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Students honored for service and academic achievement

Students honored for service and academic achievement


CSE student award winners

Left to right: Derek Gebhard, Andrew Kreling, Chad Klochko, Kira Johns, and James Pita. Not Pictured: Keith Barber, Matt Newman, Brett Lesnau, and Kirsten Partyka.


The following CSE undergraduate students received College of Engineering Academic Achievement Awards for their outstanding academic performance at MSU. College of Engineering Academic Achievement Awards recognize the top 3 percent of Juniors and Seniors in each department and Sophomores in the top 1 percent of their class.

Senior award winners:

Andrew Kreling has a 4.0 GPA. Andrew is an Honors College member and an undergraduate representative on the CSE Computing Environment Committee. He has served as a peer mentor for the CSE Freshman Seminar course, completed an undergraduate summer research experience investigating peer-to-peer networks, and participated in three co-op/internship experiences. In addition, he is currently a TA for Dr. Charles Ofria (CSE 450: Translation of Programming Languages) and an undergraduate researcher in the Digital Evolution lab. After graduation, he will be moving to Seattle to work at Google. This is the fourth time Andrew has been recognized for Distinguished Academic Achievement (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007).

Keith Barber has a 3.97 GPA. He is a member of the Honors College, performs in the Spartan Marching Band, and is researching with the Genetic Algorithms Research and Applications Group. Keith has been an intern at IBM and is currently spending a semester studying in Germany. He is a recipient of the 2006/2007 Jeffrey & Kathryn Cole International Study Award. After graduation, he hopes to pursue a career in industry. This is the second time Keith has been recognized for Distinguished Academic Achievement (2006, 2007).

James Pita has a 3.96 GPA. He is a member of the Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor society and the Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity. He has been on the Dean's List for 7 out of 7 semesters and is currently a teaching assistant for CSE 231 (Introduction to Programming). James is president of the MSU Association of Computing Machinery and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. His future plans are to attend the University of Southern California, where he will be studying multi agent systems in the area of artificial intelligence for his PhD. This is the third time he has been recognized for Distinguished Academic Achievement (2005, 2006, 2007).

Chad Klochko has a 3.89 GPA. He is a 2006 Michigan State University Churchill Scholarship Nominee whose research was presented at the 2006 International Conference on Robotics and Automation and the 2007 International Conference on Data Engineering. Chad participated in a Summer Research Internship at MSU where he investigated methods for retrieving sequences in the human genome database. His future plans include a PhD program in Biotechnology though the Cambridge Centre for Neuropsychiatric Research at the University of Cambridge or a Masterís program in biomedical engineering at U of M. This is the second time he has been recognized for Distinguished Academic Achievement (2004, 2007).

Junior award winners:

Derek Gebhard has a 4.0 GPA. Derek has worked with the Michigan Department of Information technology, where he was part of a development team that delivered technology solutions to various state agencies. Derek created and maintained six ASP.NET web sites for agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Quality. He is currently a software engineering intern at TechSmith Corporation in Okemos, Michigan. He plans to earn an MBA at Stanford or Harvard after completing his undergraduate degree at MSU.


Matt Newman has a 3.967 GPA. He is a member of MSU Audio Enthusiasts and Engineers (AEE) and has been on the Deanís list for five semesters. He plans to apply his degree in software development to creating new technology in the audio/visual field, such as recording technology or video software for visual display products like televisions and projectors. This is the second time Matt has been recognized for Distinguished Academic Achievement (2006, 2007).


Brett Lesnau has a 3.95 GPA. He is a member of the MSU Association for Computing Machinery and has been on the Deanís List for four semesters. His interests include playing guitar, developing Adobe Flash animations/games, and competing in TopCoder tournaments. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in video game programming.

The following students received College of Engineering Service Awards for their exemplary service to the MSU community.

Kira Johns

Kira serves on the Executive Board of MSU Women in Computing. In this capacity, she has worked diligently to promote the group and organize networking and outreach activities. Her volunteer service includes SET day, the Women In Computing Girl Scout outreach workshop, the Engineering Alumni Tailgate, and numerous other events. As a peer mentor for the CSE Freshman Seminar course, Kira was an exceptional and supportive leader who conveyed her enthusiasm for technology and assisted students with their transition into life at MSU.

This year Kira was elected by her peers to serve as an undergraduate representative on the CSE advisory committee. She has provided insightful observations and thoughtful advice to discussions about sensitive issues.

After graduation Kira will be working at Accenture in Southfield, MI as an entry-level analyst.


James Pita

James is a member of the Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor society and the Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity. He participated in and promoted the Phi Iota Alpha Kids Fest, an event that brings in over 300 kids grades K-3 from traditionally diverse schools around the Lansing area and provides them with a day of learning, fun, and games.

He served as a peer mentor for the CSE Freshman Seminar course, where he assisted new students and helped to ease their transition into life as computer science students at MSU. James is current president of the MSU Association of Computing Machinery and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. As a student leader, he engages student participation and promotes a sense of community in the CSE department and at MSU. This year, James had a key role in encouraging students to serve on CSE department committees and promoting student elections.

His future plans are to attend the University of Southern California, where he will be studying multi agent systems in the area of artificial intelligence for his PhD.


Kirsten Partyka

As an executive board member and current Webmaster of the MSU Women in Computing student group, Kirsten is an active and engaged advocate for women in computing careers. Her volunteer activities include SET day, the Women In Computing Girl Scout outreach workshop, and the Engineering Alumni Tailgate. Kirsten planned and presented a Workshop on Linux and Open Source Software that was offered to all students in the Computer Science department.

Kirsten served on the planning committee for the Michigan Celebration of Women in Computing and played a critical role as Webmaster for the conference web site. She designed and created the web site during fall semester 2006 and managed to balance the enormous responsibility of maintaining the site while simultaneously excelling in her academic career. The graphics she designed for the site were used on almost all promotional materials for the conference. She spent many long hours learning new software, creating a registration database, and updating the site Ė all on a volunteer basis.

Kirsten is an Honors College member and works as a web programmer for the Eli Broad College of Business. This summer she will participate in the IBM Speed Teams internship program.

(Date Posted: 2007-04-12)