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Sun Shines on 2016 Engineering Graduates

2016 Engineering Graduates


The weather drove Villanova University’s graduation ceremony indoors on Friday evening, May 13, 2016, but the sun shone brightly on the campus green for Saturday morning’s College of Engineering Convocation (formerly known as the recognition ceremony). Hundreds of family members and friends turned out to see 241 bachelor’s degree graduates, 124 master’s degree recipients, and five PhDs recognized for their academic achievements.

The ceremony began with a brief welcome from Drosdick Endowed Dean of Engineering Gary A. Gabriele, PhD, followed by the invocation by Christine Fossaceca ’16 CpE and student address by Dan Clusky ’16 ChE. The first three awards presented recognized outstanding faculty and staff. Dean Gabriele began by announcing that the University’s coveted Faculty Research Award had been presented during the Commencement ceremony to Engineering’s Robert Traver, PhD, PE, D.WRE., F. EWRI., F. ASCE, ’82 MSCE. Dr. Traver is the Edward A. Daylor Chair in Civil Engineering, and director of both the Villanova Center for the Advancement of Sustainability in Engineering and the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership.

The second honor, the Reverend William F. Farrell Award, was presented to Mechanical Engineering Lab Manager Chris Townend. Voted on by the College’s undergraduates, the Farrell Award recognizes a faculty or staff member who demonstrates exemplary personal concern for students.

Lastly, the Dean presented Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Garrett Clayton, PhD, with the College of Engineering Teaching Award. Established in 2014, the winner of this award is chosen by a vote of the senior undergraduate engineering students and recognizes innovation in the classroom, excellent student learning outcomes and advancement in the field of engineering education.

Gerard “Jerry” Jones, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research, began the student recognition and awards portion of the event. He first named those who earned doctoral degrees through the College of Engineering:

  • Dr. Maria Nydia Felix Lynch, advised by Drs. Justinus Satrio and William Kelly.  Dissertation: "Investigation on the Utilization of Grassy Biomass Grown in Heavy Metal Contaminated Soils for the Production of Sugars and Fast Pyrolytic Oil via Hybrid Biochemical and Thermochemical Approaches”
  • Mahmoud Kabalan, advised by Dr. Pritpal Singh. Dissertation: “Large Signal Lyapunov-Based Stability Analysis of DC/AC Inverters and Inverter-Based Microgrids”
  • Dr. Ryan Lee, advised by Dr. Robert Traver. Dissertation: “Analysis of Bioinfiltration Hydrologic Performance Incorporating Soil Hydraulic Property Variation”
  • Dr. Jill McAfee Spelina, advised by Dr. James Peyton Jones.  Dissertation: "Knock Characterization, Simulation, and Control"
  • Si Qin, advised by Dr. Yimin Zhang. Dissertation: "Coprime Signal Processing for Spatial and Temporal Spectrum Estimation"
  • Dr. Saurav Kumar Subedi, advised by Dr. Yimin Zhang. “Sparsity-aware Signal Processing for Passive Radar Systems”
  • Dr. Di Zhang, advised by Dr. Gang Feng. Dissertation: "Synthesis, Characterization, and Modeling of Nanocolloidal Crystals." Dr. Zhang received the College of Engineering Outstanding Doctoral Award.

In addition to the PhDs, Dr. Jones also recognized the College’s 91 Master of Science degree graduates. Winners of the Outstanding Graduate Student Award for each department were announced as follows:

Chemical Engineering: Thomas Dorney
Civil and Environmental Engineering: Zachary Zukowski
Electrical and Computer Engineering: Luis Ramirez Rivera
Mechanical Engineering: Patrick Rose
Sustainable Engineering: Andrew Jester

Luis Ramirez Rivera won the 2016 Outstanding Graduate Student Medallion.

The largest portion of the ceremony was dedicated to the College’s 241 graduating seniors. In addition to recognizing all of the students and naming their honors distinctions, each department chair awarded a medallion to an outstanding undergraduate selected by the faculty of that department. Criteria included academic achievement and the quality and consistency of the students’ co-curricular contributions to the College and the department. Medallions were presented to:

Brandon Wesley – Robert E. White Chemical Engineering Award
Seth Bryant – Civil and Environmental Engineering Faculty Award
Enmanuel Almonte – Computer Engineering Outstanding Student Award
Brian Engelhart – Electrical Engineering Outstanding Student Award
Marissa Cucinotta – Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Student Award

The College’s most prestigious undergraduate prize, the Robert D. Lynch Award, was presented to Brandon Wesley. Sponsored by the Engineering Alumni Society, this award acknowledges a senior’s outstanding academic achievements and exemplary dedication to serving the community. Earlier this spring Wesley was awarded the nationally competitive Gates Cambridge Scholarship. He will pursue a PhD in Surgery at the University of Cambridge.

The 2016 Convocation concluded with Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Frank Falcone and a group of engineering student singers leading the graduates in Villanova’s alma mater, after which William Landis ’16 CpE, president of the Engineering Student Council, lead the recitation of the Engineers Creed. Boratha Tan ’16 ME closed with the Benediction.