College of Engineering and Applied Sciences recognizes its 2024 Presidential Scholars

Contact: Liz VandenHeede

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences is honoring seven outstanding students as its 2024 Presidential Scholars, the highest academic honor that Western can bestow on its undergraduates. Selection is based on a student's general academic excellence, academic and artistic excellence relative to their majors, and intellectual and artistic promise.

Ally Block

Ally Block

Presidential Scholar in Chemical and Paper Engineering 

Ally Block says her favorite memory from WMU was serving as president for the registered student organization Ts'ai Lun. “Being in this role allowed me to bridge the gap between industry professionals and our student body, creating valuable connections and opportunities for growth,” explains Block.  

She plans to apply these hands-on experiences to her role at Solenis in Vancouver, Washington, after graduation. Block is excited to enter the pulp and paper industry in commercial sales, an industry traditionally dominated by men.  

“I look forward to making a significant impact and establishing a pathway for future women engineers in the pulp and paper industry,” says Block.  

Block’s academic, professional and personal journey was heavily influenced by Jen Johnson, board liaison for the Paper Technology Foundation, who has served as a source of inspiration and motivation. Johnson encouraged Block to push limits and strive for personal growth, which she plans to continue at Solenis.  

“The opportunities for mentorship and professional growth within Solenis will undoubtedly contribute to my continued development and success in the industry,” says Block. 

Follow Ally Block on LinkedIn to see where her career takes her. 

Summer Yeck

Summer Yeck

Presidential Scholar in Civil and Construction Engineering 

After eight years working in the hospitality industry, Summer Yeck transferred to Western in 2022 to pursue an engineering career. She became involved on campus by joining the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences' registered student organization Engineers Without Borders, serving as treasurer. She was also rewarded for her dedication to transportation as an Institute of Transportation Engineers Scholarship recipient.  

Yeck has found her passion in the transportation industry and has accepted a full-time position with the Michigan Department of Transportation within their Engineering Development Program (EDP) in Muskegon, Michigan. 

“I am excited for the opportunity in the EDP to work in many different areas of transportation engineering before being placed in a position,” says Yeck. “Getting to see the transportation industry from so many different perspectives is a great way to start my career.” She plans to continue pursuing her goal of one day becoming a project manager. 

Follow Summer Yeck on LinkedIn to see where her career takes her. 

jin Park

Jin Park

Presidential Scholar in Computer Science 

Jin Park is excited to enter and explore the fields of artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. This innovative technology drives Park’s motivation to learn more about the industry.  

“I believe that computer science is the best tool for helping a wide array of individuals, and that motivates me to work hard,” says Park. “I am excited about the opportunity to learn and use skills to develop solutions that can protect and empower individuals and communities.” 

Receiving the presidential scholar distinction isn’t something Park takes for granted. He dedicates his growing passion for computer science to the encouraging staff and faculty of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. 

“This honor was not just a recognition of my academic achievements but a testament to the supportive and stimulating environment at WMU,” says Park.   

Dr. Steve Carr, chair and professor of computer science, and Colin MacCreey, faculty specialist of computer science, helped guide Park through complex concepts and encouraged his critical thinking. Stevie Prellwitz, academic advisor, helped him navigate his academic journey most effectively and allowed him to make the most of his time at WMU while establishing a solid foundation to pursue his future endeavors. 

“I'm eager to explore and gain experience across a variety of topics,” says Park. “I’m open to embracing any roles related to artificial intelligence or cybersecurity, as they will provide valuable opportunities for me to broaden my knowledge and skills in these cutting-edge domains.” 

Follow Jin Park on LinkedIn to see where his career takes him. 

Sergei Akhmatdinov

Sergei Akhmatdinov

Presidential Scholar in Electrical and Computer Engineering 

Sergei Akhmatdinov, B.S.E.’23, has made the most of his time at Western, mentoring students, publishing articles and pursuing research. He collaborated on two publications with Western faculty and staff and held research assistant positions within the Computer Architecture and System Research Laboratory and the Center for Advanced Smart Sensors and Structures. 

Akhmatdinov’s research interests include computer architecture, embedded systems, hardware-software co-design, compilers and high-level synthesis. Along with his research pursuits, he works as a tutor in mathematics, computer science and physics. 

“Without the guidance and support from faculty and staff in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Computer Science, I would never be where I am today,” says Akhmatdinov.

Since graduating with his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering in December, Akhmatdinov plans to pursue a doctoral degree in computer engineering at the University of Michigan, where he will work with Dr. Robert Dick, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science.  

“[Challenges in the field call] for inventive research into new computing solutions that break away from traditional approaches. I find that there are many opportunities for optimization currently, both in hardware and in software,” says Akhmatdinov. “With so many open problems to solve and systems to optimize, it is hard not to be excited about the field.” 

As for his long-term goals, Akhmatdinov envisions returning to higher education. “I aspire to lead my own research laboratory as a university professor, driven by my deep passion for cutting-edge research and a commitment to mentoring students.” 

Learn more about Sergei Akhmatdinov's career at 

Alex Seymour

Alex Seymour

Presidential Scholar in Engineering Design, Manufacturing and Management Systems

Alex Seymour looks forward to the exciting future of engineering and its rapid evolution. He currently works full-time as a plastic injection mold designer and plans to transition from tooling design to product design after graduation.  

“My goal is to become a design engineer who works on creating and refining product designs from the ground up. I have always enjoyed bringing new ideas to life and working through the challenges that unfold,” says Seymour. 

Overall, Seymour has enjoyed his time in his engineering design, manufacturing and management systems courses. He experienced a full-circle moment when he recognized a problem in one of his classes that he had originally seen on a professor’s board during his first visit to Western. Thinking about how difficult that drawing appeared back then to being able to conquer it today left Seymour feeling confident in his academic experience. 

“I felt an overwhelming sense of pride that I had made it to the level where creating a drawing of that nature was well within my capabilities,” explains Seymour. “At that moment I realized how far I had come at WMU and how proud I am to be a Bronco.” 

Follow Alex Seymour on LinkedIn to see where his career takes him. 

Nathan Snyder

Nathan Snyder

Presidential Scholar in Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering and Engineering Management 

Nathan Snyder looks forward to supporting the development of the newest technology in the aerospace industry. He currently works as an intern with Marshall Space Flight Center and hopes to transition to a full-time position shortly after graduation.  

“I am currently working in the engineering cost office and am very happy with the work I am doing there,” says Snyder. “It is a position where I constantly learn new and better ways of doing things with plenty of changes.” 

Tackling these challenges and meeting new people is something Snyder has enjoyed throughout his time at Western. As a member of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences registered student organization, the Western Aerospace Launch Initiative (WALI), he has developed teamwork and problem-solving skills that will help him throughout his future career.  

“Developing a small satellite is no easy task, but working with students from all different majors to solve difficult problems has been very rewarding,” says Snyder. 

Adam Tuckey

Adam Tuckey

Presidential Scholar in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 

Adam Tuckey is eager to further his academic journey in mechanical engineering as he begins graduate school at Stanford University in fall 2024. After he graduates from Stanford, Tuckey will begin working full-time for Edwards Air Force Base as a civilian flight test engineer.  

“Being an engineer makes me most excited to work on real projects that have a major impact on the world,” says Tuckey.  “My day-to-day work as a flight test engineer will have a direct influence on the safety of our airmen performing military operations overseas.” 

Tuckey was guaranteed his full-time position as part of the U.S. Department of Defense Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship he received in 2022. This prestigious award also includes full tuition, including books, generous annual stipends ranging from $25,000 to $38,000 and a Department of Defense summer internship. 

“This award gives students a chance to not only drive engineering innovation but also protect the security of our nation,” says Tuckey. “This is why I am so grateful for receiving a SMART scholarship.” 

Tuckey thanks professors Dr. Parviz Merati and Dr. Kristina Lemmer, both professors of mechanical and aerospace engineering, for providing the support to pursue and achieve his ambitious goals. The opportunity for hands-on experience in WMU labs are what helped Tuckey advance in his academics and gain the confidence to enter the aerospace engineering industry. 

Follow Adam Tuckey on LinkedIn to see where his career takes him.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.