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Meet the Fulton Schools’ exceptional graduates of Fall 2017

At the end of each spring and fall semester, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering takes time to recognize some of the graduating class for their outstanding commitments to both academics and the Fulton Schools at large. 

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. The Dean’s Dissertation Award recipients are recognized for their exceptional work that encourages the highest levels of scholarship, research and writing.

These exceptional 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 as a whole.

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

 

Outstanding Graduates

PHIL AMEZQUITA
Construction Management

Phil Amezquita 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 Graduate in construction management.

RICHARD CHURCH
Electrical Engineering

Richard Church says that his most rewarding moment at ASU will happen at Convocation, when he crosses the stage to accept his degree. That short walk was in fact a nine-year journey that started when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

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BSE in Electrical Engineering
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Graduated from Mountain View High School in Tucson, Arizona

Portrait of Richard ChurchRichard Church says that his most rewarding moment at ASU will happen at Convocation, when he crosses the stage to accept his degree. That short walk was in fact a nine-year journey that started when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. “It has been challenging to balance my school life with my family life and if it were not for my wife, reaching this goal would have been much harder,” he says.

Church explains that he joined the Navy planning to use the GI bill to earn a degree in electrical engineering. When he learned about Arizona State University Online, he enrolled “to get a jumpstart on my degree while on deployment.”

Electricity and electronics have long fascinated Church, and he believes that “many of the most critical problems we face as a society are going to be solved by electrical engineers as we move towards clean energy.” Associate Professor Keith Holbert influenced Church’s decision to focus on power generation and clean energy. “His lectures were always great, and you could see the passion he felt for his work in every one,” Church says.

The student who wanted a running start on college is applying the same ethic to his career. “I plan to hit the ground running and continue to expand my knowledge in the fields of power generation and delivery in the hopes that one day I can bring innovation to the field,” he says. He has accepted a position at Honeywell Aerospace as a design engineer starting in January, but envisions a time when he will start his own company. “I would like to design and install clean energy solutions for homes and businesses,” he says.

When he’s not pushing ahead toward his goals, he likes to be outside. “I love to scuba dive in the summer and ski in the winter and do my best to devote as much time as possible to both.”

 

VICTORIA COON
Human Systems Engineering

Victoria Coon grew up in a small farming town in the Finger Lakes region of New York. When it was time to start college, she was looking for a program that would help her achieve her goal to combine her knowledge of psychology with her desire to help people. 

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BS in Human Systems Engineering
Hometown: Conesus, New York
Graduated from Livonia High School in Livonia, New York

Portrait of Victoria CoonVictoria Coon’s most rewarding moment at the Fulton Schools of Engineering came when she was admitted to the accelerated master’s degree program in human systems engineering. It was a goal that required discipline throughout her undergraduate studies, to maintain her GPA and make contacts – a challenging task, especially if you are working full time. But, as she explains, “supporting yourself can be so challenging, but it is also so rewarding.”

Coon grew up in a small farming town in the Finger Lakes region of New York. When it was time to start college, she was looking for a program that would help her achieve her goal to combine her knowledge of psychology with her desire to help people. She found the right fit thousands of miles away at the Fulton School’s Human Systems Engineering program, which explores ways to make technology work for humans.

After completing the master’s program for human systems engineering, she hopes to work in the sustainability industry, helping to research and develop user friendly technologies that encourage more people to practice a sustainable lifestyle. In particular, she would like to be part of a team that creates the most sustainable technology possible for clean energy with efficient and user-friendly solar panels. Other goals? “I would like to help develop completely sustainable farms, the next autonomous electric car, or a new way to utilize solar and wind energy,” she says. Earning a doctoral degree is another possibility.

Coon loves snowboarding, and — sings opera! And, throughout her career, she intends to hang onto her small-town mentality.

“Maybe I will be a consultant, maybe I will be a professor,” she says.  “My goal is to do what makes me happy in that moment, and I am so excited to see where my happiness takes me!”

 

EMILY FORD
Civil Engineering

When Emily Ford rises to speak at graduation, those assembled will see an excellent student, a thoughtful leader, a person who volunteers. But what most will not know is that Ford can prepare, measure, cut, and glue an entire hardwood floor.

 

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BSE in Civil Engineering
Hometown: Chandler, Arizona
Graduated from Chandler High School

Portrait of Emily FordWhen Emily Ford rises to speak at graduation, those assembled will see an excellent student, a thoughtful leader, a person who volunteers. But what most will not know is that Ford can prepare, measure, cut, and glue an entire hardwood floor.

The practical and useful, like the ability to lay flooring, is a large part of what drew this exceptional student to the Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“I wanted to be the kind of engineer that directly helps people and impacts their lives,” Ford says. “For me, that equaled becoming a civil engineer, whose responsibility is to act as the steward to the built environment, shaping and changing people’s lives by building the things — like water systems, bridges, and roadways — that society depends on to function.”

Ford, a student in ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College, will complete a master’s degree in structural engineering in the 4 + 1 program next year, spent part of her time at ASU helping others achieve success, too. She was an undergraduate teaching assistant and tutor in the Fulton Schools Tutoring Center. “There is nothing like watching the light of understanding and excitement in a student’s eyes when they are learning a new concept or mastering an old one,” she says. 

She also served as an officer in the American Society of Civil Engineers, and was a member of the Sun Devil Marching Band and its service fraternity.

In fact, managing her studies, tutoring and student organizations taught her life management lessons.

“I have come to realize how much of a balancing act life is, and have grown tremendously due to the challenge of my demanding schedule,” she comments.

But, she says, she would not have wanted to do less, because “I am doing everything that I love, and I’m much happier being busy than bored.”

