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Alexandria Brady-Miné, Jean Weatherwax, Willie McClinton, Daniela Zamora Alviarez, Keegan Suero

Alexandria Brady-Miné, Jean Weatherwax, Willie McClinton, Daniela Zamora Alviarez, Keegan Suero

USF College of Engineering celebrates 13 years of Goldwater scholarship

The University of South Florida’s College of Engineering made history in 2024 when two students from non-traditional and community college backgrounds were named Goldwater Scholars during the same term. It was a momentous passing of the torch for previous scholarship awardees and faculty who mentor the college’s most exceptional learners. 

The Goldwater Scholar awards are announced in Spring each year. In 2024, about 1,300 U.S. students applied and only 438 were chosen. This year, Mechanical Engineering juniors Keegan Suero and Daniela Zamora Alviarez  became the first duo of CoE students to be given the honor in the same award year. 

Keegan Suero and Daniela Zamora-Alviarez

Assistant Professor Michael Cai-Wang sees that potential in this year’s winners. He welcomed Suero and Zamora-Alviarez to the NanoMechanics, NanoMaterials, NanoManufacturing Laboratory (NM3L), where they fabricate and conduct research using nanomaterials.

Their accomplishments nearly double the college’s presence on the rolls of Goldwater recipients.

The Goldwater Scholarship Program is the most prestigious award for undergraduate research available to U.S. sophomores and juniors studying the natural sciences, engineering, computing, and mathematics. The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation says it aims to encourage and financially support exceptional students who have the potential to become leaders in their fields of research.

According to the program’s website, Goldwater Scholars receive up to $7,500 per academic year for tuition, fees, books and room and board (minus support from other sources). 

USF College of Engineering students previously named Goldwater Scholars are testaments to the program’s high standards, and the value of its support.

Alexandria Brady-Miné

Alexandria Brady-Miné (Image via MIT Office of Graduate Education)

USF Mechanical Engineering graduate and 2022 Goldwater Scholar Alexandria Brady-Miné is enrolled in the master's program in Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) toward the goal of earning a PhD.

Her interest in engineering research began in high school, so when she entered Associate Professor Nathan Gallant’s Cellular Mechanotransduction and Biomaterials Laboratory as a freshman, she was ready to hit the ground running.

Brady-Miné told Goldwater she hopes to ultimately “strengthen industry-academia collaborations for innovations that impact lives.”

Willie McClinton

Another College of Engineering alumni reaching his goals after being named a Goldwater Scholar is Computer Science and Engineering graduate Willie McClinton.

After receiving the award in 2019, McClinton received a BS in Computer Science in 2020 and is now studying Artificial Intelligence as a PhD student at MIT.  

During his time at USF, McClinton was mentored by Assistant Professor Marvin Andujar (CSE) in brain-computer interface research and, with coauthors, they published their findings on the effects of “brain painting in a virtual reality environment.” 

While a student at USF, McClinton contributed to Professor Sriram Chellappan’s mosquito-tracking smartphone image processing research.   

McClinton told Goldwater in 2019 he intended to continue academic research while educating and mentoring the next generation of AI innovators.

Jean Weatherwax via First Round Capital

Jean Weatherwax (Image via First Round Capital)

Before 2019, one other USF College of Engineering is recorded as having achieved the title of Goldwater Scholar, but this was only one of her many accomplishments. 

In 2011, Electrical Engineering student Jean Weatherwax received the Goldwater Scholar award while conducting research focused on the fabrication of silicon carbide electronics and nanostructures for biosensors and brain-machine interface applications with Professor Stephen Saddow.

Weatherwax received a BS in Electrical Engineering in 2012 and went on to earn two master’s degrees: an MSc in Analogue and Digital Integrated Circuit Design from Imperial College London in the UK, working on improvements for glucose sensor technology; and a Masters of Science in Science and Engineering at University College London, where she researched the feasibility of using satellites to monitor maritime security during disasters.

Weatherwax and her Goldwater Scholar peers at USF College of Engineering are among an elite group whose undergraduate careers far exceeded standards in their fields.

Over the past 30 years, Goldwater Scholarships have been awarded to thousands of high-achieving undergraduates, many of whom, including CoE graduates Brady-Miné, McClinton, and Weatherwax, later received additional prestigious honors such as the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Rhodes Scholarship, Marshall Scholarship and others to support their graduate studies in the U.S. and abroad. 

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