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Ten engineering students garner prestigious graduate funding awards


BLACKSBURG, Va., May 25, 2005 – Ten students in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech--the highest number in the history of the college--have been awarded graduate research fellowships from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Defense. Each fellowship is valued at approximately $120,000 over three years.

This year's success is being attributed in some degree to the emphasis the engineering faculty placed on providing undergraduate research opportunities to students in all areas, which is a major consideration for these fellowships. In particular, Michael Alley of the Department of Engineering Education assisted students in their efforts to find undergraduate research experiences through an NSF grant, offering writing workshops for the highly qualified engineering students to increase their competitiveness.

Recipients of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship from the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech are: Adrian Harpold, biological systems engineer from Federal Way, Wa.; Matthew Lynch, materials science engineer from Midlothian, Va.; Zahra Pakdel, electrical and computer engineer from Shiraz, Iran; Rachael Ramirez, mechanical engineer from Bowie, Md. (she has elected to attend Carnegie Melon for graduate school); Noelani Thompson, engineering science and mechanics engineer from Blacksburg, Va.; and Alicia Williams, mechanical engineer from Fairfax, Va.

A seventh student, Jeffrey Young, a computer systems design engineer from another university, received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and will attend Virginia Tech for graduate school.

Recipients of the Department of Defense Graduate Research Fellowship from the College of Engineering are: Jeremy Davis, aerospace and ocean engineer from Richmond, Va.; Deirdre-Annaliese Hunter, aerospace and ocean engineer from Syracuse, N.Y.; Mark Monda, aerospace and ocean engineer from St. Louis, Mo.; and Ashley Nisewonger, aerospace and ocean engineer from Buford, Ga.

Eleven engineering students received honorable mention awards from the National Science Foundation: Andrew Baisden, electrical and computer engineer from Naperville, Ill.; Aaron Barr, engineering science and mechanics engineer from Martinsburg, W.Va.; Ingrid Burbey, electrical and computer engineer from Muskego, Wi.; Rui Chen, aerospace and ocean engineer from Flushing, N.Y.; Wendell Khunjar, civil and environmental engineer from Miami, Fla.; Stephen Lynch, mechanical engineer from Encampment, Wyo.; Ashley Nisewonger, aerospace and ocean engineer from Buford, Ga; Jenni Popp, biomedical engineer from Millinockett, Maine; Joseph Ranalli, mechanical engineer from West Lawn, Pa.; Thomas Rondeau, electrical and computer engineer from Forest, Va.; and Eddie Simmers, mechanical engineer from Radford, Va.

In addition, two engineering students from other universities are the recipients of National Science Foundation honorable mention awards and have elected to attend Virginia Tech for graduate school: Andrew Chemistruck, aeronautical and aerospace engineer from Windsor, Conn.; and Raymond Foltz, civil engineer from Charleston, S.C.