Voiland College names 2017 outstanding students, faculty, staff

PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State University Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture announced the names of outstanding students, faculty, and staff at its annual convocation ceremony last Thursday. Award winners include the following:

Madison Broers

Outstanding Sophomore: Madison Broers, is a civil engineering student from East Wenatchee, Washington, where she was the valedictorian of her high school class at Eastmont High School.  She has served as an executive assistant at the Pacific Engineering and Design firm. She is the Steel Bridge Club president and secretary for the American Society of Civil Engineers.  She is active in a number of clubs and organizations including the Society of Women Engineers, the Structural Engineers Association of Washington, and the National Society of Professional Engineers. Broers aspires to own a successful engineering firm.

Alyssa Norris

Outstanding Junior: Alyssa Norris, originally from North Pole, Alaska, is a junior in civil engineering.  Over the summer of 2016 as a Jobs Strategy Council intern for the US Department of Energy, she developed and implemented a STEM-enrichment curriculum for inner-city students as well as collaborated with Native American leaders about renewable energy in Indian Country.  Serving as the president for the Society of Women Engineers, she created the “Little SWEsters Program” which pairs freshman with upperclassmen to provide a support system, in order to increase female retention rates in engineering. She also serves as an Honors College Ambassador, giving tours to potential students and families.  As the president of the Harold Frank Engineering Entrepreneurship Institute, she started a monthly newsletter to reach out to alumni, board members, and stakeholders to share student accomplishments. She also creating pop-up classes held in the Frank Innovation Zone. She has won numerous awards and scholarships, including a Fulbright undergraduate award. Norris aspires to be an engineering consultant.

Ryan Summers

Outstanding Senior: Ryan Summers, from Stanwood, Washington, is double majoring in computer engineering and German.  Recently named a distinguished Goldwater scholar, he serves as an embedded systems intern for Hanshaw Virtual University creating hardware, software, and firmware for embedded systems programming platforms.  As an avionics firmware intern for Space X in summer of 2016, he developed Crew Drag spacecraft emergency abort systems.  He has served for the past three years as president of RoboSub Club, where he has theorized and designed the submarine electrical subsystem.  Summers plans on earning his doctorate degree in computer science and conducting research in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and autonomous systems.

Outstanding Teaching Assistant: Abhishek Gannarapu, Mechanical Engineering.

Gannarapu has taught mechatronics for four semesters during his time at WSU. As part of his work, he conducts lab sessions, grades lab reports, trains other teaching assistants, and guides students during lab sessions and term projects. In the mechatronics class, students worked on a project to create a mobile robot that could detect different colored balls, capture them, identify their color, and deliver them to a location. This semester, students have to navigate a mobile robot through a maze and detect different colors. As a teaching assistant, Gannarapu aimed to motivate students and help them understand the relevance of their projects for their future work in industry and academia. As an international student, he also worked hard to improve his vocabulary and accent in order to improve communications with his students. In particular, with guidance from Professor Arda Gozen, Gannarapu worked to slow down and relax his language delivery, which improved students’ understanding. A doctoral student in mechanical engineering, Gannarapu was named the outstanding teaching assistant in mechanical engineering in 2016.  In his spare time, he plays cricket and is captain of the WSU cricket team.


Amit Bandyopadhyay

The Anjan Bose Outstanding Researcher:  Amit Bandyopadhyay, Herman and Brita Lindholm Endowed Chair Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

Bandyopadhyay’s research expertise is in additive manufacturing of metallic and ceramic materials and their composites for structural, biomedical and piezoelectric applications. In particular, his research has focused on the use of laser-based additive manufacturing in implants, including load-bearing metallic implants. His first generation work on stiffness-matched implants or tailored porosity metallic coatings through additive manufacturing to enhance bone-tissue growth is becoming popular in many products around the world. For the past 10 years, he has also worked on infection control using nanoparticles of silver.

“This is the type of research the world needs now to help patients today,” wrote one of his nominators. “He has developed elegant, yet simple, surface modification processes that can be used inexpensively around the world to improve biomaterial function.”

In collaboration with NASA, his group also was the first to show that moon-rock simulant can be directly processed via laser-based 3D Printing or additive manufacturing to produce parts of interest for outer space applications.

During his nearly 20-year career at WSU, Bandyopadhyay received external research funding as PI or Co-PI in excess of $12 million.  He is the inventor of 15 issued US patents, has published more than 265 technical papers including over 185 journal papers, and edited nine books. His research papers have been cited more than 9700 times and his current “H” index is 53, according to Google Scholar. During his time at WSU, he has supervised 17 Ph.D. and 26 MS graduate students, and his students have gone on to careers in industry, academia, and national labs within and outside the US.

He has received funding from a wide variety of agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Nationals Institute of Health (NIH); state agencies such as Life Sciences Discovery Fund, Washington Technology Center and Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation; foundations such as the W. M. Keck Foundation, M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust. He has also received funding from different industries.

His work has also been featured many times in the popular press, including on CNN, CBS, and the BBC. Bandyopadhyay is a fellow of the American Ceramic Society (ACerS), American Society for Materials (ASM International), American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and National Academy of Inventors (NAI). He is also the recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award and  Young Investigator award from the Office of Naval Research.

He is married to and has a life-long collaboration with Susmita Bose, also a faculty member in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at WSU, and they have two wonderful boys, Shohom and Aditya.



jason peschel

Reid Miller Excellence in Teaching Award for Non-Tenured Faculty: Jason Peschel, assistant professor, Construction Management, School of Design and Construction

Peschel has been with WSU since 2006 and has been instrumental in the development of the construction management program.  Faculty and students speak highly of him as a passionate instructor, mentor, and program coordinator.

He works closely with third year students in Estimating I & II, which are considered by many students to be the most challenging courses in the CM program.  The material is hard and he is a tough grader, yet he remains highly respected and liked among his students.  Peschel sets up his students for the expectations of the professional world while providing the necessary support to ensure his students do not fail.

Peschel has been engaged with student organizations and has coached a strong Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) Team that competes in the ASC Region 7 competition.  His commercial teams have now gone six years in a row placing in the top 3 at the competition.

Writes one of his students “I am extremely thankful to have had classes with Jason and have worked with him on the Commercial Team for 2 years. I not only owe an enormous part of my successes at WSU to Jason but also my success in the industry. Jason was always there for me when I needed to talk to him at WSU and we have stayed in touch after my graduation; both on a professional and personal level. Jason will always be someone I turn to for advice and a life-long friend.”



Steven Saunders

Reid Miller Excellence in Teaching Award for Tenured or Tenured-Track Faculty: Steve Saunders, assistant professor, The Gene and Linda Violand School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering

Saunders, who has been with chemical engineering and bioengineering since 2013, is known by his students for his effective and organized teaching and generous office hours.  He explains concepts clearly through various teaching methods, cares about his students, and makes sure that everybody understands the course material.

In his classes, Saunders strives to keep his students engaged and thinking about the subject at hand by combining active teaching methods with classroom technologies.  He has been utilizing various technologies to increase student engagement including Process Simulation Software, Student Response Software, and online videos.  For his CHE 441 course, a course that requires students to learn several software packages quickly, he has prepared several videos to reinforce prior knowledge and teach students old concepts in new ways. Saunders is also the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER award to support his work on a switchable surfactant for the preparation of supported catalysts.

“My friends and I went to his office so many times and he was very passionate, thoughtful, and helpful all the time,” wrote one student.  “English is our second language so we took longer to understand the material, but Dr. Saunders explained to us again and again until we understood.  He was the best instructor I had in ChE courses.  I hope he will be the same even after many years of teaching.”



Lauren Wells

VCEA Employee of the Year: Lauren Wells, Fiscal Specialist 2.

Lauren started her career in the School of MME in 2014 and has been Fiscal Specialist 2 since 2015.  Lauren is often the face of the School of MME, as she interacts with students, faculty and visitors in the main MME office. She does an outstanding job as an ambassador of the school and exceeds all expectations. She is known for her professional and service-minded attitude and strong work ethic. As the fiscal specialist, she is frequently required to work efficiently to meet established schedules and deadlines. She does a phenomenal job organizing and prioritizing her workload to accommodate a variety of demands and “rush” jobs. In the past three years, she quickly became an expert in her technical knowledge, and often can provide helpful guidance related to procedural and school management-related questions.

“Lauren exemplifies impact. She is a service oriented, dedicated professional who is compassionate in dealing with internal and external publics. She inspires a sense of belonging that lead to a welcoming campus environment,” wrote one of her nominators.



Kasey Schertenleib

VCEA Employee Excellence Awards: Kasey Schertenleib, Voiland College Student Services Manager for Undergraduate Programs.

 Schertenleib “is the linchpin that holds together operations in and around student services in the Voiland College,” wrote his nominators.  He is deeply committed to students and has an unflappable and calm disposition that students, his fellow staff, and the faculty and administrators who interact with him deeply appreciate. Among his many responsibilities, he coordinates 12 Voiland College advisors and advises 80 undecided engineering and engineering/computer science students. He is the primary coordinator for Voiland College at Alive! Orientation advising days and coordinates on-campus recruiting efforts. He is known for being meticulous, thorough, thoughtful, and quietly energetic with a keen sense of humor.  Schertenleib is also an integral part of the first impression the college makes on prospective students. As one student who met him as a high school student wrote, “I can honestly say that I may not have even attended WSU if it weren’t for Mr. Schertenleib.  His understanding … was something that I found at no other engineering college and his warmth and kindness to me those first days heavily influenced my choice to attend WSU.


Alan Guyer

VCEA Employee Excellence Awards: Al Guyer, School of EECS Systems Administrator.

Throughout his time in the School of EECS, Guyer has improved his skill set. He is constantly finding new enterprise open source code that can be used within the core servers, saving thousands of dollars on licensing annually. He works hard to maintain Voiland College computer services, so that they run without interruption and puts a lot of effort into testing software and services before any are released for use. He works together with his staff to brainstorm solutions to problems, and he is willing to consider all ideas and provides positive feedback.  Much of his work as a systems administrator happens behind the scenes and often without recognition, but he works tirelessly to improve the infrastructure in the college, his nominators say.  He works hard to ensure that other staff people feel that they are an important part of the team. Often, one can stop by his office and see him at the whiteboard, explaining systems configuration or network design to his colleagues. “He inspires the staff to step up their game by leading by example,” wrote one of his nominators.  “He has often commented that this is the best job he has ever had and it shows.”