2015 Mechanical Engineering Student Recognitions

Tom Decker:

Tom Decker, a new mechanical engineering graduate student, recently won a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship recognizing him as an outstanding graduate student in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Among a pool of 2,000 awardees, Decker was selected from 16,500 applications for this fellowship. His passion to work with renewable energy on an international stage directed him to mechanical engineering at Colorado State University in collaboration with Factor(E) Ventures. When asked what the fellowship means to him, Decker responded, “The award means flexibility, endless networking, and potential international experiences that would build practical engineering skills. Most of all, the fellowship means I can create my own opportunities and choose a project that I believe has the greatest ability to influence positive change.” His goal is to one day increase energy access to those in the developing world through means of renewable resources and to deem himself a humanitarian engineer – a person who shares their skills and knowledge with the world.

Sam Allsup:

Sam Allsup, a mechanical engineering undergraduate student, recently won a CURC Award (Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity) through Colorado State University for his research in Functional Maturation of IPSC-Derived Human Liver Cells in Engineered Co-Cultures. In his work, he cultures induced pluripotent stem cell-derived hepatocytes (liver cells) and adds different compounds to the cell’s media in order to improve their liver-specific functions, as well as surrounds them with different cell types to make a more personalized and physiologic model. His goal within the field is to contribute to the future of personalized medicine. “Winning this award, to me, means that I am on the right track. It means that I am doing what I need to in order to get myself into a position where I will be able make an impact on the field,” Allsup said. Other notable achievements by Allsup include co-authoring a paper published in the Journal of Hepatology titled “Enhancing the Functional Maturity of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell–Derived Human Hepatocytes by Controlled Presentation of Cell–Cell Interactions In Vitro” (March 2015), which received the outstanding undergraduate research award from CSU’s School of Biomedical Engineering. He soon hopes to submit a paper as first author on the work he has conducted over the past year-and-a-half.

Carlos Quiroz:

Carlos Quiroz, a mechanical engineering Ph.D. student, recently earned the Raju Jairam Scholarship, allowing him to continue his well-rounded engineering education. At the Catholic University of Honduras, Quiroz received a B.S. in environmental engineering which led him to a M.S. degree in geoenvironmental technology from Central American Technology University. Before being accepted into CSU’s Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering, Quiroz received another M.S. degree in civil engineering from CSU. Quiroz is passionate about researching renewable energy technologies, and for 10 years, was a private consultant for a variety of developing countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Since attending CSU, Quiroz has gained a wealth of knowledge in a variety of renewable energy technologies, including: waste to biogas conversion, algae and cyanobacteria based biofuels, solar, and hybrid electric vehicles. Only one year into his Ph.D. education, Quiroz published a paper in the Journal of Algal Research concerning combined algae-based biofuels and wastewater facilities, and will soon have a second paper published. In 10 years, Quiroz sees himself as a professor, whose research influences state-of-the-art bioenergy technology in scalability, life cycle assessment, optimization, and application of novel bioenergy alternatives for the underdeveloped and developed world, along with inspiring his students to join the efforts. He says he will continue to consult with the goal of improving current practices concerning waste and wastewater management in Latin America, including in his home country of Honduras.

Ciprian Dumitrache:

Ciprian Dumitrache, a mechanical engineering Ph.D. student, was recently honored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics with the prestigious “Gordon C. Oates Air Breathing Propulsion Award.” This award is given to graduate students conducting research related to combustion or fluid mechanics of air craft engines. Air breathing propulsion systems oxidize fuel during the combustion process using air that has been taken directly from the atmosphere. This system is included in propulsion devices that use air such as, jet engines, scramjets, ramjets, and the vast majority of reciprocating engines. After years of interest in space exploration, Dumitrache, with the help of his chemistry professor, started experimenting with small fuel grains for rocket motors. He applied for an aerospace engineering program and continued his education thereafter with an M.S. and Ph.D. Dumitrache’s current research is being conducted under the guidance of mechanical engineering Professor Azer Yalin and is focused on developing novel laser ignition approaches for assisted combustion in engines. In the future, he hopes to steer his research towards rocket and scramjet propulsion and study the interaction between plasma and the combustion environment. When asked what receiving the AIAA award means to him, Dumitrache responded, “The AIAA awards are very prestigious and winning this award means that I am being acknowledged by the leaders in this field. However, this award is not only recognition of my research efforts, but also recognition of the high-level research that is being conducted in our group – Center for Laser Sensing and Diagnostics, and at CSU in general.” One day, he hopes to teach at the college level, inspiring new generations of students to become knowledgeable and passionate about lasers, combustion, and aerospace engineering.