Spring 2014 Outstanding ASU Engineering Graduates
Each spring and fall semester special recognition is bestowed upon high-achieving and exemplary students graduating from Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
Faculty members select one undergraduate student from each engineering degree program as the program’s Outstanding Graduate. In addition, one undergraduate is selected in the spring semester to receive an award as the Arizona State Alumni Association Fulton Schools of Engineering Outstanding Graduate for the academic year.
Students are designated as Outstanding Graduates based primarily on their academic performance, both in classroom studies and in related research experience.
The honor also recognizes the students’ contributions to the success of student organizations and support for the Fulton Schools of Engineering educational mission through their service as peer mentors, teaching assistants, and their leadership roles on teams involved in engineering student projects and competitions.
The students selected as Outstanding Graduates for the 2014 spring semester are:
Ira A Fulton Schools of Engineering Alumni Association 2014 Outstanding Graduate
Katelyn Keberle’s explanation for choosing to study engineering is a simple one: “I love making things that help people. Engineers get to do that.”
She chose to major in materials science and engineering simply because the materials field touches on so many fundamental aspects of the science and engineering realms.
Her career aspiration? Equally as simple: “I just want to make cool stuff that helps people.”
The graduate of McClintock High School in her hometown of Tempe, Ariz., and student in ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College, spent much of her undergraduate years doing just that.
In the Engineering Projects In Community Service program she joined a team of students doing a class project to develop a mobile phone app that would be the communications tool for a venture to provide food for people in need.
The team would later bring other ASU students – business, marketing and sustainability majors – into the project named FlashFood.
FlashFood would make arrangements with dining halls, food caterers and related businesses to collect leftover perishable food and have it delivered to people in need at community centers and other gathering places in their neighborhoods.
The mobile app is used keep the food providers, collectors, deliverers and distributors connected, enabling them to act in time to provide fresh food to recipients.
The endeavor won Keberle and her fellow student founders of FlashFood the 2013 U.S. Microsoft Imagine Cup, the premiere national award for student social entrepreneurship endeavors.
The project also won an ASU Walton Sustainability Solutions Fast Pitch award at a competition in which startup nonprofit ventures share their vision and strategies in three minutes or less in hope of winning funding and professional mentorship.
FlashFood has also been an active participant in the ASU Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative, which supports student ventures.
The project founders — almost all of them now graduated from ASU — are continuing to expand the FlashFood network.
Keberle said being part of getting FlashFood off the ground and fulfilling its promise has been the highlight of her college experience.
“The most fantastic thing about being an engineer and a student is the unique ability to make something that is so much greater than the sum of its parts,” she said. “If FlashFood, we, a group of students, took an idea, and with our laptop computers created an organization that has brought thousands of meals to families in need. We created several part-time jobs in the process. All of this has been the most rewarding for me.”
In addition to FlashFood, Keberle served a president of the Material Advantage Club for materials science and engineering students, and was a member of the inaugural executive board of the Fulton Ambassadors, which helps introduce prospective college students to engineering education at ASU.
She also participated in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative program, doing laboratory work in carbon nanotechnology for biomedical sensing applications.
Keberle’s academic achievements earned her the Fulton Schools of Engineering Dean’s Exemplar Scholar Award, the Science, Math and Engineering Competition Award Scholarship, the Ed Denison Memorial Technology Award, the Jim Mayer Scholarship, the Jodie Filardo Scholarship and the Craig and Barbara Barrett Engineering Scholarship.
She accumulated a 3.9 GPA in her undergrad studies, and said she will at some point in the future likely pursue a graduate degree.
Keberle has accepted a full-time position as a process engineer with W.L. Gore and Associates in Phoenix.
Almost all of her time at ASU was spent on studies and related extracurricular activities, she said, “because engineering is so much fun.” But she found time to read, climb to some mountaintops and “bake some interesting things.”
