Outstanding Seniors Recognized by NSF

Four soon-to-be graduates join the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s competitive Graduate Research Fellowship Program—the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind—for exceptional students pursuing full-time research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in STEM. 

Selected Fellows are anticipated to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering and are supported by a stipend, cost of education allowance, as well as access to opportunities for professional development available to NSF-supported graduate students.

NSF Graduate Research Fellows:

  • John Lathrop (aerospace engineering)
  • Jesse Matthews (chemical & biomolecular engineering)
  • Marisa Patsy (bioengineering)
  • Mihailo Rancic (electrical & computer engineering)

Off to a Flying Start

Two startups launched by undergraduate engineering students received a boost at the 2021 Pitch Dingman competition. Camilo Melnyk ’21, an aerospace engineering major, and Spencer Yaculak ’23, a mechanical engineering major, won a grand prize of $30,000 for their company, Blimp Logistics, to develop a drone delivery system alleviating issues of last-mile delivery services in suburban and rural areas. 

Uzair Chaudhary ’23, a bioengineering major, and Sanketh Andhavarapu ’23, a neuroeconomics/individual studies and biological sciences major, won second prize at both the Pitch Dingman competition and the 2021 Do Good Challenge to advance their nonprofit STEPS, which connects student volunteers with K–12 families seeking personalized, long-term, and affordable tutoring and college advising services.

Building a Community of Future Global Leaders

Elizabeth Childs, a graduating mechanical engineering student, is going to Stanford University supported by a Knight-Hennessy Scholarship. She is one of 76 students selected from an applicant pool of more than 8,000 for the 2021 cohort of the prestigious program that exposes scholars to a wide range of disciplines and cultures and helps them develop transformational leadership capabilities. 

As a Knight-Hennessy Scholar, Childs plans to enhance education via augmented reality and haptics technologies. At Maryland, she took a course in bioinspired robotics, which helped shape her long-term research interests. She also developed modular robots for explosive ordnance disposal for Cambodia, co-taught 3D printing to pre-professionals in Cambodia, and co-led science demonstrations in indigenous Ecuadorian schools.

A BLAST from the Virgin Galactic

Benjamin Adarkwa ’22 received one of six Galactic Unite Black Leaders in Aerospace Scholarship and Training (BLAST) scholarships awarded by the Virgin Galactic. The program provides students with mentoring, paid summer internships, certified leadership and skills training, job placement opportunities upon graduation, and scholarship funding to support the next generation of Black leaders who will power the rapidly developing aerospace industry and help solve global challenges in the years to come.

During his time at Maryland, Adarkwa has participated in the Balloon Payload Program; he ultimately aims to go into the aerospace industry, and hopes the BLAST scholarship will be an opportunity to “to make meaningful connections during the internship and learn a lot about the industry.”

By the numbers

  • 4,246 undergraduate students enrolled 
  • 25.9% female
  • 15% underrepresented 
  • ~1,100 bachelor’s degrees awarded during 2020–21 academic year
  • 218 tenured and tenure-track faculty
  • 17 faculty National Academy of Engineering members 
  • 8 faculty National Academy of Inventors members 
A white balloon over the University of Maryland campus with the A. James Clark School of Engineering logo on it

Ideas find a new home

The new E.A. Fernandez IDEA Factory will be unconventional in every way. The building design will spark innovation, encouraging a collision of ideas across engineering as well as the arts, business, and science. Its shared spaces will promote dialogue between students, entrepreneurs, and faculty. 

The 60,000-square-foot facility will include open workspaces for students; dedicated areas for student competition teams; a new home for UMD’s student-run incubator, Startup Shell; and new facilities for the Robotics Realization Laboratory, Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft, Microscopy, Rapid Prototyping and Quantum Technology Centers. The grand opening of the IDEA Factory is scheduled for May 2022. 

The 2020–21 academic year was a game changer for innovating both curriculum and culture. Clark School faculty and staff worked overtime to deliver a high-quality online/hybrid education that matches the rigor and care of in-person instruction, and to foster a diverse, inclusive environment that connects, supports, and guides all students—regardless of what they look like or where they come from—through their education and careers.