewarding experiences in my graduate years at ASU has been serving as a teaching assistant for the biomedical engineering capstone class,” she says. “This opportunity has allowed me to mentor students as they developed medical devices.”

The class’s instructor, Associate Professor Vincent Pizziconi, has been instrumental in helping Adams be successful. She met Pizziconi when she toured ASU as a high school student and took his classes as an undergraduate.

“He has always believed in me and has motivated me to never give up on my goals,” Adams says. “I am very thankful to have had such a wonderful professor.”

Although her graduate years were very busy, she still had time to pursue her love of dance — ranging from ballet and tap to jazz and hip hop — by attending a daily ballet barre class.

Adams has been admitted to her first choice of medical schools, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, and will begin her medical education in July.

In the future she hopes to have a positive impact on her patients’ lives and community, and to have a happy family.

JULIA ARMSTRONG
Engineering Management

Julia Armstrong’s high school teachers and advisors told her to focus in college on whatever she was good at doing.

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B.S.E. in Engineering Management
Hometown: Mesa, Arizona
Graduated from Westwood High School

Portrait of Julia Armstrong

Julia Armstrong’s high school teachers and advisors told her to focus in college on whatever she was good at doing.

The problem, she says, was that “I hadn’t really found anything I was particularly bad at, so I was conflicted.”

She considered law, physics, engineering, English and journalism, but the choice she made “on a whim” to major in engineering management proved to be the right one for her.

“My engineering is the kind of engineering that can be applied in any field and can change the world one small step at a time,” she says. It is the engineering of constant improvement, guided by the notion that nothing is perfect and that there is always a better way to go about doing things. You just have to find it.” 

She found plenty of paths to improvement and achievement during her undergraduate years.

Armstrong helped to found the ASU student chapter of the American Institute of Engineering Management and was a member of the Fulton Schools’ Engineering Management Student Advisory Committee, spearheading an effort to establish a 4+1 accelerated graduate degree program for engineering management students with a concentration in industrial engineering.

She is now one of a handful of students who are the first to be enrolled in the new program.

Through the Fulton School’s Engineering Projects in Community Service program she helped to developed a low-cost microscope designed to enable elementary school teachers to teach youngsters about water science.

She conducted advanced research for her honors thesis project, doing statistical power analysis of different software packages used for experimental design.

Armstrong was also vice president of Dumbledore’s Army — a club that connects Harry Potter fans at ASU — when the club won the Pitchforks Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Organization.

Outside of studies, projects and student clubs, Armstrong sang in the Barrett Choir, played video games and was into anime/manga — Japanese animated stories and graphic novels.

As for career aspirations, she’s thinking big.

“I want to be involved in making something on a grand scale,” she says, “and be in charge of leading projects with groundbreaking results.”

TROY BUHR
Mechanical Engineering

As a child, Troy Buhr wanted to grow up to be a race car driver, but as a mechanical engineering student he’s found his passion in a stimulating alternative.

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B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Maricopa, Arizona
Graduated from Maricopa High School

Portrait of Troy BuhrAs a child, Troy Buhr wanted to grow up to be a race car driver, but as a mechanical engineering student he’s found his passion in a stimulating alternative.

“On the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Formula team I help design race cars,” says Buhr, who is the student organization’s Formula team captain and has been a member since 2015.

“Instead of being the person who does the driving and goes through the motions of getting the car around the track, I am the person who helps design the car and what it does around the track,” he says.

His studies have combined his two passions: race cars and understanding how machines move, work and operate.

His interest in the latter was also sparked as a child then Buhr helped his dad build their house from the ground up.

“I always had this curiosity — how do things work, what makes things move and tick. I didn’t know at the time that that’s what mechanical engineering is,” says Buhr.

He calls mechanical engineering a “passion” he’s “living every day.”

Buhr was supported at ASU through a New American University Scholarship.

“That scholarship is single handedly the reason why I’m here today. Had it not been for that investment ASU made in my education, I would have not had any of the opportunities that I’ve had.”

Buhr also served as a peer career coach for the Fulton Schools’ Career Center, where he can help others land jobs and internships.

“I’ve love being in this role as it allows me to help people,” he says.

Upon graduation, Buhr has a job lined us with Ford Motor Company working on what he calls “the electrification of transportation.”

He says he’d like to play an industry role in converting all ground transport to electric.

