Award recipients at the 2018 Class Day

Class Day awards celebrate graduates’ contributions in research and service

By Molly Sharlach and John Sullivan
June 05, 2018

Welcoming graduates and friends to the annual Class Day ceremony on Monday, June 4, Dean Emily A. Carter pointed to a growing enthusiasm for engineering at Princeton.

She commended the Class of 2018’s outstanding work, which included research achievements from designing a method to recycle concrete while neutralizing acid discharges from mining to developing fluid flow sensors inspired by the hairs on bat wings. Graduating seniors were also honored for service and outreach, from tutoring and teaching fellow students to creating design-thinking resources for children.

“People realize that engineers have the ability to make positive changes in the world,” said Carter, the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment.

Carter noted the diverse interests of the graduating class, which includes 338 Bachelor of Science in Engineering recipients and 40 graduates receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees in computer science. Engineering graduates represent more than a quarter of Princeton’s Class of 2018.

She said that many will pursue advanced degrees at universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Oxford and MIT. Some will start their own companies or begin careers at employers including General Motors, SpaceX and Amazon. Others will play professional sports, enter military service or become teachers. Members of the class have received honors including National Science Foundation fellowships, and Fulbright Fellowships.

Carter noted that more than one-third of the graduates are women, adding that one of her goals as dean is to continue to diversify engineering at Princeton. “The entire population of the School of Engineering should look like the general population,” she said. “We’re working hard to achieve that, but we are already a leader in bringing diverse perspectives to the practice and education of engineering.”

The winners of major awards at the 2018 Princeton Engineering Class Day, as presented by Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs Peter Bogucki, were:




A civil and environmental engineering major with certificates in sustainable energy and African studies, Gideon conducted senior thesis work that assessed the benefits of co-locating offshore wind farms with wave-energy generation arrays. Advised by Associate Professor Elie Bou-Zeid, his research used statistical analyses, stability models of floating turbines, and computational fluid dynamics. Gideon, of Rhinebeck, New York, will work as a water resources engineer at Dewberry.



A mechanical and aerospace engineering major, Romer analyzed the distributed control of altitude kinematics of rigid bodies and applied his results to a case of four CubeSats (miniaturized satellites) performing a spacecraft inspection mission. His adviser, Professor Naomi Leonard, was impressed by his insight in connecting theory with a challenging practical problem. Romer, of Oakland, California, will work as a spacecraft guidance, navigation and control engineer at Lockheed Martin.




An electrical engineering major with a certificate in engineering physics, Ateshian focused her senior thesis work on nonlinear signal processing operations on silicon photonic chips. She mastered nonlinear optics, micro-ring resonator theory and coupled mode theory, and used a Mach–Zehnder interferometer for experimental measurements. Ateshian’s adviser, Professor Paul Prucnal, said he was impressed by her insights into the differences between theory and experimental data. Ateshian, of New York City, will pursue a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT as the holder of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.




An electrical engineering major with certificates in applications of computing, and robotics and intelligent systems, Fridovich-Keil served as president of the undergraduate Engineering Council and co-president of Princeton Engineering Education for Kids. She was a math tutor at the McGraw Center, an interactor for advising first-year students, and an undergraduate teaching assistant. Fridovich-Keil represented engineering to prospective students as both an Orange Key and Tau Beta Pi tour guide. Professor James Sturm noted that she “doesn’t just join and do, but through her leadership creates lasting impact … reflecting her deep love of engineering and her desire to help fellow students.” Fridovich-Keil, of Atlanta, Georgia, will pursue a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California-Berkeley.




A civil and environmental engineering major with certificates in architecture and engineering, urban studies, environmental studies, and African studies, DeGiulio used his senior thesis to explore how monumental architecture is used to advance political power and national identity. DeGiulio, of High Bridge, New Jersey, created maps using satellite images to understand the growth of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He analyzed the economic consequences emerging from technical difficulties in constructing monumental buildings. He will attend Ardhi University in Tanzania as the holder of a Fulbright Scholarship.



A computer science major with certificates in visual arts and entrepreneurship, Kapoor has been a forceful advocate for teaching design in many disciplines. In 2017, she created a student-motivated conference called Designation (pronounced design-nation) to bring together undergraduate students from across the country to learn from leading designers. For her independent work, Kapoor created a collection of design-thinking resources for children in grades ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade. Kapoor, of Scarsdale, New York, will work as a project manager at Facebook.




A chemical and biological engineering major with a certificate in engineering biology, Schneider was captain of the women’s lightweight crew team, which recently reclaimed the Class of 1999 Cup from Harvard University. Over the past three years, the team has been highly successful at major races including the Eastern Sprints and the IRA National Championships. Her senior thesis, advised by Professor Michael Hecht of the Department of Chemistry, involved the creation of a library of functional, well-ordered, de novo proteins. Schneider, of Fairfax, Virginia, will be a research associate at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.



A mechanical and aerospace engineering major with a certificate in materials science and engineering, Wambersie was captain of the men’s heavyweight crew team. Coach Gregory Hughes attributed the team’s exceptional performance in the recent Eastern Sprints to Wambersie’s leadership. His senior project, completed with Jonathan Lord, was entitled “Modular Jet Engine Design: an Alternative Power Generation Solution.” For the work, the students designed and built a low-cost turbo generator. Wambersie, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will pursue a master’s degree in the Department of Engineering Science at Oxford University.




An operations research and financial engineering major with certificates in applied and computational math, applications of computing, and statistics and machine learning, Nguyen completed senior thesis work covering two areas of modern applied and computational mathematics: dynamical systems theory and polynomial optimization. Advised by Assistant Professor Amir Ali Ahmadi, Nguyen developed algorithms that could be applied in practical situations such as collision avoidance, as well as using linear programming to advance toward an automated proof of the theorem stating that it’s impossible to place 13 red billiard balls simultaneously touching a blue one — a classic mathematical problem going back to Isaac Newton. Nguyen, of Hanoi, Vietnam, will pursue a doctorate in computer science at MIT.



Electrical engineering majors Broome, Smith and Stanley collaborated to design a single-chip, 100-pixel, 2.8-terahertz, complementary metal-oxide semiconductor camera for video-rate imaging. This detector surpasses the current international state of the art by 10 times. The group’s adviser, Assistant Professor Kaushik Sengupta, said he has not seen any undergraduate project close to it, and it took advantage of the strengths of the three team members: Broome designed the front-end detector, Smith designed the signal amplifiers and Stanley designed the readout circuitry and digital control. Broome, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Stanley, of Mendham, New Jersey, will both continue their studies in electrical engineering at Stanford University. Smith, of Tempe, Arizona, will pursue employment in signal design and computer architecture.



A civil and environmental engineering major with certificates in architecture and engineering, and environmental studies, Conlan developed a novel idea of using old crushed concrete to neutralize the acid drainage from coal mines. The mine runoff is made safe and the released aggregate can be reused in new concrete. Her adviser, Assistant Professor Claire White, said the fact that environmental engineering companies are interested in using Conlan’s approach is a “true testament to her thesis achievements.” Conlan, of Holmdel, New Jersey, will work at Langan Engineering and Environmental Services.




A chemical and biological engineering major, Mengiste worked in the laboratory of Professor Abigail Doyle in the chemistry department. She gained fluency in techniques including organic synthesis, automated chromatography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. In independent projects, she examined chemical reactions and produced work that A. James Link, an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, called a “tour de force.” She served as a peer academic advisor in Butler College and a peer tutor in the McGraw Center. Mengiste, of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will pursue a doctorate in chemistry at MIT.



A mechanical and aerospace engineering major with certificates in materials science and engineering, and robotics and intelligent systems, Pacini pursued several research projects. In the summer before his senior year, he worked on high-pressure compressor cores as an advanced engine design intern at Pratt & Whitney, and the year before developed a computational solver to simulate laser welding at the Institut für Photonische Technologien at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität in Erlangen, Gemany. For his senior thesis, with Marcus Hultmark, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, he designed sensors to study fluid flow over airfoils based on hair-like sensors on bat wings. Pacini, of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, will attend the University of Michigan as a doctoral student in mechanical engineering.




An electrical engineering major with certificates in applications of computing, and robotics and intelligent systems, Hanley is the recipient of the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, the George B. Woods Legacy Sophomore Prize as well as induction into Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. His senior thesis, with Prateek Mittal, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, demonstrated a method to improve security in Tor, a web browser designed to protect users’ anonymity. Mittal called the work “a seminal breakthrough in the field of anonymous communication.” Hanley led the student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and served as a tutor and teaching assistant in the McGraw Center and the electrical engineering department. Hanley, of Windermere, Florida, will spend the year at Worcester College, Oxford, as the holder of the Daniel M. Sachs ’60 Scholarship, and then pursue graduate study at Stanford University with a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.



A chemical and biological engineering major with a certificate in applications of computing, Jiao is the recipient of the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, the Class of 1939 Princeton Scholar Award, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and induction into Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. For her senior thesis, with Professor Athanassios Panagiotopoulos, she modeled changes in free surfactant concentration observed in simulations with applications in catalysis, detergency and biological systems. Professor Richard Register said Jiao was “the most talented student” he has taught in 28 years at Princeton. She served as head teaching assistant for the introductory courses in computer science and was a peer health advisor in Butler College. Jiao, of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, will pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara as the holder of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.