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Announcing 2021 Student Award Winners

4/26/2021 2:03:00 PM

Kimberly Belser

Nine students were awarded by The Grainger College of Engineering for their academic success, extracurricular involvement, and contribution as leaders to the engineering culture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Paloma Alcala, Andrew Conwell, Ridas Jagekavicius, Kip Lee Kleimenhagen, Andrew Klingberg, Mia Ko, Jonah Messinger, Alexander Torres-Soto, and Kayra Yasa. 

Previous Award Winners

Paloma Alcala

Paloma Alcala

Paloma Monserrath Alcala is the recipient of the Stanley H. Pierce Student Award. She is studying Materials Science and Engineering and will graduate in 2021. 

Paloma is the technical chair and lead of the Midwestern Robotics Design Competition for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the vice president of the Engineering Ambassadors.

She conducted research on frontal polymerization with the Sottos Research Group, led by Dr. Nancy Sottos, is a member of the Morrill Engineering Program’s Welcome Committee, and interned with Natural Fiber Welding, Inc.

Andrew Conwell

Andrew Conwell

Andrew Conwell received the Henry Ford II Award for scholastic achievement and the Kay Simmons-Kappes Award for community involvement. He is a senior in Civil Engineering and anticipates graduating in May.

Andrew leads the campus chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineering as the Industry Chair and Vice President. He served on the Undergraduate Advisory Board of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), is CEE student advisor, and a course grader for CEE 300. He is also a Student Evaluator for the Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education.

He is part of the Class XXV of the Hoeft Technology & Management Program, where he is on the Alumni Relations Committee. He has interned at Burns & McDonnell and Kiewit, and also volunteers as a Sunday School teacher at Trinity Lutheran Church. 

Ridas Jagekavicius

Ridas Jagekavicius

Ridas Jagekavicius is the 2021 recipient of the CS Larson Transfer Student Award. He will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the Department of Computer Science in May.

After transferring to Grainger Engineering his junior year, Ridas joined the ACM Natural Language Processing RSO. He was also a Software Developer Intern at ESPO Engineering Corporation.

Kip Lee Kleimenhagen

Kip Lee Kleimenhagen

Kip Kleimenhagen is the recipient of the 2021 CS Larson Transfer Student Award. He is studying Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering, and anticipates graduating this year.

Kip is a member of the American Nuclear Society and the Kendo and Naginata chapter on campus. He will continue his studies at the University after accepting an admission offer to study for his master’s degree in nuclear engineering. 

Andrew Klingberg

Andrew Klingberg

Andrew Klingberg is the 2021 winner of the Harvey H. Jordan Award. He is a senior in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering.

Andrew is an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the Renewable Energy & Turbulent Environment Group and is the Co-founder and Treasurer of Community Oriented Device Accommodations. He was a Mechanical Engineering Intern at NASA Langley Research Center and as a Research Aide at Argonne National Laboratory. 

Mia Ko

Mia Ko

Mia Ko is a senior studying Bioengineering with a minor in Materials Science and Engineering and is the 2021 H.L. Wakeland Undergraduate Leadership Award winner. 

Mia is currently the internal vice president for Engineering Ambassadors. They are also the program coordinator for the Journal of Engineering Education’s Mentored Reviewer Program, and also worked at the Karin Jensen research lab to evaluate the relationship between mentorship in engineering and engineering education faculty (EER). This research led Mia to consider the lack of engagement from engineering faculty with EER, which prompted them to independently conduct research on this matter through funding by the National Science Foundation. 

Jonah Messinger

Jonah Messinger

Jonah Messinger is the recipient of the Lisle Abbott Rose Award. He will graduate in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics, Master of Engineering in Energy Systems, and a minor in the Hoeft Technology and Management program. 

Jonah is the founder and president of SolHomes, a nonprofit organization, and the vice-chair of the Student Sustainability Committee. He is an undergraduate researcher for the Meng Research Group and a member of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, Inter-Policy School Summit Working Group. He also serves on the Illinois Sustainability Council and the Illinois Climate Action Plan Working Group.

Alexander Torres-Soto

Alexander Torres-Soto

Alex Torres-Soto is the 2021 recipient of the William R. Schowalter Award. He is a junior in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering.

Alex is currently the Vice-Regional Student Representative of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) for the Midwest region. He is also serving on the SHPE 2021 National Convention Planning Committee.  Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities Leader-in-Residence Program.

He is an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Combustion Laboratory and participated in the NASA Proposal Writing and Evaluating Experience, He was a Design Engineering Intern at Caterpillar and will work in Northrop Grumman’s Space Sector as a Manufacturing Engineering Intern in 2021. Some of his honors include being awarded the Illinois Space Grant Consortium Scholarship by The Illinois Space Grant Consortium for two consecutive years.

Kayra Yasa

Kayra Yasa

Kayra Yasa is the recipient of the Andrea J. Culumber Award. She is a Materials Science and Engineering student who anticipates graduating in 2023. 

Kayra has been involved in numerous academic and scholastic activities, and has been developing a rapid, low-cost, highly scalable COVID-19 diagnostic technology as the first employee of an early stage biotechnology company. She also interned at P&G for the past two summers and has since put much of her focus toward becoming an entrepreneur and non-profit development. 

Kayra co-founded DesignLab Give, and acts as Director of Growth & Strategy. She is also the co-founder of an eCommerce platform in the process of applying to accelerator programs and is on the interim founding team of a consumer-packaged goods company developing sustainable wet wipes.