Jared Scott Becker
Outstanding Graduate in Electrical Engineering
Jared Scott Becker may look like he sailed through college: honors student, scholarships, 4.0 GPA. But he admits it wasn’t always easy.
“There were many times when I thought I would not prevail in engineering,” Becker said. “But I persevered because I knew the rewards would outweigh the difficulty of the rigorous program.”
Becker was born in Highlands Ranch, Colo., and graduated from Highlands Ranch High School. He chose ASU for Barrett, The Honors College, the Fulton Schools of Engineering and the exceptional value.
“There is no better educational value at any other university in the country,” Becker said. “Barrett has the ability to take a university with tens of thousands of students and give the feeling of a school with only a couple thousand students.”
Becker chose engineering for its academic rigor and versatility.
“Engineering has kept me intellectually engaged and has pushed the limits of what I thought I was capable of,” Becker said. “I knew if I stuck with it, I would have no limit in my career choices.”
Becker received the New American University Scholarship – President’s Award, the IEEE Phoenix Section Student Scholarship – Dieter Schroder Award, and the International Switching Symposium Endowed Scholarship.
He received the Outstanding Award for Calculus from the ASU Math Department and was chosen for the selective Mayo Clinic Premedical Scholars Program.
Through the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative program, Becker has worked to design an amplifier for a solid-state nanopore DNA sequencing device.
“FURI has given me the opportunity to improve my skills in public speaking, networking, and demonstrating my research to an audience,” Becker said. “I also have gained experience in technical writing, research skills, critical evaluation of nontrivial concepts, and bench work in the lab.”
Becker is a member of IEEE and Eta Kappa Nu, and served the community through the Barrett Talent Match and Barrett Page Turners programs. He has also held a job as a community assistant in the engineering residential community at Barrett for three years.
Becker said the most rewarding part of ASU has been the relationships he’s built with friends and faculty, a skill he learned while playing Whist, Pinochle and Bridge with his grandparents and family members.
“The card games help me build relationships with people I love to spend time with, and the games have a competitive nature, which is a strong trait of mine,” he said. “It is something I will be able to do throughout my life, and I hope to teach my children how to play as well one day.”
At ASU, Becker said, he has developed relationships he will cherish for a lifetime.
“From faculty members, to my senior design group and residents of the honors college, the people I have had the pleasure to connect with have been the most fulfilling part of my college experience,” he said.
Becker hopes to work in the San Francisco Bay Area at an engineering company that will support graduate work, and someday hopes to start his own company.
“I would like to work with medical prosthetics,” Becker said. “There would be nothing more exciting for me than to be a part of a group that impacts the lives of individuals.”
Outstanding Graduate in Informatics
Brian Castellanos grew up in central Phoenix and graduated from Central High School in 2003.
“I always had dreams of attending ASU, but I didn’t have the opportunity right away,” Castellanos said. “I got a job after high school, but after a few years found that advancement without a degree was difficult. I finally came to ASU because I wanted to prove that I was a technical professional.”
He transferred from Phoenix College in 2011.
Castellanos began researching informatics because he had never heard of it. He found that it was an emerging field that went beyond what he knew about software engineering.
“The interdisciplinary nature of the program has also introduced me to different areas that I would have never considered: geographical information systems, gamification and game development, mobile development, and experiential media systems and digital culture,” Castellanos said.
Castellanos received several scholarships, including the Maricopa Alliance Transfer Scholarship, the Hopi Tribe Scholarship, the Hopi Supplemental Scholarship, and the University Grant. He has been on the Dean’s List several times, and has a 3.37 GPA.
Castellanos said the most challenging thing for him was to balance full-time work, school and home.
“I worked a full-time job during most of the time that I have been at ASU, as well as taking a full course load,” Castellanos said. “The most rewarding part of the degree program is the pride and sense of accomplishment of completing an engineering degree program. It’s difficult for people to truly understand the commitment and effort required to complete these programs.”
Participating in the engineering job fairs made him realize the accomplishment and the doors it opens.
