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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2010 / 04 

Undergraduate student receives prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

April 21, 2010

Ryan Shaw
Ryan Shaw

Virginia Tech undergraduate student Ryan Shaw of Marietta, Ga., has been awarded the highly competitive Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for the 2009–10 academic year.

Shaw is a junior with two majors -- chemical engineering, in the College of Engineering, and mathematics, in the College of Science. He also has a minor in chemistry, also part of the College of Science. He is among 278 scholarship winners from a pool of 1,111 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

The scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. The scholarship program honors the late Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, and designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering, according to the Goldwater Foundation. In its 24-year history, has awarded 6,079 scholarships worth approximately $58 million.

“I’ve known that I wanted to be a chemical engineer since around freshman year of high school,” Shaw said. “However, math has always been my favorite subject. I added the math major for two reasons. First, a chemical engineering degree is very math intensive, so it is not that far of a leap to add the major in math. The second reason stems from the promise I made to Debbie Poss, my Algebra II and Analysis teacher in high school, to receive a degree in math as well.”

Shaw says he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and later focus his career on alternative fuel sources, in either the academic or industrial sectors. During his senior year, he will participate in a co-op with Eastman Chemical in Kingsport, Tenn. “I believe my experience there will go a long way towards helping me make that decision,” Shaw said.

A member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Shaw spends much of his time consumed with studying or research.

“Ryan is a terrific young man who shows tremendous promise for a future career in research,” said David F. Cox, a professor of chemical engineering, who has served as a mentor to Shaw. “He and others like him will be responsible for solving the important technological problems facing our nation during the next 50 years.”

Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 73 Rhodes Scholarships, 105 Marshall Awards, and numerous other distinguished fellowships. Shaw is the son of Gill and Karen Shaw of Roswell, Ga.