2021 Award Winners
Stephanie Haag — Chemical Engineering Ph.D. candidate
Stephanie Haag was born and raised in Montana and grew up with a work hard, play hard mentality. She received bachelor’s degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biological Engineering from Montana State University in 2013. She then worked at Micron Technology in Boise, Idaho, for almost three years before deciding to return to graduate school. She is completing her Ph.D. in Dr. Matthew Bernard’s lab in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, which allowed her to pursue biomedical research, while continuing her chemical engineering education. Outside of the lab, you can often find her exploring local hiking trails, painting, enjoying the small-town life, or cooking for friends and family.
Phillip Hagen — Electrical & Computer Engineering
I am an Idaho native born in Coeur d’Alene and raised in Rathdrum. In high school, I did not imagine I would enjoy college as much as I have. I was an awful student, barely graduating high school. I entered the workforce forsaking the traditional college path. After unsuccessfully trying to find a career that I found fulfilling, I decided to attempt college and enrolled at North Idaho College (NIC) as a philosophy major with the intention of going to law school. After several meetings with my academic and professional advisor, I decided to switch majors to something more marketable in case law school didn’t pan out. I switched my major to mathematics and discovered that I really enjoyed math courses. The problem solving intrigued and challenged me in ways I had never experienced before, but I struggled with not really having an end goal.
My Physics 211 professor at NIC, Dr. David Thompson, really sparked my interest in engineering and in electromagnetism, so I switched my major one more time to electrical engineering. Now that I have completed my B.S.E.E. and near completion of my M.S.E.E., I really can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. The faculty, staff, and students I have had the privilege of working with and learning from here at the University of Idaho have changed my life in ways I couldn’t imagine they would when I first stepped onto the Moscow campus. During my time at Idaho, I have been able to work as a TA for ECE 211 and 213 as an undergrad and teach the ECE 351 lab as a graduate student. Working toward my master’s with major professor Dr. Dennis Sullivan has allowed me to apply the skills I learned during my undergraduate education and explore in-depth topics in quantum mechanics and quantum computing. Outside of the classroom, I have had the privilege of being an ambassador for my department being elected as communications officer and president of the U of I ECE Ambassadors.
The University of Idaho has always been in my life. My mom’s favorite picture of me is from when I was two years old sitting on my uncle’s, also an Idaho alum, lap with both of us wearing matching Vandals sweatshirts. I am very proud to carry on the Vandals tradition in my family, and I know I couldn’t have made it this far without the support of my family and friends. Outside of school I really enjoy bowling, painting, riding motorcycles, and building and fixing things with my dad either around the house or in his wood shop.
Once I finish my master’s degree, I plan on pursuing a Ph.D. with Dr. Ting-Yen Shih researching RF/microwave circuits and signals in Quantum Computing. My ultimate goal is to go into academia and be able to continue to grow my love for teaching topics that I am passionate about. I hope that I can affect students in the same ways the professors here at Idaho have impacted my life.
Maxwell Johnson — Mechanical Engineering
Max Johnson was born and raised in Hayden, Idaho. From a young age, he was always building cars and working with mechanical systems. His parents always preached that going to college was a must, so he decided to major in mechanical engineering. During his undergraduate studies, Max was the Vice President of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). In 2019, he obtained his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering.
After graduating, he was determined to further his education and decided to return to the University of Idaho to obtain his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering. As a graduate student, he collaborated with Dr. Matthew Swenson and researched advanced energy materials to be used in nuclear reactors. During graduate school, he served as a mentor for senior capstone design and helped teach students about manufacturing using the Mechanical Engineering Machine Shop. Max is extremely motivated in always learning new topics and developing himself as an engineer. After obtaining his master’s degree, Max is returning to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where he will start working with Continuous Composites, a company developing technology to 3D-print carbon fiber for various applications.
Haotian Wang — Computer Science
Haotian Wang was raised in NanJing, Jiangsu, China. He received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Idaho, in 2018. He is currently pursuing the Ph.D. degree in Dr. Xian Min’s lab in the Department of Computer Science, U of I Idaho Falls center.
Haotian has employed as a TA for CS 504-PML. Haotian’s research interest mainly focuses on computer vision algorithms for histopathology image analysis, and deep learning-based anomaly detection applications. Under Dr. Xian’s mentorship, Haotian discovered his passion in the research and will continue to explore more possibilities in those topics. In the year 2020, he has presented five academic talks and published an academic paper. He’s achieved the Silver Vandal Award in CoE Data Science & Machine learning Competition for two consecutive years (2019 & 2020).
