Spring 2015 Distinguished ASU Undergraduate Engineering Students
Each spring and fall semester special recognition is bestowed upon high-achieving and exemplary undergraduate students graduating from Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
Among those honorees several students are selected as Distinguished Graduates, honored primarily for their significant contributions and accomplishments beyond the classroom.
These students have excelled in one or more areas of research, leadership, public service and social entrepreneurship endeavors that have had beneficial impacts on the ASU community, as well as larger communities in Arizona and elsewhere.
Many have participated in study-abroad programs, K-12 education outreach, tutored fellow college students, and led student teams to awards in national and international engineering and technology competitions.
Others have represented ASU positively through their work in internships in industry and volunteer efforts to provide aid to communities and people in need, or have served ASU and the Fulton Schools of Engineering as ambassadors to raise public awareness about the educational mission of the university.
The students selected as Distinguished Graduates for the 2015 spring semester are:
Alex Arveson, Civil Engineering
He had toyed with majoring in biology or architecture. But landing two internships early in his undergraduate years put Alex Arveson’s mind at ease that his decision to go into engineering suited him well.
After his freshman year, Arveson got a summer internship in his hometown with the Casa Grande Public Works Department. As a sophomore he landed an internship with the Phoenix office of Wilson & Company, a position that turned into a part-time job.
The work experiences gave him glimpses real-world architecture, construction and engineering. He found his interests gravitating toward transportation, and a reason to stick with a major in civil engineering.
He is now pursuing a master’s degree in the field through the Fulton Schools of Engineering 4+1 program.
“I think improving transportation is one of the most practical ways to make a difference in the world through engineering,” he said.
The graduate of Casa Grande Union High School said that at first he “was worried I wasn’t outgoing enough” to make an impression at a big university. But in the next four years, he alleviated that concern.
Arveson minored in communication and became a Fulton Ambassador, leading tours of prospective ASU engineering students. He served as a student tutor and as a student counselor at E2 Camp, the engineering freshmen experience program.
He became a member of Tau Beta, the engineering honor society, and Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honor society. He participated in the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was an officer in the student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
He lead a student team in the Engineering Projects in Community Service program that designed a phone app that helped support art events in the Phoenix area.
Arveson studied abroad, spending six weeks in London, Dublin and Edinburgh. “I made life-long friendships, dove into new cultures, got lost a few times, and tried some amazing beer,” he said. Later, he won first place in a student photo contest for the best pictures taken by ASU students while studying in other countries.
Engineering professor Thomas Seager was among the teachers who had a big impact on him. “He taught me the value of just going for it, and also that every experience is a learning experience,” Arveson said.
Under Seager’s guidance, Arveson helped to lead research for a student business startup to commercialize new solar thermal technology for generating electricity. The team won a startup pitch competition in the clean technologies division and a $15,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Outside of college-related pursuits, Arveson likes mountain biking, hiking and camping and photography, and plans to do more of those activities once he finishes grad school.
Julia Fisher, Chemical Engineering
Julia Fisher’s most rewarding experiences as an undergraduate involved sharing what excited her about the things she was learning.
“My favorite was volunteering for education outreach events. I got to do fun activities with elementary school students that encouraged their enthusiasm for science and engineering,” she said.
Fisher also served for two years as a peer mentor for freshmen engineering students, finding it fulfilling “to help build the engineering community” at ASU.
The graduate of Miamisburg High School in Miamisburg, Ohio, wasn’t certain she had made the best choice as a freshman when she chose to major in chemical engineering.
So what now ranks high among her satisfying experiences “is being able to look back at what I have accomplished,” Fisher said. “I’m quite surprised at what I was able to do.”
She received a New American University Scholarship from ASU, as well as a Mouer Award from the ASU Alumni Association to support her studies.
She made the Dean’s List in seven semesters and now has a grade point average of 4.07. She has been an active member of the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and was able to gain some significant research experience.
A big boost to her academic career came when she accepted an offer to join the lab team of materials science and engineering professor Karl Sieradzki. He would later help convince her to pursue a doctoral degree.
