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Update: NMSU students win Goldwater Scholarships

NOTE: This is an update on a recent release about NMSU Goldwater Scholarship winners. It contains additional quotes from Dr. Jason Ackleson, Honors College associate dean and director of NMSU's office of national scholarships and international education.



NMSU engineering student Mohammad Ghassemi, recipient of Goldwater Scholarship for the 2007-08 academic year. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips) NMSU engineering student Kwame Porter-Robinson, recipient of Goldwater Scholarship for the 2007-08 academic year. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Imagine that you are a student at New Mexico State University. Now, imagine that you are triple-majoring in electrical engineering, applied mathematics and biochemistry. Scared yet?

NMSU junior Mohammed Ghassemi isn't, and neither is his colleague Kwame Porter-Robinson, an equally-impressive double-major in the fields of electrical engineering and applied mathematics. These students were both named Goldwater Scholars recently, joining an elite group of high-achieving sophomores and juniors in the fields of engineering, mathematics and science.

In addition, Brenton S. Taft, a mechanical engineering major, earned an honorable mention.

"Having this many students recognized by the Goldwater Foundation is extraordinary. It is a symbol of our quality of students, of the academic preparation we give our students and of what students can achieve when they come here," said Jason Ackleson, Honors College associate dean and director of NMSU's office of national scholarships and international education.

Ackleson said the Goldwater award is highly competitive, and only 317 of 1,110 applicants were named as Goldwater Scholars.

Goldwater Scholars are chosen on the basis of academic merit, and the awards recognize students for their research skills, achievements, and potential in the fields of Engineering, Science and Mathematics.

The $7,500 award is not renewable, and can be applied to tuition, fees, books, and room and board.

Of all the students to be named Goldwater Scholars or to receive an honorable mention, six have ties to New Mexico. Three are attending NMSU, and the other three students are originally from New Mexico, but attending out-of-state universities.

Ghassemi, of Las Cruces, said that being home-schooled by his mother and being raised to value academics, contributed to his success. Ghassemi's work addresses developing an artificial immune system that would be compatible with the human body. He aspires to pursue a Ph.D. in engineering as well as a medical degree.

"I believe that combining the knowledge of a Ph.D. with the experience of a doctor will make me more effective as a researcher and as a physician," Ghassemi said.

Porter-Robinson, originally from Boston, plans to earn a Ph.D. He seeks to advance the field of autonomous control systems and robotics such that intelligent interaction between human and machine could be possible.

"I would like to make significant contributions to the field of non-linear control theory," Porter-Robinson said.

Honorable mention Taft, of Sandia Park, N.M., plans to obtain a Ph.D. in thermal and fluid science and engineering. He would like to someday hold an engineering and development position in an aerospace lab.

"These are very accomplished students," Ackleson said. "They are future leaders who will change their fields for the better."

NMSU has been home to Goldwater Scholars four of the last five years. Ghassemi's sister, Marzyeh Ghassemi, earned the award last year.

The scholarship, which honors Senator Barry M. Goldwater, was established in 1986 and has awarded 5,202 scholarships worth about $51 million.

Anyone interested in more information about applying for the award can contact Ackleson at jackleso@nmsu.edu.