MNE recognizes outstanding student leaders

April 12, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Gathered in the Gurshaney Family E-Knowledge Commons on March 21, the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering (MNE) at Penn State recognized its outstanding students that have made inspirational impacts in their work. Coupled with the Industrial and Professional Advisory Committee (IPAC) annual meeting, esteemed industry professionals were also in attendance to honor the burgeoning engineers.

Karen Thole, distinguished professor and MNE department head, said at the event, “The students we have here this evening are also nothing short of exceptional. We are so proud to recognize their leadership and hard work in all their efforts.”

The endowed awards recognized many of the high-achieving students in attendance. Poised for incredible achievements after their graduations, they were inspired to continue their track record of success.

Student award winners.

Julia Sternberg earned the Boeing Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Junior Award, which recognizes an undergraduate student in mechanical engineering with a high level of scholarly achievement as well as a demonstrated interest in the aerospace industry. Sternberg has received several prestigious awards, including the Evan Pugh Scholar Award in 2018 and the Penn State President’s Award in 2016.

Honoring an undergraduate student in mechanical engineering whose outstanding qualities of leadership, volunteer spirit, and citizenship have been directed into programs and services, the Thomas Briggs Hunter Memorial Award for Student Leadership remembers a mechanical engineering graduate student who was known as a leader in volunteering his or her time. This year, the award went to Marie Horomanski. She earned the honor through her work as president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), among other leadership pursuits.

The Dr. John P. Karidis Department Head's Award for Research Achievement in Mechanical Engineering honors and recognizes mechanical engineering students who have made important contributions in furthering the research in his or her selected areas of study concentration. The award is named for John P. Karidis, a mechanical engineering alumnus ('83 PhD ME), whose commitment to engineering education and innovation prompted his original gift to create this endowed award. Michael Bichnevicius, this year’s recipient, was nominated for his work with MNE faculty member Stephen Lynch in the Experimental and Computational Convection Laboratory (ExCCL).

Shannon Fairchild received the Beecher Loftus Leadership and Service in Nuclear Engineering Award. This Award recognizes a nuclear engineering student who has gone above and beyond in acts of service and leadership related to the field of nuclear engineering. Fairchild’s involvement with the American Nuclear Society and Reformed Undergraduate Fellowship was crucial in securing this award.

Lastly, the John J. Brennan Excellence in Nuclear Engineering Award was bestowed upon Sean Clees. The Brennan Engineering Award honors and recognizes an undergraduate student in the nuclear engineering program for academic excellence, as evidenced by a high grade point average and other academic successes. As a Schreyer Honors Scholar and Erickson Discovery Grant recipient, Clees’ achievements garnered this award through his work with Jacqueline O’Connor in the Reacting Flow Dynamics Laboratory.

“These are some of my favorite events to attend because it honors the strong, service-minded engineers that we educate every year and showcases the impact they can and will have on the world,” Thole said.


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“These are some of my favorite events to attend because it honors the strong, service-minded engineers that we educate every year and showcases the impact they can and will have on the world."



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