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Engineering students honored at annual convocation

Mare Payne, News Bureau
(217) 333-0567;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Six University of Illinois College of Engineering students and a recent graduate were honored Friday (April 7) at the 36th annual Engineering Awards Convocation for their achievements in and out of the classroom.

The recipients and their awards:

• Daniel Therriault won the Henry Ford II Scholar Award.  The Ford Award is given annually to an outstanding first-year graduate student entering his or her second year of study.  Therriault, a graduate student in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, combines a “remarkable intellect with passion for his work and dedication to learning that is admirable.  In the first three months, his accomplishments on a project on composite bridge decks were as good as or better than a senior PhD student’s would have been,” according to his adviser.  Two months into the work, Therriault wrote a conference paper on the subject.  His adviser calls him the best student he has ever had in his own group and the best student he has seen in the department.

· Todd J. Manchester, a senior in electrical engineering with a minor in computer science, won the Harvey H. Jordan Award.  The Jordan Award is given annually to an outstanding senior.  Manchester has a 4.0 grade-point average (out of 4.0) and is a James Scholar.  The past two summers he had an internship with the Intelligent Networking Division of Natural Microsystems, and in summer 1997, he worked in the fiber-optic cable group at Andrew Corp.  He has been active in the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi and the electrical and computer engineering honor society Eta Kappa Nu and has been a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council and Freshman Engineering Council.  He has been a staff writer and production editor for Technograph, and was editor in chief the last two years. 

· Andrew Wu, a junior in computer science, won the Honeywell Award.  The Honeywell Award is given annually to a junior in recognition of distinguished individual performance and leadership, including unusual scholastic accomplishments, professional qualifications or participation in technical and professional societies.  Wu was the primary author on a paper presented at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Conference on Automatic Face and Gesture Recognition, held in France in March.  The paper was based on research performed by Wu for a virtual 3-D blackboard, inspired by the struggles of a math professor using a
2-D blackboard to express 3-D concepts.  The research was done during a summer National Science Foundation program for undergraduates on computer vision at the University of Central Florida.  Wu is a James Scholar and a National Merit Award finalist.  He and fellow team members received an honorable mention in the national 1999 B.F. Goodrich Collegiate Inventors Program. 

·Kevin G. Moore, a senior in electrical engineering, won the Lisle Abbott Rose Memorial Award.  The Rose Award is given annually to a senior who most nearly approaches the ideal of technical excellence combined with cultural breadth, depth and sensitivity.  Moore, a James Scholar with a 3.94 grade-point average, is active in campus, community and church musical productions.  He founded an a capella male singing group and volunteers at St. Jude’s Catholic Worker House, a local homeless shelter.  His activities in the performing arts led him to apply the principles of electrical engineering to sound systems, consider the importance of radio communications in sound systems, and learn about the acoustics and behavior of sound in large rooms.  He also learned about group organization, consensus decision-making, and the role of a leader as a servant.

• Dakshi Agrawal won the Ross J. Martin Award, given annually in recognition of outstanding research achievements by a graduate student.  Agrawal established himself as a first-class researcher from the beginning of his graduate career in the department of electrical and computer engineering.  He solved the extremely challenging problem of obtaining a good performance measure for the generalized minimum distance (GMD) decoding in Euclidean space.  He developed probabilistic bounds, as opposed to the traditional geometric bounds, on the performance of GMD decoding.  Although this work was sufficient for a doctoral degree, Agrawal insisted on continuing his research to develop new ideas he had about iterative decoding of turbo codes.  His research led to a better understanding of convergence behavior of the turbo decoding algorithm.  In 1999, he received the Chien Award from the department for outstanding research.  A visiting assistant professor in the UI’s Coordinated Science Laboratory, Agrawal completed his doctorate in summer 1999.

· Karen Shea, a senior in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, won the Stanley H. Pierce Award.  The Pierce Award is given annually to the undergraduate student who has done the most to develop student-faculty cooperation.  As president of the general engineering honor society, Gamma Epsilon, Shea fostered student-faculty interaction.  The group surveyed the faculty and used the responses as a guide for future events, including the reinstatement of the IMAGE (I’m a GE) lunches, where students invite favorite professors to a lunch paid for by the department, and a fall picnic for all students and faculty and staff members.  New projects include a survey that helped bring together faculty and undergraduates interested in research, and lab-tour night.

· Samantha Sutton, a senior in electrical engineering with a double minor in bioengineering and French, won the H.L. Wakeland Undergraduate Leadership Award.  The Wakeland Award is given annually to a student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership ability.  Active in the Society of Women Engineers, Sutton chaired three committees and organized a Little Sister Weekend, a spring formal and a fall barn dance.  For two years, she has been an instructor in the Engineering 100 Freshman Orientation Program.  She has been president and vice president of her residence hall floor and was captain of six intramural sports teams.  Her academic record is equally impressive.  A James Scholar, Sutton participates in the Campus Honors Program and has a grade-point average of 3.95.  She studied at the Université de Grenoble, France, in spring 1999, and has had summer research experiences at Argonne National Laboratory and Hewlett-Packard.