“You see that because of your degree a whole world of opportunities has opened for you,” Castellanos said. “These are opportunities that wouldn’t be possible without completing an engineering degree. It’s very rewarding to be able to have all these opportunities open up in front of you, and makes the program worthwhile.”
Castellanos will work at ASU’s University Housing office, developing Web applications used by students who live on campus. He also will work on an online master’s degree in software engineering, after which he hopes to work in the computer software industry. His goal is to develop applications used by thousands of people every day.
“I am a big fan of emerging technologies, and with the rapid pace of advancement, it’s important to continually learn and develop new skills,” he said. “I would like to help develop the next generation of engineers as well.”
Outstanding Graduate in Industrial Engineering
Kathleen Duggan, an industrial engineering major, loves math. So much that she’s minoring in it.
“I knew I wanted to study engineering because of my love of math and science,” Duggan said. “I love how industrial engineering combines advanced mathematical modeling skills with developing business savvy.”
Duggan grew up in Arvada, Colo., and graduated from Ralston Valley High School. She chose ASU for the engineering program, and was accepted into Barrett, The Honors College.
“I was really excited about a career in industrial engineering, and was attracted to ASU for their top-rate engineering program,” she said.
She received the New American University Scholarship – President’s Award, the ASU Sun Devil Family Association Scholarship, the Coleman Daniel and Zina Kuhn Scholarship, the Hans Hartjens Scholarship, and the Dean’s Exemplar Sturdeynt Award, and is graduating with a 4.0 GPA.
Through the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative program, she worked with Kristen Parrish, an assistant professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, to investigate how engineering undergraduate students interact with their built environment. The goal of the project was to identify ways to design classrooms that optimize student performance.
Duggan also served as president of the ASU chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), and was a peer mentor in the engineering residential community for two years, an E2 camp counselor and a mentor for the School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering.
Duggan, who plays the cello and loves to experiment with recipes, both baking and cooking, said the most challenging part of college was to keep going.
“Engineering school has a very intense workload,” Duggan said. “The most challenging aspect was having perseverance when it was difficult to understand concepts or coursework started to pile up.
“The most rewarding part was getting to know the other students and wonderful faculty. The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering does a great job of building a sense of community among its students, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.”
After graduation, Duggan will be an operations associate in the medical products division at W.L. Gore & Associates in Flagstaff.
“As manufacturing continues to increase in the United States, I want to help design efficient systems that will continue to foster development in this important sector of our economy,” she said.
Outstanding Graduate in Biomedical Engineering
Brittany Duong’s reasons for choosing to study engineering – and biomedical engineering specifically – were emphatically revealed in the information she submitted to gain admission to college.
“The essays I wrote for my college applications were all about ‘Star Trek,’ “ she said.
Dr. McCoy, the physician on the original version of the popular science fiction TV series, “is my fictional hero,” Duong explains, “and I wanted to be a part of creating the same kind of technology he has access to aboard the starship Enterprise.”
A student in ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College, with a concurrent major in biological sciences (genetics, cell and developmental biology), her mission is to become a physician with advanced experience in bioengineering.
She plans to enter medical school after first earning a master’s degree in biomedical engineering at ASU through the Fulton Schools of Engineering “4+1” accelerated degree program.
The graduate of Corona del Sol High School in her hometown of Tempe, Ariz., has collected a long list of awards for academic and extracurricular achievements.
She won awards for her leadership in student organizations, a Deans’ Award for educational outreach and for being a successful fundraiser for student engineering projects.
Duong was a semifinalist for the national Dell Social Innovation Challenge award and a finalist for the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Servant-Leader award.
She was the implementation leader for an ASU chapter of Engineers Without Borders project to help communities in Kenya to develop sustainable water resources. The endeavor won a Premiere Project award from the national Engineers Without Border administration.
She served at various times as outreach director, grant writer, secretary and then president of the Engineers Without Borders ASU chapter. Next year she will be vice present of the steering committee for a regional branch of the organization.
