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Three Mechanical Engineering students—Columbia Mishra, San'Quan Prioleau and Roberto Valle— were recently awarded Student Leadership Awards by the Cockrell School of Engineering. Two of the awards were presented to undergraduates and one to a graduate student. The Department congratulates these hardworking, dedicated students who have selflessly given large portions of their time and energy to the college, department and university in their student leadership positions.

San'Quan Prioleau, Recent Undergraduate

San'Quan Prioleau receiving his Student Leadership Award.

San'Quan Prioleau receiving his Student Leadership Award.

San'Quan Prioleau, originally from Irving, Texas, received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering in December. During his time here, San'Quan was a past officer and president of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and an active member of Pi Sigma Pi, Minority Academic Engineering Society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He was also a tutor with Pi Sigma Pi, an active member and mentor of Student Engineers Educating Kids (SEEK), and an undergraduate lab teaching assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. San'Quan was an outstanding student, earning University Honors in 2008 through 2011, and he put his academic skills to use when he participated on the NSBE Technical Academic Bowl teams that won first and second place in regional academic competitions.

The experience that most impacted San'Quan as a student was serving the members during his term as president of NSBE. The experience gave San'Quan an opportunity to learn how people with different personality types work together, and he feels that he learned about his strengths and opportunity areas for growth as a leader. As NSBE president, San'Quan led the organization in the development of an event that gave students the opportunity to interact with an entrepreneur and former National Chair of NSBE. San'Quan feels that without the opportunity to get involved in NSBE leadership and the encouragement to step up as president, he believes that he would not have had the same success in his three summer internships in different industries, gaining valuable insight into corporate work while still in college. For these reasons, his experience as NSBE chair has been especially memorable.

As one of San'Quan's nominations stated, "San'Quan is a motivated, self-starter who believes in moving a community forward by dedicating time, showing compassion, and sharing knowledge. San'Quan takes on leadership roles in order to enable the success of others. He is an effective contributor and successful leader who is making a positive impact on our learning community in the Cockrell School."

Currently, he is working at Chevron in Downtown Houston as a Subsea Well Intervention Engineer. This is a temporary assignment until he starts as a Drilling & Completions Accelerated Development Program Engineer (the program for which he was hired) in June 2012. He is enjoying his time there and finds that Chevron has amazing diversity as well as great technical training classes/programs. This program will enable him to gain exposure to offshore drilling environments while working with business partners of the company. San'Quan plans to focus on leveraging the leadership skills he learned at the university to someday excel as a supervisor in some capacity at Chevron.

Roberto Valle, Undergraduate

Roberto Valle receiving his Student Leadership Award.

Roberto Valle receiving his Student Leadership Award.

From Houston, Texas, Roberto Valle expects to graduate this May in Mechanical Engineering. Roberto's primary area of involvement has been the Student Engineering Council (SEC), for which he is currently serving as President. He is a graduate of LeaderShape-Texas and was selected to be on the student staff for the May 2010 session. He is a member of ASME, Pi Sigma Pi and Engineers for a Sustainable World.

Roberto served as one of the 2010 Fall EXPO Career Fair Co-Chairs, and he feels that this was his most significant collegiate experience. The project management aspects of coordinating EXPO allowed him the opportunity to help over 4,000 engineering students have the opportunity to network with over 450 recruiters representing over 250 companies. Along with his co-chair, he worked with a committee of 25 of his peers to implement new technology which enabled the career fair to run smoother and more efficiently. He also created new EXPO programs such as the Senior Hour, worked to enable EXPO to be more sustainable, and created a consistent image for all EXPO branded materials and marketing. The EXPO experience taught him to think in terms of a big picture and to not be afraid to take on the toughest challenges.

As one of his nominations stated, "As SEC President, Roberto leads the largest engineering student organization on The University of Texas at Austin campus. His position requires a huge, dedicated time commitment and Roberto is respected by his peers and Cockrell School administration for his maturity as a student leader and his willingness to help others. Each day he faces challenges and decisions as SEC president while balancing his schedule as a full-time student. Roberto is a great listener and always willing to go beyond what is asked of him, representing the values of hard work and commitment to others. He is conscientious and thoughtful, always wanting to make the right or best decision for his fellow students."

Following graduation in May, Roberto will move to Houston to work as a cost engineer for ExxonMobil's Baytown area projects. After a few years of experience, he hopes to return to school for an MBA.

Columbia Mishra, Graduate Student

Columbia Mishra receiving her Student Leadership Award.

Columbia Mishra receiving her Student Leadership Award.

Columbia Mishra is a Ph.D. student specializing in Thermal-Fluid Systems in Mechanical Engineering under Chair Jayathi Murthy's supervision. She is presently doing research on a finite volume approach to solve for squeeze film damping in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices. An improved understanding of unsteady rarefied gas dynamics at the microscale is necessary for the development of MEMS switches and resonators. Accurate simulation of these flows demands new approaches combining both continuum and rarefied fluid dynamics formulations hence utilizing a combined ES-BGK/Navier-Stokes model. Please see Dr. Murthy's research site for more information on this work.

Columbia is originally from Malda, West Bengal in India, where she graduated with a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. She received her master of science in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in Thermal-Fluid Systems from Texas Tech University. Columbia worked in the industry for one year at Stress Engineering Services, Inc. in Houston before coming back to graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin in 2009.

Columbia is a member of multiple student organizations including the Graduate Engineering Council (GEC), where she currently serves as president, the College Tuition and Budget Advisory Committee, where she serves as co-chair for the Cockrell School. She is a member of SEEK and ASME, volunteering with ASME at Walnut Creek Elementary School. Columbia is a member of the University Senate of College Councils, serving on the President's Committee. She also represents students on the Student Advisory Council to the Provost (SASP).

Columbia appreciates her involvement with the GEC as it has given her numerous opportunities to closely interact with both student leaders and leaders in academia, all of which have been very inspiring and provided her with great learning experiences. The three main responsibilities of the GEC are to act as the voice of engineering graduate students, be a unifying entity for the students, and provide service and support to the student body. Through Columbia's leadership, the GEC has become a catalyst for positive change that has helped to enhance the graduate student experience in the Cockrell School. As the GEC president, she helped revive Graduate and Industry Networking (GAIN) this year. GAIN serves as an avenue for graduate students to present their research to large hiring entities. She has contributed to the development of programs and workshops for graduate engineering students and strengthened the visibility of the GEC in the Cockrell School through the creation of a monthly graduate student newsletter. Columbia has also appreciated the mentoring with children that she has been able to do through SEEK. The times she has spent with kids makes her think of all those children who are not getting education and it makes her want to do something about it. Columbia considers education the highest priority for the development of society, and through her actions, leads by example.

Anyone who knows Columbia becomes positively affected by her passion and enthusiasm. As one of her nominations stated, "Columbia uses the right balance of cooperation, motivation, and structure to help graduate students come together and work toward common goals. Though she respects each as an individual, she is always ready to devote her time and effort whenever and whereever necessary for the overall success of Cockrell School graduate students. It is obvious how important service to society is to her."

After completing her Ph.D., Columbia wants to continue to pursue research in thermal-fluid systems, hopefully for the space industry. She hopes to contribute to society through policy-making and implementation, especially related to education. Columbia also dreams of becoming an astronaut and visiting outer space one day.


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