Department of Mechanical Engineering recognizes exceptional undergrads


By Erin Cassidy Hendrick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering is recognizing the achievements of several undergraduate students through its annual awards.

“This year has been uniquely challenging, and the department is proud to acknowledge these distinguished students,” said Karen Thole, distinguished professor and mechanical engineering department head.

The Dr. John P. Karidis Department Head’s Award for Research Achievement in Mechanical Engineering was awarded to Megan Ellery. During her time at Penn State, she began a student venture named Produce Solutions, which aims to develop a service to solve complex supply chain problems, particularly related to produce in rural Kenya. She is also a Schreyer Honors College student and received the Phillips Encouraging Women in Mechanical Engineering Award in 2019.

Ellery also conducts research with Catherine Berdanier, the Clyde W. Shuman Jr. and Nancy Shuman Early Career Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, in the field of engineering education.

The Boeing Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Junior Award was awarded to Isabella C. Gayoso. Her interest in the aerospace industry was also recognized by a Boeing Scholarship in 2020. Gayoso is also a Schreyer’s Honors College student and a Leonhard Scholar, a program for outstanding students in the College of Engineering that assists them in becoming world class engineers.

The Thomas Briggs Hunter Memorial Award for Student Leadership was bestowed upon senior Johnathan P. Vicente. He was recognized for his leadership, volunteer spirit and citizenship qualities, reflecting the award’s namesake. In 2020, Vicente earned the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Penn State Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion for his mentorship as a leader in the Multicultural Engineering Program and the Penn State Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). In SHPE, Vicente is a certified chapter leader by the National Institute of Leadership Advancement and has represented SHPE on the College of Engineering Diversity Round Table.

Due to the pandemic, there will be no ceremony held this spring. However, plans for a celebration in 2021 are under way, with plans to honor both the 2020 and 2021 award recipients.

“We are so excited to celebrate these achievements and hope these future alumni will be able to return,” Thole said.


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Megan Lakatos