ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. March 6, 2012 – Four star engineering students received statewide honors as Engineering Students of the Year from the New Mexico chapter of the Society of Professional Engineers at the group’s annual conference Friday, February 24, in Albuquerque.

Winners of the Engineering Students of the Year (from left) are Alyssa Rose, Travis Cannady and Mitchell Maier. At right is Regent Deborah Peacock, who was named the Engineer of the Year. Not pictured: co-winner Jared Kuker.

The top two students won the highest accolades: Jared Kuker of the Mechanical Engineering Department and Alyssa Rose of the Chemical Engineering Department. The top awards included cash prizes.

The first runner-up was Mitchell Maier of the Materials Engineering Department. The second runner-up is Travis Cannady of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

In another New Mexico Tech triumph, Deborah Peacock, a member of the university’s Board of Regents, was named Engineer of the Year for her contributions to the field of engineering. Peacock, who joined the Board in January 2011, is a mainly known as an intellectual property rights attorney. She graduated from Harvard Law School, but also has a degree in metallurgical engineering from Colorado School of Mines and has stayed active with the Society of Professional Engineers ever since.

Also at the banquet, the New Mexico chapter gave awards to the top engineering students at the University of New Mexico. The top UNM winner was Morris Huang, the son of New Mexico Tech civil engineering professor Dr. Frank Huang.

Dr. Tom Engler, Dean of Engineering at Tech, presented the student awards and introduced the Techies during the banquet, which played host to more than 100 certified engineers. Each student was nominated by his or her advisor. The four winners all have lofty GPAs and resumés filled with volunteer work, leadership experience, scholarships and other academic accolades.

Top winner Alyssa Rose with Dr. Corey Leclerc of the Chemical Engineering Department.

Jared Kuker, co-winner of Engineering Student of the Year, with Dr. Warren Ostergren, chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Mitchell Maier, first runner-up Engineering Student of the Year, with Dean of Engineering Dr. Tom Engler.

Travis Cannady, second runner-up Engineering Student of the Year with Dr. Warren Ostergren, chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Alyssa Rose

Alyssa Rose added to her accolades at Tech. She was named a 2011-2012 Macey Scholar, the highest undergraduate scholarship awarded at Tech. Set to graduate in May 2012, Rose has earned a 4.0 GPA, will graduate in four years and excels in research and volunteer work.

In his nomination letter, assistant professor Dr. Corey Leclerc said, “Alyssa is the best student in her class and one of the best students I have seen … Alyssa is the type of student that makes you want to give an A+ for a grade.”

Rose is a research assistant with Dr. Michaelann Tartis and has worked at Sandia National Laboratory. She is working on an independent study project with Dr. Michael Riley and served as teaching assistant for Leclerc. She is also a peer facilitator at the Center for Student Success, through which she taught part of an introductory chemical engineering class.

“The most impressive part of her work [as teaching assistant] has been to introduce pre-lab quizzes and assignments, suggest lab exercises, and even contribute a chapter to my course notes,” Leclerc said. “She is willing to go the extra mile to contribute. … She is a tremendous asset to the chemical engineering department and … an ideal role model for new students.”

Jared Kuker

Jared Kuker is among the first students to take advantage of the cooperative agreement between Amarillo Community College and New Mexico Tech, transferring in 2009.

Kuker was named the Outstanding Major of Engineering in both 2008 and 2009 at Amarillo. Since coming to Socorro, he has gained much work experience and earned a 4.0 GPA.

He is currently leading a Senior Design Clinic team developing a security door that uses an array of accelerometers to collect vibration data to detect intrusions. His previous research work includes an internship at the Air Force Research Lab in Albuquerque, chemistry lab work at EMRTC and other projects at Tech.

Dr. Warren Ostergren, chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department, wrote a glowing recommendation for Kuker.

“Jared is one of my most trusted and respected students,” he wrote. “Jared has been a key leader of various teams. … His teams were consistently top performers in our student design conferences. Jared is a leader in demonstrating how a team should work together and follow modern engineering processes.”

Mitchell Maier

Mitchell Maier is one of those exceptional students who will graduate in four years and also has a 3.97 GPA. He has an impressive research record, including almost three years of lab work with Dr. Paul Fuierer in materials engineering.

Maier also landed two highly competitive summer internships through the national Research Experience for Undergraduates program. He spent the summer at Penn State in 2009 and at Cornell in 2010.

He has also worked as a teaching assistant, judged the N.M. State Science Fair, and spent one semester studying at Exeter College in England.

“Mitchell’s performance both inside and outside the classroom has been exemplary,” wrote Dr. Bhaskar Majumdar in his nomination letter. “It has been a pleasure to have him our classrooms.”

Maier has been active in the Materials Society on campus and served as president in 2011. Majumdar wrote that Maier volunteered extensively for outreach activities and helped fellow club members earn awards through the national organization.

“Clearly, Mitchell falls in this unique leader category and we expect to see a lot of him in the future,” Majumdar wrote.

Travis Cannady

Travis Cannady is another Techie on schedule to finish in four years, while maintaining a 3.90 GPA. He is a team leader for his Senior Design Clinic team that is building an airplane.

In his nomination letter, Dr. Ostergren wrote, “His team constructed a very early prototype and was flying almost a semester before the actual competition. No team has ever made that kind of progress and this speaks very highly for Travis’s organizational and team building capability.”

Cannady has completed two summer internships: during 2010 at EMRTC and during 2011 at Esterline Defense Technologies in California. He has served as president of New Mexico Tech’s Newman Club and vice president of local ASME chapter.

Ostergren wrote, “Travis always demonstrates a professional, cooperative attitude.  He helps other students when the need presents itself.  He demonstrates the characteristics of the very best New Mexico Tech students.”

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech