2021 EECS Undergraduate Student Awards

These students are recognized by the department for their outstanding scholarship, research, service, leadership, and entrepreneurship.

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science congratulates the recipients of the 2021 EECS Undergraduate Student Awards. These awards recognize students who excel in scholarship, research, service, leadership, and entrepreneurship.

EECS William Harvey Seeley Prize

Awarded to electrical engineering students who stand first in their class at the completion of the freshman year.

Mohammed Azzouz

Mohammed Azzouz headshot Enlarge
Mohammed Azzouz.

Mohammed is majoring in Electrical Engineering and minoring in Computer Science. He is interested in quantum science, optics and photonics, and nanotechnology. He serves as a member of the Engineering Research Symposium Planning Committee, an Instructional Aide for EECS 216, and a tutor at the Science Learning Center. He won the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program Blue Ribbon award for an exceptional research project and poster presentation in his first year.

Mohammed is currently working on the Virtual Reality (VR) development project, where he helps develop virtual reality technology that will assist students’ concept development and problem-solving skills in mechanical engineering courses.

“I am looking forward to making additional progress in my research projects. Also, I look forward to continuing to help students as an IA in EECS 216.”

Sara Azzouz

Sara Azzouz headshot Enlarge
Sara Azzouz.

Sara is majoring in Electrical Engineering and minoring in Computer Science, and she is interested in sustainable power systems. She has served as a Learning Assistant (LA) and Supplemental Instruction (SI) leader for Physics 240 and is a member of the Engineering Research Symposium planning committee. Through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, she has explored a breadth of topics ranging from computer programming and neuroscience to spatially periodic transmission lines.

Sara is currently focusing on solar energy and artificial photosynthesis through the Engineering Honor Program’s capstone project/thesis.

“My favorite experiences at U-M so far are being a part of research projects and helping/tutoring students in Physics 240 and EECS courses.”

William L. Everitt Student Award of Excellence

Awarded to students from each of the three programs of study (EE, CE, and CS/DS) who are in the top 10% of their class and have an interest in communications and computers, as well as professional interests and activities.

John Banna

John Banna headshot Enlarge
John Banna.

John is a Computer Science and Pre-Medicine student. In one of his projects, John combined these pursuits by using Unity Game Engine to develop a game called Spirelephant that is designed to incentivize spirometer use in children recovering from surgery, helping to improve patient breathing and speed their recovery process.

John has been a Health Science Scholars Program Member and Peer Mentor, where he has shadowed physicians in different specialties and engaged in a variety of support and outreach activities. He is a James Angell Scholar, a Barger Leadership Institute Fellow, and has received the Branstrom Freshman Prize, a Rogel Award of Excellence, a Wentcher Scholarship, a William J Cook Scholarship, and a Grow With Google Scholarship.

The combination of CS and pre-medicine has been a heavy load, but John says that “Like a positive feedback loop, my education in both fields contributed to my success in the other. I am confident my path will make me a better physician in the future.”

Kevin Buca

Kevin Buca playing soccer Enlarge
Kevin Buca playing for Michigan Men's Soccer vs Florida Gold Coast on 8/30/2019. Photo: Megan McIntosh, Michigan Athletics

Kevin is majoring in Electrical Engineering and minoring in Computer Science. This semester, he took courses in Quantum Nanotechnology and Semiconductor Theory and earned an A+ in both. He is a midfielder on the U-M Men’s Soccer team and a recipient of the U-M Athletics Leaders and Best Award, which is awarded to the sophomore student-athlete who best exemplifies Michigan’s Leaders and Best qualities on the field and in the classroom. He recently scored the game-winning goal against MSU in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Big 10 Soccer tournament.

Kevin currently serves as a representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Through SAAC, he has led several initiatives to give back to the Ann Arbor community, including a canned food drive and a pen pal program between U-M and elementary school students.

“My favorite part of my U-M experience so far has been building invaluable relationships with fellow students, teammates, coaches, and professors.”

Jiaxiang Ma

Jiaxiang Ma headshot Enlarge
Jiaxiang Ma.

Jiaxiang is majoring in Computer Engineering and is interested in Embedded Systems. He has participated in three research groups focused on embedded systems, networks, and security. In Prof. Kevin Fu’s group, he built an automated tracking system for LiDAR spoofing attacks on moving vehicles. In Prof. Kang Shin’s group, he developed a novel approach to defend against spoofing and DoS attacks on the CAN bus by interrupt-based programming. In Prof. Morley Mao’s group, he prototyped a new Automotive Ethernet security protocol with low bandwidth and latency, which served as a good reference for future research.

Jiaxiang is enrolled in the dual-degree program with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a focus on embedded systems.

“I feel honored to receive this award. It serves as the final milestone for my undergraduate study. I enjoy the high-quality and challenging courses and appreciate the generous help and guidance from many professors.”

Outstanding Service Award

Awarded to students who have shown exceptional leadership in their student organizations, service to the university, college, or department, or service to the community.

Isha Bhatt

Isha Bhatt headshot Enlarge
Isha Bhatt.

Isha is majoring in Computer Engineering, and she’s interested in microarchitecture and Embedded Systems. She is co-founder and current president of Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering, a student-run, diversity-focused organization dedicated to the personal and professional growth of those committed to innovation and excellence in electrical and computer engineering fields. Over the course of 2020, Isha oversaw and co-organized over 50 events, including technical skill development workshops, a hackathon, various academic and mental health workshops, and WECE’s corporate reception – the largest student-run corporate event in the ECE department.

Post-graduation, Isha will be joining Disney Streaming as a software engineer. Her professional goals are to develop novel digital systems and to make engineering accessible through teaching and mentorship.

“My favorite part of my U-M experience so far was finding a community in Electrical & Computer Engineering through Women in ECE. As I navigate my senior year in the midst of COVID, I find that WECE has made my last year at U-M extremely memorable. Everyday, I am thankful to be a part of WECE leadership because this group has shown me what it means to be a resilient, dedicated, and responsible engineer.”

Kirtana Choragudi

Kirtana Choragudi headshot Enlarge
Kirtana Choragudi.

Kirtana is majoring in Computer Science and Business Administration. She has worked as an Instructional Aide for EECS 183 for three years, teaching over 1,000 students per semester. Her involvement has gone beyond teaching as she has helped to orchestrate the tools, processes, and communication that has enabled this extremely large class and its project showcase to succeed.

Kirtana also played a primary role in developing MI Symptoms, the state’s COVID-19 symptom screening application and the state’s COVID vaccination dashboard for local public health officials, where she became the main communicator between all involved parties, which included faculty from the College of Engineering, School of Public Health, and School of Information, as well as State of Michigan officials from Health and Human Services, Labor and Economic Opportunity, and the Department of Technology, Management & Budget.

Kirtana is President of Seven Mile, a nonprofit that brings U-M students to Detroit to offer free music, coding, and arts enrichment, with after-school and summer programs.

“The past 5 years dedicated to teaching and developing products within the EECS department have shown me the true power of using computing for social good – a motivation I hope to keep with me for the rest of my life.”

Michelle Gehner

Michelle Gehner next to the Michigan Mars Rover Enlarge
Michelle Gehner kneels beside the Michigan Mars Rover during the 2019 University Rover Challenge hosted by The Mars Society at the at the Mars Desert Research Station in the Utah Desert.

Michelle is majoring in Electrical Engineering and Minoring in Business and Multidisciplinary Design. As a member of the Michigan Mars Rover team, she has served in a variety of roles including President, Electrical Lead, and Senior Mentor. While President, she led the team to its first-place qualifying competition score in 2020 and 7th place final score in 2019. In 2020, she co-founded Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering and served as their first Internal Vice President. She also serves as an ECE Student Ambassador.

Michelle is remaining at U-M to earn her master’s degree in Electrical Engineering with a focus in Signal & Image Processing and Machine Learning through the ECE SUGS program. She plans to pursue a career in the aerospace industry with a focus on digital signal processing and antennas.

