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ACEC New York Awards Scholarships to 24 New York STEM Students

Twenty-four scholarships awarded to third-year students in a four-year program or fourth-year students in a five-year program studying various engineering disciplines.

Albany, NY, May 14, 2014 --( Twenty-four engineering students attending colleges and universities in New York State will receive $65,000 collectively in scholarship money from member firms of the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York (ACEC New York). Individual awards range from $2,500 to $5,000 and are given based on the students’ cumulative grade-point average, college activities, work experience and essays on consulting engineering.

Since the program’s launch in 2002, ACEC New York has awarded 192 scholarships totaling $513,000. The scholarship program was implemented to support up-and-coming engineers, thereby supporting the future of New York infrastructure.

Students attending New York metropolitan-area colleges will be honored at ACEC New York’s membership luncheon on May 20 at the Union League Club. Students attending upstate colleges will be recognized at the council’s winter conference in Albany on January 25, 2015.

Two students were honored with ACEC New York Merit Scholarships, each in the amount of $5,000, at the ACEC New York Engineering Excellence Awards Gala at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on March 29th. Tenzin Nyandak was given an Award of Merit Scholarship in recognition of the New York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Thruway Authority, and Nicole Lewis was given an Award of Merit Scholarship in recognition of Related Companies. Awards of Merit are given by ACEC New York to recognize the achievements of a public agency and a private company for outstanding achievements in service to New York communities. NYS DOT and NYSTA were recognized for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project, as well as their implementation of design-build. Related Companies was recognized for the Hudson Yards development project.

Following is a complete list of the 2014 scholarship winners:

ACEC New York Merit Scholarship in recognition of the NYS DOT and NYSTA- $5,000
Tenzin Nyandak | University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
Tenzin is a fourth-year student attending the University at Buffalo, studying civil engineering with the eventual goal of a Ph.D. in structural engineering. Tenzin’s studies will focus on preservation and structural health monitoring using non-destructive testing. Originally a Tibetan refugee studying architecture in India, Tenzin immigrated to the United States in 2008 to pursue a greater understanding of building structures. When not in class, Tenzin volunteers with a number of student organizations and non-profit groups, including Tau Beta Pi, Chi Epsilon, Tibetan Heritage Fund and Architecture for Tibet. This fall, he is planning to pursue an advanced Masters in structural analysis of historical constructions at the University of Minho, Portugal and the Technical University of Catalonia, Spain.

ACEC New York Merit Scholarship in recognition of Related Companies- $5,000
Nicole Lewis | Columbia University, New York, NY
Nicole is a third-year student at Columbia University pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. Her internships have included positions with the United Launch Alliance in Cape Canaveral and Boeing in Seattle. Her passion for engineering was ignited through her work with the Columbia Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, for which she is the program manager for the Morocco team, currently designing a water supply system for an isolated community. Nicole is also involved within various aspects of Columbia student life as a member of Tau Beta Pi, Alpha Chi Omega, and the Columbia RoadRunners. She hopes to use engineering to be able to give back to the community that has given her so much, potentially through a career in New York State.

ACEC New York Eastern Region Scholarship
Paul Holsberger | University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
Paul was drawn to civil engineering in high school, an interest which was fostered by his time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Originally from the Capital Region, Paul recently completed an internship with Creighton Manning Engineering, and he is passionate about devoting his skills toward the many necessary infrastructure improvements in New York. He is also attracted to the many choices offered by a career in civil engineering, as well as the tangible impact his work will have on improving lives. When not in class or building homes for the needy, he is a dedicated member of the track and field team and the University at Buffalo Fit Club.

ACEC New York Long Island Region Scholarship
Vanessa DePasquale | Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
Engineers must constantly change their approach to design, as demonstrated by the aftermath of Sandy, and it is this constant need for diversity and new techniques that drew Vanessa to engineering. Experience gained at her father’s Long Island civil consulting firm, Vachris Engineering, only reinforced her desire to pursue a B.E. in civil engineering, a goal she will achieve in 2015. Vanessa has learned teamwork, dedication and leadership through her roles in Habitat for Humanity, the Hofstra Chapter of ASCE, and the Society of Women Engineers, as well as playing lacrosse.

ACEC New York Mid-Hudson Region Scholarship
Koji Muto | University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Koji knows that consulting engineering blends not only technical expertise, but also business sense, which is why he is pursuing a dual major in mechanical engineering and business. Upon graduation, he plans to pursue a consulting engineering career within New York, and he is excited to see the tangible results of his hard work. Despite his double major, Koji finds time to be active in a number of organizations; he co-founded the Japanese Students' Association and was elected President of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. He also takes time to tutor other students in mechanical engineering.

ACEC New York Western Region Scholarship
William Martorana | University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
On the 33rd floor, William was fascinated by the way his New York City office building swayed in the wind by design. With a degree in economics already under his belt, William pursued this interest in building design and worked to obtain a B.S. in civil engineering. He is eager to combine these two essential skills into a successful career as a consulting engineer in New York. A lifelong resident of Buffalo, William is eager to dedicate his new skills towards improving the infrastructure of Buffalo. He is already giving back to his Buffalo community as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and he still finds time to play hockey on his evening league team.

AECOM Scholarship
Kurt Melvin | Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
Kurt was introduced to engineering through the ACE Mentor Program of Rochester. Through his subsequent enrollment at RIT and his work in the Associated Schools of Construction competition, Kurt is now an ACE mentor himself, pursuing a degree in civil engineering technology. A proponent of the value of experience in the field, Kurt’s goal is to obtain a position with a local construction company before entering the engineering field. Kurt is active on another field as a member of both the RIT Intramural Hockey and Intramural Soccer teams. He is also current president of the ASCE Student Chapter at RIT.

AKF Group LLC Scholarship
Poornima Aggarwal | Cooper Union, New York, NY
Poornima was inspired to pursue engineering as a student in her high school AP physics class. Drawn to the possibilities of improving communities, she chose to pursue electrical engineering at Cooper Union, dedicated to improving models of power consumption. Poornima has performed a number of experiments and studies on solar panels, batteries, and radio arrays to achieve maximum energy efficiency. She is passionate about a number of activities in her spare time, as co-founder and vice president of the Cooper Union Finance and Investment Club, as well as the co-founder and vice president of the Cooper Union Toastmaster’s Chapter and co-captain of the Cooper Union Women’s Volleyball Team.

Dagher Engineering, PLLC Scholarship
Aye Maung | NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, Brooklyn, NY
As Aye was choosing his college and future career path, his mother’s illness altered his plans. On her advice, rather than stay close to home in Maryland, he applied to NYU Polytechnic in New York City as a student of mechanical engineering, a decision he celebrates to this day. Aye has embraced both the city and the education, and he is eager to see his own practical advice have a positive effect on his community. Besides discipline in design (as a proponent of minimalism), Aye practices the discipline of martial arts as a first degree black belt in Kenpo Karate, and he is also a member of Tau Beta Pi and Engineers Without Borders.

Gilsanz Murray Steficek, LLP Scholarship
Leslyn Prasad | The City University of New York (CUNY), New York, NY
Leslyn, frustrated by the lack of real-world application she saw for her mathematics major, switched to civil engineering and has been intrigued ever since. She has applied the principles of structural and transportation engineering in her experience as president of the CCNY ASCE Chapter, including participating in the CCNY Concrete Canoe Team, which gave her valuable hands-on experience. She also gained valuable experience as an intern with the NYC Department of Buildings Development Hub. In addition to the aforementioned activities, Leslyn is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon.

HAKS Engineers, Architects and Land Surveyors, P.C. Scholarship
Jennifer Mahan | Columbia University, New York, NY
As a result of her experience on an Engineers Without Borders project in Morocco, building a footbridge for a community afflicted by seasonal flooding, Jennifer knew she aspired to be an engineer. Attracted not only by the creativity inherent in a fusion of aesthetics and function, Jennifer is also intrigued by the collaboration needed for real-world problem-solving in civil engineering. Through her internship with MTA Bridges and Tunnels, Jennifer noted the contribution private design firms make to essential New York infrastructure. Jennifer is already active in her community, participating in Youth for Debate, the Columbia Chapter of ASCE, Columbia Faith and Action, and the National Society for Black Engineers.

HDR Scholarship
Kathilee Kenlock | Columbia University, New York, NY
At first, Kathilee thought her desire to study math and physics would preclude her from opportunities working in environmentalism. However, through her internship with Purdue University harnessing solar power for U.S. private passenger transportation, new possibilities in consulting for sustainability were revealed. Kathilee transferred from Bates College to the civil engineering program at Columbia to pursue a career in consulting engineering, which she finds appealing due to its dynamic and collaborative qualities. Kathilee is natively from Jamaica, and she is active in the Caribbean Students Association and National Society of Black Engineers.

Hazen and Sawyer, P.C. Scholarship
Roshan Ramkeesoon | Columbia University, New York, NY
Roshan has a very clear definition of success, and he sees consulting engineering as the key field in which to become a successful professional. Originally from the Bronx, Roshan will use his B.S. in chemical engineering to research the future materials necessary to replace limited natural resources. He is also eager to travel and apply his expertise globally, though he plans to remain native to New York. Roshan is beginning to improve communities on a local level through Scientists and Engineers for a Better Society and Community Impact at Columbia University, as well as participation in Engineers Without Borders, AIChe Columbia Student Member Chapter, and Tau Beta Pi.

Jaros, Baum & Bolles Scholarship
Petros Skaliarinis | NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, Brooklyn, NY
As he consulted drawings for the World Trade Center Tower 4, Petros knew his internship was giving him not only valuable real world experience but also a chance to be part of a New York landmark. He values the communication and creative problem solving inherent in a career in consulting engineering. Outside his studies, Petros values teamwork of a different kind, as a member of the intramural soccer and basketball teams, as well as a volunteer assistant basketball coach for DePhillip’s Athletic Club and the Greek Orthodox Youth Association. He also belongs to the NYU Hellenic Heritage Association and the NYU Society of Engineering Students.

Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, P.C. Scholarship
In memory of Maria Isabel Ramirez (09-11-01)
Caitlin Fedio | Columbia University, New York, NY
Seeing a need for improvement and sustainability in her native New York, Caitlin is pursuing a degree in environmental engineering in order to gain the skills necessary to be part of the solution. Through her work with Engineers Without Borders, Caitlin has taken this desire to a global level, improving sanitation and access to water resources in Ghana. This experience sparked Caitlin’s interest in consulting engineering, with its emphasis on collaboration and team-building. Other outlets for Caitlin’s interest in teamwork include the Columbia Chapter of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and the Columbia Raas dance team. She also volunteers with the Community Center of Northern Westchester and the Broadway Presbyterian Soup Kitchen.

Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers Scholarship
Greg Phattanachitchon | University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
Greg, U.S. citizen raised in Thailand, returned to America in 2008 when was only 4 years old. It was then that he began a long-standing interest in structural systems as he crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. Inspired by this iconic landmark, Greg pursued his interests as a student of civil engineering at the University of Buffalo. Subsequent experience, including a research internship studying earthquake mitigation and acting as an active member on the school’s ASCE Steel Bridge team, further established his interest in engineering principles. He plans to pursue a doctorate in structural engineering, with an eye towards acting as an advisor to consulting engineers. Greg also organizes worship services for the Tabernacle Campus Church.

Parsons Brinckerhoff Scholarship
Diana Brown | Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY
Even as a student, Diana’s work experience in the engineering field is varied and has imparted many important consulting engineering principles. For example, her experience as construction inspector with the NYS Department of Transportation taught her the importance of quality control. Diana has taken these principles and applied them to her current academic efforts, and she looks forward to graduating as a well-rounded mechanical engineer, ready to devote her skills to improving the world around her. She also applies these principles in her outside interests as an active member of the Manhattan College Chapter of ASME and the Mechanical Engineering Women’s Group.

Pennoni Engineering and Surveying of New York, LLC Scholarship
Allison Kaminski | Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY
Allison’s interest in mechanical engineering is readily evident, given her 3.97 GPA and her fascination with the real-world applications of her coursework. From calculating the water height of a fountain to determining the efficiency of a power plant, Allison is eager to apply engineering principles to reducing waste and improving sustainability of the world around her, specifically within New York City. She shares her understanding and enthusiasm of these principles with other Manhattan College students as a tutor in the Learning Center, and she participates in the Honors Enrichment Program to expand her engineering knowledge beyond the curriculum.

STV Group Scholarship
Timothy Gassert | Manhattan College, Riverdale NY
Tim is a problem-solver, and he discovered early in his academic career that his skill set perfectly matched that of an engineer. As he continued to pursue engineering, he could only imagine the future innovations and technological advances that would be essential to his much-anticipated career. A site visit to the Freedom Tower only confirmed his desires. His interest in engineering extends beyond academics to his extracurricular activities, including participation in Chi Epsilon National Engineering Society, the Manhattan College Chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers, Engineers Without Borders, and the New York Water Environmental Association.

Sam Schwartz Engineering, D.P.C. Scholarship
Hao Pham | Columbia University, New York, NY
Hao has immense respect and admiration for the amazing design projects he has both studied and seen. He knows there are a lot of different professionals with greatly different skill sets required to build a bridge, transportation system, or building, and he understands the responsibility inherent in each position. Hao came to New York all the way from California, and he is eager to devote his growing expertise as a civil engineer to development projects such as Hudson Yards. Hao is already an active part of engineering teams, as president of ASCE Columbia Chapter (including participation in the Steel Bridge competition) and the Engineers Without Borders outreach and design team.

Stantec Consulting Services Inc. Scholarship
Han John Tse | Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
As the vice president of the Solar Racing Team, Han John led team members in making carbon fiber components and designing a new raceboat hull. Through his involvement, he gained valuable manufacturing, leadership, and teamwork experience. Han John’s research in wireless energy harvesting with Dr. Wang at Stony Brook University helped him pursue his interest in sustainable energy. He has also interned with GE Transportation on reducing locomotive emissions, and he will be returning to GE for another internship. His desire to take on challenging projects, experience, and passion for design has well prepared him for his desired career as a consulting engineer within New York State.

Syska Hennessy Group, Inc. Scholarship
Farihah Begum | NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, Brooklyn, NY
Farihah, a current mechanical engineering student, is a mentor to New York City junior high and high school girls as a speaker for Girls Who Code, promoting interest in STEM careers. Drawn to mechanical engineering through her desire to improve biomechanics and prosthetics, she has an impressive litany of experience to share with her mentees. Through a research fellowship, Farihah has designed, fabricated and experimented with a zebrafish robot, applying the principles of biomimicry in order to guide fish away from oil spills. She has also assisted in implementing vegetated submerged beds in El Salvador to improve sewage treatment systems through Engineers Without Borders.

Thornton Tomasetti Scholarship
Charles Chen | Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY
Among the many skills needed to be a successful civil engineer, one that Charles notes he gained from his studies is tenacity. A native New Yorker, Charles transferred his focus from a career path in computer science to satisfying his curiosity regarding analysis and design of the structures around him as a civil engineer. This curiosity has motivated him to excel in his classes and align his passions with the principles of design and analysis. Internships in surveying, construction and engineering have only furthered his resolve to become a consulting engineer in New York. Outside his coursework, Charles is an active member of the Manhattan College Chapter of ASCE, including the Steel Bridge and Concrete Canoe teams.

Weidlinger Associates, Inc. Scholarship
Mary Lynn Williams | Columbia University, New York, NY
Transferring across the country from California is difficult, but the minute Mary arrived in New York City, she felt right at home. The diversity of the city, and the endless opportunities it offered, matched her career goals exactly. Mary’s decision to become a civil engineer was influenced by this diversity, knowing that no two projects would be alike and she could address a number of urgent societal issues. Mary is excited to always be learning something new, and her time with Columbia University Engineers Without Borders as the treasurer for the Ghana Program only reinforced these interests. Mary’s activities are as diverse as her interests, including participation in Habitat for Humanity, Columbia University Aquanauts, and the Earth Institute Student Advisory Council.

ACEC New York is a proactive coalition of more than 270 firms representing every discipline of engineering related to the built environment—civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, geotechnical—and affiliated companies. Our shared goals are to further the business interests of our membership, enhance the quality and safety of the environment we live and work in, and help ensure the vitality of our communities. For more information, visit
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ACEC New York
Natasha Burns

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