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Students Commended During Recognition Ceremony

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The University of Kansas School of Engineering honored its graduates at a recognition ceremony, Sunday, May 20, 2007.

About 250 students at the graduate and undergraduate level earned the right to take part in the ceremony held at the Lied Center for the Performing Arts.

During the ceremony, several undergraduate students were honored as the outstanding graduating senior in their particular discipline. One of these students, Tanner Rinke, a senior in mechanical engineering, was named the recipient of the Sammie and Carl Locke Award for outstanding graduating senior in the School of Engineering in 2007.

The outstanding graduating seniors for 2007 are:
Nathan Berg, petroleum engineering
Ryan Boehler, chemical engineering
Derek Gustafson, civil engineering
Lisa Matchulat, architectural engineering
William Miller, aerospace engineering
Cameron Lewis, electrical engineering
Tanner Rinke, mechanical engineering
Steven Tenny, computer engineering
Joel Van Eenwyk, computer science

Five faculty members also received awards during the event.

Bedru Yimer, professor of mechanical engineering, was selected by students to receive the Gould Award for Teaching. The award provides $4,000 for the recipient.

Bedru Yimer has made an impression through the expert way in which he instructs student in his courses. Students relate that Yimer is passionate about his field and has the talent to convey that knowledge to students. His open door policy lets students know the value he places on their interaction and education.

G. Paul Willhite, Ross E. Forney distinguished professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, was selected by students to receive the Gould Award for Outstanding Advising. The award provides $4,000 for the recipient.

Paul Willhite is viewed as a faculty member who puts the students’ needs first. Students within the department find his friendly nature and down-to-earth style endearing. Willhite works to uncover the students’ interests and professional goals and steers them toward courses that will help them achieve in their future career. As an adviser, he actively supports students who seek out more challenging courses, yet also encourages the students to find balance in their personal and academic lives.

Jie Han, associate professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, was selected by a faculty committee to receive the Miller Professional Development Award for Service. The award provides $4,000 for the recipient.

Since joining the University of Kansas in fall 2004, Jie Han has accrued a distinguished record of service to both national and international geotechnical professional organizations. He is a member of numerous editorial boards, technical committees, advisory committees and organizing committees. At KU, he holds a faculty appointment with the Center for East Asian Studies, a courtesy appointment in the Department of Environmental Studies and has presented seminars for KU’s Confucius Institute. In addition, he is a technical reviewer for 29 different organizations ranging from the National Science Foundation to the Czech Science Foundation. He also was co-chair of the GeoShanghai International Conference in 2006.

Xue-Wen Chen, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, was selected by a faculty committee to receive the Miller Professional Development Award for Research. The award provides $4,000 for the recipient.

Xue-Wen Chen has been integral to the formation bioinformatics research initiatives in the School of Engineering, having developed four graduate courses, for which his teaching reviews have been consistently high. He has published numerous journal articles, conference papers and book chapters and is a frequent reviewer for top bioinformatics and machine learning journals. Moreover, Chen, who this year was selected to receive the prestigious NSF CAREER Award, has been highly successful in attracting research funding and is associated with more than $2.7 million in research awards since arriving at KU in 2003.

Richard Hale, associate professor of aerospace engineering, was selected by a faculty committee to receive the John E. Sharp and Winifred E. Sharp Teaching Professorship. The award lasts three years and includes an annual personal award of $5,000 plus access to $5,000 annually for instructional development.

Richard Hale has worked with the aerospace engineering faculty to strategically align its teaching and research missions and demonstrates passion for his own continuous improvement in the classroom. Hale gives his students a preview of workplace dynamics through unique learning-based experiences. He uses personality tests that help him tailor his teaching methods to better ensure comprehension by all students. His outgoing and enthusiastic teaching style, as well as his willingness to help students outside of class, enthrall students, who have repeatedly nominated him – successfully – for schoolwide and campuswide honors.



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