Duke and Pratt Award Degrees to 382 Undergraduate and Graduate Students

Duke University and its Pratt School of Engineering awarded degrees to 382 undergraduate and graduate students May 13 and Dean Kristina M. Johnson told Pratt's Class of 2007 and their families and friends at a Chapel celebration that "It's a perfect time to be an engineer."

Johnson awarded Bachelor of Science in Engineering degrees to 212 students, including eight who completed their work in December and six last September, before a crowd of students, parents, friends and relatives in Duke Chapel, and an Internet audience watching the ceremonies on the web.

Pratt also awarded 77 Master of Engineering Management degrees, and the university's Graduate School awarded Doctor of Philosophy degrees to 42 engineers who completed their work in 2006-07, and 51 Master of Science degrees to Pratt engineers.

Three graduating seniors won Pratt's Walter J. Seeley Scholastic Award, which is given by the Engineering Student Government to the student who has achieved the highest scholastic average in all subjects. The award, given for the first time to three students who had perfect 4.0 grade point averages, went to Meredith Brooke Cantrell, Amy Rachel Motomura and Noah K. K. Sakimura.

Duke's university-wide commencement ceremonies began at 10 a.m. in Wallace Wade Stadium. University President Richard H. Brodhead presided and General Motors Chairman Rick Wagoner, a 1975 graduate of Duke and member of the university's board of trustees, delivered the commencement address.

In Pratt's hour-long afternoon ceremony in the Chapel, Johnson said the major challenges facing the world today are not much different from those that existed when she graduated from college 26 years ago. There was an energy crisis, a hostage crisis, growing concern about jobs migrating offshore and there was a newly observed hole in the ozone layer shielding Earth from harmful radiation. Since then, the United States has increased its dependence on foreign oil, and terrorism has escalated. Johnson said most people believe that changes in the global climate are heavily influenced by human behavior. And manufacturing and engineering jobs as well as research and development are being outsourced.

"The issues are similar, they just seem more complex and acute," Johnson said. "What made this country great is the ability to engineer and create new products, technologies and companies that even a few years ago were unimaginable. Have we lost our inventive talent, spirit and will? Hardly."

Consider this, she said: Since the Class of 2007 has been at Duke, Apple opened its first iPod store, and last month the company sold its 100 millionth iPod. Facebook was founded in the students' freshmen year. Today is it is the No. 1 Internet site for digital pictures. Google went public in their sophomore year. Today it dominates its field because Google engineers developed the world's best Internet search engine technology, she said. YouTube also was founded in their sophomore year and last year its three young developers sold it to Google for $1.67 billion.

"It's a perfect time to be an engineer – the pace of innovation is accelerating and exhilarating, and survival will go to those who invent or reinvent themselves utilizing superior technology. So what's next?"

"The engineer of the future will need to be a good steward of the planet and work globally to address behavioral and cultural challenges such as equitable access to energy and water, while being mindful of the need to conserve, remediate and preserve our environment," Johnson told the new engineers. "We are at a tipping point – and you have the power and knowledge to tip us in the right direction."

In a second address, Pratt Senior Class President Benjamin Schaefer Abram complemented Johnson's comments.

"Our generation has graduated to a wave of crises," Abram said. "Everywhere you look there are monumental energy, environmental and public health dilemmas that beg for solutions. … We, the engineers of the 21st century, will require wisdom and sophistication to solve the problem sets that we'll face after today. … Pratt and Duke have prepared us well."

Here is a list of Pratt's winners of special prizes and awards:

