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Congrats to the Class of 2016!

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Ritchie School Communications Team

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Ritchie commencement

The Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science celebrated award recipients from the class of 2016.On June 3rd, just a day before the class of 2016 received diplomas, the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science held a more intimate luncheon to celebrate its own staff, students, and their families. This exciting milestone in the lives of all the graduates is equally significant to the School of Engineering and Computer Science, which welcomed JB Holston last year as the new dean and is nearing completion of a new campus facility to house all of its programs.

At the luncheon, Dean Holston guided the audience of faculty, staff, students and their family members through several awards and speakers. He emphasized four concepts that encompass the spirit of not only the award recipients, but also of the school as a whole: real projects, passion, action, and community. Throughout the luncheon program, these ideas clearly inspire the students, staff, and faculty who are involved in the daily experience at the school.

The real-world impact of student work was illustrated by the capstone projects recognized in engineering design, computer science games, and mechanical engineering. Working on university- and client-led projects with Nike, Craig Hospital, and more, undergraduate engineering seniors solved problems with prototype solutions in industries as varied as communications, agriculture, sports, and healthcare. Gaming students designed and created unique concepts that could compete nationally across universities. Mechanical engineering students explored the real challenges of working through a problem without a manual or pre-written solution, challenging them to tackle problems in a realistic learning scenario.

To accomplish projects like those recognized, Dr. Eva Hakansson (PhD, Mechanical Engineering, 2016) offered insight into the passion that carries her fellow classmates and professors to succeed. She found success by pursuing projects that matched her passions. Her time at the University of Denver included building the fastest electric motorcycle in the world — and becoming the fastest woman on a motorcycle during its test drive. Named the KillaJoule, the motorcycle was made possible by the program flexibility Hakansson found at DU and her passion for pushing the limits of the possible. As an applicant to NASA’s astronaut program, Dr. Hakansson is already looking for new limits to test.

Dean Holston noted that taking action is critical to accomplishing impactful projects, even when failure is part of the process. During the awards ceremony, several students, staff, and faculty were recognized for their willingness to take initiative and go beyond their responsibilities at DU. The Ritchie School Awards honored the top staff, scholar, teachers, undergraduate student, and graduate student for their contributions to the school and their exceptional academic achievement. The Colorado Engineering Council Awards were also presented to three engineering students on the basis of exceptional academic merit.

Dean’s Award Winners

  • Best Citizen-Tim Sheu
  • Best Staff Member-Yvonne Petitt
  • Best Graduate Scholar-Ali Mollahosseini
  • Best Graduate Teaching Assistant-Brecca Gaffney
  • Best Scholar-Amni Khodaei
  • Best Teacher-Breigh Roszelle
  • Best Undergraduate Scholar-Dillen Schmitt
  • Dean’s Award for Exceptional Service-Matt Rutherford

Colorado Engineering Council Awards

  • Taylor Carney
  • Shem Kikamaze
  • Jessica Middleton

While the awards were presented to individuals, the luncheon highlighted the sense of community between the faculty and administrative staff, the graduating students, and their friends and family supporting them. Samantha Kern (B.S. Computer Science, 2016) addressed the audience about her experience at DU, which was defined by the strong community that enabled her to build relationships with her classmates and professors. Kern and her classmates concluded the luncheon by taking either the Oath of the Engineer Ring or the Pledge of the Computing Professional, signaling their induction into a professional circle of ethical and dedicated new members of their respective fields.

Even as the students graduate and leave the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Denver, they’ll take more than their awards with them. The 2016 Graduation Luncheon represented an academic community of passionate engineering and computer science professionals who will support their fellow DU alumni beyond the campus and into their careers.