Duong’s achievements helped her earn the Catholic Healthcare West Volunteer Scholarship, the Robert H. Chamberlain Memorial Scholarship, a Stanley D. Duke Applied Science Award and a U.S. Airways Scholarship, among others.
She got laboratory experience through the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative, doing work to advance the uses of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques.
Duong said her primary career goal is to help to discover ways for MRI technology to expand its role in medical diagnostics and preventative medicine.
In addition, in 2013 she was a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
While she attends graduate school, Duong plans to continue part-time work as a physician record assistant at Chandler Regional Medical Center.
Outside of biomedical pursuits, Duong describes her self as “a huge ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Wars’ fan” who “thoroughly enjoys knitting and baking,” and is “the master of bad science jokes and puns.”
Jill Renae Fralick
Outstanding Graduate in Engineering Management
Jill Renae Fralick awas ready to shake off the dust of her tiny hometown of Corry, Pa., and after graduating from Corry Area High School, the big footprint of Arizona State University looked good to her.
“Getting stuck in a small town is both a blessing and a curse, so I chose ASU to get away from home and fulfill my dream of becoming a Sun Devil,” Fralick said.
Fralick received the New American University Scholarship – Provost’s Award and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency Scholarship.
She knew engineering was her field after a seventh-grade field trip to Penn State for girls who excelled at math and science.
“The event introduced young girls to careers that had been typically thought of as male dominant fields,” she said.
Fralick started in mechanical engineering, but only three weeks into her first semester she was fighting homesickness and decided she was in the wrong place. Advisors helped her find the right place: engineering management.
“Being part of the engineering community has been such a rewarding experience,” she said. “With the most challenging aspect of my college experience, fighting endless nights of feeling extremely homesick, I could not imagine four years ago that I would graduate from ASU with an engineering degree. Accomplishing that has been a dream come true.”
She was the secretary and handled social media for the ASU chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), and has helped organize events, industry speakers and regional conferences.
“It has been such a great experience being part of the board and leading our chapter, with the help of the others on the IIE leadership team, to new events, career opportunities with industry speakers, and to the IIE Western Regional Conference,” she said.
Fralick has had two internships: one at Systems 3, Inc., in Tempe and a second at IO Datacenters, where she will start full-time as an industrial engineer after graduation.
“Now that I have been with the company as an intern for almost a year now, I have insight to what life will be like as a full-time employee, and I couldn’t be more excited,” Fralick said.
She plans to gain experience and, someday, become a professor in industrial engineering.
“I hope to make a difference along the way, whether that may be in industry or as a professor, time will tell, but I can only hope for both,” she said.
She also hopes to have more time for hiking and running and to train for a half-marathon.
Outstanding Graduate in Mechanical Engineering
Andrea Hall said math and science were challenging for her as a young student, but at the same time she found them “stimulating and intriguing” in a way other subjects were not.
The graduate of Marcos De Niza High School in Tempe, Ariz., watched her father, an industrial engineer with a master’s degree in business administration, “integrate his business background with his engineering skills,” she recalls.
“I saw how broadly applicable an engineering degree can be in opening doors in various fields,” she said.
She saw mechanical engineering as offering particularly varied prospects.
As a student in ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College, Hall maintained a 4.0 grade point average and earned scholarships from the Society of Women Engineers, the Salt River Project and the Tempe Diablos civic group, as well as the New American University Scholarship President’s Award and the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship.
Outside the classroom, she worked internships at the Salt River Project utility company and at Honeywell Aerospace. She also participated in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative program, studying the mechanical behavior of nanomaterials.
Hall served as the secretary for the ASU Arizona Beta chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society. She organized events for the chapter, including networking functions.
She was outreach director of ASU’s Society of Women Engineers chapter. She organized Girl Scouts for Engineering Awareness and Retention (G.E.A.R.) Day to inform elementary and middle school age girls about opportunities in science and engineering fields.