  • The Walter J. Seeley Scholastic Award -- Meredith Brooke Cantrell, Amy Rachel Motomura and Noah K.K. Sakimura (Presented to the student or students who have achieved the highest scholastic average in all subjects, and who have shown diligence in pursuit of an engineering education.)
  • The Otto Meier, Jr. Tau Beta Pi Award -- Zaid Nasr Al-Husseini and Sophia Anne Strike (Given to the graduating Tau Beta Pi member or members who symbolized best the distinguished scholarship and exemplary character required for membership.)
  • The Pratt School of Engineering Student Service Award -- Tzuo Hann Law (Given to the graduating senior who, by his or her contributions of time, effort and spirit, has significantly benefited the community of the Pratt School of Engineering.)
  • The da Vinci Award -- Meredith Brooke Cantrell and Amy Rachel Motomura (Presented to the biomedical engineering student or students with the most outstanding academic record as determined by a faculty committee.)
  • The Helmholtz Award -- Joanne Rochelle Noble and Sophia Anne Strike (Presented to graduating senior or seniors who present the best research projects as judged by the departmental faculty.)
  • The Theo C. Pilkington Award -- Todd Michael Seaver (Given in recognition of outstanding perseverance and accomplishment in the study of biomedical engineering.)
  • The American Society of Civil Engineers Prize -- Nicole Lynn Axelrod and Claudia Fischmann
    (Awarded to outstanding seniors in civil engineering on the recommendation of the faculty of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.)
  • The William Brewster Snow Environmental Engineering Award -- Bibek Joshi (Presented to a senior who has demonstrated academic excellence, interest and enthusiasm in the study of environmental engineering.)
  • The Aubrey E. Palmer Award -- Claudia Fischmann (Presented to a civil engineering senior in recognition of outstanding academic achievement.)
  • The Eric I. Pas Award -- Nicole Lynn Axelrod and Todd Sanders Cobb(Presented to graduating civil engineering seniors judged by the faculty to have conducted the most outstanding independent study project.)
  • The George Sherrerd III Memorial Award in Electrical Engineering -- Benjamin Radcliff Macadangdang
    (Awarded to a senior in electrical engineering who, in the opinion of the faculty, has attained the highest level of scholastic achievement in all subjects and who has rendered significant service to the School of Engineering and the university.)
  • The Charles Ernest Seager Memorial Award -- Benjamin Radcliff Macadangdang (Recognizes outstanding achievement in the annual Student Prize Paper Contest of the Duke branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or significant contributions to electrical engineering.)
  • The Charles Rowe Vail Memorial Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award -- Ronal George Abraham (Recognizes the most outstanding undergraduate teaching assistant in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.)
  • The Pi Tau Sigma Scholarship Award -- David Kenneth Walker(Presented to the outstanding senior in mechanical engineering on the basis of academic excellence, engineering ability and leadership as judged by a faculty committee.)
  • The Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science Faculty Award --Noah K.K. Sakimura (Presented to the graduating mechanical engineering senior who has attained the highest level of scholastic achievement in all subjects.)
  • The Raymond C. Gaugler Award in Materials Science and Engineering -- Michael Sandon Humeniuk(Presented to the senior who has made the most progress at Duke in developing competence in materials science or materials engineering.)

Students graduating with departmental distinction:

Biomedical Engineering: Anne Marie O. Amacher, Jarred Matthew Callura, * Meredith Brooke Cantrell, Daniel Edward Carlin, *Aaron Lee Carlson, Al-Hafeez Zahir Dhalla, *Matthew Jared Furlow, Justin David Hilliard, *Julia Leigh Hubert, John Kang, Ara Amirian Kardashian, Keigo Kawaji, Turan Altay Kayagil, Tzuo Hann Law, *Christine Mary McMahon, Amit Mukesh, Momaya, William Edward Monaco, *Katie Marie Myers, Joanna Rochelle Noble, Matthew Thomas Novak, Katherine Grace Oldenburg, Cheng Wen Dominic Ong, Patrick Laurence Parish, Maher Salahi, John Michael Schoenleber, *Matan Isaac Setton, *Nathaniel Jason Smith, Emily Anne Spataro, *Sophia Anne Strike, *Rebecca Elizabeth Wilusz, Frank Fang Yu and Xiaoning Yuan.
*Those with an asterisk received the Howard G. Clark Award.

Civil Engineering: Nicole Lynn Axelrod and Bibek Joshi.

Electrical and Computer Engineering: Deepak Bastakoty, Richard Curtis-Klein Harting, Benjamin Radcliff Macadangdang and Isaac Nagiel.

Mechanical Engineering: Jeremy Andrew Baldoni, Lisa Janelle Burton, Frank Stewart Coleman III, Nishanth Krishna Dev, Lori Carol Hennemeier, Michael Sandon Humeniuk, Andrew John Longenecker, Alan Daniel McCartt, Noah K.K. Sakimura and Wendy Young.

International Honors Program: Amy Rachel Motomura.