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NM Tech's Top Engineering Students for 2007 Are Named

by George Zamora

Victoria Aston

SOCORRO, N.M., March 23, 2007– Victoria J. Aston, a senior majoring in chemical engineering at New Mexico Tech, recently was named the 2007 Engineering Student of the Year at the state-supported research university in Socorro. Aston, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo. and a graduate of St. Mary’s High School, is the daughter of Graeme and Martha Aston, also of Colorado Springs.

Also honored as runners-up were: Jonathan C. Berg, Nathan R. Goulding, Tracy Baker, Keenan T. Dotson, Lee A. Murphy, and Jesse J. Piotrowicz.

Enginering students

Photo, left (click for larger photo): At a recent luncheon in Albuquerque sponsored by the New Mexico Society for Professional Engineers: Dr. Sayavur Bakhtiyarov, chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department at NMT, joins students Tom Dotson, Tracey Baker, Nathan Goulding, Victoria Aston, Jonathan Berg and Jesse Piotrowicz. Not pictured: Lee Murphy.

(Students, we would like to have individual photos of each of you. Please contact George Zamora to have your picture taken.)

Victoria Aston, having maintained a perfect 4.0 grade-point average (GPA) during her studies at New Mexico Tech, is a designated Tech Scholar and has been named to the university’s academic honor roll each semester of her enrollment. She is a current recipient of the prestigious Macey Scholarship.

Aston’s recent research and teaching experiences at the university include: current lab work collecting and analyzing data and performing computer simulations of polymer systems in conjunction with New Mexico Tech materials engineering professor John McCoy; student engineering and research assignments with Tech’s Energetic Materials and Research and Testing Center (EMRTC); and serving as a peer facilitator for the university’s Advising Resource Center (ARC), where she instructs biology and chemistry majors enrolled in the Freshman Experience program.

Aston’s work in polymer physics modeling has resulted in her being named a co-author of a research paper which has been submitted to the Journal of Chemical Physics.

Aston also has been active in engineering pursuits during summer months, having completed last year an engineering internship with EnCana Oil & Gas (USA), Inc.

In addition, Aston currently serves as vice president of the New Mexico Tech chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the national honor society for engineering students, and is the secretary for Tech’s student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

During her tenure at New Mexico Tech, Aston also has been an active volunteer in the Socorro community, committing several hours a week to working at both the Puerto Seguro (local homeless and displaced shelter) and Socorro Good Samaritan Village (local nursing and elderly care center).

The ten-member committee (comprised mostly of Tech engineering faculty and professional engineers), which chose Aston as this year’s Engineering Student of the Year, also named six other Tech seniors as runner-ups for the prestigious honor:

Jonathan Berg

Jonathan C. Berg (1st Runner-up), a graduate of Albuquerque’s Temple Baptist Academy, is now a New Mexico Tech senior majoring in mechanical engineering. Berg is the son of Ron and Gwen Berg, also of Albuquerque.

Having maintained a 3.97 GPA in the course of his studies at New Mexico Tech, Berg also is a designated Tech Scholar at the university.

Berg’s recent research-related work at the university has resulted in his being named a co-author of “An Automated Tape Application System for Composite Autoclave Bagging Operations,” a paper published this past December in the International Journal of Manufacturing and Science.

Last semester, while working in conjunction with New Mexico Tech mechanical engineering professor Andrei Zagrai, Berg and two Tech graduate students collaboratively developed a series of laboratory exercises for students to employ in the academic department’s Mechatronics Laboratory.

Berg also has been active in research pursuits during summer months, having completed student internships with Sandia National Laboratories and Applied Research Associates, Inc. of Albuquerque.

In addition, Berg is an active member of both Tau Beta Pi and the New Mexico Tech Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.

Nathan R. Goulding (2nd Runner-up), a graduate of Albuquerque’s La Cueva High School, is now a senior majoring in both computer science and electrical engineering at New Mexico Tech.

Goulding is the son of Robert and Barbara Goulding of Albuquerque.

Goulding is a past recipient of the university’s prestigious Macey Scholarship and Student Appreciation Award, and more recently was awarded both a Tau Beta Pi Record Scholarship and a New Mexico Tech Fifth-Year Scholarship for his demonstrated academic excellence in the classroom.

In addition to his studies and related class work, Goulding currently works as a peer facilitator for Tech’s ARC and has previously worked for the Institute for Complex Additive Systems Analysis (ICASA), a specialized research division of the university.

He currently serves as chapter president of Tau Beta Pi, a position he has held for the past two years, and also is the current chair and past secretary of the local student chapter of the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Tracy Baker, a graduate of Incarnate Word High School in San Antonio, Texas, is now a Tech senior majoring in civil engineering.

Baker is the daughter of Larry and Becky Baker, also of San Antonio.

Baker’s recent engineering work at the university includes managing a New Mexico Department of Transportation project in which she and four other Tech students are currently inspecting the paved landing surfaces at 48 regional airports throughout New Mexico. The ongoing research project entails coordinating inspection visits at each airport, preparing AutoCAD diagrams of airport facilities, collecting site data, and then inputting the data in order to compile a complete database.

In addition, Baker currently serves as co-editor of Miners' Ink New Mexico Tech’s literary magazine, and also volunteers her writing and editing skills at the Tech Writing Center. She is a member of the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers at the university.

Keenan Dotson

Keenan T. Dotson, a graduate of Farmington Harrison High School in Farmington Hill, Mich., is a New Mexico Tech senior majoring in materials engineering.

In the course of his studies at New Mexico Tech, Dotson has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA and has been named to the university’s honor roll every semester he has completed. The Tech Scholar currently is attending the university on both the prestigious Ron Roman Scholarship and the Tech Competitive Scholarship.

Dotson’s work at the university includes a current stint as a peer facilitator and tutor for the New Mexico Tech ARC, as well as previous work as a research laboratory assistant with both Tech’s Department of Earth and Environmental Science and Department of Mechanical Engineering. Most recently, he also was a lab assistant working with Tech materials engineering professor T. David Burleigh, conducting research on anodized oxide coatings on carbon steel.

Dotson also has been active in engineering pursuits during summer months, completing two student internships with Traylor/Shea, JV, in which he managed data communications on a major underground tunneling project in Southern California.

In addition, Dotson is a past senator on the Tech Student Association, and currently serves as treasurer for both the Students for Progressive Action and the Tech Rugby Football Club, on which he also plays lock and flanker positions. He also is an active member of the local chapter of the Tau Beta Pi national honor society for engineering students.

Lee A. Murphy is a graduate of the University of Arizona and is now a senior pursuing a bachelor’s of science degree in petroleum engineering at New Mexico Tech.

Murphy currently attends the research university on numerous scholarships, including the New Mexico Tech Transfer Scholarship, the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE)-Denver Section Scholarship, the SPE Roswell Section Scholarship, and the Society of Petroleum and Well Loggers Association Scholarship. He is a past recipient of the university’s Kelly Scholarship.

During the past two summers, Murphy completed two petroleum engineering internships with Burlington Resources and ConocoPhillips in the San Juan Basin.

In addition, Murphy currently serves as social coordinator of the New Mexico Tech student chapter of the SPE.

Jesse Piotrowicz

Jesse J. Piotrowicz is a New Mexico Tech senior majoring in mechanical engineering.

Piotrowicz currently is leading a student design team through program planning, detailed development and design, fabrication, and possible testing of a prototype for the university’s EMRTC.

In addition to his studies, Piotrowicz currently works as an undergraduate technical intern with Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and as both a department analyst and undergraduate student representative with the New Mexico Tech Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Piotrowicz, a member of Tau Beta Pi, also lists organizational memberships in the local chapters of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, in which he serves as chapter president. He also currently serves as LANL student ambassador for the New Mexico Tech campus.

-NMT-