WMU students, faculty take top awards at engineering education conference

Contact: Liz VandenHeede
ASEE NCS Conference at WMU

Second from left, Andrew Messecar is pictured from left to right with with Dr. Tony Kerzmann, ASEE best paper chair and associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering; Dr. Simin Masihi, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and Dr. Matt Cavalli, associate dean of undergraduate academic affairs and professor at WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University students and faculty earned awards at the American Society for Engineering and Education’s (ASEE) 2024 North Central Section Conference, including first place for Best Student Paper and Best Professional Paper and third place for Best Student Poster and Best Student Paper.

Held in March, the ASEE conference was hosted by WMU’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and drew more than 150 attendees from universities across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Faculty members presented papers and facilitated workshops focused on various topics related to engineering education. Undergraduate and graduate students presented posters and conference papers describing student capstone, senior engineering design and independent research projects spanning a multitude of scientific disciplines.

Learn about the awards

First place, Best Student Paper Award: “Quantum and Classical Supervised Learning Study of Epitaxially–Grown ZnO Surface Morphology.”

The paper was authored by WMU doctoral student Andrew Steven Messecar and Dr. Robert Makin, WMU assistant professor of computer science, as well as Dr. Steve Durbin, associate dean at the University of Hawaii’s College of Engineering. The project described in this paper consists of an exploration into the domain of quantum machine learning algorithms, in addition to the application of classical, conventional supervised learning techniques.

“This conference paper is not only my first publication in the proceedings of any conference, but it is also my first lead–author research manuscript to be accepted for publication,” says Messecar. “Receiving the first place award for this manuscript feels particularly noteworthy and I consider it a special highlight in my experience as a graduate student.”

First place, Best Professional Paper Award: “Development of a 3-Credit Multidisciplinary University Autonomous Vehicles Course Without Prerequisites and Open to Any Major.”

The paper was authored by Dr. Nicholas Brown, senior research associate and executive director of WMU's Energy Efficient and Autonomous Vehicles (EEAV) Lab; Dr. Zachary Asher, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Alyssa Moon, associate director of instructional design and development at WMUx; Wendy Swalla, instructional designer senior with WMUx; and students Johan Fanas Rojas, Ali Alhawiti, Pritesh Patil, Parth Kadav and Kira Hamelink. Their paper covers the current iteration of WMU’s introduction to autonomous vehicles course, housed at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences but open to all students.

“Our course helps encourage students from multidisciplinary engineering majors, as well as all majors without prerequisites,” says Brown. “The course focuses on a group project that leverages our EEAV Lab for extensive hand-on experiences with real full-size AV systems.”

In addition to these two awards, doctoral student Neha Sawant earned third place for Best Poster Award with her poster “Novel Eutecto-Gel Methods for Water Purification.” WMU doctoral student Ghazal Rajabikhorasani and Dr. Claudia Fajardo-Hansford, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, also took third place for Best Student Paper Award with their paper titled "Development of an Experimental System for Plasma-Combustion Investigations."

Learn more about the conference and read presentation and workshop abstracts.

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