Digital culture and technological entrepreneurship student and EcoCAR3 team Communication Manager Briana Del Bianco was awarded the Chuck and Judy Backus Outstanding Graduating Senior Award. This award recognizes graduating students who demonstrate exemplary leadership that improves campus life or inspires others to lead.
She was also nominated individual and with the entire EcoCAR3 team for the Community Impact awards. EcoCAR3 communication team members Jessy Gonzalez, Manny Padilla and Kevin Riley received recognition or were nominated for individual awards.
Raised by parents who were also engineers, Christopher Balzer grew up understanding how engineering can be a driving force for change. The chemical engineering student has his sights set on bringing about progressive change and, by all indications he’s well on his way.
Balzer, a native of Anthem, Arizona, was recently named a Goldwater Scholar, a prestigious scholarship that recognizes excellence in science, math and engineering.
More than a thousand students applied for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and fewer than a quarter of the applicants received the distinguished award. This year, three of the four Arizona students selected are Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering students.
Balzer says he was initially drawn to chemical engineering due to the field’s diversity, which makes him feel as though he can make a bigger impact in the world.
Seventeen students in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering were selected to attend the 2016 Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) on April 1-3 at the University of California Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area.
These Fulton Schools students make up the largest contingent from any college at Arizona State University, which had 32 students invited to attend in total. They joined more than 1,200 innovative student leaders from around the world, dozens of topic experts, Bill and Chelsea Clinton and other celebrities, such as Conan O’Brien, at the ninth annual CGI U event.
President Bill Clinton launched CGI U in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world.
Students are invited to attend through a competitive selection process. Students submit compelling solutions, called Commitments to Action, to today’s most pressing issues in one of five focus areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health.
At the event students develop action plans for their endeavors, network with entrepreneurs and industry leaders, and are mentored by others involved in humanitarian and social transformation efforts.
Read about the commitments, takeaways and highlights from a couple of Fulton Schools engineers.
Barrett Anderies, a double major in biomedical engineering and mathematics, is one of three Fulton Schools students and one of 252 students selected from a field of 1,150 nominees to be awarded a Goldwater Scholarship – considered the premier undergraduate scholarship for mathematics, science and engineering majors.
The honors student originally chose to pursue a biomedical engineering degree due to his interests in robotic prosthetics. He recognized that it was a field that required both biological and engineering expertise.
“Over the course of my studies I became more interested in the biological side of the problem, which involves integrating devices with the nervous system,” Anderies says. “I started working in a neural engineering lab a couple years ago, and my experience there has reinforced my interest to pursue graduate studies in neuroscience. I hope to combine mathematical analysis, engineering tools, biological expertise and clinical experience to improve treatment of neurological disorders.”
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering chemical engineering student Kaleigh Johnson wants to use engineering to make the world a more sustainable place. Her extensive research efforts in her first three years at Arizona State University have earned her one of four Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships awarded to students in Arizona.
“As a first-generation college student, gaining national recognition for my accomplishments at ASU is an honor beyond what my family and I thought possible,” Johnson says.
As a student in Barrett, the Honors College at ASU she has no shortage of accomplishments to be proud of, and as a Goldwater Scholar her future just got brighter. The undergraduate award covers tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year to students pursuing a research career in engineering, science or math.
The choice of pursuing chemical engineering came easy to Johnson as it combined her favorite subjects of chemistry, math and physics in a versatile field that could take her anywhere.
She plans to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering before working in industry.
“I want to implement synthetic biology into the production of chemicals and fuels,” Johnson says. “I hope to make a significant impact in improving the sustainability of industrial manufacturing.”
As artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic systems become more prevalent, it’s increasingly important that they work well with others — especially humans.
Automated planning is a field of AI research that looks to generate a plan that takes into account a system’s environment and possible actions it can take to achieve a given goal. However, automated planning research thus far hasn’t addressed problems that may arise when humans and autonomous systems interact, which is essential when the goal of AI is to have intelligent machines work alongside people and not replace them.
Computer science graduate student Tathagata Chakraborti is working to address the challenges of human-AI collaborative planning, or “human-in-the-loop planning.” Working together requires AI systems to be able to model human intentions and plan their actions with those intentions in mind. So Chakraborti is studying how planners model collaborative behavior and the role of planners as decision support.
“I have investigated how autonomous agents sharing the human workspace can modify their behavior and respect human intentions,” Chakraborti says. “I have also looked at planning challenges in guiding human decision-making with limited domain knowledge, such as in crowdsourced planning and disaster response.”
Chakraborti works in Professor Subbarao Kambhampati’s Yochan Lab where he and other computer science students test their planning algorithms (“Yochan” is the Sanskrit word for “plan”) for human-robot collaboration with several robots: “Kramer,” a one-armed, mobile industrial robot; “Newman,” a two-armed industrial robot with a programmable display “face”; “Sprinkles,” a mobile robot designed up help with office tasks through speech recognition that can also recognize faces; and the “Clone Troopers,” a fleet of small humanoid robots used for various projects. The robots were procured with the help of Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) grants from the Office of Naval Research and the Army Research Office.
An opportunity to continue his robotics research outside of ASU
His research efforts earned him an IBM Ph.D. Fellowship award — a competitive, worldwide program that honors exceptional doctoral students pursuing innovations in computing technology and striving to solve problems that align with IBM’s research goals.
Chakraborti’s research fits well with IBM’s cognitive computing and symbiotic computing research thrusts, and he’s looking forward to working with them.
“This is a great opportunity to work on my ideas with people who share the same vision of the future of AI — that AI and humans together can do better than the sum of individuals,” Chakraborti says.
Part of the Fellowship involves working with an IBM mentor. For Chakraborti this is Kartik Talamadupula, a research staff member at IBM who is also an alumnus of the Yochan Lab. Talamadupula’s research, conducted at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center, investigates the role of automated planning in guiding dialogue between intelligent machines and end users.
Chakraborti and Talamadupula have similar research interests and they’ve worked together before on co-authored conference and workshop papers, but it’ll be Chakraborti’s first time working with Talamadupula and IBM directly on-site.
IBM also encourages its Ph.D. Fellows to participate in an internship, which Chakraborti plans to do starting in May at IBM’s Cognitive Algorithms Department, where he’ll join the AI and Optimization group and work on symbiotic human-AI systems.
The award includes a $20,000 stipend for the 2016-2017 academic year and a $10,000 education allowance. Chakraborti is looking forward to the financial stability the award funding will provide and to applying it to his research.
“It’s always great to have some extra funds — it lets you be more creative with your ideas and more ambitious in trying them out,” Chakraborti says.
Overall, he sees the award as honoring his past work and providing opportunities for his future.
“It’s a great honor to be considered for this prestigious award,” Chakraborti says. “The award is a recognition of the quality of work done here at ASU and the effort I have put in for the last two and a half years, and it’s a huge motivation to work even harder and continue innovating for the coming years.”
Daniela Panfil, a student in ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College, expected to graduate in May with degrees in civil engineering and sustainability, received the Outstanding Engineering Student of the Year Award from the Greater Phoenix Area Engineers Week organization.
The Greater Phoenix Area Engineers Week awards are part of a national effort guided by DiscoverE (formerly the National Engineers Week Foundation) and a coalition of regional groups that work to advance the engineering profession by increasing awareness of how engineers make positive impacts on society.
Panfil has maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average and earned a number of scholarship awards based on her academic performance, public service activities and research interests. She has been a member of the ASU chapter of Engineers Without Borders for three years and its president since May of last year. Her internships have included working in waste and wastewater engineering for the Carollo Engineers company in Phoenix, in the water utilities operations of the city of Chandler, as a sustainability manager for a restaurant, and with the Windward Education and Research Center, which seeks ways to achieve sustainable communities.
In nominating Panfil for the Outstanding Student award, Professor G. Edward Gibson Jr., director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, pointed to her selection as a Stewart and Morris Udall Scholar. He noted that the honor is bestowed each year on only 100 undergraduate students from throughout the United States.
Kristopher Maham’s life as a college student is anything but traditional.He is a U.S. Air Force veteran, husband, father of two girls and a first-time undergraduate student at the age of 37 in Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
Now he is further distinguishing himself through a prestigious internship with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Maham, an electrical engineering student, will spend one semester each year interning on-site at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida for the duration of his undergraduate studies.
His work focuses on power production and distribution used by the various facilities at the center. He is part of the Construction of Facilities Department, which ensures that the center’s facilities are capable of supporting NASA’s missions, including that they are kept safe, secure, environmentally sound and operated efficiently and effectively.
Entrepreneurial teams of engineering students brought in a combined $30,000 in seed money in the second annual Spark Tank Live Pitch event Feb. 4, 2016, placing among the finalists in the Pakis Social and Sun Devil Igniter Challenges.
Three student teams: 33 Buckets, Humanity X Technologies and Dropspot, all with members from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, each secured a $10,000 investment to develop their entrepreneurial ventures.
Hosted by the W.P. Carey School of Business, the competitions are open to all entrepreneurially minded ASU students with an innovative idea who wish to pursue their ventures through either the Pakis Social Challenge or the Sun Devil Igniter Challenge. The Pakis Social Challenge focuses on social entrepreneurship, inviting students to create a non-profit organization or for-profit venture with scalable, sustainable models to meet a community’s needs. The Sun Devil Igniter Challenge invites students to turn their innovative ideas into disruptive commercial ventures.
The six finalist teams competed against approximately 100 other applicants to make it to the event. In the style of the reality show Shark Tank, teams delivered a ten-minute pitch, followed by a 15-minute Q-and-A with the judges of the respective challenges. The Sun Devil Igniter Board consisted Carr Bettis, Les Brun, Thomas Cowan and Allan Kaplan, all experienced entrepreneurs and investors.
In the Pakis Social Challenge, the $20,000 grand prize went to the All Walks Project, a non-profit dedicated to sex trafficking education and survivor support. However, the presentations from 33 Buckets and Humanity X Technologies, both teams with key engineering members, impressed the judges so much they each secured a $10,000 investment.
Daymude conducts research in self-organizing particle systems under the supervision of computer science associate professor Andrea Richa, who nominated him for the award program.
“We are looking at the computational algorithms that underpin future forms of programmable matter,” said Daymude, a senior earning concurrent degrees in computer science and mathematics. Programmable matter refers to physical materials that can gather continuous information from their surroundings and then adapt and respond to their environments based on algorithmic rules.
Daymude’s research focuses on the particles that make up the computational units within the larger programmable matter system. Specifically, he researches the compression of these particles in order to structure the larger system as tightly as possible.