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Goldwater scholarship honorees announced by University of Illinois

4/10/2013 | David Schug, director, National and International Scholarships Program | 217-333-4710;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — University of Illinois juniors Manan Raval and David Schmid have been awarded Barry M. Goldwater scholarships for the 2013-14 academic year for demonstrating leadership and academic promise in science or engineering. Seth Cazzell, a sophomore in materials science and engineering, and Shyam Saladi, a junior in electrical engineering, earned honorable mentions in the national competition.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Barry M. Goldwater, who served 30 years in the U.S. Senate. The program provides a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to sophomores and juniors from the United States who intend to pursue doctorates in these fields.

The 271 Goldwater Scholars for 2013-14 were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,107 mathematics, science and engineering students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. The one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

“Each university is restricted to nominating only four students for the Goldwater, so it says a lot about the strength of University of Illinois STEM programs to have all four of our candidates receive national recognition,” said David Schug, the director of the National and International Scholarships Program at Illinois. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.)

Raval, of Fort Wayne, Ind., is majoring in electrical engineering, specializing in photonics and laser technology and working toward a second concentration in power and energy.

Since his freshman year, Raval has been a member of electrical and computer engineering professor Lynford Goddard’s research group, conducting research in photonics. In this capacity Raval has learned theoretical concepts and laboratory practices relevant to photonics. These include diode laser theory, microring theory and transmission matrix modeling of film layers.

In the summer of 2011, Raval participated in a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates involving a Fabry-Perot hydrogen sensor. Raval wrote MATLAB code for simulations and optimization and to achieve maximum sensitivity. Raval has presented his research at the 2012 Imaging and Applied Optics Congress of the Optical Society of America.

In the summer of 2012 Raval was a research intern at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He tested and analyzed a tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy using wavelength modulation spectroscopy. He also developed MATLAB code to fit measured data to theoretical values in order to analyze the accuracy of the system. Raval’s presentation of his findings won a top poster prize at the Lawrence Livermore student poster symposium.

Raval has earned numerous academic honors for his achievements. He is a National Advance Placement Scholar, a James Scholar honors student at Illinois, a winner of a Harriett and Robert Perry Scholarship at Illinois, and a National Instruments Certified LabVIEW associate developer.

Raval plans to pursue a doctorate in electrical engineering and a career in research.

Schmid, from Iroquois County, Ill., is majoring in physics. Since summer 2010 (before his freshman year) he has been working in the laboratory of physics professor Paul Kwiat. Schmid has been studying optical simulation, polarization-dependent focusing and spectral filtering.

Schmid’s research in optical simulation used optical design software to construct computer models of optical setups in the laboratory to create designs for solving problems in quantum information, cryptography and computation. Schmid’s research has helped expand various optical techniques used in research. His work shows promise in practical applications as well, such as using dual-focus beams for imaging or controlling tiny objects and spectral filtering to impact optical fiber communication networks.

Schmid has been recognized many times for academic achievement. At Illinois he participates in the Campus Honors Program and is a National Merit and Illinois State Scholar, on the Dean’s List, and a winner of a Provost Scholarship for academic achievement. He is also the recipient of the Vincent O’Brien Iroquois County Scholarship. Schmid has presented his research at the national Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics. He is the primary author of a paper submitted to a peer-reviewed journal in optical physics.

Schmid hopes to earn a doctorate in physics and then pursue an academic career, teaching and conducting research in quantum mechanics.

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