“I was unsure of myself. But he was confident that I could get into a top school and that I would do well,” Fisher said. “He has made an impact on me by trusting in my abilities and teaching me to trust myself.”
She will start studies in the fall at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in one of the leading chemical engineering graduate programs.
Fisher has an interest in applying her expertise in the areas of energy and alternative fuels, and sees herself doing industry research. But her career aspirations aren’t yet narrowly focused, she said, “because I have so many interests and there are so many possibilities in engineering.”
Outside of engineering, there’s another area in which she is developing expertise.
“I love to cook. It’s a skill that I taught myself and I really enjoy the challenge,” she said. “I enjoy making meals I have never tried before and making my own recipes. It’s very rewarding and something I love to share with other people.”
Danielle Goossens, Civil Engineering
Danielle Goossens remembers “being a scared freshman.”
Apprehension about navigating through the bustle of a large university, moving into a big dormitory and taking demanding courses made her worry about whether she could be successful in college.
But she also found “a welcoming environment” at Arizona State University, she said, “and I was fortunate to have wonderful mentors and teaching assistants help me.”
The graduate of Clairemont High School in San Diego, California, also benefitted from the encouragement ASU and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering gives students to be active in the university community.
She now counts among her most rewarding experiences as an undergraduate her three years as a peer mentor to students in the campus engineering residential facilities and to students at E2 Camp, the freshman engineering experience.
In addition, she served as an ambassador for the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, helping incoming freshmen in the civil engineering and construction programs get their college careers off to a good start. She has been president of the school’s student ambassador group for the past two years.
Two engineering faculty members were particularly instrumental in her education.
She describes civil engineering professor Keith Hjelmstad as a teacher who delights in seeing his students learn by developing their own problem-solving skills. “He taught me to have a passion for engineering that I hadn’t experienced in myself before,” she said.
Linda Chattin, a lecturer in the industrial engineering program, is a teacher “who knows her material and can be serious, but also knows how to have fun” and how to encourage students, she said.
Goossens became an undergraduate teacher assistant for Chattin for two semesters. “I learned so much from her about teaching, and about being a leader,” she said.
Goossens is now pursing a graduate degree through the Fulton Schools of Engineering’s 4+1 program, and expects to complete work for a master’s degree in the fall semester.
Before then, she will help with expansion of the Phoenix metro area light-rail system through a summer engineering internship with Sundt Construction, one of the industry’s larger companies.
Goossen’s career goal is to work full-time in the industry and learn to manage every aspect of large-scale construction projects “from start to finish,” she said.
Outside of civil engineering, soccer remains a passion.
She played four years of varsity soccer in high school and captained the team in her junior and senior years.
In college she decided to focus on academics rather than athletics, but still played frequently on intramural teams, “and even won a few championship titles,” she adds.
Hannah Horeczko, Biomedical Engineering
As she graduates with a degree in biomedical engineering and prepares to start studying for her master’s degree, Hannah Horeczko has a simple goal – she wants to make the world around her a better place.
“I hope to have an impact on the world of health through working with a company of high integrity that encourages innovative and original thinking,” said Horeczko. “I hope to make a better life for my family, friends and my community.”
But knowing the challenges she faced as a first generation college student, she wants to help pave the way for those who follow in her footsteps.
“Being the first in my family to attend college, I would hope to encourage others with similar backgrounds or hardships to receive a higher education and be successful in science and engineering fields,” she said-
Horeczko has excelled academically at ASU, being on the dean’s list since the fall of her freshman year and earning the Regent High Honors Endorsement Scholarship.
“Once my classes became heavily biomedical based in junior year, I knew I was where I needed to be,” she said. “The classes integrated engineering problem-solving skills with human and health applications. The program reinforced my confidence in my ability to influence the world through improving the quality of life and finding technological solutions that aim toward making healthcare more affordable.”
Outside of the classroom, Horeczko embraced the engineering community and the many opportunities to get involved. She participated in the National Biomedical Engineering Honor Society, the Biomedical Engineering Society and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and was on the leadership team as a Fulton Representative for the Society of Women Engineers.
