Class Day awards honor research contributions and service
The Class of 2016 gathered on the Friend Center courtyard on Monday, May 30, to celebrate graduates' achievements including creating a new system to design aircraft, developing building techniques to assist refugees, and vividly describing the importance of scientific research to audiences beyond the university.
"You can see from just these few students what a privilege it is for us to teach here at Princeton," Dean H. Vincent Poor told graduates, their families and friends who gathered for the engineering school's annual Class Day ceremony. He said the graduates would continue to achieve great things beyond Princeton. Many will attend top academic programs at universities such as MIT, Harvard and Oxford, while others will begin government service, launch a career in professional sports including the National Football League, enter the business world, start their own companies, or join the military.
With 317 recipients of Bachelor of Science in Engineering degrees, the Class of 2016 is Princeton's largest, continuing a trend of growth in the engineering school. The graduates include 200 men and 117 women.
"Engineering has grown tremendously," Poor said, noting that one in four members of the Class of 2016 is an engineer. "This class is a landmark."
The winners of major awards at the 2016 Princeton Engineering Class Day, as presented by Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs Peter Bogucki, were:
THE J. RICH STEERS AWARD
A chemical and biological engineering major with a certificate in materials science and engineering, O'Neill's thesis described an an engineering technique that could be used to address the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, a major problem facing health care. His adviser, Prof. Robert Prud’homme, said that the "results suggest that co-encapsulation of Totarol and silver in polymeric nanoparticles is a promising technique to mitigate antibiotic resistance." O'Neill, of Roseland, New Jersey, will pursue a master's degree in theology at the Princeton Theological Seminary.
A mechanical and aerospace engineering major with certificates in the applications of computing and robotics and intelligent systems, Principato's senior independent work, done jointly with classmate Ilya Krasnovsky, developed new software for aircraft design. Their advisor, Prof. Luigi Martinelli, said he is considering adopting the software for use in his aircraft design class next year. Principato, of Robbinsville, New Jersey, will go to work as an engineer at SciTec.
THE JEFFREY O. KEPHART '80 PRIZE IN ENGINEERING PHYSICS
A physics major with certificates in engineering physics and applications of computing, Trivedi's senior thesis addressed an important technical area, known as valley splitting, in the development of devices that operate under the rules of quantum mechanics. His advisor, Prof. Jason Petta, said that Trivedi's work "makes a strong contribution to theoretical investigations of the valley splitting in (silicon) quantum devices." Trivedi, who is from Brookfield, Wisconsin, will move to the Bay Area to work at a startup called ThinAir.
THE TAU BETA PI PRIZE
An operations research and financial engineering major with a certificate in applications of computing, Han was one of five founding members of the ORFE Student Council, which, among other tasks, promotes speaking events, social gatherings and study breaks at the Operational Research and Financial Engineering Department's Sherrerd Hall. Department members said that Han has been an enthusiastic booster of operations research and has directed his energy to encouraging classmates and providing valued feedback to faculty and department administrators. Prof. Alain Kornhauser called Han "the Mayor of Sherrerd Hall," and Prof. Han Liu said Han's suggestions have led to improvements in his course Analysis of Big Data. Han, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, will begin work on a Ph.D. in statistics at Stanford University.
A computer science major with certificates in finance and values and public life, Evans developed a tool called CodePost that has expedited the grading of programming assignments in large computer science classes. CodePost has streamlined work for graders and gives feedback to students quickly. The program displays a grading rubric alongside the student's code and labels and highlights errors. Instructors can insert comments at the point of error. Jeremie Lumbroso, a lecturer in computer science, said Evans' "contribution to the betterment of our department – and eventually thousands of students is one of the most significant contributions a student has ever done for this department." As vice president of Tau Beta Pi, he was responsible for staffing engineering tours for prospective students, a task that requires dedication and diligence. Evans, of Menlo Park, California, will work as an analyst at Bain Capital.
THE JOSEPH CLIFTON ELGIN PRIZE
A civil and environmental engineering major with certificates in architecture and engineering and urban studies, Asa's senior thesis focused on an ancient building technique called rammed earth construction. These structures, made by filling formwork with damp earth and tamping it, are durable, long lasting, and leave no trace when removed. Her adviser, Prof. Claire White, said that Asa is "particularly enthusiastic about helping displaced individuals, specifically refugees, as she has close ties with parts of the world where refugee housing is sorely needed." Asa has worked with service organizations such as Engineers Without Borders and Architecture for All. Asa, of Bursa, Turkey, will work in Amman, Jordan, with Refugee Open Ware under a Henry Richardson Labouisse '26 Fellowship to develop a program on earth construction with computational design to provide refugees with sustainable housing.
An electrical engineering major, Huang has written student profiles and articles about scientific research that presented the accomplishments of Princeton engineering students and faculty to the University community and the world. Her articles, noted for clear writing, have been published on national science news sites. Steven Schultz, the engineering school's director of communications, said Huang "tackled increasingly challenging subjects producing high-profile news and feature stories." Her senior thesis involved the development of signal collection optics and an auto-focusing system, and her adviser, Prof. Gerard Wysocki, said her work "significantly contributed to an important research project." Huang, of San Jose, California, will pursue a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Stanford University as the holder of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
THE GEORGE J. MUELLER AWARD
An operations research and financial engineering major, Brown has been a four-year member of the men's lightweight crew team. He has been in the first boat since his sophomore year and served as team captain in his senior year. Coach Martin Crotty said Brown has been instrumental to the success of the lightweight team. He has been recognized as Academic All-IRA, Academic All-Ivy, and most recently he has received the PNC Bank Student-Athlete Achiever Award. For his senior thesis, Brown developed models to investigate the impact of demand uncertainty on energy prices and concluded that speculation and precautionary demand play a major role in oil market volatility. His adviser, Prof. Ronnie Sircar, said Brown's work required a mastery of techniques far beyond the scope of the undergraduate curriculum. Brown, of Ipswich, Massachusetts, will work at Alpine Investors in San Francisco.
THE CALVIN DODD MACCRACKEN SENIOR THESIS/PROJECT AWARD
A mechanical and aerospace engineering major with certificates in applications of computing and robotics and intelligent systems, Cen's senior thesis explored decision making in dynamic networks. She developed models to describe how individual agents in complex systems interact quickly and reliably make consensus decisions – such as a school of fish deciding how to avoid a predator. Specifically, her work explored how such groups choose leaders. Her adviser, Prof. Naomi Leonard, said Cen "has demonstrated enormous talent and fearlessness in understanding theoretical questions, exceptional physical intuition in her investigation, and great curiosity and creativity in the questions she asks and the answers she seeks with her analysis." A recipient of the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, Cen, of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, will pursue a master's degree at the Department of Engineering Science at Oxford University as the holder of the Daniel M. Sachs '60 Scholarship.
A chemical and biological engineering major with certificates in application of computing and materials science and engineering, Schiffer explored the ability to harvest mechanical energy from lithium ion batteries. His senior thesis found that it is possible to gather unused energy from lithium ion batteries by taking advantage of voltage generated when the batteries are placed under mechanical stress. He presented his work at a meeting of the Materials Research Society in Phoenix earlier this year. He also proposed an entirely new concept for energy harvesting using liquid systems as opposed to the solid-state systems used in his thesis. His adviser, Prof. Craig Arnold, said Schiffer "consistently amazed me with his creativity in analyzing data to reveal new understanding that no one had seen before." Schiffer, of Champaign, Illinois, will pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at MIT as the holder of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
THE LORE VON JASKOWSKY MEMORIAL PRIZE
A mechanical and aerospace engineering major with certificates in applications of computing, robotics and intelligent systems, and musical performance, Fitzgerald's senior thesis explored methods to most efficiently retrieve energy from a flywheel. Advised by Prof. Michael Littman, Fitzgerald created a magnetic bearing to support an aluminum flywheel and designed a brushless motor/generator from scratch. He also built a vacuum chamber around the system so it would not lose performance due to aerodynamic drag. Glenn Northey, of the machine shop, said Fitzgerald can "not only dream up fascinating solutions to technical problems (but) he can also make them come to life." Fitzgerald was president of the Princeton University Band, principal trombonist of the Princeton University Orchestra and a member of the Princeton Brass Ensemble. Fitzgerald, of Phoenix, Arizona, will work on a Ph.D. in aeronautical and aerospace engineering at MIT.
A chemical and biological engineering major with certificates in engineering biology and theater and dance, Volpe worked on his senior thesis under the supervision of Prof. Michael Hecht of the Department of Chemistry, whose lab designs novel proteins made of amino acid sequences that do not exist in nature. Volpe solved the structure of one such protein at the atomic level by using multi-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. Hecht said that Volpe was one of the most independent students he has seen in his lab in more than a quarter century – "he totally owned the project." Volpe has been a key member of Princeton's theater community and had the lead role in the musical The Luckiest Girl. Prof. Stacy Wolf, of the program in theater and dance, said he "has an effervescent presence on stage." Volpe, of Winnetka, Illinois, will pursue a Ph.D. at Harvard in chemistry and chemical biology.
THE JAMES HAYES-EDGAR PALMER PRIZE IN ENGINEERING
A computer science major with certificates in applied and computational math and statistics and machine learning, Altschuler's senior thesis examined an online learning model in which the standard performance metric is regret - the difference between a player's average loss and the average loss of the best action in hindsight. His adviser, Prof. Elad Hazan, called Altschuler's work "a novel research contribution." Referring to additional work that Altschuler did for his certificate in applied and computational math, Prof. Emmanuel Abbe said "Jason might well be the most passionate and driven student I have met so far at Princeton." Altschuler was a two-time winner of the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi as a junior. A nationally and internationally ranked chess master, Altschuler, of San Francisco, California, will work on a Ph.D. in computer science at MIT as the holder of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
An electrical engineering major with a certificate in applications of computing, Matl's senior thesis added Linux support for a device called a "memory inter-arrival time traffic shaper" that has been built into the Princeton Parallel Computing Group's 25-core Piton processor. His adviser, Prof. David Wentzlaff, called his work "a herculean effort" and "a huge challenge which he handled with ease." A winner of the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, Matl was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi as a junior. He served as an undergraduate teaching assistant for the electrical engineering course Logic and Design and worked with classmate Victor Ying to restructure and rewrite the labs for that class. Prof. Sharad Malik said their work enabled subsequent classes "to learn more smoothly, with the material presented in the right doses at the right times." Outside the classroom, he played ultimate Frisbee as a defensive cutter. Matl, of Corpus Christi, Texas, will pursue at Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley in electrical engineering.