“My favorite part of my time at U-M has been my experience on my project team MRover, because I learned how to become an engineer, leader, and team player through countless opportunities for hands-on learning. I’m looking forward to starting my Master’s degree and pursuing my dream of working on space satellite communication systems next year! My proudest accomplishment in the past year has been co-founding and contributing to the growth of Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering (WECE) at U-M.”

Outstanding Achievement Award

Awarded to an outstanding senior student from each of the three programs of study (EE, CE, and CS/DS) in EECS. Students are selected on the basis of outstanding overall academic and personal excellence.

Mitchel Huang

Mitchel Huang headshot Enlarge
Mitchel Huang.

Mitchel is majoring in Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. He served as an Instructional Aide for MECHENG 350: Design and Manufacturing II (Intro to Mechatronics), which was severely impacted by the pandemic. He was a key member of the teaching team that helped design four brand new remote lab modules that the students would complete as a replacement to the typical in-person hands-on linkage project. He has completed successful internships at several prestigious companies including Microsoft, Stryker, and Huf NA, and he’s served as captain of the Michigan Izzat team, which is U-M’s competitive all-male Bollywood fusion dance team.

After Mitchel graduates in Winter 2021, he will be joining SpaceX as a fulltime Flight Software Engineer on the Starship team and pursue his dream of helping humanity inhabit Mars.

“Thank you to all the professors and faculty who have guided me throughout my undergraduate journey at UMich! My favorite part of my U-M experience has been dancing, competing, and celebrating with my Bollywood Fusion dance team (Michigan Izzat) at collegiate Bollywood Fusion dance competitions across the nation. My proudest accomplishment as a student was when my EECS 373 (Embedded Systems) project team successfully assembled and programmed two toy tanks to play the Pocket Tanks computer game in real life.”

Audrey Ladd

Audrey Ladd headshot Enlarge
Audrey Ladd.

Audrey is majoring in Computer Science. She has served as an Instructional Aide for EECS 280: Data Structures and EECS 482: Operating Systems. Her contributions included teaching weekly labs, holding office hours, mentoring students, creating exam questions, and grading. The second semester of her junior year, she also did research on variable name analysis with Amir Kamil, Drew DeOrio, and James Perretta.

Audrey has served as President of CS Kickstart, a week-long program for incoming first-year students to promote diversity in technology. She is a member of the Michigan Running Club and helped to raise $80,000 for the Special Olympics through a fundraiser by running across the state.

“I was largely unaware of computer science before my first semester at U-M. Even after developing an initial interest, I often questioned my place and ability to succeed. Computer science has always been intimidating, but as I completed challenging courses, took on leadership roles, and formed relationships with fellow students and faculty, my passion for this major grew beyond what I ever thought possible. This award represents the magnitude of that growth, andI’m so grateful to have been selected!”

Matthew Lamb

Matthew Lamb plays the violin in grad cap and gown on North Campus Enlarge
Matthew Lamb performs on the Eda U. Gerstacker Grove on April 6, 2021. Photo: Joseph Xu/Michigan Engineering, Communications and Marketing

Matthew is majoring in Electrical Engineering and Violin Performance. He joined Prof. Becky Peterson’s lab as an undergraduate research assistant in Fall 2020 where he focused on developing BSIM3 models for n- and p-type thin film transistors. He has interned at Silicon Labs, Texas Instruments, and kVertex Associates. He has made the Dean’s List and earned University Honors every semester, and has been recognized as a U-M James B. Angell Scholar.

Post graduation, Matthew will enter a master’s program in Electrical Engineering with a focus on analog circuit design.

“My favorite part of the U-M experience has been meeting and interacting with such a diverse and passionate group of peers from all walks of life. My proudest accomplishments this year have been working on research with Prof. Peterson’s group, and creating an interdisciplinary ‘Physics of the Violin’ presentation to bridge my two areas of study.”

Outstanding Research Award

Awarded to students who completed an outstanding research project with a faculty member or graduate student over and above the requirements of a course or an independent project.

Reva Kulkarni

Reva Kulkarni headshot Enlarge
Reva Kulkarni.

Reva is majoring in Electrical Engineering. She is most interested in applying engineering to address global healthcare needs. For the past three years, she has served as a bioinformatics intern and undergraduate researcher at the Systems Biology of Human Disease Lab at U-M where she analyzed cancer patient data and evaluated drug effectiveness. For the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Reva has held multiple leadership roles including Member Engagement co-chair, Career Fair chair, and Global Engagement co-director. Through SWE, she has engaged in international outreach programs to empower girls and women in STEM. She has also served as a peer mentor for the College of Engineering.

This summer, she will intern at Stryker, where she will work in the novel area of surgical robotics. Her long-term goal is to pursue a doctorate degree in biomedical engineering.

“My first taste of both research and Michigan was through a summer internship as a high school student, and that was when I first came to know the intelligent, dedicated community of scientists at this university. Some of my favorite experiences at Michigan have been through my work with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), through which I held multiple leadership roles. Nights spent walking to seminars with friends, days running between buildings to set up career days, and giving campus tours to bright-eyed middle school STEM enthusiasts were all highlights of my (in-person) SWE experience.”

Sky Wang

Sky Wang has a staring contest with a grey cat, who is clearly winning Enlarge
Sky Wang and cat.

Sky is a Computer Science major whose interests are in natural language processing and computational social science. He’s interested in how social variables can affect language use and in creating more equitable and accessible language technologies.Sky was a student volunteer at the 2020 Association for Computational Linguistics conference and assisted with the AI Lab’s “Friday Night AI” events in 2019-2020.

Sky was chosen for an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to support his upcoming graduate studies in Fall 2021.

“I’ve made the most amazing friends here, and have had the opportunity to work with some of the most compassionate and supportive professors ever. They’ve been tremendous role models for me over the years, and I hope to bring the mentorship, kindness, and passion that I’ve found here to wherever I go in the future.”

Xinlong Yin

Xinlong Yin headshot Enlarge
Xinlong Yin.

Xinlong Yin is majoring in Computer Engineering. He is interested in making networks more programmable to improve the Internet’s reliability, security, performance, and cost-effectiveness. As a Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering (SURE) student, he worked with Prof. Mingyan Liu and Prof. Ranjan Pal on projects related to IoT cyber-risks and de-mystifying datasets for social good applications.

“This award is a recognition of my effort in the research so far, which motivates me to do better in the future. My favorite part of U-M is the conscientiousness and sense of responsibility of the professors, and I’m proudest of being admitted to the SURE Program.”

Commercialization/Entrepreneurship Award

Awarded to a top student from each of the three programs of study (EE, CE, and CS/DS) who exemplifies a partnership between engineering and business through involvement in or startup of a private business, patents, or partnerships with corporations, furthering their field of knowledge or interest.

Matthew Lichtinger

Matthew Lichtinger and a small, adorable dog Enlarge
Matthew Lichtinger and dog.

Matthew is majoring in Computer Engineering. In the College of Engineering, he served as the Vice President of Corporate Relations for IEEE where he greatly expanded networking opportunities for EECS students and industry leaders. He has also served as the Business Manager on the Executive Board of the Men’s Glee Club, and he is a certified Pillowcase Project Instructor for the American Red Cross, which teaches 3rd-5th graders about disaster preparedness. Through the Alternative Spring Break program at St. Mary Student Parish, Matthew has participated in outreach benefiting food kitchens, women’s resource centers, family development centers, male development centers, and nursing homes.

“Being able to be a student at the University of Michigan is such a privilege in and of itself, but to also be presented with so many amazing entrepreneurship resources in tandem with my education has really taken my college experience to the next level. Building relationships and learning from all these people has easily been the best part about being a student at U-M.”

Baha Okten

Baha Okten headshot Enlarge
Baha Okten.

Baha is a Fall 2020 alumnus of the Computer Science Program. As a software engineer, he enjoys bridging the gap between engineering and design to create a coherent product.

Baha has a strong interest in both video games and entrepreneurship, and is a co-founder of Hardboiled Studios, maker of the game Yolked. In Yolked, players help an egg with human-esque arms to escape the kitchen in a household of hazards. The egg can grab, pull, climb, and throw – but it will also break if it falls. Yolked began life as a final project in EECS 494, Introduction to Video Game Development, and will soon be released on major gaming platforms.

“When I am not programming, I am probably composing music, acting out at improv sessions, improving my Chinese, or crossing off another ​item on my milestones bucket list.”

Christopher Okumura

Christopher Okumura headshot Enlarge

Christopher is majoring in Electrical Engineering. He is interested in entrepreneurship and enjoys developing new and innovative technologies and products. He created his very own digital gaming startup, Bluebird Studios, which aims to create interactive games that have real-world positive impacts. Their pet-focused game, Treat Team, rewards users with real-life donations to animal shelters across the nation.

Christopher will be interning at Exelon this summer, and he plans to found a startup in the renewable energy sector one day.

“Winning this award not only gives me a huge morale boost, but also makes me happy that I’m going to a school that really values hard-working students willing to take risks to make the world a better place. My favorite part, by far, has been meeting other awesome and ambitious students. Shoutout to V1 Michigan for being my entrepreneurial social hub during the pandemic!”

Hazel Wong

Hazel Wong headshot Enlarge
Hazel Wong.

Hazel is a Fall 2020 alumnus of the Computer Science Program and has a strong interest in both video games and entrepreneurship. She won first place in the WolverineSoft Shammy Game Jam in 2020 and in the EECS 494 Project Showcase. She is a James B. Angell Scholar.

Hazel is a co-founder of Hardboiled Studios, maker of the game Yolked. In Yolked, players help an egg with human-esque arms to escape the kitchen in a household of hazards. The egg can grab, pull, climb, and throw – but it will also break if it falls. Yolked began life as a final project in EECS 494, Introduction to Video Game Development, and will soon be released on major gaming platforms.

“Getting our game published is really exciting. And starting a company with two of my friends to develop a video game has been my favorite experience at Michigan.”

Floney Yang

Floney Yang headshot Enlarge
Floney Yang.

Floney is majoring in Computer Science and Economics and has a strong interest in both video games and entrepreneurship. She won first place in the WolverineSoft Shammy Game Jam in 2020 and in the EECS 494 Project Showcase.

Floney is a co-founder of Hardboiled Studios, maker of the game Yolked. In Yolked, players help an egg with human-esque arms to escape the kitchen in a household of hazards. The egg can grab, pull, climb, and throw – but it will also break if it falls. Yolked began life as a final project in EECS 494, Introduction to Video Game Development, and will soon be released on major gaming platforms. Floney did market research for the game, and quickly recognized the strength of “fail early, fail fast, and start again.” As a result, the game has rapidly evolved and improved.

“My proudest accomplishment in the past year has been to co-fund a startup game studio to work on our current title, and successfully sign a funded publishing deal with a game publisher.”

Richard K. Brown Memorial Scholarship

Awarded to an electrical engineering student with an interest in acoustics or amateur (ham) radio.

Joseph Rottner

Joseph Rottner headshot Enlarge
Joseph Rottner.

Joseph is majoring in Electrical Engineering. He is interested in antennas and communications. He serves as the Treasurer of the U-M chapter of Tau Beta Pi (TBP), the Engineering Honor Society, and mentors new members of TBP as an Electee Team Lead. He has interned at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., and he worked as an Assistant Product Manager at Altech Corp. He is a recipient of the William J. Branstrom Freshman Prize Recipient, which is awarded to students whose academic achievements rank in the top 5% of the College of Engineering. He is an ECE Student Ambassador, and he plays the bass guitar for Superhet!, a student band that consists entirely of EECS majors.

Joseph plans to pursue a master’s degree with a focus on Wireless Communications at Michigan through the SUGS program.

“So far, my favorite part of my U-M experience have been the invaluable friends I’ve made, both inside and outside the classroom. I have grown so much since starting out as a Freshman, and these friends have been a key part of that! Looking forward to continuing my education as a Graduate Student at the University of Michigan!”

Honors and Awards; Student News; Undergraduate Students