“That’s my goal, that’s my dream and I’m excited for it,” he says.

 

PATRICK GAINES
Computer Science

Patrick Gaines hopes to one day develop a new coding language and maybe even a new operating system.

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M.S.C. in Computer Science
B.S. ’16 in Computer Science
Hometown: Wichita, Kansas
Graduated from Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School

portrait of Patrick GainesPatrick Gaines hopes to one day develop a new coding language and maybe even a new operating system. These may seem like lofty goals, but one look at Gaines’ academic career makes it evident he can accomplish whatever he puts his mind to.

After completing five years of service in the United States Marine Corps as an electronics maintenance technician, Gaines began pursuing what had long been an interest of his: computer science.

His aptitude for the field was recognized in 2015, when he earned a $10,000 Google Student Veterans of America (SVA) scholarship. He was then named as the Computer Science Outstanding Undergraduate in spring 2016.

In addition to his academic achievement, Gaines has distinguished himself through his commitment to student organizations. He’s the founding president of the Fulton Student Veterans Organization, and served as the president of both the Software Developers Association, or SoDA as well as the Student Veterans Association for a year apiece.

Under his watch, SoDA grew to become one of the largest student organizations on campus, according to the Fulton Schools Career Center, overhauling their meeting structure, building professional connections and boosting the organization’s online presence.

“Through these roles, I’ve helped these organizations receive numerous Industry Outreach awards, and have practically helped put ASU on the map with regards to major tech companies like Google and Amazon, who largely go through SoDA when visiting ASU,” says Gaines.

Thanks to his hard work with SoDA, opportunities with competitive companies like Snapchat and Google have opened to org members.

“It’s really gratifying to have been a part of the success of so many people,” says Gaines.

After graduation, Gaines will work for Intel as a software developer in Phoenix.

 

NGONI MUGWISI
Electrical Engineering

Ngoni Mugwisi saw ASU as an ideal fit to help him make progress in spreading sustainable energy and unleashing unlimited potential for people worldwide.

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B.S.E in Electrical Engineering
Graduated from Thornhill High School in Gweru, Zimbabwe

portrait of Ngoni MugwisiNgoni Mugwisi is dedicated to making a difference. It’s an expectation he holds dear, as his hometown is known as the City of Progress.

He saw ASU as an ideal fit to help him make progress in spreading sustainable energy and unleashing unlimited potential for people worldwide.

“Whenever possible, I choose to serve others — as a volunteer, leader, mentor and more,” says the MasterCard Foundation Scholar.

Mugwisi has helped others through both engineering and social endeavors during his time at ASU, his efforts recognized with many awards, notably, a fellowship from the Resolution Project.

Along with participating in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative and Engineering Projects in Community Service, Mugwisi co-founded a student organization, Africa Rises, to promote cultural diversity on campus. He identifies himself as a culturally responsible engineer, and has led academic excellence and outreach efforts for minority engineers of color on the Region VI board of the National Society of Black Engineers.

His hard work led to one of his most significant experiences: attending the Clinton Global Initiative University in 2014 as a commitment maker.

“The experience awakened me to the breadth of opportunities ASU and the U.S. offered, and the unique access to my generation’s leaders my time here would enable,” he says. “I especially enjoyed briefly meeting Former President Bill Clinton moments after he had interviewed Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales and Senator John McCain.”

After graduation, Mugwisi will pursue a doctor of philosophy in engineering science from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, ASU’s first in 15 years and his proudest achievement.

In the future, he plans to help his home country and the 1.2 billion people facing energy poverty.

“My dream is to enable success for others,” Mugwisi says. “Although there are multiple pathways to this end, the most significant is working towards equitable energy access and electrifying my continent.”

KYLE PENDLEY
Graphic Information Technology

Kyle Pendley says he is confident his undergraduate experience at Arizona State University has provided a solid foundation from which to pursue all of his goals.

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B.S. in Graphic Information Technology
Hometown:
Gilbert, Arizona
Graduated from Williams Field High School

portrait of Kyle PendleyKyle Pendley says his career aspiration is to one day own both a video production company and a marketing agency.

He is confident his undergraduate experience at Arizona State University has provided a solid foundation from which to pursue all of those goals and interests.

But those vague goals crystallized after first getting into photography and video production during high school and then later seeing the photo studio and the print and imaging facilities at ASU.

That’s when, he says, “I knew this was the place for me.”

He found the hands-on learning in the graphic information technology program suited him perfectly.

“I had figured I would be in a lecture hall just doing textbook work for the majority of my college career,” he says, “but I found out how much the program was project-based, and that you were actually creating work for potential clients. That really gave me a passion for what we were doing.”

Pendley has been active in networking at national print and graphics industry conferences, as well as in the ASU Graphic Information Technology Club.

He won awards in printing and photography at regional student competitions. He earned scholarships from industry foundations and private companies.

He spent long days laboring in the print and imaging lab, where “students not only learn how to operate technology, but also learn how to manage their time and work efficiently,” he says.

“There was an emphasis on solving technological problems, which is exactly what I like to do,” he adds. “So some of the biggest challenges I have ever faced and conquered were right here in this lab.”

As he gained experience, Pendley took on leadership roles that enabled him to contribute to the growth of the self-funded lab.

That accomplishment has led to landing his first job — even before graduating: He has been hired for a full-time position as the lab’s production manager.

Pendley says he now looks forward not only to enhancing his own résumé but to “having the kind of impact on future students in the program that my mentors had on me.”

MELBY ANN THELAKKADEN
Materials Science and Engineering

Melby Ann Thelakkaden says a lot of her passion was driven by her desire to work with children and introduce them to engineering.

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B.S.E. in Materials Science and Engineering
Hometown: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Graduated from Highland High School

portrait of Melby Ann ThelakkadenMelby Ann Thelakkaden earned an IMPACT Award for her contributions to a variety of service endeavors. She served as an ASU wellness ambassador, an undergraduate teaching assistant in an engineering class and as an engineering section leader supporting an ASU 101 class.

As engineering section leader she held elevator pitch and résumé workshops to help students prepare for their future career.

“I firmly believe that students should start attending career fairs as soon as freshmen year. I know it can be intimidating, so I wanted to help my students be more prepared,” she says.

Thelakkaden also held leadership positions in a variety of student organizations, including as president and secretary of Material Advantage, outreach chair for the Society of Women Engineers, vice president of Challah for Hunger and a member of Feed My Starving Children.

Thelakkaden says a lot of her passion was driven by her desire to work with children and introduce them to engineering.

“Not too many people know about materials science and engineering, so outreach was an opportunity to create excitement around learning an engineering concept and gain exposure for the field of study,” she says.

She enjoyed being able to convey the importance of engineering to many forthcoming engineers, while fine-tuning her public speaking skills.

Thelakkaden says she was drawn to materials science and engineering because “it is one of the few majors that combines chemistry, physics and math with principles of mechanical, chemical and electrical engineering.”

She believe the strong technical foundation enabled her to pursue different career paths such as the semiconductors, metallurgy, aerospace or academic research. Though she has decided to start her career as a materials engineer at Orbital ATK in Chandler, Arizona.

Thelakkaden was supported in her studies with a New American University Scholarship from ASU.

COURTNEY VAN BUSSUM
Biomedical Engineering

Since arriving at ASU, Courtney Van Bussum has committed herself to changing the world around her for the better.

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B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering
Hometown: Boulder, Colorado
Graduated from Boulder High School

Portrait of Courtney Van BussumSince arriving at ASU, Courtney Van Bussum has committed herself to changing the world around her for the better.

Wasting no time, the biomedical engineering student threw herself into the Grand Challenge Scholars Program and Engineering Projects in Community Service her freshman year. In EPICS, she created FitStart Kids, a mentorship program to promote healthy living for youth. In 2015, Van Bussum launched FitStart Kids into a full-fledged startup, expanding it to combat childhood obesity by bridging virtual and physical play with wearable devices.

Her success with FitStart Kids earned her numerous accolades, including placing as a finalist in the eSeed Challenge, the Fulton School’s entrepreneurship competition within the Startup Center. Van Bussum then became a peer mentor for the Startup Center, aiding the program director and supporting other student ventures.

Van Bussum’s advocacy for health and wellness has been a staple of her undergraduate career. She not only works as a fitness and yoga instructor at the Sun Devil Fitness Center, but has held several internships with ASU Obesity Solutions, serving as a health program facilitator for underprivileged youth at Streetlight U.S.A. and later FitPHX Energy Zones.

