Three uniquely accomplished students to represent MNE as student marshals

April 19, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Three uniquely accomplished students in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering (MNE) have been selected to serve as student marshals for the College of Engineering's 2018 spring commencement. Engineering student marshals are selected for their outstanding scholarship and academic achievement.

Center Valley, Pennsylvania native and Schreyer Honors Scholar Sean Clees will represent nuclear engineering. He was drawn to the field because of its overarching impacts on all of society. “Power touches everything we as humans do,” he explained. “If I can affect the world of power, I can touch everything! That’s something that engineers in particular can do and that I can do.”

During his undergraduate education, Clees earned the John J. Brennan Excellence in Nuclear Engineering Award and the Penn State Provost’s Award. But it’s his work as an accomplished undergraduate researcher that Clees credits with inspiring his future career plans. From working with Jacqueline O’Connor, assistant professor in ME and Clees’ faculty escort, he said, “Working with her opened my eyes to the field of combustion. I plan to earn my doctorate and study it going forward.”

Devoting his time studying the fluid mechanics of swirling jet combustion, Clees said, “My research challenged and engaged me in ways I didn’t expect.” Through this work, he was the first author on a paper titled, “Vortex Core Dynamics in a Swirling Jet Near Vortex Breakdown”, which he presented at the 2018 AIAA SciTech Forum.

Accepted into a doctoral program at Stanford, Clees is confident he will remain in academia. “I’m so sad to be leaving Penn State, but I’m excited for what’s next!”

Philip Crompton, from Exton, Pennsylvania, will represent mechanical engineering at the spring commencement ceremony. As a double major in mechanical and biomedical engineering, his interest lies in innovating health care through impactful engineering. “I did a lot of research in the Artificial Heart Lab,” he said. “There is so much that hasn’t been invented yet. Modern medicine is wonderful but I know we can bring it so much farther.”

Crompton added, “The versatility of my degree was great because it allowed me to learn about so many different aspects of engineering and also shows what I’m interested in.”

During his academic career, he earned the President’s Freshman Award, President’s Spark Award, and the Evan Pugh Senior Scholar Award. Also Schreyer’s Honors Scholar, Crompton said he was excited when he found out he would be representing the mechanical engineering major. “It’s very flattering, it’s definitely a big deal to me,” he said. He will be escorted by Keefe B. Manning, professor of biomedical engineering.

After graduation, he will be heading to Flagstaff, Arizona to join W.L. Gore & Associates to begin improving healthcare equipment, including cardiovascular and implant devices.

James Smith, graduating in mechanical engineering with a minor in engineering leadership development, will represent the ROTC as a student marshal in the ceremony. Joining the United States Navy directly out of high school, Smith is proud to represent the many services members at Penn State. “Everyone impresses me with their commitment. Everyone is so involved in the community and I’m happy to be a part of it,” he said.

Hailing from Alhambra, California, Smith was drawn to the mechanical engineering degree to give him the fundamental understanding of the systems and processes the Navy relies on every day to protect and serve the nation. “I was an electronic technician in the Navy before I came to Penn State, but now when I go back, I’ll be able to understand all of their systems from a foundational standpoint,” he explained.

He also served as the leader of Penn State’s Human-Powered Vehicle Challenge team for the American Society of Mechanical Engineer’s (ASME) E-Fest East, held in April. Always taking leadership positions, he said, “I really liked getting the team together to accomplish a goal.”

In addition to his leadership experience, Smith earned a place on the Dean’s List every semester. He also devoted his time volunteering for the Special Olympics.

Smith will be escorted by Captain Scott Young, his commanding officer. After graduation, he will return to active duty in the Navy and begin working on submarines. “I am going to use the knowledge and mindset that I learned at Penn State, so it will be very helpful.”

This year’s commencement ceremony will be held on May 4 in the Bryce Jordan Center.  More information about the ceremony can be found here.


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Sean Clees

Sean Clees, nuclear engineering student marshal

Philip Crompton

Philip Crompton, mechanical engineering student marshal

James Smith

James Smith, ROTC student marshal



The Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the nation’s largest and most successful engineering departments. We serve more than 1,000 undergraduate students and more than 330 graduate students

We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S., M.Eng.) graduate degrees in nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering. MNE's strength is in offering hands-on experience in highly relevant research areas, such as energy, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems.

Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519