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Headshots of ten students (7 boys and 3 girls) on banner with "Congratulations outstanding engineering students" across the top. their names are underneath their picture.

Engineering students were honored and donors recognized at the Texas A&M University College of Engineering Student Awards banquet Oct. 26.

The Craig C. Brown Outstanding Senior Engineer Award is the most prestigious honor bestowed on a graduating senior in the College of Engineering. The award is based on outstanding scholastic achievement, leadership and character.

Established in 2012, the Outstanding Graduate Student Award recognizes one master’s student and one doctoral student who have demonstrated excellence above and beyond usual levels of achievement.


The Craig C. Brown Outstanding Senior Engineer Award winners

Craig Brown awardeesWillie D. Caraway

Huntsville, Alabama

Mechanical Engineering

Caraway has a strong love of learning and loves synergizing disparate knowledge to create new solutions. Being named a University Scholar provided him with the opportunity to regularly interact with other highly motivated individuals to sharpen their skills in analytical thinking and synthesizing knowledge. He also had the opportunity to perform research with Dr. Henry Everitt at the Army Material Research, Development and Engineering Center, and Dr. Patrick Shamberger in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&M. Caraway also participated in the Zachry Leadership Program, which helped him improve his leadership skills and business knowledge. He is also involved in many student organizations, including the Jordan Institute, Pi Tau Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi and the American Society of Engineers.

Kendal Ezell

Tomball, Texas

Biomedical Engineering

With the passion to help people with neurological diseases, Ezell has shown great promise to accomplish the goals she has set for herself. Through her undergraduate research in biomedical engineering and neuropsychology, involvement in extracurricular activities and coursework, she has excelled, maintaining a 4.0 GPA while in the engineering honors program. Not only has she represented Texas A&M in the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, but she has also received Phi Kappa Phi’s Outstanding Junior Award and the Peter Chaplinsky Memorial Scholarship. Most recently Ezell participated in the National Institute of Health’s 2017 National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Biomedical Engineering Summer Internship. Through her research she hopes to serve as an example to women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and encourage them to break barriers.

Kanika Gakhar

Katy, Texas

Aerospace Engineering

Gakhar’s passion for science and engineering have defined her outstanding academic career at Texas A&M. She regularly searches for opportunities in which she can build upon and strengthen her leadership and creativity. With these skills, she has helped design autonomous vehicles and build radio controlled aircrafts with heavy lifting capabilities. Gakhar aspires to create the next generation of bioinspired flying vehicles. She has presented conference papers at the 2017 American Helicopter Society Forum and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics student conference. In various leadership roles, she advocates for undergraduate research by helping her fellow Aggies find research opportunities that interest them. As a University Fellow, she has launched a workshop-based project aimed to empower the underprivileged and H.U.B., an initiative to reform entrepreneurship on the Texas A&M campus.

Jonah Haefner

Roswell, New Mexico

Nuclear Engineering

Haefner is a dedicated and passionate leader in all aspects of his life. He is a member of the Corps of Cadets, and has spent the past year serving as first sergeant where he oversaw the day-to-day operations of 50 other cadets. He actively engages with faculty members and has worked in a thermal hydraulics laboratory for the past two years. Through the O.R. Simpson Honor Society, he helped freshman engineering students succeed in their first semesters at Texas A&M through mentorship and tutoring to prepare them for continued success. Over the last two summers, he split his time between shadowing naval officers on active duty warships and working at Los Alamos National Laboratory on projects for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Carson Muscat

Seabrook, Texas

Petroleum Engineering

Muscat has a passion for engineering and a great enthusiasm for making a lasting impression on the local community and Texas A&M. He has revamped programs to help more than 3,500 engineering freshmen make informed decisions for their academic futures and aided in extending the reach to the Engineering Academies. He has served as an engineering student ambassador for three years and has talked to hundreds of prospective students about Texas A&M. Most recently, Muscat was the student leader for the Engineering Career Fair, the largest student-run fair in the nation. He has been awarded many academic honors, including the Dr. Dan Turner Engineering Leadership Award, the Academic Excellence Award, and being named a President’s Endowed Scholar and BP Student Scholar.

