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Drexel Engineering Students to Receive the Koerner Awards

May 16, 2013

Drexel alumnus, 2006 Engineering Leader of the Year and emeritus faculty member of the civil, architectural and environmental engineering department, Dr. Robert M. Koerner, ‘56 ‘63 and spouse Paula W. Koerner have donated a total of $50,000 to the College of Engineering to help support Drexel Engineering graduate students from their fund named, “The Koerner Family Awards for Graduate Students in the College of Engineering.” The fund will benefit graduate students Christopher Dennison, Caitlin Dillard, Gregory Ditzler, Jeffrey Kahn, Adam Rackes, Mark Scafetta, Paul Snyder and Gregory Vetterick. The students represent each engineering department and were selected by Dr. Joseph Hughes, dean of the College of Engineering.

The graduate students benefiting from the award had to fulfill the following requirements: Successful completion of the respective departmental candidacy examination toward a Ph.D.; proof of U.S. citizenship; submission of a resume and of a written summary of the research undertaken at the end of the academic year. Drexel congratulates the following students on receiving the Koerner Award:

Christopher Dennison ’14 is a third year doctoral student in mechanical engineering and mechanics. His research is focused on the development of large-scale (megawatt and up) electrical energy storage systems. Dennison is very grateful to have received the Koerner Family Award, as it will help him to push his research at an even faster pace than was previously possible.

Caitlin Dillard is currently a first year doctoral student in chemical and biological engineering. Her research focuses on self-assembly in conjugated polymer nanofibers for solar cell applications. With the encouragement of the Koerner Family Award, Dillard will continue her pursuit towards a path in academia.

Gregory Ditzier ’14 is a doctoral student in electrical & computer engineering. His research is in pattern recognition and machine learning with focuses on incremental / online learning algorithms for multiple expert systems in dynamic and uncertain environments. He has also has applied some of his machine learning research to the field of metagenomics. The Koerner family fellowship will allow Ditzier the opportunity to focus on his core research interests and disseminate his research at technical conferences.

Jeffrey C. Kahn, Jr. ‘15 is a doctoral candidate at the Laboratory of Biological Systems Analysis in mechanical engineering and mechanics. Kahn uses biologically-inspired robots to study how distributed, multi-modal sensory information can be used to aid in underwater navigation. He plans to use the Koerner Family Award to start a prototyping and robotics lab at home in support of further research.

Adams Rackes ‘15 is a research fellow and doctoral candidate in architectural engineering,. His research focuses on optimizing operational strategies to reduce energy use and improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in commercial buildings, and on using sensors and statistical methods to provide cost-effective, actionable IAQ information in real-time. The Koerner Family Award will allow Rackes to expand his field tests in buildings and to travel to conferences to present his findings.

Mark Scafetta ‘15 is a third year doctoral student studying materials science and engineering.  He is currently conducting thin film research on a class of materials known as perovskite oxides for uses in next generation electronic and optical devices. This award will enable Scafetta to enjoy his graduate school experience and allot more time to conduct experiments and potentially expedite his graduation.

Paul Snyder is currently a doctoral candidate in computer science. His research interests are in biologically inspired models of computation and in self-organization and emergence in distributed software systems. The Koerner award has provided a heartening boost as Snyder enters the last phase of his doctoral research and prepares to defend his dissertation.

Gregory Vetterick received his bachelor's and master’s degrees in materials science and engineering at Iowa State University. Vetterick chose to pursue a doctorate degree at Drexel University in materials science and engineering because it offered a completely different experience. The Koerner Award will give Vetterick the resources to efficiently complete his doctorate by 2014 and at the same time enhance his graduate student experience in Philadelphia.

With the Koerner Family’s contribution, Drexel Engineering has agreed to also contribute another $10,000 to support this effort from the dean’s fund.