Thursday, June 4, 2020
Every spring, the College of Engineering recognizes the graduating senior who has the highest cumulative GPA from each degree program. This year’s Outstanding Seniors are Felix Zhao (computer science), Charlotte Dai (chemical engineering), Rick Franc (computer engineering), Weiyun Jiang (electrical engineering), Meital Carmi (mechanical engineering), and Helene Levy (mechanical engineering). Zhao also received the college’s Academic Honor for having the college’s highest cumulative GPA of 4.0.
With a 3.93 cumulative GPA, Dai earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and minored in Japanese. Dai is honored to be named the department’s outstanding senior.
“During my sophomore and junior years, I always stared at the plaque for outstanding senior award on the third floor of Engineering II. I wished that my name would be on it when I graduated,” said Dai, who graduates with High Honors. “This really is a dream come true for me, because I believe that hard work and curiosity are more important than just being smart.”
Dai will head to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the fall to begin working toward a PhD in chemical engineering with a focus on soft material and polymer research. She feels prepared for what lies ahead because of the opportunities afforded to her at UCSB, such as taking graduate-level courses, completing on-campus research, and developing public- speaking skills.
Franc earned a computer engineering degree with a 3.97 cumulative GPA, graduating among the top 2.5 percent of his class. Interested in coding since the seventh grade, Franc says that UCSB broadened his skills to include the electrical engineering aspect of computers, sparking an interest in computer vision and computer graphics. After interning at Facebook the past two summers, Franc has accepted a position as a software engineering at Facebook in Seattle.
“UCSB has prepared me to work at Facebook by teaching me the fundamentals in several fields of computer engineering and many other topics as well, such as marketing and psychology,” said Franc, who plans to compete in an Ironman competition in Germany next year. “UCSB has also developed my work ethic for the business world, especially through team-driven projects and the high moral standards the faculty and staff at UCSB have instilled in me.”
Both Levy and Carmi, who had comparably high GPA, both received the outstanding senior awards in mechanical engineering. Levy said she was drawn to the field because she knew there would always be problems in the world that mechanical engineers could solve. She will head to UCLA in the fall to pursue her PhD in mechanical engineering, specializing in systems and control.
“UCSB is a great research institution and definitely prepares you for graduate school if you take advantage of the resources available to students,” said Levy, who graduated with High Honors. “I participated in the Tokyo Tech program, one of the many summer research programs supported through the Materials Research Lab, and that is what motivated and prepared me for conducting research.”
Carmi will intern at The Aerospace Corporation this summer and begin graduate school at the California Institute of Technology in the fall to pursue a PhD in space engineering. Her interest in that field started when she was six years old and followed the missions of the Mars rovers, Spirit, and Opportunity. She recalls watching nearly every Space Shuttle launch on NASA-TV, from the time the astronauts arrived at the launch pad until after the launch.
“My dream has always been to design spacecraft and launch vehicles, and specifically, the spacecraft that will safely transport people to Mars to further our exploration and expand our knowledge of our universe,” said Carmi, who graduated with Highest Honors and a 3.98 GPA. “My undergraduate studies in mechanical engineering have prepared me well for a career focused on mechanical work in the aerospace industry.”
Motivated by his passion for inventing gadgets to improve people’s lives, Jiang is headed to Stanford University in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering. After graduating with Highest Honors and a 3.99 GPA, Jiang said that UCSB has prepared him to make a difference in the world.
“The university provided me with invaluable research opportunities, starting my sophomore year,” said Jiang, who grew up in Suzhou, a city in eastern China. “In addition to gaining hands-on experience in a lab, I also developed time management skills and learned to work independently.”