2011 ASME Foundation Scholarship Winners

The ASME Center for Education, through its Scholarship Committee and funded by generous contributions to the ASME Foundation, presented sixty (60) ASME Foundation Scholarships this year, paying out almost $170,000.  Two new scholarships were given for the first time in 2011:  The ASME Nuclear Engineering Division Scholarship, and the Kate Gleason Scholarship.

2011 ASME Foundation Scholarship Winners


Kenneth Andrew Roe Scholarship, $12,500

Awarded in memory of the late Kenneth Andrew Roe, former President of ASME and Chair of the ASME Foundation, this year the top ASME Foundation Scholarship was awarded to Danielle Jacobson of Drexel University.

Danielle Jacobson
Danielle will be a senior in an accelerated program studying Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics (MEM) at Drexel University in the fall.  In this accelerated program she will aim to complete both a bachelors and masters degree.  She is a teaching assistant at Drexel, and has served as the Drexel ASME Chair for the past two years and pushed the Drexel ASME chapter to become the most active section in the Philadelphia Region, to win awards including the ASME Diversity Action Grant for the fifth time in seven years, and become the fifth largest student section in the nation with over 250 members. She was recently awarded the Charles T. Main Medal by ASME. 

Danielle learned she would receive the $12,500 scholarship just one day after getting the news that she would be laid-off from Lockheed Martin Space Systems—a job that she depended upon for her tuition and living expenses—at the end of the summer.  She was devastated by the news of her upcoming unemployment and the fact that she knew she couldn’t afford tuition without it; she instantly plunged into worry about her academic future.  It was the following day at work when she found out she had won the Roe Scholarship, which she declares is “miraculous timing”. 

In addition to working at Lockheed Martin, Danielle has held positions at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Engines, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  She has received a number of awards, including the Student Leader of the Year at Drexel University, Outstanding Teaching Award from The Women in Aerospace and Technology Education Program, the 1st Place Griggs Scholarship from Pi Tau Sigma, and in 2007 she was a member of the FIRST Robotics Competition team #190 that won the World Championship.  She is currently working on Drexel’s first satellite program, DragonSAT I, which is set to launch in the Spring of 2012, and has contributed data, collected using a Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) microscope she developed, to an NIH grant.

Danielle takes particular interest in volunteering, creating educational events in the community like Girl Scout Science Saturdays, and bringing exciting companies to the events to create professional development opportunities.  She hopes to play a role in the improvement of engineering education and, one day, to be able to start an ASME scholarship fund that will give someone in a similar situation a better chance to maximize their education.


ASME International Gas Turbine Institute (IGTI) Scholarship, $5,000

The ASME IGTI awards a scholarship every year based on superior academic performance and demonstrated interest in the gas turbine, propulsion, or turbomachinery industries.  This year Lucky Tran was selected to receive the IGTI Scholarship.

Lucky Tran
Lucky will be a senior in an accelerated B.S. to M.S. degree program at the University of Central Florida, pursuing an ME degree in thermofluids and heat transfer.  He is a research assistant at the Center for Advanced Turbines and Energy Research and his research interest is focused on the use of different surface enhancement strategies for internal cooling applications. Lucky’s goal is to become knowledgeable and an expert in the field of thermofluids and heat transfer and he plans to pursue a PhD in thermofluids. He is actively involved in the area of improving the efficiency of modern gas turbines and power generation equipment.

His design project is to design and construct a fully automated two-axis traverse system for calibration setup for advanced measurement probes used in an aerodynamics laboratory.  He has published three technical papers on heat transfer at the AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference, one in 2009 and two in 2010.  He also presented a research paper in 2010 at ASME’s International Heat Transfer Conference, on a study which examined the use of square rib turbulators in very high aspect ratio channels for use in gas turbine cooling and other applications.

Lucky is a first-generation immigrant and first-generation college student from a family environment where he is the 5th of a family of 15 siblings.  He echoes many of the other scholarship winners in expressing deep gratitude for this scholarship and he also says that it has profoundly enhanced his self-confidence and comfort in his career path “having now received a warm welcome from the gas turbine community.”


ASME Nuclear Engineering Division (NED) Scholarship, $5,000

This scholarship is given to three ASME Student Members who demonstrate a particular interest in Nuclear Engineering as defined by the NED.  In this, the first year of award, the recipients were Kurt Harris, George Kontogiannis, and Jay (Debashish) Sircar.

Jay (Debashish) Sircar
Jay will be a senior this year at City College of New York with particular interest in the field of Nuclear Engineering.  He hopes to apply his Mechanical Engineering background to the nuclear and material sciences, working to “…[make] nuclear power the safest, most economical, and most environmentally benign source of energy.”  His enthusiasm sprouted at age 10 when his first Boy Scout merit badge was not hiking or camping, but Atomic Energy.   After winning the scholarship, Jay writes of his ASME experience:  “Although at CCNY all manufacturing courses are taught in the last semesters, because of participating in ASME competitions, I was able to pick up many manufacturing skills earlier.”

In 2010 Jay received a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Scholarship and was named a National Science Foundation (NSF) STEP Scholar.  His recommender describes his outstanding abilities:  “During my many interactions with Mr. Sircar, he came up with amazing ideas.  He has a very creative mind, and I am positive that someday he will certainly make a mark in research.”

Jay is a member of Tau Beta Pi, ASME, Pi Tau Sigma, and the American Nuclear Society Student Chapter (which he co-founded).  He has also studied and performed Classical Bengali singing, performing at cultural and religious festivals since 1994.


ASME Virginia Tech Memorial Scholarship, $3,500

To create an ongoing remembrance of the April 2007 tragedy at Virginia Tech, an endowed memorial scholarship for Virginia Tech College of Engineering Graduate Students is funded by various gifts from all parts of ASME including the ASME Board of Governors, Divisions, Institutes, Sections, ASME members, staff and friends.  The scholarship this year goes to Dragan Avirovik.

Dragan Avirovik
Dragan is a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech.  He has been very active in his ASME section, for two years holding the ASME competition chair where he was closely involved in many fundraising, social, and design engineering events, gaining excellent leadership experience.  He feels that ASME has opened many doors for him in the engineering field, including making it possible for him, as an international student, to win a scholarship.

Dragan has conducted research on modular windmills as an undergraduate, and later decided to pursue his PhD on the topic “Developing a Multifunctional Image Guided Surgical Platform,” which involves integration of a motorized positioning and scanning system, optical coherence tomography (OCT) probe and a laser scalpel.  The program is being funded by NIH.  His ideas have contributed significantly towards the evolution of high precision 3D stages that will find application in OCT probes.  Dragan has developed a novel ultrasonic motor during the course of research and utilized it to design rotary and linear stages.  In addition to deriving a detailed FEM model for ultrasonic motors, he has applied his vibrations and robotics background towards improving the efficiency of overall system.  He is currently working on discovering mechanical architectures that will lead to precise 3D motion capability using only one motor.  He has maintained a 3.91 GPA over the course of his graduate education.

After completion of his PhD, Dragan hopes to one day attain a position at a prestigious university where he can lead his own lab in which he will make steady advancements in the field of robotics.


Kate Gleason Scholarship, $3,000

Established in memory of Kate Gleason, who in 1914 became the first woman to be welcomed into ASME as a full member, the Kate Gleason Scholarship is awarded to a female engineering student who exemplifies the same entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to engineering and is currently enrolled in an engineering program in the United States.  As the first female member, Kate Gleason helped pave the way for other women to enter and thrive in the field of engineering.  ASME seeks to honor the legacy of Kate Gleason and other female engineers through its dedication to bridging the gender gap in engineering.  This year the first Kate Gleason Scholarship was given to Jill Hoover Hershman.

Jill Hoover Hershman
Jill will be a senior at the University of Alabama studying Mechanical Engineering this fall, and she has decided to pursue a career in industry.  She has published papers on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Flocking, Prosthetic Leg Electromyography, and Stress Analysis of Diamond Coated Cutting Tools.  She has been involved with ASME, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Golden Key International Honour Society, and is also a member of Tau Beta Pi and Pi Tau Sigma.  Jill is serving as the Secretary of her ASME section for her second year in September.  She is the leader of the SWE Collegiate Leadership Coaching Committee for the Southeast United States.

Jill is part of the first class of students at the University of Alabama to participate in the University Fellows Experience, and she also participates in the Computer Based Honors (CBH) Program.  The Fellows Experience is designed to support top students in the University and allow them to approach interdisciplinary problems.  CBH requires students to work with professors on their research, and Jill has worked with several of the University of Alabama faculty on a variety of projects.  On the non-technical side, Jill has become involved in a group called the College of Engineering Does Amateur Radical Theatre (CoE Does ART). She has performed in four plays during her undergraduate career, and she has been Director and President of the organization. 

In the time between her application for the ASME Scholarships and receiving notification, Jill unknowingly married one of the other ASME Foundation Scholarship winners; Daniel Hershman.


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This year's scholarship winners also include two friends from New Orleans with the same last name.  Although technically not siblings, Rabin Pokharel and Krishna Pokharel say they are as close as brothers and are thrilled that they're both receiving scholarships to attend the University of New Orleans.  Rabin will receive a $5,000 Garland Duncan Scholarship, while Krishna won a $1,500 Allen Rhodes Memorial Scholarship.

Here’s the complete list of 2011 ASME Foundation Scholarship Winners.


Written by Beth Lefever, Administrator, Centers Programs, ASME