“As an active member in these groups I was able to participate in activities that benefit the professional development of students, giving back to the community through volunteer work at organizations such as Project C.U.R.E and encouraged cultural diversity and the advancement of women in the field of science and engineering,” she said.
She gave back to the community in other ways as well, serving as a community assistant in the Engineering Residential Community for three years, an undergraduate teaching assistant for four semesters, and an E2 camp counselor for three summers.
“I found mentoring undergraduate engineering students to be the most rewarding part of my time here at ASU,” she said. “I was provided a unique opportunity to help foster and strengthen an already supportive and encouraging engineering community. I played an important role in optimizing the experience of not only first-year students, but those further along in their degree programs. Through the internal support system created by our school I have been able to encourage the success of the students around me the way my mentors have.”
Horeczko will continue at ASU to pursue a master’s degree as part of the accelerated 4+1 program.
Bryce Muzzy, Engineering Management
Bryce Muzzy is a student whose biggest challenge in college has been figuring out a way to fit in all that he wanted to do during his college days.
“The ability to do so many varied things while in school is something uniquely ASU I think,” he said.
The Paradise Valley, Arizona, native found time to be very active around campus and maintained his academic career on the Dean’s List. He has been in Honors Devils (tour guides and ambassadors in Barrett, The Honors College) since his freshman year, where he has served as both the social chair and president. He was on the ASU men’s rugby team for three years and served as the social chair and community outreach chair of the team. Muzzy also has been a Fulton Ambassador.
The engineering management major has always liked to challenge himself.
“My family has a history of being engineers, driven individuals, and daredevils so I figured I’d try and be all of the above,” Muzzy said. “I’ve always loved computers, and really got bit by the engineering bug my junior year of high school when I built my first computer.”
He started out as a computer systems engineering major, but switched over to engineering management.
“Switching to engineering management allowed me to stay in engineering and stay computer-focused, but really expand on the human side of engineering,” he said. “It also left a pretty blank slate for me to fill; and fill I did. Professor Dan Shunk and professor in practice Dan McCarville gave me a love of the material, but also provided the most hands on and real world opportunities I’ve ever had in any field. Their investment in me really helped me on my path.”
After graduation, Muzzy will be working an internship with IM Flash Technologies in Utah, before coming back to campus in the fall to start on his master of science inmanagement from the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU. In the fall of 2016, he will be commissioning in the United States Air Force.
As for his long-term plans, “Who knows? The path is winding and it’s pretty difficult to see the end from the first mile marker,” he said. “I would love to be able to work a job I love, have a great family, stay active, continue experiencing and exploring new things, and have a nice head of hair. I’d also like to figure out how to hang a hammock.”
Alyssa Oberman, Biomedical Engineering
As a child growing up with an engineer father, Alyssa Oberman was drawn to problem-solving and hands-on learning.
“My dad is an engineer and his field always fascinated me,” she said. “I wanted to do what he did – when I was little this was blow things up and make missiles. I liked how hands-on it was and I loved the idea of problem-solving and hands-on learning in the field.”
But an odd challenge from her AP chemistry and biology teacher, at University High School in Tucson, started her down the path of biomedical engineering.
“One day he told me that I needed to be the person to create functioning kidneys because he wanted to be prepared in case his kidneys failed him one day,” Oberman said. “I looked at him like he was crazy and then later went home and looked into what I would discover to be tissue engineering. This led me to explore so many other associated fields and I was thrilled with the idea of being able to engineer parts of the human body.”
At ASU, Oberman has been able to blend her passion for helping people with her interest in problem solving and engineering.
“Biomedical engineering was the perfect mix of my two interests,” she said.
Her efforts have garnered her the Provost Scholarship and she has been awarded a Prescott Fellow and Gore Travel Grant for an academic conference.
She has participated in the Society for Women in Engineering and the Biomedical Engineering Society, and has worked in the Fulton Schools of Engineering advising office since her sophomore year. Additionally she has served as an undergraduate teaching assistant for Associate Professor Michael Caplan and was a community assistant in the engineering residential community.
Oberman points to Caplan as a key influence in understanding not just the theories and concepts of engineering, but in how to apply them to real situations.
“In the first class I had with Dr. Caplan, he helped us realize that sometimes there is not a single right answer to certain engineering problems,” she said. “This was the first time I had a course where I didn’t care about my grade. Not because the class was one that I could blow off, but rather because the course really opened my eyes to the steps needed for making a quality product and what areas go into designing a device other than just knowing the math and science behind what you’re doing.”
Oberman will be continuing at ASU with her studies in the 4+1 accelerated master’s degree program. Additionally, she will be working with members of her capstone project team in developing a start-up company targeted at developing products for teaching students with special needs.
“I want to be a part of making sure that all students have access to learning tools in order to succeed in school and go on to succeed in their careers,” she said.
Nicholas Radda, Engineering (Robotics)
Nicholas Radda has found balancing his coursework with co-curricular activities to be the biggest challenge of his undergraduate years at ASU.
It is easy to see why. The Barrett honors student and Medallion Scholar, who maintains a 3.2 GPA, is co-founder of the Rossum Rumblers Robotics student organization. He has watched the organization grow from 13 to 60 members in one semester as the love for all-things-robot has exploded in our culture. He also is vice president of Honors Devils, the Barrett Honors students who assist with the college’s outreach activities.
Radda grew up in Fountain Hills, Arizona. He said there was an “excellent” robotics program at Fountain Hills High School and it was during a summer scholars program at ASU’s Poltytechnic campus that he met the faculty and became “super interested” in the program.
He decided that ASU was a perfect fit and decided to major in engineering, with a concentration in robotics.
“I always wanted to study biomedical engineering, and my goal is to someday work in the field, particularly with prosthetics,” Radda said.
When his mother was young, Radda said, she had to get a pacemaker. The time he spent with her in the hospital sparked his interest in the biomedical field. His dream now is to get his doctorate in neuroscience, and then he wants to own his own business to create prosthetics. His is going to take a bit of an academic break to work before continuing with his studies.
Radda said he has so many fond memories of his time at ASU from his engagement with faculty members and fellow students.
“I love that our robotics club built an Artemis Space Bridge and showcased it at Game Con. The simulator was filled with students all night long. It was such a hit, and we are very proud,” he said. (Artemis is a multiplayer, multicomputer networked game.)
Of the faculty, Radda singled out professors Mark Henderson, Adam Carberry and Angela Sodemann for being influential and “holding me to a high level and higher expectations. They encourage and challenge me to be the best that I can be.”
He also called out professors Shawn Jordan and Micah Lande for always “being there for me. If I had a problem, they always encouraged and helped me.”
Radda said, “Most of all, I think I will remember being in the lab with other students until 3 a.m. And, all of a sudden, our project finally works. That feeling of elation that we did it. I was exhausted and energized at the same time. I have had so many great moments here.”
Jessica Schiltz, Biomedical Engineering
What started as a volunteer opportunity in high school turned out to have a significant influence on Jessica Schiltz.
Schiltz is a native of Scottsdale, but for her sophomore and junior years she attended high school in Texas. During that time she began volunteering in a program that worked with pre-teens with neurodegenerative disease.
“During one of these sessions, I was partnered with a young girl with cerebral palsy who relied on a device that spoke the sentences she typed, because her vocal cords had been paralyzed,” Schiltz said. “After witnessing how a device was able to return some functionality and independence to this young person, I became resolved to pursue engineering in hopes of innovating similar assistive technologies.”
After returning to Arizona, she considered several schools, but multiple scholarship offers brought her to ASU. She enrolled in the biomedical engineering program and in Barrett, The Honors College.
“After one semester in the BME program and Barrett, I couldn’t imagine choosing another university,” she said. “I am very glad I ended up here.”
Her list of scholarships is extensive, including the Cobalt Mortgage Dollars for Scholars, the New American University Scholar President’s Award, the Sun Angel Funk Engineering Scholarship, the Dean’s Exemplar Student Scholarship Finalist and the Ira A. Fulton Alumni Continuing Student Scholarship.
