Tag Archives: Engineering

Alejandro Azocar Named Top Aerospace Engineering Student in the U.S.

Congratulations to recent graduate, Alejandro Azocar ’14,  who was named the top aerospace engineering student in the United States! Azocar participated in our programs as a University Scholar and Undergraduate Research Scholar.

Click the link below for the full story on the Dwight Look College of Engineering site:

Aerospace undergraduate student receives awards | 12 | 05 | 2015 | News & Events | College of Engineering.

Beckman Scholar Mikalya Barry Featured For Research

The research that Texas A&M’s first-ever Beckman Scholar, Mikayla Barry, is doing with Dr. Melissa Grunlan on biomaterials has been profiled by the College of Engineering and featured in Texas A&M Today.

Mikayla Barry '17, first TAMU Beckman Scholar
Mikayla Barry ’17, first TAMU Beckman Scholar

From the article:

Mikayla Barry always knew she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, but the undergraduate biomedical engineering major had no idea she would be helping develop a potentially life-saving technology so soon after embarking upon her academic career at Texas A&M University.

Merely a year into the pursuit of her degree, the 20-year-old Barry is working to develop a coating for medical devices that prevents clotting as well as infection. She’s part of a research team led by Associate Professor Melissa Grunlan, an authority on biomaterials and regenerative therapies from the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Read the whole profile here.

Lauralee Valverde Presents Her Research at MAES Symposium

By Hayley Cox

During the Fall 2013 semester, Texas A&M University senior Lauralee Valverde attended the Latinos in Science and Engineering Symposium organized by the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES) in Houston, Texas. Valverde is a member of Texas A&M’s chapter of the MAES national organization. The symposium is one of the largest events held by MAES, which includes a research competition.

Lauralee Valverde at the MAES Symposium in Houston, Texas.
Lauralee Valverde at the MAES Symposium in Houston, Texas.
The MAES Symposium brings together hundreds of students and employees seeking advancement. It is a “gateway to a network of professionals, students, and recruiters – The MAES Familia.” (http://mymaes.org/program-item/symposium/)

Valverde, an industrial engineering student from San Antonio, is a 2014 Undergraduate Research Scholar and 2014 Undergraduate Research Travel Award recipient. She invested considerable time into submitting an abstract and preparing her poster prior to the symposium. Her research was based upon Computer-Aided Design (CAD) as a critical tool in the development of modern products. She investigated the modeling of a 2-dimensional drawing versus the modeling of a 3-dimensional artifact, and screen captured this data to analyze the time usage of each respective modeling program.

Members of MAES after presenting their research at the symposium.
Members of MAES after presenting their research at the symposium.
At the MAES Symposium, Valdverde said her favorite part was being able to see her friends from the local Texas A&M MAES chapter in a different light as they presented their research. After experiencing this event with members of her chapter, she found that practice is key. Valverde said, “Practicing what you are going to say before hand gives you confidence when it comes time to engage the judges.” The best advice that she has for students involved in science and engineering research is to write everything down. She said, “It is very easy to forget the details, and in some cases the smallest details are the ones that cause your research to work and make sense.”

The next MAES Symposium will be held in San Diego, California from October 15-18, 2014. Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) is proud of students such as Lauralee Valverde for their outstanding accomplishments in research and looks forward to supporting future students’ travel to professional meetings. These students improve their chances of obtaining employment in industry or admission to prominent graduate programs, while at the same time represent our outstanding undergraduate research programs on a national stage.

HSC Presents Faculty Mentor Award to Dr. Gregory Huff

By Hayley Cox

Dr. Gregory Huff, Electrical Engineering Associate Professor and Department Head
Dr. Gregory Huff, Electrical Engineering Associate Professor and Department Head
Associate Professor and Department Head of electrical engineering at Texas A&M University Dr. Gregory Huff was presented with the Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Award in late August. This award recognizes Honors faculty members who are dedicated to excellence in education. Along the way, these faculty members provide opportunities for students to develop academically and professionally through relationships which extend beyond the realm of a classroom. They are strongly willed towards ushering in a new generation of thinkers and creators on the Texas A&M campus.

Dr. Gregory Huff was born in Oklahoma City in 1975 and has received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been a vital member of the Electromagnetics and Microwave Laboratory in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M since 2006. Dr. Huff received the Nation Science Foundation’s CAREER award and the Presidential Early Career Center Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). He was also the recipient of the 2012 Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Award, now earning the majority vote for two years in a row.

