West Side engineers honored

July 30, 2012
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More than 100 engineering students and recent college graduates won a cash award from the Chicago Engineers’ Foundation of the Union League of Chicago, and nearly a dozen awardees are from the West Side.

The foundation doled out renewable awards totaling $91,500 to 106 young people just starting, continuing or recent gradutes from college for engineering.

William Nissen, president of the Chicago Engineers’ Foundation, said the group helps encourage young people to pursue engineer careers and provides financial assistant for their studies.

“America needs a cadre of well-educated professional engineers to design and create the infrastructure, systems and products of the future so our nation can continue to compete in the fast-changing world economy,” Nissen said in a press release.

Miriyah Smith, 21, recently graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. She also holds a minor in computer engineering.

The Austin resident said she had a blast while in college on the East Coast.

“You get to set stuff on fire,” Smith said. “Not on purpose of course;  it’s part of learning to become an electrical engineer.”

Smith said she decided to be an engineer because people often told her she was good at math and science.

“I was really good at problem solving and designing,” she said.

Smith said she’s going to save the money she received from the engineers’ foundation.

She’s currently looking for a job that will be flexible so she can attend graduate school.

Eventually, she wants to be a mechanical engineer and work in management.

Another award recipient, Manuel Villa, 22, graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee this spring with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering.

Villa, who grew up in the Little Village neighborhood, said it was a big transition moving to Wisconsin for his undergraduate studies.

“It was a huge change,” Villa said. “I was so use to living at home and always having my family there. Being away from my family was a whole new change.”

Villa’s back in his hometown and said he’ll use his cash award to help pay off his student loans.

He has a job in his field working as a software engineer for a Quad/Graphics, a commercial printing company.

Villa said he is honored to receive the award.

“It’s really amazing,” he said. “It’s a nice amount of money, and it comes in very handy. I’m just honored and happy I received it.”

Here’s a list of the other West Side engineers honored:

(Freshmen and university attending in the fall)

  • Michelle Carbo (Northwestern University)
  • Nina Moore (Southern Illinois University-Carbondale)
  • Danielle Norman (Fisk University)

(Juniors and university attending)

  • Alicia Cintora (University of Illinois)
  • Marcel Cochran (Michigan State University)
  • Troy Huggins (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • Kevin Yerkes (University of Illinois)

(Seniors and university attending)

  • Ernesto Chavez (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • Anthony Messina (Milwaukee School of Engineering)




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