Tech Names Engineering Students Of The Year

SOCORRO, N.M. March 8, 2016 – New Mexico Tech was well represented at the annual meeting of the New Mexico Society of Professional Engineers, which included the awarding of Student Engineer of the Year to Andrew Hunt.

A senior in chemical engineering, Andrew Hunt was named Student Engineer of the Year for New Mexico Tech. He is a Macey Scholar and a winner of a national scholarship from Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society.


Andrew Hunt (right) is Tech's Student Engineer of the Year for 2015-16.  Kevin Reed (left) is the first runner-up. 


Kevin Reed, also of the Chemical Engineering Department, was first runner-up.

Anthony Milana, senior in mechanical engineering, was the second runner-up.

Honorable mention awardees were Connor Brashar, electrical engineering; Jakub Mroczkowski, petroleum; Maya Robinson, electrical; Michael Romero, mechanical; and Kevin Vedara, mechanical.

The top professional awards also went to Techies. Dr. Nadir Yilmaz won Engineer of the Year. Joseph Higham, who graduated from Tech in 2008 with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, won Young Engineer of the Year. 

Four speakers at the one-day conference are affiliated with Tech, including Board of Regents President Deborah Peacock. Last year, Peacock won the distinguished service award at the same conference. Peacock is president and CEO of Peacock Myers P.C. Her connection to New Mexico Tech goes back to the 1980s when she was the lead patent attorney in Tech’s bid to secure the rights to the nicotine patch.


New Mexico Tech was well represented at the N.M. Society of Professional Engineers annual conference and awards luncheon. From left are Deborah Peacock, Board chair and keynote speaker; Dr. Warren Ostergren, Dr. Nadir Yilmaz, Engineer of the Year; Dr. Kevin Wedeward; Anthony Milana, second runner-up; Valerie Jenkins; and Joe Higham, Tech gradaute and Young Engineer of the Year. 


Dr. Nadir Yilmaz and Dr. Curtis O’Malley, both of the Mechanical Engineering Department, were featured speakers in the morning’s breakouts sessions. Yilmaz presented “The Volkswagen Crisis and the Future of Diesel Engines.” O’Malley presented “The Future Prospect of Extending Freight Rail Line Access to Northwest New Mexico.”

State Mine Inspector Terence Foreback, who is stationed at Tech, gave a talk about mine safety in New Mexico.

Top winner Andrew Hunt has worked with Dr. Michaelann Tartis on campus and as a student intern at Sandia National Laboratories. With Tartis, Hunt has done various experiments related to targeted drug and gene delivery. Starting in the spring 2014 semester, he spearheaded his own project involving the transfer of DNA into yeast cells for bio-sensing applications. As a junior, he continued working with Tartis, and also started working with Dr. Menake Piyasena, developing novel microfluidic devices that can diagnose diseases in the developing world.

Hunt is a member of the AIChE, Tau Beta Pi national engineering honor society and Golden Key campus chapters. He was one of four Techies, along with Reed, Robinson and Brashar, who won the Tau Beta Pi scholarship this year.

First runner-up Kevin Reed has also worked on research with both Tartis and Piyasena. He will graduate in May 2016 with a bachelor’s in chemical engineering and two minors in chemistry and biology. He started in research as a sophomore with Piyasena, the same year he won the 2014 Analytical Chemistry Student of the Year award. Shortly thereafter, Reed earned a Research Experience for Undergraduates assignment at Duke University in biomedical research and listed as a co-author on a manuscript.

Reed received a $5,000 undergraduate award in 2014 from the N.M. Space Grant Consortium, which is funded by NASA. Last summer, he worked with Tartis and Dr. Chelsey Hargather to refine the Intro to Engineering 189 course.

            Second runner-up Anthony Milana is a non-traditional student who returned to college 20 years after high school. A native of St. Louis Park, Minn., Milana sold fine jewelry for two decades before starting school at Normandale Community College in Minnesota. Milana has been involved in research with Dr. Bakhtiyarov on non-Newtonian fluids. He currently leads his design clinic team that is developing a sonde that glides back to its launch point via GPS tracking. He has also been involved in a student effort to create a MakerSpace in Speare Hall.

Now in his fourth semester at Tech, he is looking forward to an internship with National Instruments in Austin, Texas, this summer. He will graduate in December 2016.    

“I was surprised to be in the top three,” he said. “Especially knowing that I was up against Macey Scholars and Tau Beta Pi scholars. I was happy to get the recognition. That was nice. Since I decided to go back to school, the past three years have been some of the best.”

– NMT –