Students submitted letters in order to nominate Dr. Huff for the Wells Fargo Mentor Award. Student Amanda Couch wrote, “I noticed that he made a serious effort to make the class both understandable and enjoyable, despite the challenging material.” She wrote that the mentorship she received during Dr. Huff’s lab gave her the skills and experiences that she needs to be successful after graduation.
Student Ryan Brown wrote that he noticed how Dr. Huff loves to inspire and work with innovative students and that he is always an encouraging voice. And Alyssa Bennett, a student who conducted research under the guidance of Dr. Huff in the Aggie Challenge, said she was “surprised by his willingness to work with a student not in his major.” Bennett said, “Dr. Huff treats his student researchers with respect and trust, allowing them to not only work on projects, but to lead them as well.”

Students also remark about Dr. Huff feeding his students well! Before his time as a professor, Dr. Huff apprenticed the rank of Chef de Cuisine with specializations in French and Mediterranean fare, and reportedly still likes to break out the pots and pans every once in a while.

Honors and Undergraduate Research is so grateful to all of its dedicated faculty and staff who make such an impact on its students. Congratulations go out to Dr. Gregory Huff on receiving the 2013 Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Award!

Undergraduate Research Scholar Spotlight – Chris McDonald

By Chrystina Rago


As an undergraduate student seldom do you have time to sleep, let alone create a research project, go to an academic conference to present it and win first prize, but that’s just what Chris McDonald, senior mechanical engineering major, did. He presented his research at the American Physical Society conference in San Diego in November. McDonald received first place in the fluid dynamics category of the student poster session.   

I contacted McDonald to learn more about his life as undergraduate researcher, the American Physical Society Conference and his future plans.


How did you get started in Undergraduate Research?

I was taking heat transfer with Dr. Ranjan. In the beginning of the year he told us about his research and mentioned that there may be undergraduate positions available. I set up a meeting with him and the PhD candidate I would be working with in the lab. From there work began in late January.


What is does your research focus on?

Our research is an experimental investigation of the Richtmyer-Meshkov Instability on an inclined interface, which is a fluid instability that arises in supersonic mixing of two fluids. It is important because it is a step towards creating a sustainable fusion reaction. The creation of a sustainable fusion reaction would generate virtually unlimited power on a global scale, solving many of our current energy woes.   


How was your experience presenting to the American Physical Society?

Eye opening. First off, it was in San Diego and there was enough down time to enjoy some of the sights! The presentation was a fun experience, as well. It was a casual setup, with many people simply perusing all the different posters. The thing I found interesting was even in that academic atmosphere you had to grab their attention and in a way say, “Hey, I’m here, and I’ve got something cool to show ya!”


How has this conference and presentation changed or solidified your views of the importance of undergraduate research?

Yes! Working for Dr. Ranjan this last year has shown me a world of opportunities that I did not know were there. Undergraduate Research is an excellent opportunity for those looking to apply what they have learned in the classroom, network, and gain some hands on experience in a field they enjoy, while attending classes.


What are your future plans?

My future plans are to take the GRE this semester and apply to graduate school here at Texas A&M for the Spring of 2014. I am also currently working out the details for a trip to India this summer, where I will go to work at IIT Kanpur, a premier academic institution.


Carly Rheman, junior ocean engineering major, came to college with a missing half.  She and her twin sister, Jamie, decided to follow their dreams and career goals at separate universities.  After two and a half years they are finally getting used to not sharing everything including; cars, clothes, friends and birthday celebrations.

Growing up in Katy, Texas, Carly and Jamie were a packaged deal, wherever one went so did the other.  But when it came to choosing where to attend school there was no expectation of sending the Rheman package to the same college address. “Even though we were best friends growing up it was weird when we made our college choices. We both understood that we needed to go our separate ways without much discussion,” said Carly.

Carly chose to take her love of soccer to Sam Houston State University where she studied biology before transferring to Texas A&M her sophomore year.  Jamie, on the other hand, joined the soccer team at the University of Texas at Dallas where she is majoring in interdisciplinary studies. Being three hours away from one another took its toll on the Rhemans their freshmen year.  “Our freshman year was a complete shock, after growing up for 18 years together and not spending more than a week a part I know I at least had a really rough couple of months. We talked constantly but visiting made it extremely difficult because we both had soccer on the weekends during the fall,” said Carly.

The toughest time for the duo came in November when the idea of spending their first birthday apart in 18 years became a reality. “Every year it seemed like I always wanted it to be just my birthday. And of course there is the theory that when there are two of you the present is half as good, but when I finally had my own birthday the only person I wanted there was my twin,” said Carly. Although they had missed each other’s birthday Carly and Jamie were finally settling into their college routines. 

 Once getting to College Station, Carly found her niche in sophomore leadership organizations.  She joined S.A.I.L. her sophomore year and helped found S.L.A.M her junior year.  Carly is also heavily involved in club soccer through her participation on the team as well as her executive position on the sport club committee.

“I am extremely thankful I came here my sophomore year because I had already been doing my own thing for a year and [that] allowed me to enjoy A&M even more. That year I made the club soccer team (I still couldn’t completely give up soccer), and I joined a sophomore leadership organization, S.A.I.L. where I met most of my friends. This year I became even more involved by starting a new sophomore leadership organization, S.L.A.M. and joining the executive sport club committee where I oversee all the TAMU rec sports,” said Carly.

Transitioning from high school to college is never easy, especially when you’re separated from your best friend and constant companion for 18 years.  While the Rhemans felt the growing pains of their distance they were able to overcome it and become successful colligates.  As for Carly, she plans to pursue an engineering career in Houston after graduation, while Jamie wants to teach in Dallas. 

Being apart from each other has not only strengthened the Rhemans relations but has allowed Carly to branch out and try things as an individual instead of being a part of a packaged deal.  “Back in High school we shared a car, friends, clothes and plans. So when I finally adjusted to college life without my twin as a constant companion I broke out and did all the things I wanted to do without the validation or agreement of another. Up until college having a twin was all I had known, but during the [past] year[s] I finally realized what it [is] like to be on my own,” said Carly.

Contact: Chrystina Rago, chrysrago@honors.tamu.edu

Freshman Honors students dive into undergraduate research

From biology to computer science to physics, freshman Honors students have wasted no time jumping into research projects their first semester.

Freshman biology major Kirstin Maulding was working side by side with biology professor Dr. Bruce Riley before she stepped foot in a college classroom. Maulding, a native from Canyon Lake, TX, has had an interest in research since high school.  Her dream of becoming a biomedical researcher led her to apply for the internship program at Rockefeller University in New York City in-between her junior and senior year of high school.  After this experience, Maulding was craving more research opportunities. “Since there are very few internship programs available for students after they’ve graduated from high school but before they’ve completed various college courses, I sent emails to colleges and universities asking if they had any intern or volunteer positions available,” said Maulding. Riley responded to her email asking Maulding to join him in his lab to study the role of a gene in the formation of the otic vesicle (the early ear) of zebrafish.

With her passion for research, Maulding hopes to turn her undergraduate experience into her career by becoming a biomedical researcher.  Maulding will continue to prepare herself for her career with as much undergraduate research as possible. “Since I would like research to be my profession, any experience I can gain now will benefit me later on because I will have prior knowledge of concepts and techniques,” said Maulding. 

Trace Dressen, freshman mechanical engineer major, took a more non-traditional route to undergraduate research by participating in Disney’s “ImaginNations” competition.

DressenAfter joining the organizations Aggies in Themed Attraction Design (ATAD), Dressen learned of the team competition to create a themed attraction.  He and his team had to create an attraction with a unique experience based on a given theme.  “We learned from a former Imagineer and a current Look Development Artist that the most important aspect of any attraction is story, so we spent a majority of our time developing a story that was both engaging and convincing.  After we decided on a setting and characters, we started thinking about how to translate the story to an attraction.  Finally, we came up with a presentation and drew up some concept sketches,” said Dressen.

Dressen credits the competition with giving him an inside look to his dream career (becoming an Imagineer at Disney World), but also allowing him to meet experts in his field of study.  Dressen’s advice to other students looking to break into undergraduate research is to get involved with groups and organizations that interest them.  “These groups can provide you with more opportunities than you can imagine,” said Dressen.

Another high achieving freshman researcher is physics and computer science major Nathaniel Glaser.  He was thinking about undergraduate research even before picking a university to attend.  The opportunity to participate in undergraduate research is one of the main reasons he chose to come to Texas A&M.  Upon his arrival he sat down with his advisor to discuss his research goals and get his foot in the door.

Nathan Glaser“Research was a primary motivator for me to attend Texas A&M—the Physics department alone has about a 2:1 ratio of physics majors to faculty.  With these odds in mind, I spoke with my advisor and she emailed my resume to faculty researchers that shared my field of interest.  A few researchers returned my emails, and I was able to meet with them and select the one that best matched my interests.  Ever since then, I have been happily enjoying my research position in computational chemical physics,” said Glaser.

His experience in undergraduate research will serve him as he plans to continue his education at the Master’s and Doctoral level.  His dream career would be to become a particle physicist working to deconstruct the complex universe and work at the European Council for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland.

His advice to freshman or anyone interested in undergraduate research is to compile a list of your interests, visit your department’s seminars and colloquiums, talk with professors about their research, visit department’s websites, read professor biographies and curriculum vitae, talk with your advisor and prepare a resume of your accomplishments. “Essentially, there is too much research available not to get involved in research early,” said Glaser.

Contact: Chrystina Rago, chrysrago@honors.tamu.edu