Ford wants to play a role in incorporating sustainable building practices and design into construction. And, after working in industry she “would love to earn my doctorate and serve as a professor of civil engineering.”

 

JOHN HEFFERNAN
Biomedical Engineering

John Heffernan has always been interested in biology and problem-solving, and after working in a biomaterials research lab as an undergraduate at Drexel University, he realized he wanted to focus on biomaterials design and testing as a doctoral student.

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PhD in Biomedical Engineering
Hometown: Middlesex, New Jersey
Graduated from Timothy Christian High School in Piscataway, New Jersey and Drexel University

Portrait of John HeffernanJohn Heffernan has always been interested in biology and problem-solving, and after working in a biomaterials research lab as an undergraduate at Drexel University, he realized he wanted to focus on biomaterials design and testing as a doctoral student. ASU, consistently ranked as a top university for biomedical engineering, was a good fit.

After graduation he will apply the knowledge and skills he has acquired at Sonoran Biosciences, a medical startup operated at ASU that is developing a novel drug delivery device for effectively treating prosthetic joint infections.

As a doctoral student, Heffernan had a dual appointment at ASU and at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. “The opportunity to work between these two top-rate research institutions sold me on ASU as a graduate school,” he said. Rachael Sirianni, an assistant professor at Barrow and Heffernan’s advisor, “challenged me to think broadly in my scientific pursuits, and has guided me to cultivate a strong technical skillset that will serve as the foundation for my post-graduate career.”

Long term, Heffernan hopes to lead teams engineering innovative medical products that improve quality of life. “The knowledge and experience that I have gained at ASU in biomaterials development and tissue engineering have primed me to enter these fields, where innovations will push the limits of what is currently medically possible,” he says. “Tissue engineering specifically holds promise as a field where the management of many different diseases may significantly improve in the coming decades.”

In addition to his education, Heffernan says he also found a new home in the Southwest. “Sports and outdoor activities keep me grounded — I have a strong appreciation for the outdoor community in Arizona and particularly around the Phoenix area,” he says. “I am glad to say that I have found a new home in Phoenix, and am looking forward to starting a new job here in the valley.”

JUSTIN KAMINSKY
Graphic Information Technology

Justin Kaminsky says his “aha!” moment happened in a creative thinking class freshman year. “The professor walked in with bags of marshmallows and boxes of spaghetti. He put them on the front table and said, build me the tallest structure you can,” Kaminsky says. “That’s when I knew this was the right path for me.”

 

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BS in Graphic Information Technology
Hometown: Mesa, Arizona

Graduated from Red Mountain High School

Justin Kaminsky says his “aha!” moment happened in his creative thinking class freshman year. “The professor walked in with bags of marshmallows and boxes of spaghetti. He put them on the front table and said, build me the tallest structure you can,” Kaminsky says. “That’s when I knew this was the right path for me.”

His academic record bears that out. Recipient of the New American University Scholar — President’s Award scholarship and the Renee & Arthur Horowitz scholarship, he has been on the dean’s list for seven semesters.

Kaminsky focused on commercial imaging and web design in his undergraduate program. The fascination, he explains, is in shaping a world through design, inspiring people and helping them understand and believe in the worlds he creates. His long-term career goal is to become the creative director for a large entertainment company.

Among his instructors, two stand out, Kaminsky says. Lecturers Laurie Ralston and Arnaud Ehgner helped him when he faced problems or decisions. “They also inspired and motivated me to produce some of my best work,” he adds. “They never said that I couldn’t or shouldn’t pursue my goals and they have helped me achieve them.”

One of his favorite memories of ASU is his final project for the advanced commercial photography class. The result is a photo of berries and red juice spraying across the front of a bottle as if coming out of a hose. “Even though it was challenging, the team was always ready to set up again, or talk it through,” he says, relishing the moment. Often, he would wrap himself in a project and lose track of time until it was almost morning.

He’ll need that focus next semester, when he tackles the 4+1 Accelerated Master’s Program.

ANTHONY J. KOWAL III
Software Engineering

Married and working full time, Anthony J. Kowal III was looking for a school that offered flexible online courses and whose graduates land great jobs.

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BS in Software Engineering
Hometown: Cottonwood, Arizona
Graduated from Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood, Arizona

Portrait of Anthony J. Kowall IIIMarried and working full time, Anthony J. Kowal III was looking for a school that offered flexible online courses and whose graduates land great jobs. The Cottonwood, Arizona native chose ASU, and the decision has paid off. He is an honors student graduating Summa Cum Laude.  

Kowal has always loved designing and building things, using his creativity and logic. And, technology has been easy to grasp — something to get excited about, too. At ASU he found a network of friends with the same passion for technology, and “that is what has been the most rewarding about my undergraduate years at ASU,” he says. The biggest challenge was managing the heavy academic workload while working full time and being married.

He once owned a martial arts school in Gilbert, Arizona, teaching Tae Kwon Do as a third-degree black belt. He also loves golf, the beach and taking pictures whenever he can.

 

NOLAN LEE
Engineering Management

Nolan Lee interned at the Walmart logistics engineering team, and after he graduates he will be returning, as a full-time employee.

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BSE in Engineering Management
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Graduated from Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas

Portrait of Nolan Lee

Nolan Lee interned at the Walmart logistics engineering team, and after he graduates he will be returning, as a full-time employee.

“I can’t wait to dive into new exciting challenges,” he says.

The Fulton Schools of Engineering prepared him well, he indicates, as a person and a professional.

Lee shouldered a busy workload that tested his ability to excel.