She also introduced a new event in 2012 to the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) chapter to fulfill a need for outreach to high school girls. The event, “Engineering Masterpiece,” is a pottery-painting event that provides opportunities for high school girls to talk with SWE volunteers in a relaxed atmosphere and ask questions about engineering and college.
Hall said establishing the event was significant for her because as a high school student she had gotten only limited exposure to the various engineering disciplines before the last semester of her senior year.
In addition, she mentored students at the E2 Camp orientation experience for freshman engineering majors, and mentored freshman honors college students as a Barrett Mentor.
The mentoring experiences led to some of the strong relationships she built with fellow students, relationships that proved to be “the most rewarding part of my ASU experience,” she said.
After graduation she will begin a full-time job with Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson. She plans to work in industry and “focus my interests” before pursuing a graduate degree.
Physical fitness and artistic pursuits have kept her balanced during a busy college life.
She was a competitive gymnast for 12 years and studied dance for several years, ranging in style from lyrical to hip-hop and ballet. Hall also studied piano for more than a decade and still plays.
She also runs regularly for exercise, has persevered through some intense workout programs and has hiked to the highest and lowest points in Arizona.
Outstanding Graduate in Computer Science
Keilan Jackson is a Renaissance man, mastering computer engineering while dabbling in music. In high school, he enjoyed building computers and playing bass guitar.
He grew up in Salt Lake City, but moved to Heber in northern Arizona in 2006 and graduated from Mogollon High School. He chose ASU because of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and because he had family in the Phoenix area. He picked computer science to understand software.
“It stuck,” he said.
Early in his college career, Jackson set aside music to focus on computer studies, earning a 4.0 GPA and making the Dean’s List every semester. He received the New American University Scholarship – President’s Award, the Boeing Scholarship, and the Dr. William E. Lewis Excellence in Computer Science Engineering Scholarship.
“The most rewarding part of ASU was meeting so many people,” Jackson said. “My peers and professors are amazing and I enjoy learning from them every day. I have made many meaningful lifelong relationships at ASU.”
Jackson was a Barack Obama Scholar as a freshman, and served as a mentor his sophomore and junior years. In 2012, he worked with Devils in Disguise to encourage Obama Scholars to participate in the annual community service event. Jackson also served as an engineering mentor, chosen by the advising office to assist with freshman and transfer student orientations, registration and group advising.
One of the most challenging things was balancing working and studying, he said.
Over the past four years, he worked as a grader for ASU, as technical support at Apple, Inc., as an application developer at Intel in Chandler, as a software engineering intern at Qualia, a service design agency, and as an intern at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, as part of their TITANS program – Technical Internships to Advance National Security.
In August, he returned to Qualia as a software engineer and is now responsible for architecting solutions and full-stack web development. Jackson handled development for a team working on the Bluespark web and mobile app, which was a finalist for the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association’s 2014 TIM awards. The awards, named after Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, acknowledged father of the World Wide Web, showcase Arizona talent and work in the interactive realm.
His work on Get Out the Vote 2012 was featured in Facebook Studio.
Upon graduation, he will continue at Qualia, responsible for estimating software development projects, recommending best technologies, being aware of emerging technologies, mastering certain frameworks and languages managing developer contractors and front-end developers, and ensuring testable code is delivered to clients.
Jackson has been an undergraduate teaching assistant and would one day like to teach computer science.
“I would like to be a part of a more efficient and widespread integration of computers into everyday life,” Jackson said. “There are many frustrating everyday tasks that computers can help with, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.”
In the meantime, he is studying for his beginning piano final – preparing to perform the Beatles’ song “Here Comes the Sun.” He received a 100 percent on his piano midterm, and plans to take private lessons after graduation.
Lindsay Anne Keever
Outstanding Graduate in Construction Engineering
Lindsay Keever remembers while she was only a child going with her father to construction project sites where he worked. Two older brothers also worked in the construction field.
