3 Students, 1 Prof Honored by Engineering Society

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. February 28, 2013 – Three New Mexico Tech students were honored by the Society of Professional Engineers on Friday, Feb. 22, in Albuquerque as the Engineering Student of the Year and two runners-up. Additionally, Mechanical Engineering Department associate professor Dr. Nadir Yilmaz won the NMSPE Young Engineer of the Year Award from the New Mexico Society of Professional Engineers.


New Mexico Tech senior Miquela Trujillo (left) won Engineering Student of the Year. Dr. Nadir Yilmaz won the Young Engineer of the Year Award. June Stanley (right) and Ryan Steinbach (not pictured) won honorable mention student awards.


Senior Miquela Trujillo of the Mechanical Engineering Department was named the top award winner, with Ryan Steinbach of Electrical Engineering and June Stanley of Mechanical Engineering named runners-up.

The Society bestows honors on engineering students from each of the three research universities each year at its annual banquet.

Miquela Trujillo

Trujillo is a graduate of McCurdy High School in Espanola, New Mexico. She completed two internships at Los Alamos National Laboratory and worked as a teacher’s assistant one semester. For the past two and a half years, she has worked as a research assistant on campus.

She said her time at the national laboratory was an excellent primer for a career in research.

“I learned how to work with different people – experimenters, engineers, machinists,” she said. “That also taught me the research skills that will help me succeed.”

She has an impressive resume, with many prestigious awards. She was selected for a competitive Summer Research Opportunity Program at the University of Michigan during the summer of 2012, where she conducted experiments on the performance of shape-memory alloys. That program was specifically designed for undergraduates interested in a doctoral program.

She has won several awards from the National Science Foundation and a scholarship from the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium.

Miquela is an officer for the campus chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society and maintains a 3.86 GPA. She has been accepted into one Ph.D. program already and has other offers pending. For her senior design project, she and her teammates are designing a remote-controlled chemistry laboratory that will synthesize explosives.

“I was very surprised, but it was nice to know that my advisors appreciate all the hard work I’ve done,” Trujillo said. “I’d like to thank all my professors, especially Dr. Ghosh and Dr. Yilmaz, for nominating me.”

Her nomination was supported by letters from two professors in her department, Dr. Ashok Ghosh and Dr. Nadir Yilmaz, who wrote that, “Miquela’s qualifications go beyond those typically seen at the undergraduate level. I think she would be a great example of the education and research opportunities New Mexico Tech provides and how a student can achieve greatness through scholastic work, research and service.”

Trujillo has been accepted into three doctoral programs, and is leaning towards the University of Illinois, where she hopes to conduct research in thermal fluids.

June Stanley

A native of upstate New York, Stanley moved to New Mexico 14 years ago. She had earned a degree from SUNY-Delhi in automotive mechanics and worked for several years before deciding to return to school.

She had planned on attending the University of New Mexico, but decided to visit Tech and was sold on the campus in Socorro after touring the facilities.

She said she was surprised to learn she won the award.

“I had no idea I had been nominated,” she said. “

Stanley has worked as an intern at Sandia National Laboratories since July 2011 and has served as a teaching assistant since October 2011 as well. At Sandia, she conducts research in the battery abuse laboratory. She hopes to continue her studies in the Tech master’s program and work at Sandia. She was also the team leader during her junior year of her Junior/Senior Design Clinic team that is designing and building a battery crush tester – a project she brought to Tech from Sandia.

“They [at Sandia] couldn’t find a better crusher that fit their specifications,” she said. “I offered and said, ‘Let us have a whack at it.’ We’ve been doing that for two years and we’re almost finished with construction.”

Stanley said she has learned a lot about being a professional engineer at Sandia and has gained valuable mentors as well.

“Sandia has helped me in knowing what you’re employer expects out of you as an engineer,” she said. “That’s been pretty beneficial.”

She was inducted into Tau Beta Pi during the spring 2011 semester and has been active in the club. She has volunteered for the a variety of events through Tau Beta Pi, including Destination Imagination and the Tau Beta Pi(e) in the Face fundraiser. She has also helped with outreach events at local schools.

Stanley has also successfully navigated the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam. She finishes her degree in May and is looking forward to starting a full-time job. However, she also wants to start graduate school part-time in either explosives or engineering management – or both.

Ryan Steinbach

Like Tech’s other two honorees, Steinbach has been an intern at a National Laboratory for years. He started at Sandia in 2008 and has completed a total of five summer internships at the lab. There, he has worked on organic material synthesis, renovating a heliostat, biological experimentation and analysis, and integrated nanotechnologies.

In his recommendation letter, professor Dr. Robert Bond said that Ryan is an active and effective leader and the consummate professional. Ryan also maintains a stellar 3.97 GPA and is the president of the student chapter of the IEEE.

A graduate of La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, Steinbach said he was shocked to find out that he was one of the finalists. His advisor Dr. Bob Bond nominated Steinbach without his knowledge.

“I was pretty shocked, but I was very honored,” he said.

Steinbach is currently on a Senior Design Clinic team that is developing a triggering system for an acoustic monitoring system that tracks lightning. The current data-logger runs continuously, which forces researchers to comb through massive volumes of data to find lightning events. The trigger will detect lightning, then turn on the data logger.

After graduating in May 2013, Steinbach is planning on attending graduate school. His career goal is to work in research studying radio frequencies.

Dr. Nadir Yilmaz

Yilmaz previously won an international award from the Society of Automotive Engineers as the Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award in 2011. He is an active member of SAE, ASME, ASEE, NSPE, serving as the editor-in-chief for the SAE International Journal of Fuels and Lubricants. This contribution to his industry is done on a strictly volunteer basis, along with being a committee member on the SAE ABET Board, whose mission is to provide accreditation for automotive engineering programs internationally. He is also a registered Professional Engineer in New Mexico.

“I am truly honored by this award as it exemplifies a level of appreciation from the professional engineering community that goes beyond just those efforts that I put forth in the classroom and in my research,” Yilmaz said.

Over the years, he has collaborated with industrial companies and many small businesses to solve challenging engineering problems through NASA S.A.T.O.P, NM Small Business Assistance Program and other research projects.

“I am quite grateful that such efforts have been recognized,” he said. “Additionally, by gaining more recognition from the industrial world, I feel that it may hopefully motivate students to not only pay attention to what I teach, but also to be motivated to go out and bridge that gap between education and industry, as well.”

Yilmaz said he enjoys being a professor because he is helping form the next generation of engineers and scientists.

“Teaching youngsters make me feel younger, more dynamic and most of all happier,” he said. “Beyond teaching, it is my personal duty to prepare them with my engineering knowledge and experience, and to see them become successful engineers. Training our future engineers and being part of the next generation success is the most rewarding feeling. I truly enjoy being able to keep track of my students’ successes and see what great accomplishments they are able to achieve.”

Yilmaz received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from Istanbul Technical University (1999), Bradley University (2001) and New Mexico State University (2005), respectively. Prior to joining Tech, he taught in Mechanical Engineering Department at New Mexico State University.

His research is in the areas of combustion, computational fluid dynamics, modeling of chemically reactive flow, renewable energy and internal combustion engines with emphasis on emissions and alternative fuels. He has been a noted author of about 60 technical papers and reports in these fields.


– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech