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Bagley College inducts eight to Student Hall of Fame

April 29, 2015

The Bagley College of Engineering added eight to its Student Hall of Fame at an April ceremony at Old Waverly Country Club. Pictured from L-R: Front row - Edith Martinez-Guerra, Elizabeth “Liz” Rayfield, Alexander Lalejini and Nandita Gupta. Back row - Matthew Blair, Ryan Weitzel, Sunny Patel and Kyle Johnson.

The Bagley College of Engineering added eight to its Student Hall of Fame at an April ceremony at The Ritz in West Point, Mississippi. Pictured from L-R: Front row – Edith Martinez-Guerra, Elizabeth “Liz” Rayfield, Alexander Lalejini and Nandita Gupta. Back row – Matthew Blair, Ryan Weitzel, Sunny Patel and Kyle Johnson.

STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Mississippi State University Bagley College of Engineering added eight to its Student Hall of Fame at an April ceremony at The Ritz in West Point, Mississippi.

The students were nominated by Bagley College faculty, staff and student organizations and selected based on their academics, leadership, work accomplishments, service, and character.

The Bagley College Student Hall of Fame was established in 2007 to recognize students who display high academic achievement and exemplary leadership skills while engaging in several work experiences and student activities.

This year’s inductees include (by hometown):

CLEAR SPRING, Md. – Now a senior in civil engineering with a concentration in environmental engineering, Matthew Blair came to Mississippi State as a Presidential Scholar, the university’s most prestigious and competitive freshman award. He is a member of the Shackouls Honors College and is active in several organizations including Tau Beta Pi, Chi Epsilon and the American Society of Civil Engineers. In the summer of 2014, he traveled to Zambia, Africa, with the MSU Engineers Without Borders chapter to install wells that provide fresh water to a rural, sub-Saharan village.

After four years in the Bagley College of Engineering, Blair will graduate in May 2015 with a 4.0 GPA. He was recently awarded a Spirit of State Award and named the 2015 Outstanding Senior Engineering Student by the Mississippi Engineering Society. He plans to continue his education and research on the development of more energy-efficient wastewater treatment systems by pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees. When his education is complete, he hopes to return to the academic setting my becoming a professor of engineering.

DIAMONDHEAD, Miss – Senior computer science major Alexander Lalejini will graduate this year with a 4.0 GPA. He works at the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems as a research assistant on a project involving the implementation of software to integrates robotic platforms in a vehicle simulation. He is also involved in the Social, Therapeutic and Robotic Systems Laboratory where he worked as a project co-lead.

Lalejini is a Presidential Scholar, member of the Shackouls Honors College and first author of two publications. Upon completion of a bachelor’s degree, he plans to continue his education by earning a master’s in computer science. He hopes to apply his knowledge to artificial intelligence and robotics research and pursue a career in engineering education.

GULFPORT, Miss. – Ryan Weitzel is a senior in the industrial and systems engineering department and a member of the Shackouls Honors College. He says his work as a fiberglass laminator on ships for United States Marine Inc. helped him realize a passion for helping people through engineering. Since then, he has worked as an intern in three states, helping him understand production efficiency and develop effective leadership skills.

Weitzel used his leadership knowledge on campus as the president of the Mississippi State chapters of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and Alpha Pi Mu and project lead for his senior design team. He helped organize and facilitate the IIE Regional Conference hosted at Mississippi State this year and is currently working to improve the use of FedEx’s GPS data. After graduation, he plans to use what he has learned during his time in the Bagley College of Engineering to pursue a career in operations research and logistics engineering.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Kyle Johnson is pursuing a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering. He is the recipient of the NASA Mississippi Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellowship and the BCoE Doctoral Fellowship. As a research assistant, he is designing, producing and characterizing two new metal alloys using laser engineered net shape additive manufacturing processes. His patented work on football helmet optimization has been featured on Fox News and ESPN Road Trip

Johnson is a member of the Mississippi State University Student Honor Code Council, Alpha Tau Omega board of trustees and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The former Presidential Scholar has contributed to 10 journals and conference proceedings. Following graduation, he plans to begin post-doctoral work at a national research laboratory and pursue a career as a tenure-track professor position at a research university.

PUNE, India – Senior Nandita Gupta moved from India to attend Mississippi State University so she could follow in her father’s footsteps and become an electrical engineer. A member of the Shackouls Honors College, she has worked in both the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems and the Social, Therapeutic and Robotic Systems laboratory at the university.

Gupta plans to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees following graduation in December. Her research focuses on using robotics to improve the lives of people with disabilities such as poor vision. She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, Women in Engineering and the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. In 2014, she was received the Spirit of State Award.

SAN MIGUEL, El Salvador – Edith Martinez-Guerra is a doctoral student studying civil engineering and first-generation college student. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas State University and receiving a teaching assistantship at Mississippi State, she moved to Starkville to continue her education. She earned a master’s degree in civil engineering in 2013 and will receive a doctoral degree this year.

Martinez-Guerra continues to work as a teaching assistant is the civil engineering surveying lab at Mississippi State. She has published five journal articles and is the second author on a book in her research area of algal biodiesel production. Recently, she was named the BCoE Distinguished Graduate Scholar for Journal Publication Excellence and awarded the Next Generation Scientist Scholarship at the National Biodiesel Conference.

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – Sunny Patel is a senior industrial engineering major. In 2013, he participated in the Congressional Fellowship Program in Washington, D.C., where he worked as an intern for Thad Cochran, the senior U.S. senator for Mississippi. He received a spirit of State Award in 2014 and this year his peers elected him as team lead of their senior design project. He is a member of the Famous Maroon Band drum line where he has served as captain for the past two years.

Patel is a member of the Mississippi State Student Association, Montgomery Leadership Program, Honor Code Council Committee and the Institute of Industrial Engineers. He works as a student intern at the Starkville Church of Christ University Student Center and a student office assistant at the Mississippi State band hall. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in education with hopes of becoming a high school teacher in a STEM-related subject. His long-terms goals are to become a principal and a district superintendent.

VICKSBURG, Miss. – Elizabeth “Liz” Rayfield is a senior chemical engineering major with a passion for global service. She spent time in Costa Rica with the Global Renewable Energy Education Network program and, last summer, she traveled to Zambia, Africa, with Engineers Without Borders to help plan and execute an on-going water well project to improve the quality of life in a rural, sub-Saharan village.

Rayfield has completed three cooperative education semesters with Dow Chemical Company and worked as a research assistant for the chemical engineering department and U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center. She is a Presidential Scholar and has assisted with two publications. She is a member of the Shackouls Honors College, Engineering Student Council and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. After college, she will begin working for the Chevron Corporation while pursuing a master’s degree in process safety engineering.

For more information about the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State, visit www.bagley.msstate.edu.

By: Erin Boozer