She said the passion her father and brothers had for engineering and construction influenced her choice to enroll in ASU and major in construction engineering after graduating from Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Keever’s academic performance helped her earn a scholarship from the Advancing Women in Construction (AWIC) program. She became a member of AWIC club, doing outreach and mentoring you encourage girls to consider engineering and construction as career opportunities.
The highlight of her undergraduate years was a nine-month-long internship with one of the largest construction companies in the country, Sundt Construction, working in its pre-construction, heavy civil department. It proved to be an invaluable educational experience.
“It showed me how important teamwork is throughout your career,” she said. “Seeing projects go from drawings on paper to actually being constructed is highly rewarding.”
Her assignment was to help determine specific quantities of materials and resources needed for particular projects so the company could bid on jobs accurately, and to work with subcontractors to estimate prices for specific parts of projects.
“I learned to communicate effectively and I enhanced the skills I was learning at ASU,” she said. “Working with Sundt made me confident that I chose the right field of study.”
Keever will begin full-time work as a field engineer with Sundt Construction after graduation, but with the idea in mind of eventually pursuing a master’s degree in construction management or business.
She also plans to earn professional engineer certification, a construction manager certification and become certified as an accredited professional under the criteria of the U.S. Green Building Council for training in the organization’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design program.
“I want to be a part of advancements in green building and sustainable construction,” she said.
She also wants to advance far enough in the field to get opportunities to play key leadership roles in major construction projects. “I aspire to demonstrate that women can work in this profession and be successful at the highest levels,” she said.
Her pursuits outside her career field are equally wide-ranging. Keever dabbles in interior decorating and refurbishing furniture, practices Bikram yoga and likes to travel, often to places where she can fish for trout and hike along mountain streams.
Outstanding Graduate in Computer Systems Engineering
Ryan Kral is a logical thinker.
“I always enjoyed math and science courses the most, and I wanted to get into programming,” said Kral, a native of Glendale and graduate of Deer Valley High School.
Kral chose ASU for three logical reasons: The Fulton Schools of Engineering was highly recommended; Barrett, The Honors College, was well-ranked and had new housing and facilities; and several family members are ASU alumni and had loved their experience.
“I wanted to get into programming of some sort and engineering became my natural choice,” Kral said. “I decided on computer systems engineering because I wanted to focus on programming, but still wanted to understand the hardware used in day-to-day life.”
Kral, a Barrett student, received the New American University Scholarship – President’s Award, the Robert C. Byrd scholarship, and the Mouer Award. He has a 4.08 GPA, and was on the Dean’s List each semester. His honor’s thesis was titled Web Solutions for Scholastic Tracking: Increasing Efficiency through Web Development.
“This project allowed me to explore web programming and development practices while simultaneously creating a site that helped an on-campus organization become more efficient,” he said.
He also played intramural basketball, and formed a team of friends who won the recreational league championships.
Kral served as a grader and teaching assistant for Kevin Burger, a lecturer in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, assisting with Principles of Programming with C++, Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming, Programming for Computer Engineering, Computer Organization and Assembly Language, and Embedded Microprocessor Systems.
“These positions allowed me to become a stronger programmer, communicator and leader,” he said.
Kral said he has made many friends.
“I have been able to meet many spectacular individuals with bright futures who are willing to help me out with anything, and for that I am grateful,” he said.
Kral said he worked to juggle multiple core engineering courses simultaneously, balancing multiple large programming projects and working with three separate teams across multiple classes.
After graduation, he will join Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, where he has been accepted into the Critical Skills Master’s Program. After working for the summer, Sandia will pay tuition and a stipend for Kral to attend a graduate school of his choice. He plans to earn a master’s degree in computer engineering from the University of California, San Diego.
“I would love the ability to make advancements in technologies through my job at Sandia National Laboratories,” Kral said. “I would like to be involved with improvements in cyber security and in artificial intelligence.”
Outstanding Graduate in Aerospace Engineering
It’s fitting that Linda Kuenzi is a devoted track and field athlete – a pole-vaulting competitor, to be specific. Only someone who is almost constantly on the move and focused on reaching higher elevations could have fit in all that she did in and out of the classroom during her undergrad years.
