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2011 Fall New Grads

Fall 2011 brings an exceptional group of 60 scholars (47 masters students, but many are pursuing doctorates) into the Mechanical Engineering Graduate program. We have selected four of the new graduates to spotlight. All of them have already distinguished themselves in their former or current academic and corporate careers, and all have worked or studied overseas. Three are American citizens who have had very different career paths to date. One is from Nigeria, and this is his first trip to the United States. Two will be working in renewable energy, one in biomedical research, and one in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering (ORIE).

Chris Hadlock

Chris Hadlock

go to top arrowChris Hadlock: Operations Research

Chris, the only native Texan in the group, attended Trinity University in San Antonio studying mechanical engineering from 1998-2000, and graduated with honors from this department in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Professional Accreditation in 2009.

Work Experience: After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin, he went to work for CHP & Associates Consulting Engineers in Houston, Texas and has been with the company until starting graduate work. In his tenure there, Chris was responsible for weather data and local code requirements, calculating all cooling and heating loads for the building; calculating ventilation and exhaust air quantities based on local codes; sizing, selecting, and scheduling all pertinent mechanical heating and cooling equipment; coordinating and developing all mechanical plans and mechanical schedules in accordance with local codes. Several of the larger projects he worked on were the River Oaks Country Club Fitness Center, the Performing Arts Center at Lee College, The Children's Museum of Houston and the Broadway Condominiums.

Research: After six years with the CHP & Associates, he decided to further his education by combining his interests and inclination in mathematics and applied engineering. An interest in active research drove him back to academia, and he settled on Operations Research and Industrial Engineering (ORIE) because of its cross-disciplinary nature. He selected our program because the "department is comprised of a small, close-knit and greatly versatile group of highly talented professors, yet well-funded and fueled by the massive and fast-growing university." He doesn't have a research topic yet, but writes that his most attractive "sub-topics" in the program are:  Modeling of Stochastic Processes, Bayesian Statistics, and Problems in Discrete and Continuous Optimization.

Funding: Chris is currently funded through by a TA position for ORIE, plus a multi-year $9,000 fellowship through the Cockrell School of Engineering.

Ellyn Ranz

Ellyn Ranz

go to top arrowEllyn Ranz: Mechanical Engineering

Originally from Vermont, Ellyn recently completed her bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering, and master's degree in mechanical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where she was a Woodward Fellow (an engineering merit scholarship) and a member of the two honorary fraternities. In the summer of 2009, she spent a few weeks in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where she made ankle foot orthotics at a cerebral palsy clinic in Qiangyuan, China.

Work Experience: Of this experience, she writes: "This experience is what got me more interested in neuromuscular biomechanics, and its direct clinical applications, and was the motivation behind my senior design project. After graduating in December 2010, she worked for the Orthopedic Biomechanics Lab at Washington University as a Research Technician. The projects she worked on involved stiffness measurements of fracture plate constructs for distal femur fractures, and material testing of demineralized bone.  It was during her work and study in biomedical engineering that she realized her main interest was biomechanics. She took electives in that area and began doing research for one of her professors, Dr. Philip Bayly.

Research: While at Washington University, she served as an academic mentor for students with learning disabilities, and found she was passionate about teaching. These interests lead her to continue her education toward a Ph.D. with the goal of a career in academia. Ellyn will be advised by Dr. Rick Neptune in the Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab. Her research will involve lower limb prosthetic or orthotic design and musculoskeletal modeling.

Funding: Ellyn was awarded a $16,000 Diversity Fellowship from the University Graduate School. Dr. Neptune is funding her tuition, and she will become a Research Assistant (RA job title) after the nine-month fellowship ends. She will also receive a $9,000 annual Cockrell School of Engineering supplemental fellowship that is guaranteed for three years.

Marcel Ojinnaka

Marcel Ojinnaka

go to top arrowMarcel Ojinnaka: Mechanical Engineering

Master's student, Marcel Ojinnaka, is from Imo State, Nigeria, where he attended Federal Polytechnic Ilaro and received a National Diploma, in 2002, and the University of Ilorin, where he received his Bachelor's of Engineering in 2007. He was named the Best Graduating Student at both institutions. After he finished his undergraduate work, he went to work for Ariosh Ltd, an Oil Servicing Company in Nigeria, as a Design Engineer until October 2010. He then worked for Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) as a Design Engineer until leaving for graduate studies.

Work Experience: During Marcel's undergraduate years, he worked on a project supervised by Dr. Olusegun H.D. which emphasized waste to wealth conversion with particular focus on the design and fabrication of household items and machinery. After graduation, he worked in the energy sector providing specialized service in oil facility data documentation through point cloud data capture technique. In his last assignment with Mobil Producing Nigeria, he worked with the engineering team building the first set of oil facility platforms to be designed and constructed in Nigeria.

Research: Marcel's experiences in the energy sector provided the motivation for graduate studies. His interests are in the areas of renewable energy and electromechanical systems design, especially gas-powered turbines for electricity generation. He believes that as efforts are made in Nigeria to stop gas flaring and convert hitherto wasted gas to much needed electricity, more knowledgeable manpower will be needed to in this field. He hopes to focus his research in these areas.

Funding: Marcel received a $36,000 one-year fellowship from The Afren Management Fellowship in Engineering, with an option to renew it next year. He also secured a Teaching Assistant position for ME 130L. Afren is an oil and gas exploration company based in London, England. The company has an office in the Woodlands area of Houston. The Cockrell School of Engineering was instrumental in securing this fellowship for Marcel.

Victor Yu

Victor Yu

go to top arrowVictor Yu: Mechanical Engineering

Originally from California, Victor Yu received his Bachelor of Science with Honors at the University of California at Berkley, his master's in Medical Physics from Purdue University, and did post-graduate work at the Yale School of Medicine Department of Therapeutic Radiology. He will be working with Dr. Dongmei (Maggie) Chen in the area of renewable energy at The University of Texas at Austin.

Research and Work Experience: As an undergraduate, Victor tutored middle school students using Lego Mindstorms, and worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Dave Meyers and Professor Al Pisano in the Berkeley Micromechanical Analysis and Design group.

After the junior year, Victor received a RISE scholarship from the DAAD German Academic Exchange Service to do research at Technische Universität Darmstadt in Darmstadt, Germany where he developed an application to integrate vibration measurements, finite element analysis software, and a Matlab controller for active noise cancellation in automobiles

He spent the two years at Purdue getting his master's degree in Medical Physics, working under Dr. Robert Stewart investigating "the effects of radiation quality and oxygen on clustered DNA lesions and cell death." He continued his research as a Postgraduate Associate at the Yale School of Medicine Department of Therapeutic Radiology for the next six months with Dr. David Carlson developing "a mechanism-based approach to predict the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of protons and carbon ions in radiation therapy." The research has clinical applications to improve cancer treatment outcomes in heavy ion radiotherapy.

Although he found medical physics to be an intriguing topic, he was more interested in a career working on problems in renewable energy, energy storage, and energy efficiency—fields he was exposed to as an undergraduate. He decided to attend The University of Texas at Austin mainly because of the extraordinary depth and breadth of energy research done by the department's faculty. He will be working with Dr. Dongmei (Maggie) Chen developing and eventually testing a physics-based, dynamic model of an advanced battery system as a member of her research group, the Advanced Power Systems and Control Laboratory.

Funding: Victor is the recipient of the $35,000 Binning Fellowship in 2011 and the $9,000 per year Thrust Fellowship (2011-2015). He has also been guaranteed departmental funding for subsequent years in the form of a TA or GRA position.


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