11 ECE Undergraduates Recognized for Excellence in Academics, Leadership and Service by the Clark School and ECE Department

Every year, the A. James Clark School of Engineering recognizes exemplary students for excellence in academics, leadership, and service across all disciplines of the college. Eleven students in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department have been recognized for the following 2020 Honors and Awards:

The ECE Department’s Outstanding Academic Performance Award, which is presented to juniors for academic excellence, is awarded to Mihailo Rancic, who is a junior studying both computer engineering and mathematics. He is planning on pursuing a graduate degree and has an interest in Computer Architecture. Last summer, Mihailo was an intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in California, where he worked on mission planning for the NISAR Satellite. This summer, he will be part of a research program in hardware systems at Carnegie Mellon. On campus, he is part of the leadership team for the electrical and computer engineering peer mentoring program, is the software lead for UMDLoop, and is a teaching assistant for a course in programming languages.

Daniel Klawson and Sara Pohland received the ECE Department’s Service Award, presented to graduating seniors who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and service to both their fellow students and the department.

Daniel Klawson is a senior electrical engineering student in the Gemstone Honors Program. He has served as an undergraduate teaching fellow for ENEE101 and ENEE244, spanning six of his eight semesters at Maryland. Daniel was formerly the president of Eta Kappa Nu, the ECE honors society, and has actively served on the executive board for IEEE at UMD as a project chair for the last two years. He plans to continue his electrical engineering studies towards a PhD at UC Berkeley after graduation.

Sara Pohland is a senior electrical engineering student with a 4.0 GPA. Through Gemstone, she developed a haptic feedback system for robotic surgery, while serving as a teaching assistant and steering committee member for Gemstone courses. Within her department, she is a part of the peer mentor leadership team and both the undergraduate and general academic affairs committees. Sara is also a Math Success tutor, a Clark School Ambassador, and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and Alpha Omega Epsilon. She has conducted research on human robot interaction and safety in reinforcement learning and intends to pursue similar research through a PhD.

Aidan Benderly, Sara Pohland, and Edward Salvatierra received the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Chair’s Award, recognizing their outstanding academic performance as seniors in electrical engineering.

Aidan Benderly is a senior electrical engineering student with a 4.0 GPA. He is an active member of the Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES) Community, having completed both the Living-Learning Program and minor. He serves as an Honors Ambassador as well as Captain of the Cyber Competition Team. As a part of the Athletic Bands, Aidan has served as a squad leader for the tuba section since his sophomore year. He has been a teaching assistant for both ACES and ECE classes, as well as an ECE peer mentor. He has had internships at Sensata Technologies, Morgan Stanley, and Cisco Talos. He plans to work as a security engineer at Morgan Stanley in New York after graduation.

Edward (Eddie) Salvatierra is a senior electrical engineering student with a 4.0 GPA. He is a member of the Honors College Gemstone Program as part of the undergraduate research team, OPTIC, where his team works to develop feasible technology for underwater communications. He is also an undergraduate teaching fellow for ENEE150, Introduction to Computer Programming. After graduation, Eddie will work at the BWI campus of Northrop Grumman.

David Hsu, Nikhil Uplekar, and Timothy Thoresen received the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Chair’s Award for outstanding academic performance as seniors in computer engineering.

David Hsu is a senior computer engineering student and is a member of the Design Cultures and Creativity honors program. He was a teaching fellow for Digital Logic Design and a board member of the Taiwanese American Student Association. David is the webmaster for IEEE and the founder of Green Gains Gang, a vegetarian food stand and environmental outreach program. He has accepted a firmware engineering position at Samsara.

Nikhil Uplekar is a senior computer engineering student with a 3.98 GPA and a member of the University Honors program. He has completed internships and co-ops with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and Amazon. Nikhil has also served as an undergraduate researcher at the MEMS Sensors and Actuators Lab on campus, working on biofabrication techniques and microneedles for the development of next-generation vaccines and transdermal delivery platforms.

Timothy Thoresen is a graduating senior who has been studying computer engineering. In the past four years, he has worked in a variety of fields including aerospace, automotive, and finance. When he graduates, Timothy will be heading to New York to start his career.

Other awards given to ECE undergraduate students outside of the department include:

Matthew Black was one of four students to receive the Outstanding Engineering Co-op/Intern Award. The award is presented to select students who have demonstrated exceptional work performance, strong academic achievement, and remarkable potential for a successful career while participating in a cooperative education or internship opportunity. Black is a senior electrical engineering student who worked as a full-time co-op at Harley-Davidson. According to his supervisor, “Matt has an outstanding work ethic and the patience to stick with a task until the desired outcome is achieved, driving items to closure. In addition, Matt has a willingness to learn and expand his tool set to further his own development and the program’s success. He even extended his co-op to be able to participate in the kick-off of a next generation project. Based on his performance, we offered him a full-time job and are thrilled that he accepted.”

Excel Alale received the Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering Service Award in recognition of dedicated service to the Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering through commitment to promoting diversity in engineering in the college, the university community, and through the Center’s recruitment, outreach, and retention programs. Alale is studying computer engineering with a minor in Technology Entrepreneurship. He is a member of the Hinman Entrepreneurs program and a Fredrick Douglass Scholar. He serves as the student program coordinator of LSAMP Transfer Connections Program and STEM Events Chair, and is also an Engagement Associate for the Transfer and Off Campus Student Life office. Excel's areas of interest are in computer programming, research, and technology development. He hopes to effect change in the world by modernizing and increasing accessibility of tech, and plans to get a PhD and open a venture.  

David Boutin received the Dean’s Kim Borsavage and Pamela J. Stone Student Award for Outstanding Service for outstanding dedication and service to the Clark School, and is a truly unique individual whose contributions to the school exemplify a high level of dedication and service. Boutin is a senior electrical engineering major, pursuing minors in technology entrepreneurship and Spanish. He has earned his citation from the University Honors program and the Hinman CEOs living-learning program. David currently serves as the president of Theta Tau and the vice president of corporate affairs for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). David has assisted with research for the US Army Research Lab in the Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory. Additionally, he is a Clark School Ambassador and member of the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program and Omicron Delta Kappa.

Published May 14, 2020