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School of Engineering Announces Outstanding Graduates for 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More than 320 students at the University of Kansas School of Engineering celebrated a milestone at the school’s graduate recognition ceremony, held May 22 at Allen Fieldhouse. More than 250 undergraduate, and 70 graduate degrees were awarded, with special honors going to 10 seniors and several faculty members.

Katherine Harry, the outstanding senior in chemical engineering, was also the recipient of the Sammie and Carl Locke Award for the outstanding graduating senior in the School of Engineering for 2011. The other outstanding seniors are:

  • Jordan Herbert – Civil Engineering

  • Chris Martin – Architectural Engineering

  • Brian Miller – Computer Engineering

  • Alex Porter – Engineering Physics

  • Sara Rolfes – Mechanical Engineering

  • Joel Schmelzle – Electrical Engineering

  • Nate Snyder – Computer Science

  • Benjamin Tatum – Petroleum Engineering

  • Andrew Wendorff – Aerospace Engineering


In addition to commemorating the achievements of the graduating class, several outstanding faculty members were lauded for their academic, research and service endeavors.

Chris Depcik, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, was selected by students as the Gould Award winner for Outstanding Adviser. The award provides $4,000. Depcik was recognized for creating a research and classroom environment that demonstrates to students the importance of hard work, self-improvement and professionalism. Students cited Depcik’s ability to lead by example, noting his dedication to excellence had a positive impact on driving them to do their best. Students said they felt the lessons learned in his class would provide solid guidance in a professional setting and in their personal lives well beyond their time at KU.

Ray Taghavi, professor of aerospace engineering, was selected by students as the 2010 Gould Award winner for Outstanding Educator. The award provides $4,000. Taghavi was praised for his ability to communicate complex concepts in ways that students can easily comprehend, through use of hands-on examples and demonstrations. He’s known for his enthusiasm and passion for aerospace engineering, while creating a classroom environment that encourages students to ask questions and shout out answers, even if it’s not always the right one.

Erik Perrins, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, received the Miller Professional Development Award for Research. The award provides $4,000. Perrins has become a research leader in the Information and Telecommunications Technology Center. His research focuses on wireless communications and encompasses much of the technology relied on for phone and computer communication. Perrins was responsible for KU being selected as a university partner for the International Foundation for Telemetering that recognized his research for the promotion of telemetry and the associated sciences.

JoAnn Browning; professor of civil, environmental, and architectural engineering; received the Miller Professional Development Award for Service. The award provides $4,000. Browning is active in three committees for the civil, environmental and architectural engineering department, two committees for the School of Engineering, and three more for the university. Browning has served as president of the Kansas chapter of the American Concrete Institute, and is active on five ACI committees. Browning also is the faculty adviser for the KU ACI chapter, which won a national competition for pervious concrete. She is a peer reviewer on six different journals or sponsoring organizations.

Michael Detamore, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, was selected by a faculty committee to receive the 2011 John E. and Winifred E. Sharp Professorship. The award lasts three years and includes an annual personal award of $5,000 plus access to $5,000 annually for instructional development. Detamore is well established in many bio-inspired engineering fields and is best known for his work with the TMJ, or jaw joint. He’s earned a reputation of going above and beyond to provide individualized attention that helps each of his students succeed, including providing detailed, hand-written calculations that show examples of how to solve a particular problem. He has a willingness to modify his teaching style to suit the needs of each class, continually ensuring an ideal educational environment.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times