UTEP undergraduate engineering students claimed six of 10 scholarships awarded by the Department of Energy’s Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program to take part in internships at the Kansas City National Security Campus, managed by Honeywell. The UTEP scholarship winners include, from top left to right, Sofia Gomez, Valerie Morales and Brianna Sanchez and from bottom left to right, Stephani Nevarez, Joshua Dantzler and Elsa Bramasco-Rivera. | Photos courtesy UTEP
Six undergraduate engineering students from The University of Texas at El Paso claimed the majority of scholarships awarded by the Department of Energy’s Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program (MSIPP) to take part in internships at the Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC), managed by Honeywell.
MSIPP was created to promote the education and development of the next-generation workforce in critical science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) disciplines that complement current and future missions of the U.S. Department of Energy.
UTEP students claimed six of 10 MSIPP scholarships at the KCNSC, which awarded $43,000 to students from universities throughout the country as part of the organization’s internship and Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs. The UTEP scholarship winners include, Sofia Gomez, Stephani Nevarez, Elsa Bramasco-Rivera, Valeria Morales, Joshua Dantzler and Brianna Sanchez.
“This scholarship is a strong statement of the talent, dedication and excellence of our UTEP students on the national level,” said Yirong Lin, Ph.D., professor of mechanical engineering at UTEP. “It is also a direct reflection of UTEP’s mission of access and excellence. This scholarship will not only motivate students to continue excelling in their engineering education, but also spark their interests in serving the nation by joining a national security workforce as a future career choice.”
The top MSIPP scholarship prize in the amount of $15,000 went to Gomez, who will be a first-generation college graduate when she receives her degree in spring 2021. Upon graduation, she hopes to enter the engineering industry and create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly world.
“The funds from the scholarship will allow me to pay for most of my tuition so that I can focus on completing my degree and getting involved in research,” Gomez said. “The scholarship has not only benefited me but my family as well. My mother has done an amazing job to financially support two college students for the past few years. With this scholarship, she can focus on aiding my brother’s cost of tuition.”
Nevarez plans to pursue graduate studies at UTEP after she earns her mechanical engineering degree in December. She wants to keep learning and continue her research with Calvin Stewart, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical engineering, whom she credits with playing a critical role in her career growth. Nevarez aspires for a career in materials with Honeywell after graduation.
“Winning this scholarship came as a surprise to me especially because I knew most of the people who applied and knew they all had a good chance of winning, so when I was announced as one of the winners, I was very happy and grateful and it made me excited to keep learning,” Nevarez said. “I plan on investing the scholarship to help pay for some of my classes once I start my master’s degree in spring 2021.”
Bramasco-Rivera will begin graduate work in mechanical engineering at UTEP in the spring of 2021. She chose mechanical engineering because she takes an interest in seeing components work together to complete a system. Engineering allows her to explore a combination of mathematics, physics and critical thinking, which she enjoys.
“This scholarship reaffirms that with hard work, anything is possible as it will help achieve my future career goals by funding my master’s classes,” Bramasco-Rivera said. “I plan to make an impact in my chosen industry by always keeping a positive mindset, not only by being a mechanical engineer, but by being a mechanical engineer who graduated from UTEP, exemplifying what it is to be a Miner.”
For Valeria Morales, a junior materials and metallurgical engineering (MME) major, this scholarship will not only help her complete her college career, but also boost her confidence to continue beating the odds as a female Latina in a STEM field. She hopes to serve as a role model for younger females in her family and the community through her success in the engineering industry.
“Thanks to Honeywell, I can focus on what I should look forward to in the future, such as pursuing a master’s degree in MME and doing volunteer work with younger girls in STEM programs,” Morales said.
Dantzler plans to make an impact in his community by serving underrepresented groups when he graduates from UTEP with his degree in mechanical engineering. He intends to engage youths in STEM to ensure that every child can pursue their dreams.
“This scholarship means that I have more time to focus on my education and career … This ensures that I can become a better man, not only for myself, but for my community,” Dantzler said.
Brianna Sanchez discovered her passion for energy production during a summer internship with the El Paso Electric Company in the environmental health department. It was there where she had the opportunity to explore the possibility of the production of biofuels and the transition to coal-free energy production. The experience piqued Sanchez’s interest in the nuclear energy industry. The senior mechanical engineering major hopes to become a project manager at a nuclear power plant when she graduates.
“As I near the completion of my degree entering my senior year, this scholarship has helped fund this important milestone,” Sanchez said. “Rather than worrying about how I could fund this final step in my degree, I am able to focus on my studies and prepare to attend graduate school and join the workforce.”
The scholarships are intended to help undergraduate students with tuition and living expenses. The criteria for selection included a 3.0 GPA with a review of academic transcripts, a recommendation from a professor at UTEP, a second recommendation letter from an additional source and an essay about why the student is pursuing a STEM degree and career path and what impacts they hope to make on society.
“These scholarships demonstrate our commitment to the ensuring the best and most diverse talent pool is available to support our national security mission,” said Nicci Bowman, KCNSC technical manager. “The students from UTEP are of the highest caliber and well deserving of the recognition. They excelled both in their studies and in the internships and REU programs. We congratulate them on their achievements!”
Author: Christina Rodriguez – UTEP Communications