University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering


College Names Outstanding Senior, Junior Student


Lindsay Lewis
Outstanding Senior Ying Hu in the Applied Electromagnetics Laboratory. Photo by Jeff Shaw.

This year’s Outstanding Senior and Junior awards at the Cullen College of Engineering have been given to Ying Hu and Julian Vargas of electrical and mechanical engineering, respectively. Hu and Vargas along with students representing each department in the college of engineering and students from Prairie View A&M and Rice University, were honored at a luncheon hosted by the Texas Society of Engineering.

Each year, one outstanding junior and senior student is selected from each department. From that group, two students are chosen by Fritz Claydon, associate dean of undergraduate programs, as the outstanding senior and junior student for the college. A special section of the Houston Business Journal honoring Engineers Week recognized all of the outstanding students.

For Ying Hu, his interest in engineering developed during his childhood, sparked by a simple magnetic experiment performed by this grandfather.

“My grandfather was a physics professor in China,” he said. “He inspired me to become an engineer because he was always making me electronic toys and performing experiments. He once created a compass by placing a magnetic needle on top of a glass of water. That experiment captured my attention as a child.”

Hu developed an early interest in physics and math, which strengthened his inclination toward the field of engineering. When his family relocated from China to the United States just four short years ago, Hu enrolled in the University of Houston to pursue electrical engineering.

Throughout the course of his education, Hu has participatedin graduate-level research with the Applied Electromagnetics Laboratory as part of the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. He has also presented research at a major international symposium and is currently working on the submission of a journal article, all while maintaining a 3.99 overall GPA.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Drs. Long, Williams and Jackson on our research,” he said. “I will remember them for the rest of my life.”

Following graduation this May, Hu plans to pursue graduate studies in bioengineering—a decision that was motivated by another life experience.

While dealing with an illness and many months of hospitalization last year, Hu had the opportunity to study various pieces of hospital equipment and daily monitoring practices that he believes can be improved on.

“I am very interested in the studying how optical sensors can improve daily glucose monitoring,” he said. “There has to be a less-invasive method that we can create to check blood sugar. Also, I am interested in improving MRI technologies in an effort to reduce the time it takes to complete a scan and perhaps reduce the noise level.”

Though Hu plans to pursue his Ph.D. at Rice University this fall, he says that leaving UH will be very difficult for him. “This was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”

Like Hu, Julian Vargas, outstanding junior student, also developed an interest in engineering as a child.

“When I was young, I participated in go-cart races,” he said. “I wanted to study how to design such vehicles and understand how all the parts worked to make it run.”

With a strong science and mathematics background, Vargas naturally decided to pursue the mechanical engineering discipline when he enrolled in college.

“My math and physics courses in high school taught me how to apply concepts to practical problems,” he said.

Since transferring from Houston Community College in 2003, Vargas has declared a double major in mechanical engineering and mathematics, maintained an overall GPA of 3.86, received recognition from the university as Outstanding First Year Honor Student and as a Houston Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (HLSAMP) Scholar, and has been involved in undergraduate research activities with Dr. Fazle Hussain in the areas of vortex dynamics and aerodynamics.

Following graduation from the university, he plans to either obtain an engineering position in the automotive field or pursue graduate studies.

Outstanding Students Recognized by Department

Hassan Khalil, Biomedical Engineering
Eric Writer, Civil Engineering
Lior Azulai, Chemical Engineering
Ying Hu, Electrical Engineering
Brian Chancey, Computer Engineering
Amine Belmokadem, Industrial Engineering
Rachael Henderson, Mechanical Engineering

Holley Love, Biomedical Engineering
Deborah Meroniuc, Civil Engineering
Nathan Hahn, Chemical Engineering
Robert Baskharone, Electrical Engineering
Natalia Ramos, Computer Engineering
Purti Isarakamphot, Industrial Engineering
Julian Vargas, Mechanical Engineering




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