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Engineering Students Receive National Science Foundation Grants

April 10, 2014

Five students from the Electrical and Computer Engineering; Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering; and Materials Science Engineering departments have been awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) of 2014.

The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in various aspects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited institutions across the United States.  Selected fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $32,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance, opportunities for international research and the privilege to conduct their own research at any U.S. institution of their choice. Drexel’s College of Engineering congratulates the following students upon receiving the awards:

Adams Rackes

Adams Rackes, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering (summa cum laude) in 2012, is currently a doctoral candidate in the same discipline. Rackes’ interests include indoor air quality (IAQ), building energy consumption, building automation and control, and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) components and systems. Aside from the 2014 NSF GRFB awards, Rackes is also one of the recipients of The Steven E. Giegrich Memorial Scholarship, a 2013 Koerner Family Fellowship, a 2013 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Honorable Mention, and a 2012 Grant in Aid from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). 

Chelsea Knittel

Chelsea Knittel is a senior undergraduate student in the custom-designed major program with a focus on sustainable materials and design. Her specific major is designed to gain a better understanding of the materials we build and design with, what effects they have and the human element of sustainability and the way that people perceive and react to the various environmental issues. Knittel is currently working in the Shima Seiki Haute Technology Lab at the ExCITe Center. As for plans to pursue for graduate studies, she looks for opportunities to do research on transgenic spider silk, and textile development.

Emily Buck

Emily Buck is a fourth year joint Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in the Materials Science and Engineering program, class of 2014. She plans to continue her education with a doctoral degree in Materials Science or Bioengineering so as to work in a research facility as a primary investigator.  Emily currently works with Dr. Caroline Schauer on using electrospun polymer nanofibers for water filtration, which would be used to remove select contaminants from polluted water sources. This 2013 Goldwater Scholar first started her research in Dr. Schauer’s lab through the STAR program. The NSF GRFP offers many programs that encourage fellows to travel abroad and collaborate internationally. She plans to take advantage of the opportunities to study abroad in order to begin creating an international research network for her future career.

Karthik Sangaiah

Karthik “Paco” Sangaiah earned degrees of Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Computer Engineering in 2012 and is currently a doctoral candidate in Computer Engineering since 2013 in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Drexel University. His research interests involve multi-disciplinary concepts such as communication networks on chip (NoC), power-efficient computer architecture, reconfigurable filter design, accelerators, and mixed-signal embedded systems. Advised by Dr. Baris Taskin and Dr. Mark Hempstead of the VLSI and Power Aware Computing Labs, Sangaiah’s current research investigates network-on-a-chip designs as potential solutions to enable efficient processing within large-scale (100s to 1000s of cores) chip multiprocessors. His goal with this research is to develop cutting edge NoC designs that will be cater to future exascale computing workloads used in industry and the research community.

Sylvia Lee Herbert

Sylvia Herbert is a fifth year BS/MS student in Mechanical Engineering. She conducts research in the Drexel Nanophotonics Lab under Professor Adam Fontecchio. As an NSF GRFP fellow Sylvia plans to continue her studies as a Ph.D. student in Electrical Engineering at University of California Berkeley, with the goal of pursuing a career in academia. Sylvia is President of Drexel Pi Tau Sigma (the mechanical engineering honors society), which recently received the Pi Tau Sigma National Outstanding Performance Award through the hard work from her fellow officers and faculty advisor Dr. Antonios Kontsos. She is also a recent teaching assistant for a 4th year mechanical engineering biologically-inspired design course run by Dr. James Tangorra. Outside of school she reads, plays ukulele, and participates in travel abroad opportunities through the Honors College. More information on her current projects can be found at

For more information about NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, visit the program's website or contact the Drexel Fellowships Office at