“It strengthened me and helped me grow as a person,” he explains. “I learned to constantly challenge myself and set higher goals. I learned to handle stress, develop true grit and focus on the destination and I learned what it means to lead and the importance of helping others succeed,” he explains.

“Above all, ASU made me much more empathetic. I learned to observe the world from many new perspectives, and I have a much stronger desire to help all that are less fortunate.”

After deciding to be an engineering management major, Lee never had second thoughts.

“I was always excited about learning new engineering problem-solving techniques,” he says. “I had always aspired to become an engineer and a leader, and I could not think of a better path to balance to my many interests.”

Lee says that Principal Lecturer Linda Chattin, Professor of Practice Daniel McCarville and Associate Professor Rong Pan helped and mentored him as he progressed through the program.

He thanks McCarville in particular for his teaching and advice.

“I practice, and will continue to practice, many pearls of wisdom he managed to etch in my brain,” Lee remarks.

“The world is a large place, and I simply dream to make it better than the world into which I was born,” he says. “I am very optimistic about the future because I have met passionate ASU engineers who are zealous in the face of challenges, who share my vision of the future and seek to help others.”

 

NOAH LIVINGSTON
Industrial Engineering

Noah Livingston says there’s nothing quite as satisfying as math and numbers: that black and white answer; a right or a wrong. “Discovering that there was an entire field dedicated to fueling the efficiency of the world by applying math and logic — it was perfect,” he said.

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BSE in Industrial Engineering
Hometown: Lake Oswego, Oregon
Graduated from Lake Oswego High School

Portrait of Noah Livingston in front of a Disney castleNoah Livingston says there’s nothing quite as satisfying as math and numbers: that black and white answer; a right or a wrong. He thought he would become a mechanical engineer, but “it didn’t take long to realize that I was the black sheep in that major,” he says. “Everyone was so eager to tinker. I’ve never been that way. I just like playing with the numbers and the theory.”

Eventually he discovered his sweet spot: industrial engineering. “Discovering that there was an entire field dedicated to fueling the efficiency of the world by applying math and logic — it was perfect,” he said.

A National Merit Scholar and an honors student, Livingston participated in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative (FURI). He tackled an optimization problem involving the placement of emergency response crews in theme parks. His mentor for that project was Assistant Professor Jorge Sefair. “He showed me the ropes in operations research, and more than that, he has been a positive voice reassuring me that I can do anything that I want,” Livingston says.

It’s no accident that Livingston’s FURI project explored a problem common to theme parks. He’s a passionate fan of Disney, especially its parks. While a student he completed four internships at Disney, and on the last day of his internship this past summer he received a full-time job offer. He starts at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim on January 22.

Before he fastens his seat belt for his career, however, he will spend a month backpacking in Europe.

Career is important, Livingston says, but in life he focuses on building relationships. “I want to have a family, stay in touch with friends and travel the world to meet new people,” he says. And play video games. “I play a lot of video games. A lot of video games,” he says. “I think I would just be lying to myself if I didn’t admit that in here.”

 

LUKE MCCUBBINS
Information Technology

Luke McCubbins had put his education on hold to pursue a management career with Starbucks when the company announced the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. He was among the first to sign up and is graduating Magna Cum Laude.

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BS in Information Technology
Hometown: Pacifica, California
Graduated from Washington High School in Freemont, California

Portrait of Luke McCubbinsLuke McCubbins had put his education on hold to pursue a management career with Starbucks when the company announced the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. He was among the first to sign up and is graduating Magna Cum Laude. “The most rewarding thing has been successfully juggling full-time school, employment, and family responsibilities,” he says. “ASU Online allowed me to accomplish my academic goals on my own schedule.”

McCubbins’ longtime interest in technology grew during conversations about technology with his mother after she came home from her job selling computers. “She has always supported and inspired me,” he says. He knew he was going to succeed in the program when he passed Brief Calculus. “The online format of math courses really suited me. It’s a great way to learn.”

He says the capstone project was a highlight. “I had learned a lot of interesting things, but to build something from scratch, from a mere idea to a finished product, was daunting,” he says. But, with the support of the faculty and his capstone partner, “I was able to create something that I am truly proud of and astonished by.” He’ll always remember his first Skype call with his project partner. “I didn’t know it at the time, but I wasn’t just meeting with a partner, but meeting with someone who would become a close friend,” he says. “Without a doubt, I wouldn’t be graduating this December without his support.”

McCubbins singles out Lecturers Usha Jagannathan and Damien Doheny for thanks. “They were exceptionally helpful, passionate, and caring instructors,” he explains. “They really are the blueprint for what the professor-student relationship can look like for an online format. Their enthusiasm for the subject matter makes me want to learn.”

The future probably holds graduate school. But for now, he’s looking forward to enjoying his family and focusing on work-life balance, which is always easier when you’ve had your morning joe.

“This may come as no surprise,” he says, “But after 15 years at Starbucks, I can make a damn good cup of coffee.”

 

HAYLEY MONROE
Construction Engineering

Hayley Monroe was in eighth grade when she traveled with classmates to Washington D.C. and saw the National Cathedral. “I was blown away, and from that moment on, I knew that I wanted to create buildings,” she says.

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BSE in Construction Engineering
Originally from Poway, California
Graduated from Poway High School

portrait of Hayley MonroeHayley Monroe was in eighth grade when she traveled with classmates to Washington D.C. and saw the National Cathedral. “I was blown away, and from that moment on, I knew that I wanted to create buildings,” she says. She chose construction engineering because it is the “hands-on” side of civil engineering, where she can have more impact on design.

Monroe will be at the Fulton Schools for one more semester, finishing a master’s degree in her field, then she’ll move back to Southern California to practice — but not before spending some time in Europe.

Among her aspirations is to help restore or renovate old structures in Europe so they meet today’s building standards, yet reflect the time in which they were built.

Another possibility: constructing monuments to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and James K. Polk.

She also has set her sights on law school in the future, hoping to work as a civil engineering law consultant.

A New American University Scholar (President’s Award), Monroe qualified for Dean’s List six times. As a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers chapter on campus, she participated on teams that allowed her to practice design/build and surveying skills.

She was also one of a group that launched the Phi Sigma Rho sorority on campus, serving as secretary for two years and Homecoming coordinator this fall.

Monroe says Charity McAdams, an instructor at Barrett, the Honors College, helped her adjust to ASU during her freshman year.

“Dr. Mac encouraged me to create my own arguments from my own opinions and beliefs for class papers, instead of using obvious topic choices from the reading, and always gave helpful advice,” Monroe says. McAdams showed her that it is important “to be knowledgeable and open to any idea, even if it differs from your own.”

Monroe’s plans are varied, but one thing is a lock: “No matter whether in California or Europe or another place entirely, I plan to always live where trees and green grass are plentiful.”

 

BRITTANY NEZ
Aerospace Engineering (Aeronautics)

Brittany Nez was a cowgirl growing up, riding and roping from an early age. Every spring and summer her family traveled to her grandmother’s house on the Navajo reservation to tend the livestock, and she still loves being outdoors.

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BSE in Aerospace Engineering (Aeronautics)
Hometown: Flagstaff, Arizona
Graduated from Flagstaff High School

Portrait of Brittany NezBrittany Nez was a cowgirl growing up, riding and roping from an early age. Every spring and summer her family travelled to her grandmother’s house on the Navajo reservation to tend the livestock, and she still loves being outdoors. But it was a field trip in middle school that made her look to the sky. The class visited a nearby location where lunar rovers were being tested, and for the first time, she heard about aerospace engineering.

Nez found a perfect fit in the general engineering program at the Polytechnic Campus, where the small-campus feel and the hands-on methodology allowed her to find her focus. She was working on a project through the NASA Space Grant Internship Program, creating a secondary control system for an underwater robot, when she realized her deep interest in mechanical/aerospace engineering field.

Her biggest achievement was leading ASU’s Next Level Devils microgravity team in creating a project accepted by NASA for the 2017 Micro-G NExT Program held at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Brittany is also proud of the two years of research she conducted during her NASA internship, work that became the basis of her honor’s thesis.

Nez was the ASU chapter co-president for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. The group promotes the STEM disciplines to Native American students, a mission she plans to back at the secondary level by supporting AISES and similar groups.

After graduation, Nez will work for QuesTek Innovations in Illinois as a materials engineer, but long term, she hopes to become a test pilot for NASA. And eventually, she plans to end up in a beautiful place where — cowgirl that she is — she can spend lots of time outdoors.

 

KRISTINE ROTZINGER
Technological Entrepreneurship and Management

Kristine Rotzinger was a student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas when she won a full scholarship to ASU through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. It was an easy switch, she said.

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BS in Technological Entrepreneurship and Management
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Graduated from College of Southern Nevada High School in Las Vegas, Nevada

Portrait of Kristine RotzingerKristine Rotzinger was a student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas when she won a full scholarship to ASU through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. It was an easy switch, she said.

“Not only did ASU’s reputation as a university of innovation appeal to my inner entrepreneur, but the extensive online offerings where the perfect fit for my mobile lifestyle as a military spouse,” she explained.

She had been a business major, but after describing her interest in entrepreneurship and her technology background she decided on the technological entrepreneurship and management major.

The biggest challenges studying online were managing her time to support her studies, maintaining work-life balance and learning how to network in an online environment.

“As I overcame and eventually mastered the challenges, I realized that these new skills were perhaps some of the most critical to my future success, and thus some of the most rewarding aspects of my experience,” she said.

Rotzinger has been preparing for a career in health and fitness, and plans to complete personal trainer certification. She plans to apply her engineering education to develop innovations in the field. She wants to build what she calls a location-independent career “that allows me to help others master their health and fitness in this technology laden society.”

Rotzinger now lives in Warner Robins, Georgia, where her husband is on active duty with the Air Force.

“When I was still a student at UNLV, I took a black and white film photography class and absolutely fell in love,” she says. “Unfortunately, when I moved to Georgia I no longer had access to a dark room in which to develop my own photos, so I sought out a new creative outlet and began painting.”

And now that she’s graduating she’s encouraging her husband to consider ASU Online too.

 

CHRISTOPHER SCOTT
Manufacturing Engineering

Christopher Scott has always been fascinated by large, automated manufacturing lines and he wanted to learn more about them.

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BS in Manufacturing Engineering
Hometown: West Valley City, Utah
Graduated from Cyprus High School in Magna, Utah

Portrait of Christopher ScottFor Chris Scott the “aha!” moment during his education was when he programed a pneumatic cylinder to extend and retract using a programable logic controller. “I felt like I was getting a glimpse of what makes an assembly line work,” he says.

Chris has always been fascinated by large, automated manufacturing lines and he wanted to learn more about them. “As more manufacturing processes become automated the product output can increase,” he says. “The products will be better quality, cost less to make, and will be made faster. This allows more time and money to be spent in research and development that will continually lead us to an improved world.”

A Dean’s List student, Chris looked for a school with a manufacturing program accredited by the ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). ASU is one of only a few schools in the nation that does. “ASU has impressive resources such as the Tech Building and the Industrial Automation Lab — places to get hands-on experience with robotics, 3D printing, and CNC metal work,” Chris says.

