College of Engineering announces 2010 Carver Fellowships

11/11/2010 4:38:00 PM

Four Engineering at Illinois graduate students have been selected as winners of the 10th annual Roy J. Carver Fellowships in Engineering.

(l to r) Natalie Beams, Galina Shpuntova, Gregory Damhorst, and Elisa Chen.
(l to r) Natalie Beams, Galina Shpuntova, Gregory Damhorst, and Elisa Chen.
The Carver Fellowships in Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were established in 1999 by a gift from Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust in memory of Roy J. Carver, Sr., a 1934 graduate of the University. The first class of Carver Fellows was named in the fall of 2000.

As a highly competitive honor, eligible students are nominated by their respective departments. Each Carver Fellow receives a stipend to support his/her first year of graduate education and research. This year’s winners—Natalie Beams, Elisa Chen, Gregory Damhorst, and Galina Shpuntova—are not only viewed as scholars and top researchers in both academia and industry, but all carry with them the legacy of a distinguished University of Illinois alumnus.

Natalie N. Beams
Department of Mechanical Science & Engineering

Beams earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Oklahoma in May 2010. While a student at OU, she was involved in undergraduate research with the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory (IRL), specifically working on a computer interface for automated flight of remote-controlled micro helicopters. She also worked with the director of the IRL to create educational software tools for beginning computer programmers. 

“Building on my background of blending mechanical engineering and computer science, I am now working in the field of computational fluid dynamics with Professor Jonathan Freund here at Illinois,” Beam said. “My current research centers on simulations of cells in blood flow.

“Being a Carver Fellow holds great meaning for me both professionally and personally,” she added. “The Carver Fellowship has also allowed me to get a head start on my courses by creating a flexible work environment for my research. From a personal standpoint, I have always had a great respect and affection for the University of Illinois. My parents were raised in central Illinois, and my father and grandfather both received engineering degrees from the U of I.  Since I am well acquainted with the tradition of excellence in engineering at Illinois, hearing that I had been selected as one of the top prospective graduate students of the college was an extremely proud moment for me and my family.”

Elisa Y. Chen
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

In December 2009, Chen graduated from Rice University with a BS in civil and environmental engineering. As an undergraduate, she worked with the California Department of Transportation, AECOM, and Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill.

“Those internships helped me understand the design considerations important in industrial applications of structural design and have taught me how to translate my theoretical knowledge to real world applications,” explained Chen, who is currently studying wind and seismic design interaction in mid-rise buildings with Professor Amr Elnashai. “The knowledge from advanced structural design classes in addition to the analytical skills acquired through research, made possible by this fellowship, will be essential in the development of my career in the future.”

Gregory Damhorst
Department of Bioengineering

An Illinois alumnus, Damhorst completed his BS degree in physics in December 2009—concluding three and a half years of studying both fundamental physics and a wide variety of premedical sciences in preparation for entry into a dual-degree MD/PhD program. 

“During my undergraduate studies I wrote a senior thesis on a new lightguide design for particle physics detectors being developed for a new measurement of the muon anomalous magnetic moment (g—2) that included both monte carlo simulations and in-lab prototype testing,” Damhorst explained. His undergraduate research also included one month working at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland contributing to a measurement of muon stopping in various materials as part of preparation for the upcoming Mu2e project at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL); plus, two weeks at the Meson Test Facility at FNAL testing a prototype detector for the new g—2.

“Being a Carver Fellow instills the notion of excellence through providing technologies for the benefit of society,” remarked Damhorst, whose current research with Professor Rashid Bashir involves developing a point-of-care HIV diagnostic device for global health which employs microfluidic technology to perform a CD4+ T Cell count and viral load measurement. “As I strive for a career at the intersection of medicine and engineering, I am reminded that the Carver Fellowship carries with it the responsibility to use one’s talent for the betterment of others through innovation in continuing the legacy of other Fellows.”

Galina Shpuntova
Department of Aerospace Engineering

“Being selected as a Carver Fellow is at once a great honor, as an acknowledgement of my past accomplishments, and a great challenge, as an expression of faith in accomplishments still to come,” said Shpuntova, who received her BS in mechanical and aerospace engineering, summa cum laude, in May 2010 from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. As an undergraduate, she took part in two different research projects—the first aimed to improve the efficiency of axial compressors by studying the process known as corner separation and devising a scheme of actuation to push back the onset of the stall phenomenon, allowing the compressor to achieve higher pressure ratios at lower rotor speeds.

Her second project was on the design of supporting circuitry for a trapped vortex pair flowmeter. As a graduate student in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Shpuntova is working with Professor Joanna Austin, studying the process of void collapse. The research is applicable to a range of fields from aerospace propulsion to medicine.

About Roy Carver, Sr.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in general engineering in 1934, Roy Carver, Sr. founded Carver Pump Company, launching this successful business enterprise during the Great Depression. In 1942, he established Carver Foundry Products, and later, founded Bandag, Inc., which became the world’s largest producer of tire retread materials and equipment for the transportation industry.

Contact: Eric Thome, associate director of advancement - Corporate Relations, College of Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 217/244-9635.

If you have any questions about the College of Engineering, or other story ideas, contact Rick Kubetz, writer/editor, Engineering Communications Office, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; 217/244-7716.