Having been a Vandal both in Moscow campus and Idaho Falls campus, Haotian is very thankful for the professors who have supported him to study and work. Outside the lab, Haotian loves mountain biking, snowboarding and hiking. Idaho is a gem state for him, because of so many outdoor recreations, and the people are so nice and friendly. Last but most important, he would like to thank his family in China for always backing him up and letting him overcome many difficulties in life.
Hope de Avila — Biological Engineering
Hope grew up in Colfax, Washington, on a small cattle operation in the heart of a wheat farming community. It was there that she developed a strong passion for agriculture. Given her aptitude for science and math, she decided to pursue a degree in Biological Engineering, looking to focus on its agricultural applications. Hope soon found herself involved on an interdisciplinary research team looking to develop a better virtual fencing system for livestock. This project was the perfect match to her interests, and she hopes to spend her career working on similar endeavors. In addition to her research, Hope has been active in Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority, and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. She is also a member of the Honors Program, and an Office of Multicultural Affairs Diversity Scholar.
Niko Hansen — Chemical Engineering
Niko Hansen was born and raised in Corvallis, Oregon, alongside a twin brother. Growing up in a college town, Niko was constantly exposed to the academic world and was able to take advantage of engineering outreach activities hosted by Oregon State University. These experiences, along with a love for mathematics motivated Niko to pursue Engineering in his postsecondary education. Niko entered the University of Idaho as an undeclared Engineering major, but swiftly found a fascination for Chemistry which led him to Chemical Engineering. During his time at the University of Idaho, Niko worked under Professor Gautam Kumar in the field of computational neuroscience and was the 2020 President of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Chapter. After graduation, Niko is planning to attend the University of California Davis and pursue his PhD in Chemical Engineering.
Nikole Lorvick — Civil Engineering
Nikki became involved in the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) during her first year on campus and served as chapter president in her senior year. She was captain of the AISC Steel Bridge Team in her junior year, is a CEE Ambassador, and was selected by the CEE faculty as the 2020 Outstanding Junior in Civil Engineering. Nikki spent the of summer of 2020 working as a Structural Design Student Trainee with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Walla Walla, Washington, where she has accepted a position as a Civil Engineer with a focus on structures. Nikki will graduate Summa Cum Laude.
Andrew Hartman — Computer Engineering
Before coming to U of I, Andrew lived in Eagle, Idaho. Throughout college, he developed an interest in Trivia competitions with friends, playing table tennis, and exploring personal projects using microcontrollers. He has been a TA in a few different ECE labs since sophomore year, and has served in leadership roles in both the ECE and COE student ambassador programs. After graduation, Andrew will move back down to Boise and work as a Software Engineer at Cradlepoint.
Victoria Gehring — Computer Science
Victoria Gehring is a Computer Science major from Meridian, Idaho. Her father, who went to U of I for electrical engineering, gave her the idea to enroll as a computer science major. During her time at U of I, Victoria has gotten to dive into the growing fields of data science and cybersecurity through a variety of elective classes. Victoria was the recipient of the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Scholarship and was a member of the Society of Women Engineers. Victoria got the opportunity to intern with a team of software developers at Hewlett Packard the summer after her sophomore year. Throughout her junior and senior year, she worked on applications of machine learning as an intern at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. Victoria will work as an associate software engineer for SEL after she graduates.
In her free time, Victoria enjoys camping, volleyball, and paddle boarding. Victoria is grateful for the many hands-on experiences, helpful faculty, and peers who made her time at U of I an exceptional experience.
Evan Jones — Computer Science
Evan was raised in North Idaho and earned his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Idaho Fall of 2020. Before making the decision to pursue a B.S.C.S he developed an interest in compiler design. The University of Idaho provided an environment that allowed Evan to explore his interest in compilers, among other interests such as system administration, cybersecurity, and web standards such as the semantic web. Evan now lives in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and works as a Software Engineer at Chief Architect Software. His hobbies include flying planes, building and breaking computers, and free and open-source software.
Alex Morrison — Electrical Engineering
Alex Morrison grew up in Yakima, Washington. While there weren't many classes in engineering in her schools, she did manage to try some robotics for a few years. After attending an engineering camp at the University of Washington one summer, her interest in engineering was even stronger. Eventually, news of the stellar engineering programs at the University of Idaho made its way to her, and suddenly it seemed as though attending the U of I for Electrical Engineering would be the perfect fit.
During her time at the U of I, Alex participated in many different groups within the ECE Department, namely as a TA for the ECE 101 classes and as an ECE Ambassador. As the daughter of two teachers, Alex has always loved helping people learn and working with younger students, so both of these experiences were quite fulfilling. Being able to perform outreach for the ECE Department and spark interest in younger students for this major has been a highlight of her time here.
After interning with Micron previously, Alex intends to move to Boise to begin working at Micron as a Product Quality Engineer following her graduation.