And he got his chance at hands on. “The most rewarding part of my undergraduate years was finally learning how I could automate machinery and getting experience doing it,” he explained.

Chris says Lecturers Jerry Gintz and Sharon Lewis stand out as exceptionally helpful throughout his undergraduate studies. “Professor Gintz took time to help me further develop my skills with automation tools. This added experience helped me get two internships with automation integrators and, ultimately, the job I have after graduation,” he explains. “Dr. Lewis helped me many times when I was struggling with the course content. Her academic and professional guidance provided me with motivation and excitement throughout my schooling.”

After graduation, Chris will report for work as a controls engineer at SKM Inc., electrical engineers based in Bountiful, Utah.

 

STEPHEN SEIDEL
Computer Systems Engineering

Stephen Seidel has his priorities figured out. He chose ASU and the Fulton Schools of Engineering because campus is just an hour away from home, an easy drive every weekend for church and family.

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B.S.E. in Computer Systems Engineering
Hometown Florence, Arizona
Home school; transfer from Central Arizona College

Portrait of Stephen SeidelStephen Seidel has his priorities figured out. He chose ASU and the Fulton Schools of Engineering because campus is just an hour away from home, an easy drive every weekend for church and family. And he picked a major he could complete the quickest. But as it worked out, his Fulton Schools experience was much better than expedient.

Seidel went to Central Arizona College, where he was an honors student, for two years before transferring to ASU. “I have been extremely blessed to have chosen a major that I ended up truly loving,” he says. Every project presented challenges and problems that he was excited to solve, and he spends his free time on personal projects such as Android apps and websites, leveraging his computer science skills.

In the six months leading to graduation, Seidel was a Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative researcher finding ways to minimize the number of tests performed on network testbeds and analyzing the results of these tests. “My biggest achievement was developing and optimizing a piece of software that was able to perform analysis in minutes,” he said.

In his free time, Seidel enjoys an ancient musical practice known as Byzantine Chant, so for one of his projects he developed an app that plays scales. The app is called Byzantine Ison, and he reports that it has been well-received in parts of Europe with more than 20,000 downloads.

Seidel says that Associate Professor Violet Syrotiuk, his FURI sponsor, has been his mentor. “Dr. Syrotiuk has helped me with countless projects, always provided advice when I have asked, and has given me the incredible opportunity of performing research with her for graduate school starting next semester,” he says.

As for the future, he hopes to follow his father’s path: putting church and family first, and using engineering to make life better for others.

 

TRAVIS SKINNER
Mechanical Engineering

Travis Skinner always thought he would go into the medical field — then he took a physics class. “The more I learned about what engineers do the more I wanted to be an engineer,” he says.

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BSE in Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Thatcher, Arizona
Graduated from Thatcher High School

Portrait of Travis SkinnerTravis Skinner says he felt “like a fish in water” when he arrived at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Valedictorian of his high school class, he always thought he would go into the medical field — then he took a physics class. “The more I learned about what engineers do the more I wanted to be an engineer,” he says. He decided to major in mechanical engineering and specialized in structures and materials. In January he starts his doctoral studies at the Fulton Schools with a goal of someday working in a government lab and then teaching at a university.

At ASU Skinner received several financial awards, including the President’s Scholarship. He also participated in three student research programs: the NASA Space Grant program, an undergraduate research apprenticeship through the Army Educational Outreach Program and the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative FURI. In FURI, he studied fatigue in nickel super alloys and how the microstructure of the alloys contributed to the fatigue resistance of the material.

Two professors influenced Skinner while he was a student. “Professor Aditi Chattopadhyay helped me see the value of engineering research and was instrumental in my decision to earn a PhD at ASU,” he says. “I did most of my undergraduate research with her and have decided to remain with her lab to do my PhD, with her as my adviser.” Professor James Middleton was Skinner’s advisor for his senior design project. “He is an excellent professor. I’ve been impressed with the way he runs his class and how well he connects with his students. I want to be an engineering professor and I will model my teaching after him.”

Married and father of a one-year-old son, Skinner hopes to have four or five children and live on a small farm. “One thing I know is that family will always be the most important thing in my life,” he adds.

DRAKE THEGE
Engineering (Mechanical Engineering Systems)

Drake Thege 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 Graduate in engineering.

RICHARD TUZNIK
Computer Science

Richard Tuznik has been using technology and computers since he was a child, and he loved solving puzzles, math and physics. He also discovered he was fascinated with the way computers work.

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BS in Computer Science
Hometown: West Chester, Ohio
Graduated from Lakota East High School in Liberty Township, Ohio

Portrait of Richard TuznikRichard Tuznik was an undergraduate teaching assistant for two years, helping students learn how to pick up and apply important concepts.

In fact, he is very interested in the intersection of computer gaming and education.

His computer science capstone project was a learning tool to help medical students identify melanoma, and for another project he developed a tool to help people learn how to play the drums.

“In the future, I hope to either join or start a company where I can make learning a fun activity using virtual reality,” Tuznik says. “I’m interested in making this type of learning much more commonplace.”

A student in ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College, Tuznik was on the Dean’s List every semester and has been named a Moeur Award recipient for maintaining a 4.0 GPA. He’s already started the accelerated Master of Computer Science program and will intern at Amazon in Seattle this summer.

Tuznik has been using technology and computers since he was a child, and he loved solving puzzles, math and physics.

He also discovered he was fascinated with the way computers work, and by the time he got to the Fulton Schools he knew he wanted to be a software engineer. He completed the Computer Gaming Certificate, too.

Tuznik is deeply interested in teaching and education, and he credits Fulton Schhols Lecturer Yinong Chen for giving him opportunities to teach. A second professor who helped him grow as a student was Fulton Schools Lecturer Yoshihiro (Yoshi) Kobayashi. “He always has been very encouraging and interested in my projects during these classes and has grown my love for game development,” Tuznik said.

Both his mother and grandmother were ASU students, and the family moved to Arizona when he did. He wants to live in the West as well. That could become reality when he completes his master’s degree a year from now, if his hopes for a position at Amazon come true.

 

REBECCA WEINSTOCK
Aeronautical Management Technology (Air Transportation Management)

Rebecca Weinstock chose the Fulton Schools to study in the highly-regarded aviation program at the Polytechnic campus. “There are so many opportunities for students at ASU and I love being apart the largest and most innovative university,” she said.

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BS in Aeronautical Management Technology (Air Transportation Management)
Hometown: Mesa, Arizona
Graduated from Heritage Academy in Mesa, Arizona

Portrait of Rebecca WeinstockRebecca Weinstock could be the model for a well-rounded student. The New American Scholar was recognized on the Dean’s List for four years, but she was busy outside the classroom as well. She was a campus leader, counting among her many contributions serving as a university-wide homecoming coordinator in her senior year, helping to plan the 100th anniversary of ASU’s oldest tradition, the Lantern Walk.

Weinstock chose the Fulton Schools of Engineering to study in the highly-regarded aviation program at the Polytechnic campus. “There are so many opportunities for students at ASU and I love being apart the largest and most innovative university,” she said. She has already begun working toward a master’s degree through the 4+1 program, and by next December plans to complete the Master of Technology degree with a focus on aviation management and human factors.

Her first opportunity to serve as a student leader was freshman year, when she helped found a Women in Aviation chapter and became its director of community service. A member of the Programming and Activities Board at Polytechnic, she was named Homecoming director for two years, planning that campus’ signature Homecoming event, Devil’s Royale. This fall, she was a university-wide homecoming coordinator, helping to plan the 100th anniversary of ASU’s oldest tradition, the Lantern Walk. “It is truly the embodiment of ASU spirit, pride and tradition, as well as a night of remembrance, community, and growth,” she says.

Weinstock names two faculty mentors who helped her get the most out of her college experience. Lecturer Jimmy Kimberly was supportive of her work on the Programming and Activities Board and was helpful at Homecoming, she said. Associate Professor Mary Niemczyk helped guide her career, networking and making connections in the aviation industry. 

A year from now, Weinstock wants to be working in the revenue management department of a major airline.

 

IMPACT Award Recipients

KASSIDY ARIAS
Graphic Information Technology

Kassidy Arias will start a new job as a UX designer at GoDaddy in Tempe in the new year, but what promises to be a successful career has already begun.

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Master of Science in Graphic Information Technology
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Graduated from Tarpon Springs High School, Florida

Kassidy Arias

Impact Award recipient Kassidy Arias will start a new job as a UX designer at GoDaddy in Tempe in the new year, but what promises to be a successful career has already begun — at the Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Arias, who completed her undergraduate degree in graphic information technology in December 2016, was a New American Scholar – Dean’s Award recipient. She continued her education in the 4+1 Accelerated Master’s Program, focusing on project management software recommendations for start-up agencies in the graphics industry. Throughout her time at the Fulton Schools, Arias was a contributor and a leader in activities that benefited herself and fellow students.

She was an officer in the student AIGA chapter at ASU Polytechnic, where she learned how to design for paying clients, how to lead teams, and how to build a community of designers. And, starting in her senior year, Arias helped to create a new course. The GIT Creative Agency allows top graphic information technology students learn hands-on how to work with clients. In her role she helped develop course workflow and chose a project management system for student use. She also helped organize clients and projects and plan activities, in addition to serving as the lead for projects such as the redesign of the GIT student newsletter, The Scoop.

Arias is especially grateful to Graphic Information Technology Program Chair Susan Squire, who guided her through her undergraduate and graduate studies. Eventually, Arias may return the favor by helping future students. “Once I have experience in the field, I hope to come back to school as a professor,” she said. “Helping others to find their love for design and their place within the community intrigues me.”

ALEXIS BUTSCHER
Construction Management

Alexis Butscher did not want to be confined behind a desk in her career, and after checking out the construction industry she knew she had found her place.

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BS in Construction Management
Hometown: Thousand Oaks, California
Graduated from Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, Texas

Portrait of Alexis ButscherAlexis Butscher says the profession she chose impacts lives because it shapes the built environment.

“The construction management industry has a responsibility to utilize resources as effectively as possible, and create innovative solutions to benefit future generations, while ensuring the safety of workers and the public,” she says.

Butscher did not want to be confined behind a desk in her career, and after checking out the construction industry she knew she had found her place. In high school, she participated in the ACE (Architecture, Construction, Engineering) Mentorship Program, which gave her the opportunity to meet construction industry professionals. After touring job sites, she realized that she would be on site problem-solving different challenges every day. A Women in Engineering luncheon during her senior year of high school persuaded her to go to ASU.

“A professor toured me around a job site on campus, and I enjoyed the passion that faculty had for students,” she explains.

Her first summer internship proved to her that she was on the right path.

“I was nervous about whether I would have the right knowledge and skills to be successful in my career,” she says. “The internship gave me the confidence that I had made the right decision because I enjoyed the work I was doing and felt well prepared.”

Recipient of the New American Dean’s Award, the Del E. Webb Memorial Scholarship, the Bechtel Construction Scholarship and the Kitchell Construction Scholarship, Butscher was an involved student at the Fulton Schools. She volunteered as a Fulton Ambassador, giving tours to prospective students, networked with Advancing Women in Construction and competed at the Associated Schools of Construction competition in Reno on the LEED and sustainability team.

In January she gets to apply all that she’s learned when she moves to Southern California to work for Hensel Phelps, a large commercial general contractor.

WILLIAM CURTINDALE
Quality, Reliability, and Statistical Engineering

William Curtindale explains that he chose ASU because it was the only top-caliber school that offered an undergraduate engineering degree online.

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ME in Quality, Reliability, and Statistical Engineering
BSE ’16 in Engineering Management
Hometown: Petoskey, Michigan
Graduated from Redford Union High School in Redford Township, Michigan

portrait of William CurtindaleWilliam Curtindale is moving fast to fulfill his dreams. Last August he graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Fulton Schools with a bachelor’s degree in engineering management. This December he is receiving his Master of Engineering from the Fulton Schools and a second master’s in lean manufacturing from Kettering University. In January he begins a doctoral program at The George Washington University.

“As a non-traditional student, completing both bachelor’s and master’s degrees has been a lifelong dream, so having the opportunity and making it to the finish line has been incredibly fulfilling,” he says.  Married and father of two, Curtindale had to balance the demands of work, family and maintaining a home while studying mostly full time. It required sacrifice, he says, but “seeing the proud smiles on my children’s faces at graduation makes it all worthwhile!”

Curtindale explains that he chose ASU because it was the only top-caliber school that offered an undergraduate engineering degree online. Engineering management through ASU Online was the perfect program, he said, because it would provide an excellent foundation for graduate studies and career advancement. Lecturer Linda Chattin was a mentor, friend and inspiration for Curtindale. He served as her teaching assistant, and “her confidence inspired me to not give up and to reach for the stars.” While a student, Curtindale served on the board of directors at Concord Academy of Petoskey, a K-12 public school academy, and is currently its president.

This excellent student has thought deeply about the impact of technology and engineering on humanity. His long-term career aspirations are to serve in a top executive role while teaching part-time at the university level and being a leader in his community through volunteerism. 

“The world is quickly urbanizing,” he observes. “Achieving peace and prosperity requires high quality urban education. This great engineering achievement is something that I would most like to be a part of making happen in the future.”

BRIANNA FORNES
Engineering (Humanitarian Engineering)

Brianna Fornes believes that “we live in a unique time in history where we recognize more than ever that technology can often be more harmful than it is helpful.”

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BSE in Engineering (Humanitarian Engineering)
Hometown: Chandler, Arizona
Graduated from Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona

Portrait of Brianna FornesBrianna Fornes believes that “we live in a unique time in history where we recognize more than ever that technology can often be more harmful than it is helpful.” Daughter of an engineer who uses engineering to make the world better, she always knew she wanted to follow his path.  She chose the humanitarian engineering program because it “puts a heavy emphasis on human-centered design and creating helpful solutions for some of the most vulnerable and under-represented communities in the world.”

Recipient of a four-year New American scholarship, Fornes added a minor in sustainability and a secondary focus in mechanical engineering to her program. As an intern at the Idaho National Laboratory she received the first-place award for Best Technical Presentation out of more than 300 interns for an oral presentation about her summer research.

Fornes says ASU was an easy decision. “The hands-on nature of the engineering program at the Polytechnic campus blew me away. I was incredibly impressed with the amount of resources available to the students, such as the Innovation Hub and Peralta Labs,” she explains. “I knew I’d be getting a quality education because I’d be learning by doing, you can’t learn how to be an engineer solely from a book.”

Her most rewarding experience was building solar powered digital libraries for underdeveloped communities with little access to educational content through the SolarSPELL project. Assistant Professor Laura Hosman developed the device, and she challenges students in her course every semester to improve it. Fornes helped build the devices, then “I was able to deliver them personally to schools in the Pacific Islands,” she recalls.

Fornes hopes to attend the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and receive a juris doctorate in international environmental law.

“I believe it would be incredibly powerful to have a technical and scientific understanding of today’s leading environmental issues as well as the ability to be a voice for the vulnerable communities most affected by them,” she says. “My ultimate dream would be to work for the United Nations, creating international policies on environmental justice issues and climate change mitigation.”

 

GNYANESH TRIVEDI
Mechanical Engineering

Gnyanesh Trivedi was drawn to engineering through his love of physics: “It explains the world around us — in fact, the entire universe.”

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MS in Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Mumbai, India

Portrait of Gnyanesh TrivediEngineering has advanced society to where it is today, and it is the thing that will define our future as well, says Gnyanesh Trivedi.

“The only way to continue growing in a sustainable way is through smart engineering solutions.”

Trivedi was drawn to engineering through his love of physics: “It explains the world around us — in fact, the entire universe.” He chose mechanical engineering because it is a path to discovering solutions and applying them to the real world.

Trivedi was the president of the Indian Students Association while he was at ASU. But he is also an actor, and his most memorable moment at ASU came when he was in character.

His part-time job was at the Engineering Career Center as a graduate peer career coach.

“It was the best on-campus job anyone could hope for, because the people are an absolute joy to work with, and I had the best boss ever, Vicki Fox,” he says.

In a promotional video for the center, he played the role of the late crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin, alongside Sparky.

“I had an absolute blast while filming it across campus,” he remembers. “There was a point when Sparky went into the bookstore and started creating havoc (he literally destroyed the neatly stacked cups at a counter), and everyone played along!”

Trivedi says his engineering hero is Elon Musk, known for his company’s ground-breaking batteries: “The guy is a true visionary. And he delivers!” Trivedi’s long-term goal is along a similar track. He wants to be a part of the energy storage revolution, creating a very high capacity storage device with an exceptionally long lifetime. Eventually he hopes to lead an energy solutions company that integrates innovative solutions into everyday activities.