She has kept active in a multitude of student organizations, including Society of Women Engineers, Biomedical Engineering Society, Tau Beta Pi, Alpha Eta Mu Beta and Circle K International. She also helped found the Project C.U.R.E. Club at ASU and has served as both program chair and treasurer for the group. She was a Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative participant for three semesters and worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant for the BME 100 class for three years.
“The most rewarding part at ASU includes the copious opportunities to leverage my own ASU experience and make an impact on incoming students,” she said. “My two years working as an Engineering Community Assistant, I was a live-in resource to first-year students making the nebulous transition from high school to college. I was also a camp counselor at E2 Camp (the Fulton Schools of Engineering freshman experience program), where I connected with young women excited about engineering and directed their team building activities.”
During her time at ASU, she has also been recognized with the W. L. Gore Undergraduate Research Grant, the Herberger School of Design’s Design Excellence Winner, the Rookie Community Assistant of the Year Award, and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and has been on the dean’s list since the spring of 2012. Additionally, Schiltz has worked, since her freshman year, in the research lab of associate professor Jeff Kleim.
Schiltz plans to head to the University of Notre Dame to enter into the doctroal program in mechanical and aerospace Engineering, where she hopes to blend traditional fields with her interests in robotics and rehabilitative sciences.
“I want my ideas to become tangible, and want contribute to the changing landscape of healthcare,” she said. “My dream in life is to build novel devices that facilitate clinicians or patients. I can see myself in a design team or as a project manager.”
John Templeton, Biomedical Engineering
For John Templeton, the initial choice to get an ASU degree in engineering was relatively simple. He came from a long line of Sun Devils, and is the third generation to get an ASU degree. He was heavily inspired by his chemical engineer grandfather and civil engineer sister to pursue engineering.
But it was as a freshman he had that moment where knew he was in the right place. Templeton had injured his knee and was undergoing surgery to repair his torn ligaments, cartilage and meniscus in his left leg. For many, it would be traumatic, but for Templeton it turned into a time of wonder.
“I understood how the surgery worked,” he said. “I understood the anatomy and how they were going to fix the problem. I had a huge interest in everything going on and asked the doctor many questions to learn more, but ultimately I thought to myself, ‘This problem is something that can be fixed down the road in biomedical engineering and I want to be a part of it.’”
Templeton has distinguished himself academically, becoming a New American University Scholar as both a Provost’s Award winner and a National Merit Scholar.
He took an active role in both the Biomedical Engineering Society and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). He embraced the opportunities within the Fulton Schools of Engineering to share his passion as a peer mentor for two years, a SWE mentor, an undergraduate teaching assistant for multiple courses, an E2 camp counselor and an undergraduate research assistant in the lab of associate professor Jeff Kleim.
“The most rewarding thing about my undergraduate years at ASU was being able to give back,” Templeton said. “All these activities allowed me the opportunity to give back to the community by helping students reach their goals, helping students grow and become the future of engineering, as well as being able to provide valuable research to the scientific community.
While he was trying to give back to other students, Templeton also points to the many faculty members that have helped him as a student, including the full faculty of the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering and specifically Kleim, lecturer Casey Ankeny and the dean of Fulton Schools of Enginering, Paul Johnson.
“Dean Johnson was a huge influence since the first time I met him at E2 Camp freshman year,” Templeton said. “He was always so knowledgeable and helpful in many situations, but he always knew how to have a good time.
“Dr. Kleim and Dr. Ankeny were professors who I had in many classes, in addition to working with them as an undergraduate teaching assistant,” he said. “These two professors helped give me so many opportunities to work in biomedical engineering, to learn, to grow and ultimately provide me with examples of people I want to be like when I become a professor.”
As he graduates, Templeton said he plans to head to graduate school in hope of earning a doctoral degree. and ultimately becoming a research professor.
“I would like to be a professor at the collegiate level, hopefully back here at ASU,” he said. “I would like to start a program in conjunction with ASU athletics and athlete monitoring devices and medical research.”
Miriam Woolley, Civil Engineering
It was on a visit when she was 17 to the Hoover Dam, considered one of the leading construction achievements in the last century, that Miriam Woolley began to envision a career path for herself.