Timothy R. Adelizzi — Industrial Technology
Timothy (Tim) R. Adelizzi earned his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology from the University of Idaho last fall. He moved to eastern Idaho nearly 20 years ago, having grown up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He has six wonderful kids, one of whom he can call a fellow alumnus, and four beautiful grandkids. He is employed at the Idaho National Laboratory as a Quality Engineer in procurement and construction. He enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and continual learning.
Meridian Haas — Mechanical Engineering
Meridian was born and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and grew up with two younger siblings who sparked her competitive spirit. Throughout her childhood, she developed a love for science and mathematics through various incredible and influential teachers who inspired her. Meridian was also always fascinated with aviation and aerospace, and her senior year of high school was the first year the school offered an Aerospace Engineering class where she was able to build and program robots, fly planes in a flight simulator, create wooden gliders, and launch model rockets. These experiences are what pushed her to go to school for engineering.
She chose the University of Idaho after becoming a National Merit Scholar Finalist. She decided to pursue Mechanical Engineering and supplemented her degree by taking more Aerospace focused courses and minoring in Physics and Mathematics. During her time at the University of Idaho, Meridian was also a member of the U of I Women’s Soccer Club, U of I Climbing Team, and worked at the Industrial Assessment Center. Meridian will graduate with honors at the top of her class and credits her success to the faculty across multiple departments who pushed her to reach her full potential. After graduation, she is very excited to be attending University of California, Davis to pursue her Master’s in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
Kaitlin Tabaracci — Mechanical Engineering
Throughout grade school I excelled in STEM courses and loved to tinker with anything and everything, because of this I was encouraged by family members and teachers towards engineering. I chose to attend the University of Idaho because I heard about the outstanding engineering program and because it was close to Coeur d’ Alene, my hometown. I decided on mechanical engineering because I heard that it was the most versatile engineering degree and that it would allow me to work on all sorts of projects.
During my time at U of I, I played the oboe in the concert band which was an awesome experience to play with other collegiate-level musicians. I became a Certified SolidWorks Expert (CSWE) junior year. I have also been an independent researcher under Dr. Daniel Robertson for almost 2 years. During that time, I designed and 3D printed parts for several electro-mechanical devices. I was also the project lead on the development of a novel, high-throughput, mechanical phenotyping methodology for maize stalks. In this role I led a group of 5 undergraduate researchers to test over 8 thousand maize stalks. I developed the testing protocols and continually optimized them based on user feedback. I also built a database for organizing all the data we collected. The database will be used by collaborators at several other institutions to aid in constructing a computational framework that links plant genetics with structural phenotypes.
My senior capstone was redesigning a mobile platform for the Vandal Marching Band. During that project I designed parts in SOLIDWORKS, created engineering drawings, and spent over 150 hours in the shop working with Dr. Edwin Odom, Bill Magnie, Ian Glasgow, and Jack Gonzalez manufacturing different parts for the project, utilizing machines such as the manual mill, lathe, and CNC HAAS.
I am currently working with Dr. Robertson and Dr. Christopher Stubbs to publish a journal manuscript that is based on the data I collected while working in Dr. Robertson’s lab. We plan to submit the manuscript in July of 2021. I will be a co-author on the paper.
After graduation, I will be staying at U of I for graduate school to complete my Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
Sara Beatty — Materials Science Engineering
Sara Beatty grew up in Issaquah, Washington. After attending Issaquah High School, Sara attended the University of Washington, where she graduated with a degree in philosophy. Wanting to study engineering, Sara made the change in academic fields and began her engineering studies at the University of Idaho. With a long Vandal family history and family members in Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry, Idaho, U of I was and proved to be an excellent choice.
Sara excelled in the small academic environment within materials science and engineering, actively engaging with research and professors and befriending classmates. In her free time, she loved exploring Idaho’s outdoor recreation by hiking and trail running in the Selkirks, Seven Devils, Hells Canyon, Gospel Hump Wilderness, Sawtooths, and the White Clouds. After graduation, Sara is continuing her education by pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of California – Davis, where she will focus on biomaterials.