“I want to be a part of the future by providing sustainable energy solutions at affordable prices to the public, and making them aware of the importance of the place and time that we live in,” he states.

CHEYENNE WENDT
Graphic Information Technology

Cheyenne Wendt started out as an agribusiness/biology major, but changed course halfway through her academic career. She had joined the Poly Photography Club as a freshman, and after two years she realized that she was in the wrong major.

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BS in Graphic Information Technology
Hometown: Chandler, Arizona
Graduated from Basha High School in Chandler, Arizona

portrait of Cheyenne WendtCheyenne Wendt started out as an agribusiness/biology major, but changed course halfway through her career. She had joined the Poly Photography Club as a freshman, and after two years she realized that she was in the wrong major. She knew the decision was correct when she and other students were working on a project for their commercial photography class.

“We were arranging the products for the shot, combining our creativity, and I realized I could have spent forever in that studio,” she recalls. “As someone who likes both art and science, graphic information technology was the perfect situation for me.”

A New American University Scholarship recipient for four years, Wendt is graduating Magna Cum Laude. In high school she was considering community college, but an advisor convinced her that a university was where she belonged.

“I wanted to be at a school where there were passionate and hardworking people like me, that was also close by and provided scholarships.” she says. “ASU gave me a thriving and enjoyable place to attend, while making it possible for me be able to pay for it.”

Wendt learned important lessons about leadership and organization through the photo club, becoming president senior year.

“I was very involved with this club, making sure we connected well with the members and created a fun and social learning environment for them,” she says. “As president, I wanted to make sure all members felt like they had an enjoyable place to go to practice photography and bond with other students who shared their interests. My biggest achievement is that I successfully did that.”

Studying at the Fulton Schools provided the experiences and environment to prepare her for life, Wendt says. “I have taken challenging courses and learned to push myself when I was unsure,” she says. “ASU has given me the strength and confidence thrive.”

 

Dean’s Dissertation Award Recipients

BING SI
Industrial Engineering

During her last year of her undergraduate program, Bing Si had an opportunity to work with faculty who study statistical machine learning. “I was fascinated by the massive amounts of data available to be studied in many areas, especially in bioinformatics and healthcare, and the extent to which advanced computational algorithms can be used to improve people’s health and quality of life,” she says.

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PhD in Industrial Engineering
Hometown: Liaocheng, China
Graduated from University of Science and Technology of China

Portrait of Bing Si

During her last year of her undergraduate program, Bing Si had an opportunity to work with faculty who study statistical machine learning.

“I was fascinated by the massive amounts of data available to be studied in many areas, especially in bioinformatics and healthcare, and the extent to which advanced computational algorithms can be used to improve people’s health and quality of life,” she says.

This led her to the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering to pursue a doctoral degree with Associate Professor Jing Li.

Si is the recipient of the Dean’s Dissertation Award for her work on statistical machine learning and big data analytics in health care. She explored multi-modality image data fusion for brain disease diagnosis and subtyping.

Her work could impact the understanding of conditions such as migraine disorder and traumatic brain injury, and lead to personalized diagnostic biomarker optimization for Alzheimer’s disease.

It might also assist in the development of joint data mining of electronic medical records and hospital operational data to improve the quality and safety of health care delivery.

“I am very fortunate to work in the ASU-Mayo Clinic Imaging Informatics Lab, co-directed by Professor Li and Professor Teresa Wu,” she says. “The mentorship and life advice I received from Dr. Li will be very beneficial in the future. I also enjoyed working with other students in our lab, supporting each other and making progress together on the academic pathway. My best ASU memory is the lab!”

Si plans to become a university professor, devoting herself to research and education and to promoting and engaging women and minority students to study and work in her area.

“I am happy to see how my research could help improve lives,” she says, “and I would like to share my knowledge and learning experiences with my students.”

 

HOI-TO WAI
Electrical Engineering

One of the most important contributions of Hoi-To Wai’s doctoral dissertation is that it makes research more efficient. Wai’s work provides theoretical guarantees to certain aspects of network science. 

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PhD in Electrical Engineering
Hometown: Hong Kong
Graduated from Chinese University of Hong Kong

portrait of Hoi-To Wai

One of the most important contributions of Hoi-To Wai’s doctoral dissertation is that it makes research more efficient.

Wai’s work provides theoretical guarantees to certain aspects of network science.

“My results can be used to guide biologists in designing experiments for understanding the interaction between the genes in organisms, without wasting their time on performing more experiments,” he explains. “It can also provide guaranteed ways to solve machine-learning problems effectively over a computer network.”

Wai started doctoral studies in electrical engineering at the University of California, Davis, and later moved with his advisor, Professor Anna Scaglione, and her lab to the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering in 2015.

The broad area of Wai’s research is network science — studying social networks, the internet and other platforms that we see and interact with daily. He has developed new algorithms that run on networks to solve machine learning and estimation problems.

“Ultimately, I want to bring my research to areas outside of engineering, such as economics and biology, and benefit humanity in deepening the understanding of the networks around us,” Wai says.

Wai has always been fascinated by networks and data analytics, due to their applications in our everyday life.

“In my research on social network, I find it particularly impressive when one can make predictions about human behaviors using networks,” he comments. “I am actually a long-time fan of sci-fi novels and I feel that my research is related to those stories.”

Among his best experiences at ASU are the moments he shares with his lab mates at the Signal, Information, Networks and Energy Lab.

“The laboratory feels like a big family, as we work on research problems together, go to lunch together and have fun together,” he says.

Going forward, Wai will be a postdoctoral scholar at ASU, continuing his research on network science and data analytics.

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