Four Student Members Take Top Honors at the Old Guard Competition Finals



(Left to right) The three top winners at the Old Guard Oral Competition Finals at IMECE 2015: Gorman Donnelly of Union College (third place), Pin-Yi Chen of National Taiwan University (second place), and Tyler Pharris of Baylor University (first place).

Top undergraduate engineering students from around the world gathered in Houston on Saturday, Nov. 14, to compete in the Old Guard Oral Presentation Competition finals at the ASME 2015 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE).

The four top presenters  at this year’s event were: Tyler M. Pharris of Baylor University, who took first place and won $2,000 for his presentation, Effects of Flow Separation on a Highly Loaded, Low pressure Gas Turbine Blade at Low Reynolds Numbers; Pin-Yi Chen of National Taiwan University, who placed second and received $1,500 for her presentation Latte Art by a Robot Arm; third-place winner Gorman Donnelly, who received a $1,000 prize for presenting The Design of an Optimized Patient-Specific Spinal Fusion Cage Using Additive Manufacturing and Matthew Lesniewski of the Milwaukee School of Engineering, who placed fourth and won $500 for Cost Reduction of the XL-110 Flex Strap Machine.

The first rounds of ASME’s Old Guard Oral Presentation Competition are open to undergraduate engineers at regional ASME Student Professional Development Conferences (SPDCs) held around the world each year. Participating in the competition gives students the chance to present their public speaking and communication skills before audiences of professional peers. The competition emphasizes the value of an ability to deliver clear, concise and effective oral presentations, particularly pertaining to some sphere in which an engineer is or should be involved.


Baylor University student Tyler Pharris took the top prize at the finals with his presentation, Effects of Flow Separation on a Highly Loaded, Low pressure Gas Turbine Blade at Low Reynolds Numbers.

The 2015 Old Guard Finals featured the winners from regional SPDCs held in Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Daytona Beach and Lubbock, as well as in Beirut (Lebanon), Cairo (Egypt), Gujarat (India), Istanbul (Turkey), Toluca (Mexico), and Topi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan). The competitors’ presentations could last up to 15 minutes and were each followed by a five-minute Q&A session. All finalists presented in English and addressed a technical, economic or environmental aspect of engineering as it pertained to their work interest.

In the end, the judges selected Tyler Pharris of Baylor University as this year’s champion. “Last year when I competed in the SPDC, I practiced my presentation about 17 times, so I knew my slides like the back of my hand,” said the understandably proud yet humble Pharris. “This time, I practiced four or five times, but I ended up being able to feel very pumped about it. I thought I had a chance (to win in the finals), but every single person who was up there had a wonderful presentation and they were excellent speakers, so they were giving me a run for my money.”


Pin-Yi Chen of National Taiwan University during her presentation, Latte Art by a Robot Arm, which won her the second-place prize at the event.

Pin-Yi Chen, the beaming runner-up from National Taiwan University, was thrilled with her Old Guard experience: "I think it is an amazing journey,” she said, smiling broadly. “I really thank ASME for providing this amazing opportunity. Because of ASME, I had the chance to come to the USA three times this year! I'm so thankful for this. It's a life-changing experience, and I have decided to study in graduate school here next year.”

Where will she attend? Chen, clearly pleased with her triumph and looking forward to taking the next step in her engineering journey, said, “I don't know where yet, but I know I'm going to!”

Joshua Olesker, Public Information