Van Bussum also conducted behavioral health research within the College of Health Solutions’ School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, and despite all her responsibilities, made the Dean’s List each semester.  

Reflecting on her long list of accomplishments, Van Bussum credits biomedical engineering with aiding her success.

“Biomedical engineering taught me that I can do things that I never thought I could do,” she says. “I think that’s kind of typical of any engineering – you look at this task ahead of you and think there’s no way you could ever accomplish it and then, you do. This experience has left me with this ability to do whatever I put my mind to.”

ZACHARY YESKEY
Engineering (Automotive Systems)

From the minute Zachary Yeskey saw his uncle’s 1957 Corvette, he was hooked on a need for engineering speed.

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B.S.E. in Engineering (Automotive Systems)
Hometown: Chandler, Arizona
Graduated from Seton Catholic High School

portrait of Zachary YeskeyFrom the minute Zachary Yeskey saw his uncle’s 1957 Corvette, he was hooked on a need for engineering speed. He used to visit automotive shows and dream about building his own line of cars. Much to his parents’ dismay, he used to disassemble his toys in an attempt to re-engineer them better. It makes sense then that Yeskey sped to the finish line when applying to ASU to pursue a future in automotive engineering.

He had a handful of schools carefully pick out, but ASU stood out as it had a Baja and Formula SAE team. He never expected that he would rise to the occasion and end up working on an intense project like ASU’s EcoCAR3, but he’s glad he did. Professor James Contes egged him on even when he had misgiving about working on it.

“I simply could not have been the engineer I am today without his guidance,” he says.

Pulling late nights, all-nighters and taking finals while on the road to competitions has been challenging during his time at ASU. Competing and succeeding against other well-engineered designs however has rewarded him greatly.

“It makes you want to do it all over again,” says Yeskey. 

He hasn’t forgotten the rush he got when he went full throttle in a Baja car into a pile of rocks. He just sailed over them like they were nothing. Slightly bruised but with his motivation still intact, he survived nearly rolling it. Enthusiastically he recalled that, “the feeling of being invincible to any obstacle made it well worth it!”

Yeskey sought inspiration from Henry Ford and how he created, innovated and moved automotive technology forward. Yeskey reflected that Ford, “revolutionized the world with his forward-thinking and that’s something that has always resonated well with me.”

It is that forward-thinking that drives him to explore energy-efficient and sustainable designs for cars and reduce their ecological.

He was accepted to Ford Motor Company’s College Graduate program and will start working within the company this summer at Dearborn, Michigan. He has his fingers crossed that Ford will have hire him as an engineer one day.

WILLIAM “PHIL” YOUNG
Industrial Engineering

William “Phil” Young is a man who would rather recognize those who have impacted his life than be recognized himself.

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B.S.E. in Industrial Engineering
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Graduated from Dr. E.P. Scarlett High School in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

portrait of Phil YoungWilliam “Phil” Young is a man who would rather recognize those who have impacted his life than be recognized himself.

“I feel like it’s so important to consider all interactions as a once in a lifetime opportunity of influence,” Young says. “We never know how far the arm of our actions reach, good or bad. I have made so many mistakes in my life, hurt people I love tremendously, made every mistake in the book…twice. It has taken me so long to realize how even those mistakes can be of use to others.“

Young volunteered at a maximum-security jail to be of service to those who may be unpalatable to much of society. The experience reminded him that he could just have easily been in their shoes.

“These men, flawed just like me, need to be loved and you can see a genuine desire in many of them to be men of character,” says Young.

It was uplifting for Young, on days when he wanted to quit school, to visit them and see even with their struggles, how they desired change in their lives too.

“Service of my fellow man relieves me of my greatest issue: self-centeredness, Young says. “I would encourage all to find their calling to serve.”

He also hopes to integrate service into his future career.

“I would like to one day consult for smaller businesses that truly want to help people and help them improve what they do with the principles of industrial engineering,” says Young.

Young is grateful to his parents who he says have always shown integrity and for his friends who he says challenged him to be a better man. He is now optimistic of where this future will take him.

“The tragic existence that was my 20s was the catalyst to propel me into an entirely different world, one of excitement and optimism – one of presence,” says Young. “This life is so exciting if we’ll only allow it to be!”

Fulton Schools Convocation Speakers

Maroon Ceremony Speaker

NGONI MUGWISI
Electrical Engineering

Ngoni Mugwisi saw ASU as an ideal fit to help him make progress in spreading sustainable energy and unleashing unlimited potential for people worldwide.

