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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture ChEBE Newsletter – Winter 2014

Voiland School Eligible for Prestigious ARCS Fellowships

The Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering recently became eligible for participation in the nationally acclaimed Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation fellowship program.

The ARCS Foundation, founded in 1958, addresses the growing need for U.S. scientists and engineers by offering doctoral fellowships to students pursuing science, engineering, and medical research. By becoming eligible for this program, the Voiland School becomes more competitive in recruiting top graduate students.

“The WSU chemical engineering program was selected in recognition of the high quality doctoral education conducted by the faculty of the Voiland School, and their ability to attract and educate the best students from around the nation,” said James Petersen, director of the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering.

During the past five years, the Voiland School has seen dramatic growth in its program with increases in its number of graduate students and in research support. Focused research areas in the school include chemical and biological catalysis for clean energy, protein engineering, and engineering education.

The school has also seen an 18-point increase in the U.S. News and World Report’s best engineering schools ranking. Additionally, the school recently received a top 10 ranking from Shawn Lesser of Sustainable World Capital. The list included MIT and UC Berkeley, as well as WSU.

Nancy Magnuson, the interim vice president of research and dean of the graduate school, attributes the program’s growth to a recent change in leadership and the generous donation from alumni Gene and Linda Voiland.

“As a result, sponsored research funding and doctoral student numbers are dramatically rising and the chemical engineering program is gaining in prominence,” wrote Magnuson in a cover letter for the proposal submitted to the foundation.

Other WSU graduate programs in the College of Veterinary Medicine and CAHNRS are also eligible for Seattle Chapter ARCS fellowships.

“We are pleased to be counted among WSU’s most highly recognized graduate programs,” Petersen said.

Meet the 2013 ARCS Students

Adan Medina: Using Knowledge to Impact the World

Adan MedinaFrom an early age, Adan Medina remembers being drawn to chemistry and science by what he called “Proctor and Gamble” scientists – chemical engineers in lab coats who developed common household products like bleach.

“I wanted to have my name on something that everyone has in their homes,” Medina said, “I thought it would make my parents proud and show them how hard I worked to be successful.”

Now, ten years later, he is making his parents proud by receiving one of WSU’s first chemical engineering Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation fellowships.

Medina grew up in Pasco where his mom is a real estate agent and his father is a manager of an apple orchard. He remembers his parents constantly stressing the importance of education to him and his brothers.

“They wanted us to work with our brains instead of our backs like they did,” Medina said.

And Medina loves working with his brain. The bespectacled, 6’1” first generation college student did his first experiments in a lab as a sophomore under Dr. Su Ha, a professor in the Voiland School. During that year he learned about the research process and became interested in the intersections between biology and chemical engineering.

“My career goals became less about how to make the most money and more about how to use my knowledge to impact the world,” Medina said.

Working in Ha’s and Dr. John Alderete’s labs gave Medina the experience he needed to be accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Summer Research Program (MSRP) in 2012. He joined 38 other students from various STEM majors around the country to gain research experience alongside MIT professors. The opportunity solidified Medina’s desire to pursue graduate school and become a professor.

“Mr. Medina is a highly motivated, first generation college student who performed near the top of his undergraduate class,” said Dr. James Petersen, the director of the Voiland School. “When he applied to our chemical engineering graduate program, I was pleased to be able to offer him an ARCS fellowship to help attract him to our doctoral program.”

“I was deciding between WSU and another program when I received the ARCS fellowship, which was the deciding factor for me continuing at WSU,” Medina said.

Working with Voiland School Professor Haluk Beyenal, Medina plans to focus his dissertation on electrochemical pathology, or the control of microbes in biological practices.

“I started out wanting my name on products in every person’s household. Now I want my name on the diagnostic instrument in every doctor’s cabinet,” Medina said.

Kathy Helling: Returning for a Doctorate After 27-year Career

Kathy HellingKathy Helling brings over 20 years of industry experience to WSU as a doctoral student and an Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation fellow in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering.

Helling holds a bachelor’s degree in French from Whitman College and in chemical engineering from the University of Idaho, as well as a master’s degree in chemical engineering from WSU.

For 27 years, she worked for Chevron in process development, product development, design, and process support. In 2008 she was part of a team that invented a new low-volatility motor oil. The semisynthetic, clear oil is mixed with traditional oil for use in high-performance vehicles.

While working at an electronics company, Helling also invented a polishing process that made hard drive discs smoother and less prone to scratching.

“With her experience Kathy could have gone anywhere in the nation for graduate school,” said James Petersen, the director of the Voiland School. “I am extremely pleased that the ARCS fellowship helped attract her to WSU where she will also help educate our chemical engineering undergraduates.”

Helling is a teaching assistant for Dick Zollar’s senior design class, and next semester she will take over as instructor in the design course.

“I want to bring industry to the classrooms so I can provide students with real world examples and challenges that will make their education more tangible,” Helling said.