As a student in ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College, Kuenzi accumulated a 4.0 grade point average, made the Dean’s List each semester, and was twice named to the Pacific Athletic Conference All Academic Team in track and field. In 2013 Aviation Week magazine named her among the up-and-coming young aerospace engineers.
Her academic record helped to make her a National Merit Scholar finalist, and earn scholarships from Johnson Controls and Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics – the employers of her parents, who are both engineers – as well as the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship and the Lee P. Thompson and M.T. Postacchini memorial scholarships.
She also won a Merlin Gish Scholarship for track and field accomplishments at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in the Kansas City area where she grew up.
Kuenzi got laboratory experience through the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative program, doing work on the modeling and characterization of composite materials used in body armor and related applications.
She worked summer internships at the Aerospace Corporation in California and Orbital Science in Arizona.
She was an event coordinator for the ASU chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society and participated in projects of the ASU chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
Kuenzi served on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and pursued her interest in rock climbing, hiking and canyoneering as a member of the Arizona Outdoor Club.
Her interest in languages led her to study Arabic while at ASU. In addition to taking classes in the subject, she spent a summer in Jordan for an intensive Arabic language and culture program.
Within the aerospace engineering program, she focused on astronautics and “developed a strong passion for space exploration.”
After graduation, Kuenzi will look to begin a career in the aerospace industry, with the hope of working on spacecraft for manned missions or unmanned scientific missions.
She said she may eventually pursue a master’s degree – once she comes to a decision on her long-term professional objectives.
At least one goal is already decided upon: “One of my dreams is to see humans land on Mars during my lifetime, and I would like to be a part of making that happen.”
Jesse Gene Pruitt
Outstanding Graduate in Construction Management
Jesse Pruitt remembers “always being fascinated by the built environment.”
Seeing an empty dirt lot “get transformed into a structure is amazing. I knew I wanted to be a part of that,” he said. “More than anything I wanted a rewarding career that kept me outdoors and provided new learning experiences every day.”
His desire was strong enough that even though he had already earned one bachelor’s degree (in kinesiology), the graduate of Red Mountain High School in his hometown of Mesa, Ariz., returned to college to earn as second undergraduate degree in construction management. He excelled along the way.
Pruitt maintained a 4.0 grade point average and made the Dean’s list every semester, and won the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute Education and Research Foundation Scholarship, as well as the Beavers Heavy Construction Scholarship.
Beyond classroom accomplishments he served as president of the ASU chapter of Sigma Lambda Chi, the national construction honor society, and was a member of the Associated of General Contractors of America.
Through leadership roles in those organizations, he contributed to community service projects for Habitat for Humanity and the Arizona Ramp Project, which provides wheelchair ramps for the homes of military veterans and elders who need them.
Pruitt also participated in student construction management competitions. He was a member of the Design-Build team for the 2013 Associated Schools of Construction regional competition and moved up to captain of the team in 2014.
The team placed in the top three in both competitions involving student teams from leading construction schools in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
His achievements at ASU have helped Pruitt find a full-time position with the Okland Construction company, enabling him to stay in Arizona.
His goals are to become a construction superintendent and/or project manager and eventually “reach the upper levels of executive management.”
Along the way, Pruitt said he’ll consider returning to school to earn a graduate degree, most likely an MBA.
Away from work, he will continue his pursuits as an avid outdoorsman and hunter. “I prefer spending most of my time far beyond the city limits. I enjoy anything that gets me outside the range of cell-phone service and I love exploring new places.”
Outstanding Graduate in Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering
Drew Reasor said he “was born an ASU Sun Devil,” thanks to family and friends who have long been fervent ASU sports fans. While working his way toward becoming valedictorian of Westview High School in his hometown of Avondale, Ariz., he had no doubt he was headed to college at ASU.