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B.S.E in Electrical Engineering
Graduated from Thornhill High School in Gweru, Zimbabwe

portrait of Ngoni MugwisiNgoni Mugwisi is dedicated to making a difference. It’s an expectation he holds dear, as his hometown is known as the City of Progress.

He saw ASU as an ideal fit to help him make progress in spreading sustainable energy and unleashing unlimited potential for people worldwide.

“Whenever possible, I choose to serve others — as a volunteer, leader, mentor and more,” says the MasterCard Foundation Scholar.

Mugwisi has helped others through both engineering and social endeavors during his time at ASU, his efforts recognized with many awards, notably, a fellowship from the Resolution Project.

Along with participating in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative and Engineering Projects in Community Service, Mugwisi co-founded a student organization, Africa Rises, to promote cultural diversity on campus. He identifies himself as a culturally responsible engineer, and has led academic excellence and outreach efforts for minority engineers of color on the Region VI board of the National Society of Black Engineers.

His hard work led to one of his most significant experiences: attending the Clinton Global Initiative University in 2014 as a commitment maker.

“The experience awakened me to the breadth of opportunities ASU and the U.S. offered, and the unique access to my generation’s leaders my time here would enable,” he says. “I especially enjoyed briefly meeting Former President Bill Clinton moments after he had interviewed Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales and Senator John McCain.”

After graduation, Mugwisi will pursue a doctor of philosophy in engineering science from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, ASU’s first in 15 years and his proudest achievement.

In the future, he plans to help his home country and the 1.2 billion people facing energy poverty.

“My dream is to enable success for others,” Mugwisi says. “Although there are multiple pathways to this end, the most significant is working towards equitable energy access and electrifying my continent.”

Gold Ceremony Speaker

ROCKY CAMARENA
Industrial Engineering

Rocky Camarena’s first experience with engineering was through ASU’s summer camps she attended in high school.

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B.S.E in Industrial Engineering
Hometown: Chandler, Arizona
Graduated from Corona del Sol High School

portrait of Rocky CamarenaRocky Camarena’s first experience with engineering was through ASU’s summer camps she attended in high school.

“I loved every camp and what engineering had to offer here,” recalls Camarena, a student in Barrett, the Honors College.

And she’s not exaggerating — Camarena really was attracted to everything in engineering, evidenced by her impressive undergraduate career at the Fulton Schools. Camarena not only participated in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative, working on predictive analytics to accurately forecast energy generation, but she was also an active member of the student organization MAES, or Latinos in Science and Engineering, both while balancing her responsibilities to the Grand Challenge Scholar Program.

She also served as the treasurer and vice president of the Grand Challenge Scholars Alliance, a subgroup of the GCSP, which engages with students, industry and faculty involved in the program. She remained involved with the undergraduate community as well, serving as an Engineering Peer Mentor, a counselor at E2 Camp and in ASU’s Student Admissions Relations Team.

“The most challenging thing was finding the time to do everything that interested me — school-wise and extracurricular-wise,” says Camarena of her undergraduate years. “There was not enough time in the day!”

Though her extracurricular activities were many, Camarena found time to excel as a student as well — earning a place on the Dean’s List, and securing a coveted ASU/NASA Space Grant internship for 2014-2015.

After graduation, Camarena has an internship lined up for the summer and will continue her graduate studies in the fall as part of the 4+1 program.

Looking ahead, she hopes to contribute to programs like the ones that inspired her.

“I would love to give back as well in a form of engaging with students from grades K-12,” she says.

Palais Outstanding Doctoral Student

The Palais Outstanding Doctoral Student award is given to a graduating electrical engineering doctoral student who exemplifies excellence in research and academics. award was established in 2003 with the generosity of Emeritus Professor Joseph Palais and his wife, Sandra Palais. Students are nominated by their doctoral advisors, and must maintain at least a 3.75 grade point average and have at least one publication in a journal or at a conference to qualify.

This year’s award went to Preston Webster, who successfully defended his thesis in May 2016.

Read more about Preston

 

About The Author

Fulton Schools

For media inquiries, contact Lanelle Strawder, Content & Public Relations Manager: 480-727-5618, lanelle.strawder@asu.edu | Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering | Strategic Marketing & Communications

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