Along with the immense dam on the Arizona-Nevada border, she got to see an expansive bypass bridge over the Colorado River being constructed nearby.
“I was in awe over the scale of the bridge across that big open space and by the massive amount of concrete being used to build it. I knew building things like that was what I wanted to learn to do,” Woolley said.
Several months later the graduate of Blue Ridge High School in Lakeside, Arizona, was enrolled at Arizona State University as a civil engineering major.
Woolley said she was drawn to ASU not only by the engineering program but also by clubs that enable students to get involved in hands-on engineering projects.
She joined the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the ASU student team involved in the ASCE’s annual national Concrete Canoe Competition. Her four years with the team included a year as project manager.
She credits professor Kamil Kaloush for aiding her accomplishments by motivating her to take leadership roles on student projects and teams.
Woolley considers among her most rewarding achievements the contributions she made in education outreach and community service – especially when she was able to show elementary and middle school students engineering principles in action, such as how a canoe made of concrete can float.
One of the more revelatory moments of her undergraduate years came when she was having difficulty in a course on geotechnical engineering – a field involving the design and building of structures and other facilities that are either made of or supported by soil or rock.
Even though she was struggling to grasp the class material, Woolley kept at it, she recalled, “because I realized how much I was enjoying it, even through it was hard. That’s really when I found my passion.”
Woolley got involved with the ASCE’s national Geotechnical Student Organization and recently helped a group of fellow ASU students become the top-performing team in a national geotechnical engineering competition.
Later this year she will begin conducting research in ASU’s geotechnical lab in pursuit of a master’s degree.
“I liked to play in the mud as a kid, and now I’ll get to do it again,” she said.
She’s hoping a career in the field will enable her “to apply what I’ve learned at ASU in many places around the world.”
Jack Workman, Computer Science
Jack Workman watched his parents struggle to get their home computer to work properly while he was growing up.
“Their solution was to pull the plug and try again. I would watch and think to myself, ‘there has to be a better way to do that,’ ” Workman said. “As I grew older, I became the person that would fix our computers. I also developed an affinity for math and science. After that, it seemed rather logical that I would go into engineering and study computer science.”
Workman always knew that he liked computer science, and his aptitude for it was verified in his very first computer science classes at ASU.
“However, there’s a big difference between performing well at school and performing well in a professional environment,” he said. “The moment that really verified that my time and effort at school had been well spent was during one of my internships when my manager at Intel told me that he wanted me back at Intel full-time. Knowing that Intel wanted to hire me after graduation was verification that all those long hours and late nights were worth it and felt really, really good.”
Workman, who graduated from Arcadia High School in Phoenix, has been very involved on campus in his time at ASU.
“My most rewarding experiences have come from my club involvement. I joined the Fulton Ambassadors the first semester of my freshman year.”
The Fulton Ambassadors are engineering students who volunteer their time to promote the Fulton Schools of Engineering. He has served as Webmaster for the group since the first semester of his sophomore year.
“I’ve given many tours, visited high schools, led shadow days, and managed the organization’s website and online presence,” he said.
Workman, an avid runner who has run two full marathons, several half marathons, an Ultra Ragnar Relay and two regular Ragnar Relays, joined the ASU Running Club during his freshman year and has been co-president of the club for the past two years. He led a marathon training group and helped several runners complete their first full or half marathons.
“Serving as the Running Club’s co-president has definitely been the most challenging,” he said. “It really required me to step out of my comfort zone as an engineer and into a social role responsible for attracting and retaining members.”
With Intel looking to bring Workman on full-time after college, he’ll be heading back to Folsom, Calif., the site of his first internship, to work as a graphics hardware architect for the company. He also plans to get a master’s degree in computer engineering while working for Intel.
“My immediate focus is making a positive impact when I begin work at Intel. After that, I’d like to become a technical lead of a team or division,” he said.
Further down the road, “I want to be that old guy who sits on his porch with a cane and a good book. I couldn’t have done any of this without the love and support of my family!”
Sharon Keeler, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering