Voiland College names 2024 outstanding students

A group of students with certificates and awards pose with the dean and associate dean of WSU's Voiland College.
2024 Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture outstanding students with Dean Partha Pande and Associate Dean Shelley Pressley.

Washington State University Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture recognized outstanding students at its annual convocation ceremony on April 11. The event was sponsored by the Boeing Company. Honored award winners included:

  • Outstanding Sophomore: Rylee Gannon

    A chemical engineering major with a 3.8 GPA, Rylee Gannon is a research assistant for Professor Steve Saunders, where she synthesizes and characterizes nanomaterials for use as catalysts in oxidation reactions Gannon also works in the Frank Innovation Zone and is an active member of the Society of Women Engineers.
  • Outstanding Junior: Ethan Villalovoz

    Ethan Villalovoz is a computer science student with a GPA of 3.99, specializing in data mining, machine learning, and data science.

    Some of his more notable achievements include being a CS Research Mentorship Program Scholar, a Generation Google Scholarship Recipient, and a Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar.

    He has also engaged in extensive extracurricular activities, including internships at Google and a research position at Carnegie Mellon University.
  • Outstanding Senior: Katy Ayers

    A Fulbright Fellowship Award and Marshall Scholarship Semifinalist, Katy Ayers is the first WSU student to win the Udall Scholar in Environment award. Her thirst for knowledge has given her robust research experience around the country and the world. One of Ayers’ nominators said, “Although I have worked with many outstanding students in my 20 years of teaching at the undergraduate level, I don’t think I have met anyone with Katy’s experiences, accomplishments and passion. She is motivated, demonstrates curiosity and critical thinking and communicates incredibly well.”
  • Outstanding Teaching Assistant for grading/office hours: Kutay Sesli

    Kutay Sesli’s nominators were impressed by his innovative approaches and genuine care for students this past year. Kutay recognized that that conventional ways to grade assignments might not provide a full picture of where students need improvement, so he took the initiative to develop an innovative, consistent, fair, and detailed grading system that helped students develop trust in the grading process and a better understanding of how to improve their performance throughout the semester. He approaches each task with the mindset of a true engineer, and the results left no doubt that his grading was done with meticulous attention to detail and with the best outcomes for students in mind. Among the feedback students have given include: “Kutay is the best TA all semester, excellent job!” and “Kutay is dope!”
  • Outstanding Teaching Assistant — Teaching/Instruction: Chris Pereyda

    Chris Pereyda has served as teaching assistant in several courses, including Introduction to Computer Programming. In one of his courses there were more than 500 students. One of those students said of Chris: “He is one of the best TAs I have ever had the pleasure of learning from. Being a Computer Science student can be difficult, but his explanations and knowledge of the source material helped me grasp some of the concepts better and persevere.”

    One of his faculty members said, “Chris was one of my most reliable, impactful, and effective TAs during my twenty years of teaching at WSU. Chris is the ideal example of a lead teaching assistant. He is knowledgeable in the area, patient with TAs and students, flexible and adaptive to different TAs’ and students’ styles and paces. There is not a better example of a TA than Chris.
  • Outstanding Research Assistant: Ali Mahmoodigahrouei

    As a PhD candidate at WSU, Ali Mahmoodigahrouei has shown an exceptional academic record and research skills. Since joining WSU in 2022, he has published 14 impactful papers with over 300 citations, earning several prestigious awards, including the David C. Goss Scholarship and the “UTC Outstanding Student of the Year Award.” His nominators feel he consistently goes above and beyond expectations, managing multiple projects simultaneously and with great success. He also excels as a mentor, effectively supervising undergraduate students while providing valuable assistance to other PhD students in his research group.
  • Outstanding Dissertation: Lin Shao

    Lin Shao’s nominators say that he is a truly exceptional graduate student and has done excellent research on chemical recycling of plastic waste by aminolysis and utilization of the recycled compounds for preparation of new polymer materials. His thesis research has received a broad interest from researchers around the world. Shao, as one of guest speakers, was invited to give a seminar at the Royal Society of Chemistry and Chemistry World. His research was also featured by “The Voice of America.”

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