Dakota Plesa

Arlington, Texas

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Plesa is a first-generation college student who has made the most of his time at Texas A&M by not only focusing on academics, but also by forging lasting relationships with his fellow Aggies. He applied the skills he learned in the classroom to solving problems on campus, such as implementing a new organizational structure for the Memorial Student Center (MSC), and in international case competitions, such as at McGill University. Plesa was among the first non-business students to participate in the Mays Business Fellows Program, where he proved himself to be a highly effective member of his Fellows team and invested considerable time in developing relationships with his peers. He participated in the Jordan Institute, and served as vice president of programs and executive vice president of programs in the MSC.

Melissa Potts

Austin, Texas

Chemical Engineering

Potts attributes her success at Texas A&M to hard work. She balances membership in numerous activities and organizations with her studies. That dedication and persistence led her to success in Dr. Mark Holtzapple’s class— which at the time, she was the only freshman in the class. Through her determination and hard work, Potts was one of the few students who continued to work on a paper that would later be submitted to the Odebrecht Award for Sustainability. She continued working with Holtzapple the next year, spending about nine hours a week in the research lab on the MixAlco process, a technology that transforms waste biomass into fuels and industrial chemicals. Potts also shared her knowledge with her fellow Aggies, serving as a teaching assistant.

Kyle Wiggs

Weatherford, Texas

Mechanical Engineering

For Wiggs, engagement has been the key to his experience at Texas A&M. During his first year at Texas A&M, he was an active member in the Aggie Band, as well as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He has spent the last two years of his college career in leadership. As first sergeant of the 0.R. Simpson Honor Society, he created new events, such as “Dinner with your Major,” where cadets were instructed to eat dinner with other cadets within their major to encourage engagement between students of the same departments. Within ASME and his Corps unit, he has served as a mentor to other students, helping them find leadership opportunities and experiences.


2017 College of Engineering Outstanding Graduate Student Award

outstanding studentsJoshua Harris

M.S. Candidate

Aerospace Engineering

Harris has proven himself to be an outstanding scholar and researcher. He is a master’s student in aerospace engineering, and works in the Vehicle Systems & Control Laboratory at Texas A&M. His master’s research investigates a new theory and approach for intelligent control and integrated health management of complex systems, both manned and unmanned. Harris was awarded the 2017 Federal Aviation Administration PEGASAS General Aviation Center of Excellence Outstanding Student Researcher. He was also one of only 10 recipients of the National Defense Science Engineering Graduate Fellowships in 2014, in addition to the 2013 NASA Aeronautics Scholarship. Only 20 students nationally from all majors receive this NASA honor. Harris has authored or co-authored two conference papers and two journal papers.

Jonathan Gigax

Ph.D. Candidate

Nuclear Engineering

Gigax is a well-rounded scholar: intellectually curious, hardworking and supportive of his colleagues and fellow Aggies. Over the past five years, Gigax has published 26 journal papers, while maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average. He has made significant contributions in radiation materials science toward materials development for high-performance nuclear reactors. He established standard procedures in accelerator testing, which significantly influenced other labs. Due to his findings, other labs (including University of Michigan, University of Tennessee and University of Wisconsin in Madison) have changed their testing procedures to follow the Texas A&M method. Gigax has also made significant contributions in developing radiation tolerant materials having nanoscale features and inclusions, including nanograined materials, multilayered composite materials and nanoprecipitate alloys.


The College of Engineering also recognized the following newly endowed scholarships:

Angela and James Hambrick ’78 Endowed Scholarship in the College of Engineering

Carolyn and A. Damon Gowan ‘58 Endowed Scholarship

Dana and James R. Heinze ‘83 Scholarship Elsie and Vance Fairchild ’89 Endowed Scholarship

ExxonMobil Aggies Engineering Endowed Scholarship

Jimmie and Geoffrey Pope Endowed Scholarship

Jo and Mike Hunn ’59 Scholarship

Marilyn ’99 and Stewart ’99 Robinson Scholarship

Michelle ’88 and Todd Steudtner ’87 Scholarship

Richard W. Burr ’62 and Charity B. Burr Scholarship

Shah Smith & Associates Scholarship

Sue Nobles and Elmer Eldridge Goins Engineering Scholarship

Terri and Keith Hawkins ’79 Scholarship