Engineering Student Council Honors Ten at Annual Awards Banquet

Five faculty members and five students honored by ESC

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering’s Engineering Student Council (ESC) honored five professors and five students at the 39th Annual Engineering Awards Banquet on Friday, February 24, 2012, held during UC Irvine’s celebration of National Engineers Week (E-Week). One student and one faculty member from each of the Samueli School’s five departments were honored at the dinner.

The banquet is the formal culmination of the E-Week celebration at the Samueli School; the theme this year was “Opening Doors Faster than the Speed of Light.”  E-Week is a nationwide celebration dedicated to not only appreciating the engineering profession but also making the profession better known among the community.

The students were peer-nominated based on their demonstration of leadership and involvement both inside and outside of the university. The faculty members were nominated by students, based on their exceptional dedication to students and commitment to education.


Biomedical Engineering Professor of the Year:  Elliot L. Botvinick   

Assistant Professor Elliot L. Botvinick, Ph.D., has employed several new teaching methods in order to engage and challenge his students in a way that would prepare them for an entry level industry job. To do so, he incorporated a new homework system that required students to turn their assignments in as proposals, which included a cover letter, a problem description, a design, a method of evaluating the design and a budget.  Some of the project designs included a system for measuring changes in vascular resistance as a function of exposure to candidate drugs, a system for incubating cells on a microscopic stage and a laser tweezers experimental design. To ensure the success of his students, Botvinick also increased the number of review sessions he held. Lastly, he has provided guidance to his students who volunteered their time to design a fishing assistance device for a recently paralyzed man. The project has evolved into a BME 195 Special Topics in Biomedical Engineeringclass.

Biomedical Engineering Student of the Year: Vincent H. Chow

Vincent H. Chow is working toward a biomedical engineering degree with a specialization in biophotonics, as well as minors in both a biology and management. In addition to his education at UC Irvine, Chow also attended the Summer Institute for General Management at Stanford University. Chow is most proud of his research at the UC Irvine Heart Disease Prevention Program which has resulted in three publications over the past three years. He has been a participant in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). In addition to school, work and research, Chow is currently the Biomedical Engineering Society president and has continuously worked to improve the organization.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor of the Year:  William J. Cooper

Professor William J. Cooper, Ph.D., teachesby example and knows the importance of understanding the viewpoint of students.  Cooper recognizes that every student is different and the importance of understanding and respecting those differences has helped him better serve his students.  He was recently elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Cooper’s major research interests are sunlight-mediated photochemical reactions in natural waters and free radical chemistry of aqueous solutions. Recently, he has been involved in the application of ozonation for ballast water treatment at full-scale on oil tankers.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Student of the Year: Roxana Carrillo

Roxana Carrillo is working toward a degree in environmental engineering. Sheis a member of multiple student groups on campus, including the Association of Energy Engineers and ESC’s Engineers Mentoring the Future. She is the vice president of internal affairs for the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and is a member and former president of Circle K International at UC Irvine. She has been involved with Circle K since her freshman year and as president she helped coordinate over 9,000 hours of community service and raised $8,000 for various charities. She has taken her experiences with Circle K to her engineering student organizations and shared her skills to her fellow engineers.

Chemical and Material Science Engineering Professor of the Year:  Farghalli A. Mohamed

Professor Farghalli A. Mohamed, Ph.D., believes that teaching and research are inseparable in that one medium generates knowledge and the other transmits knowledge. He is a strong advocate of incorporating undergraduates in graduate research programs through the University of California Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees program (UC LEADS), Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), California Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP) and The Henry Samueli School of Engineering Research Fellowship. His contributions to the careers of undergraduate students go beyond making his laboratories available to them for research experience.  In supervising undergraduate students, he encourages students to consider future graduate education and motivates them to perform well in their studies. 


Chemical and Material Science Engineering Student of the Year: Brianna J. Dong

Brianna J. Dong will be graduating with a degree in chemical engineering and a minor in materials science.  Over the course of her undergraduate career, she has been a student researcher in the lab of William J. Cooper, Ph.D. Her project involved investigating the photo degradation of dissolved pharmaceuticals. She is also the current president of UC Irvine’s chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Through her leadership role, she helped the club on campus grow in membership by 30 percent over the past two years.

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Professor of the Year: Syed A. Jafar

Associate Professor Syed Jafar, Ph.D., has built his teaching philosophy on the elements of clarity, feedback and access, which he derived based on his own experience as a student.  The achievement of which he is most proud has been the discovery of a ground-breaking idea known as interference alignment. A widely held conjecture claimed that wireless networks are fundamentally interference-limited, so as more and more users want to access a wireless network, the data rate per user must be correspondingly lower. Jafar disproved this conjecture and established that wireless networks are not interference limited. He and his team showed that the rate per user in a wireless network does not have to be reduced even when an unlimited number of users access the same communication channel. This extremely counter-intuitive result is enabled by a very sophisticated signal design scheme called interference alignment. He is confident that this idea has a bright future and will change the course of future communication networks.

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Student of the Year: Ahmed Dessouki

Ahmed T. Dessouki is working on a degree in electrical engineering. He is a former president of Eta Kappa Nu, the electrical and computer engineering honor society, and is the current external vice president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) student chapter at UC Irvine. Dessouki is also a member of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society. He helps his fellow students and views it as his chance to give back and share the knowledge and experience he has gained over the years as a leader and student. He is conducting individual research under the supervision of Professor Michael M. Green, Ph.D. Under Green’s guidance, he was awarded the Honorary Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program(UROP) fellowship for his research proposal entitled “Phase Locked Loop.”


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor of the Year: Faryar Jabbari

Professor Faryar Jabbari, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of The Henry Samueli School of Engineering,has created weekly Saturday review sessions, which allows him to build a connection with his students. To introduce a new approach to his teaching style, Jabarri created a web-assisted component to his teaching, which involves dividing difficult lectures into 15-minute intervals that are digitally recorded and made available on the web for students. Following each interval, there is a five-minute quiz to identify the student’s level of understanding and gauge what material needs to be covered in more detail. He approaches teaching by direct contact and communication with his students, with the goal of getting them to understand the material versus just exposing them to the material.

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Student of the Year: Anthony P. Jordan

Anthony P. Jordan will be graduating this quarter with a degree in mechanical engineering and a specialization in propulsions. Next quarter he will be starting graduate school at UC Irvine with an emphasis on control systems. He will continue under the guidance of Professor G. Scott Samuelsen, Ph.D., and continue research in combustion controls. In addition to demonstrating excellence within the classroom, Jordan is currently the president of the Association of Energy Engineers, a group which aims to educate students on energy related topics.