BEST OF SHOW
Low-cost, Controllable Hypoxia Chamber for Exploring Stem Cell Behavior
Produced Water Treatment Using Hydrocyclone Technology
Directional Antenna Alignment Control System (D.A.A.C.S)
BEST PROFESSIONAL EXHIBIT
US-95: Deep Creek Bridge Replacement
Oil Refinery Update Design and Economic Analysis
Mechanical Engineering Scheduling Software
Development of a Low Cost Pyranometer
Automated Center of Gravity Measurement Device
Hyster - Yale Carriage Bounce Control System
BEST TECHNICAL PRESENTATION
Smooth Shaving Device for Arthroscopic Surgeries
Indiana Avenue and Homedale Road Intersection Redesign
Electric Power Flow Modeling in Minecraft
Independently Ran Renewable Integrated System for Crosswalks
Ember Generator for Forest Fire Testing
Satellite Attitude Determination, Communication, and Control with AI
Andrew Hartman — Most Outstanding Ambassador
Lexi Brooks — Dedicated Influencer
Ty Sand — Rookie of the Year
Chyr Pyng (Jim) Liou, Ph.D., P.E. — Civil Engineering
Dr. Liou was born in China, grew up in Taiwan, and moved to the United States to pursue graduate education in 1971. He graduated from University of Idaho with a Master of Science in Civil Engineering in 1972 and from University of Michigan with a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering in 1976. As a Professional Engineer, he worked for Bechtel Inc. in Michigan for 3 years and for Stoner Associates Inc, in Pennsylvania for 7 years. In 1986, he returned to the University of Idaho as an assistant professor. At Idaho, he teaches hydraulics and numerical methods and engages in fluid transients research.
Outside of the U of I, Dr. Liou has taught and/or conducted research at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, at the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, at National Taiwan University, and for the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was named a Fulbright Scholar in 2007. His contributions to contaminant transport modeling in water distribution systems and to pipeline leak detection are in use by engineers worldwide. Dr. Liou finds rewards in seeing his former students be successful in their careers, and in knowing his research has advanced the practice of hydraulic engineering.
Xiaogang (Marshall) Ma, Ph.D. — DEPT
Xiaogang (Marshall) Ma is an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Idaho. He received his Ph.D. degree of Earth Systems Science and GIScience from University of Twente, Netherlands in 2011, and then completed postdoctoral training of Data Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His research focuses on deploying data science in the Semantic Web to support cross-disciplinary collaboration and scientific discovery, with broad interests in participatory knowledge engineering, data interoperability and provenance, and visualized exploratory analysis of Big and Small Data. Ma was one of the four invited early-career panelists at the 2016 International Data Week. He is active and takes leadership roles in several international societies of data science and geoinformatics, including ACM SIGWEB, CODATA, ESIP, RDA, GSA, AGU and IAMG. Ma received the Science of Team Science (SciTS) Meritorious Contribution Award in 2018, the IAMG A.B. Vistelius Research Award in 2015, and the inaugural ICSU-WDS Data Stewardship Award in 2014. At University of Idaho, he has been PI for multiple research grants with a total more than $7 million, and Co-PI or senior personnel for more than $1.5 million.
Cindi Brinkman, — Civil Engineering Research Scientist
I started my U of I professional career with Dr. Coats on Jan. 16, 2007, as a Research Scientist and Lab Manager in Dr. Coats' Civil Engineering Environmental Wastewater Laboratory. In Jan 2021. started my 15th year working with Dr. Coats at U of I. I preform molecular and microbiological research on organisms and bacteria that live in different wastewater treatment technologies. I analyze how different wastewater techniques and treatment effect microbial populations. I completed my BS (Dec. 2008) and Master’s (Jan. 2007) in Environmental Science specializing/emphasizing in hazardous waste and ground water. I received both degrees from U of I. I transferred in Aug 2006 to U of I from University of North Dakota where I began/fulfilled the first 2.5 years of undergrad education. I was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. I am an avid traveler and I enjoy the outdoors, gardening, woodwork, and absolutely anything athletic.
Alexiss Turner, — Marketing and Communications Manager
Alexiss graduated from the University of Idaho in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She began her career in print media for the Lewiston Tribune and then the Moscow-Pullman Daily News as Business Editor, where she enjoyed getting to know local owners and reporting on changes in the Palouse economy.
She moved into public relations first in U of I’s Department of Theatre Arts, promoting their academic and summer performances. She has surreal memories of corralling hundreds of adoring fans who lined up in the Palouse Mall to meet theater alumnus Bill Fagerbakke, so he could sign autographs and leave them voicemails in the voice of Patrick Star from SpongeBob SquarePants.
Alexiss spent the next five years working for the U of I Department of Alumni Relations and the Division of Student Affairs as a web coordinator, managing online content and digital communication for many stakeholders. In 2016, she hopped over the border, working as a marketing coordinator with Washington State University’s Division of Student Affairs, serving some of their larger clients, including Student Involvement and campus’ student hub, the Compton Union Building.
Since coming to the College of Engineering in 2018, the job has been a dream for her. Incredible people, research and projects are everywhere you look, which makes the job easy and fun. She feels fortunate to get to live vicariously through the engineers she meets every day. She also feels like an engineer when not at work, when she, her husband and his eight-year-old daughter, keep busy by taking on ludicrous projects like building their own home.