The plan was to study to become a marine biologist. But influenced by an older brother who was studying electrical engineering, and by a “passion for math and science,” Reasor began imagining a career as a structural engineer and chose a civil engineering major.
As a student in ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College – and with support from winning an ASU New American University Scholarship President’s Award and a Structural Engineers Association or Arizona Scholarship – he has made the Dean’s List each semester, maintained a 4.0 grade point average and was accepted into the accelerated 4+1 academic program, which will enable him to earn a master’s degree a year after earning his undergraduate degree.
His academic performance helped earn him selection as the featured student speaker at this semester’s Fulton Schools of Engineering convocation ceremony.
Outside of his studies, he has served as secretary of the ASU chapter of Chi Epsilon, the national civil engineering honor society and worked two semesters as an undergrad teaching assistant in an upper-level civil and environmental engineering course.
He also worked as an ASU community assistant for three years, supporting residents of ASU upperclassmen housing in the Cholla apartment complex.
Reasor was also the co-captain for design on the ASU Steel Bridge team that competed in a major national student competition sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
His interest in sports has always provided respite from the rigors of academics. Growing up, Reason played football, tennis, golf and volleyball, and went skiing and snowboarding.
In college, he expanded the list to include racquetball, rock climbing and playing on the ASU Pleasure Ultimate Frisbee team. In the past year, he has even learned country dancing.
Soon after graduation, he will begin a full-time job inspecting communications towers as an engineer for Tower Engineering Professional in Phoenix, then switch to part-time when he returns to ASU in the fall to complete studies for a master’s degree.
Eventually, he intends to pursue his dream of contributing to the planning and design of “monumental” and “iconic” buildings, bridges and other “grand structures” as a licensed structural engineer. His ultimate career goal is to have a primary hand in the design of an Olympic Stadium.
In the near future he plans to find time to take some “long-awaited vacations” with family and friends, trying to make up for time he didn’t have to spend with them while getting through his undergraduate studies.
“I gave up keeping track of the all-nighters I had to pull to complete projects or study for exams. Many times I missed out on vacations and nights out with friends because of academic responsibilities,” Reasor said.
“Studying to become an engineer requires a high level of sacrifice,” he adds. “It’s not easy, but I resolutely know it’s worth the price.”
Outstanding Graduate in Chemical Engineering
Julie Rorrer is a stellar example of a student who wasted little time putting her education to productive use outside the classroom.
A student in ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College, she used her work in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative program as the basis for her honors thesis.
Under the mentorship of assistant professor Candace Chan, Rorrer’s research project focused on solar energy and renewable fuel.
She did related solar energy research during the summer of 2012 at Portland State University in Oregon through the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Program.
Previous to that, during the 2011 summer break, she conducted research at Oregon State University aimed at keeping wetlands healthy.
In the summer of 2013, she had a summer internship at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, working on a National Bioenergy Center project to convert biomass into biofuels. Later in the year she won an award at the national conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for her presentation about the research.
Beyond research pursuits, the graduate of Corvallis High School in her home state of Oregon, served as secretary and then president of the ASU student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
She was one of the select students to be given the spotlight in the Young Professionals feature of the institute’s publication.
In addition, Rorrer served as an undergraduate teaching assistant for introduction to engineering courses.
Even with all the extracurricular endeavors, she accumulated a 3.97 GPA – and a 4.06 in her chemical engineering courses – and made the Dean’s List throughout her undergraduate years. Her academic record helped earn her an ASU New American University Scholarship President’s Award to support her studies.
Rorrer has accepted an offer to pursue a doctoral degree in chemical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and then hopes to begin a career in research – preferably in the renewable energy field – at a national laboratory or in private industry.
Outside of engineering, she “loves making music,” she said. Rorrer has been playing violin since the age of four. Most recently she has played in the ASU Symphony and ASU Sinfonietta orchestras, and in small quartets and chamber music groups.
Joe Kullman, [email protected]
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering
Judy Nichols, [email protected]
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering