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BME Honors Top Undergrads
Diaz Ortiz takes highest honor from College of Engineering
October 7, 2016

Ravi Bellamkonda looked out at all the bright, happy faces. He looked at the undergraduate students from the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME), the hope for the future, gathered for the annual BME Leadership Reception.

Bellamkonda opened the proceedings with a few words of advice, and throughout his message he made two things very clear. First, there’s no doubt that he believes the Coulter Department to be the best of its kind in the U.S. Second, he’s absolutely convinced that the young people assembled before him are bound for great things.

Then, as if he needed proof of the talent among BME students, former Petit Undergraduate Research Scholar Maria Diaz Ortiz walked away with the Tau Beta Pi Award, the highest honor granted to graduating seniors by the College of Engineering (COE) at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“You are the top of the top BME program,” Bellamkonda told the students and their guests, mostly family, gathered to recognize the accomplishments of BME undergraduate students.

Co-hosts for the event were Joe Le Doux, associate professor and associate chair for undergraduate learning and student experience, and James Rains, director of Capstone. But Bellamkonda’s opening remarks set the tone for a celebration of the top performing seniors from BME, who were recognized in a number of different categories.

“When you think about BME and you think about the work you choose to do
and the possibilities are really immense, coming from the top BME program in the country – consider the meaning of what you do, and seek work that gives you meaning,” Bellamkonda said. “And that’s the most important advice I can give you. I believe in your power to do this.”

Diaz Ortiz was one of several BME students to receive or be nominated for national, institute, or College of Engineering awards. Rachel Ford won the Alvin M. Ferst Leadership and Entrepreneurship Award, given to two students each year at Georgia Tech. Rehman Ali won the Henry Ford II Scholar Award, for the top third-year students in the College of Engineering. Elizabeth Carpenter was a candidate in the running for the Helen Grenga Outstanding Woman Engineer Award (the highest award for graduating female engineers) and Caleb Appleton was a candidate for the Love Family Foundation Scholarship, the highest honor accorded a graduating senior at Georgia Tech.

Then there were the BME Leadership Awards, for which there were many candidates but only seven winners: Caleb Appleton (Outstanding Academic Achievement Award for holding to the highest academic standards); Sara Khalek (Outstanding Academic Service Award for significant service to the academic community); Elizabeth Carpenter (Dr. G.D. Jain Outstanding Senior Award for a student exemplifying all-around excellence); Mohamed Ali Najia (Mr. S.K. Jain Outstanding Research); Karthik Nathan (Outstanding Community Service); Alex Weiss (Outstanding Entrepreneur); and Andrew Kolpitcke (Outstanding Industrial Work Experience).

Additionally, the Biomedical Engineering Student Advisory Board honored Barbara Fasse, director of learning sciences innovation and research for BME, with the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award.

“When I look at all of you,” Bellamkonda told the assembly gathered at the Wardlaw Building, “and I consider the possibility in this room for invention, for value creation, for social justice, for our country continuing as the leader in medical education and medical innovation, I can’t help but think, all of that is important, but at the end of the day it is what it means to you and the world and the impact you have on people that will be most important.”


Jerry Grillo
Communications Officer II
Parker H. Petit Institute for
Bioengineering and Bioscience