Brown Award Winner Lands Graduate Scholarship

SOCORRO, N.M. August 15, 2012 – 2012 Brown Award winner Alyssa Rose Hensley continues to rack up the honors. The chemical engineering graduate was named a Fife Fellow by Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. She was one of 28 new graduate students across the nation to win the $10,000 fellowship.

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 Alyssa Rose Hensley, 2012 Brown Award winner and Tau Beta Pai fellow
“I was really excited to be given this award,” she said. “Funding for students pursuing purely a master’s degree in the U.S. is rare. The Tau Beta Pi fellowship will allow me to better focus on my studies and research without adding additional demands on my time.”

Hensley was also named the Engineering Student of the Year by the Society of Professional Engineers’ state chapter in 2012 and won Tech’s top scholarship her senior year, the Macey Scholarship.

Hensley is entering a master’s program at Washington State University in Pullman. She will be working on computationally modeling the interactions between chemicals and catalysts to engineer better catalysts and improve reaction efficiency. Her efforts are intended to improve the efficiency in various refining and chemical synthesis processes.

She was featured in the Summer 2012 edition of The Bent, the magazine of Tau Beta Pi. In that feature, she said that her ultimate career goal is to work with organizations like Engineers Without Borders and Engineering World Health to improve lives around the world with clean water. She is looking forward to continuing her education in chemical purification, specifically water recycling.

A native of Albuquerque, Hensley graduated from New Mexico Tech in four years with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

In her Macey Scholar profile, she said, “In my time here [at Tech], I have continuously strived for excellence in my classes, sought to share my knowledge with others and given of myself to the Socorro community that has so warmly welcomed me.”

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Alyssa Rose Hensley receiving the Brown Award at the 2012 Commencement ceremony.

Photos by Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech


She developed an interest in engineering through a science project offered at Kirtland Air Force Base. When she was 16, Hensley began taking college courses. She enrolled in the Summer Mini-Course in 2007, which convinced her to come to Tech.

“I picked the Chemical Engineering Mini-Course because of my interest in both chemistry and mathematics,” she said in her Macey Scholar interview. “We got to make biodiesel and drive a go-kart fueled by that diesel. Dr. Weinkauf taught the Mini-Course. From his lectures, it seemed like there was a lot I could do with a chemical engineering degree and that chemical engineering had a much larger real-world impact than just straight chemistry.”

By the time she matriculated at Tech in 2008, she already had 31 credit hours in chemistry and calculus. Hensley has worked at Sandia National Laboratories and at New Mexico Tech, conducting biomedical research for Dr. Michaelann Tartis. She also worked for three years as a teaching assistant for Dr. Corey Leclerc’s class Computer Programming for Engineers.

“What I like about teaching is showing students that what they think is insurmountable is easy to do if you break it down into steps and work through the problem, instead of expecting the answer immediately,” she said. “It’s really neat to see a student struggle, but continue to study and work hard at understanding the material. The best day is when they come in and know how to do it because of all their hard work and your help.”

Hensley was active with several clubs on campus, including InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and Tau Beta Pi, for which she served as president.

Her advisor at Tech, Dr. Michaelann Tartis, praised Hensley as an academic standout and for her character. She said Hensley has earned high respect from her supervisors at Sandia, which reflects extremely well upon all New Mexico Tech students.

“Alyssa is dependable, responsible, polite and easy to work with,” Tartis wrote. “Alyssa has a true hunger for knowledge.”

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By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech