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Outstanding Student Posing With Professor And Dean

College honors outstanding students

The College gathered to celebrate its graduates at its semi-annual Convocation. Although all of our graduates are special to us, of special note were the following students:


“For demonstrating innovative instructional techniques, contributing to instruction above and beyond the call of duty, self-improvement in developing instructional skills, and a mountain of glowing student evaluations, I am pleased to present Amr Ghanem with the 2022 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.”


“In his first semester of his MS EE program, Saige Dacuycuy authored a conference paper on hot-spot cooling. He then went on to author a paper on sub-millimeter microchannels in the journal Micromachines, and his paper was selected as an Editor’s Choice and Feature Paper of that issue. He will graduate tomorrow with his MS, and then continue his PhD studies here.”


“There were many qualified and deserving candidates for our Outstanding PhD Student Award–all of them with impressive accomplishments in research and academics. What broke the six-way tie was this candidate’s personality. She is known for being incredibly kind and cooperative while maintaining a high level of professionalism. Behind her infectious smile is a team player who works well with others and is always willing to help. These are the very components that are the often-overlooked secret behind being a prolific engineer. There are many excellent engineers in the world, but the great ones all have great personalities. Sherry Xu has the potential to stand among them.”



“Xiaolin Mai is an excellent student with an outstanding academic record leading to a cumulative GPA of 3.90. She has been on the College Dean’s list for most of her academic career. She has received numerous scholarships and awards for her academic achievements, and in particular, she was selected as the 2018 Chi Epsilon Outstanding Freshman of the Year. She has certainly lived up to that selection.

In addition to her academic excellence, Xiaolin has been heavily involved in extra-curricular activities. She served as President of the Chi Epsilon Student Honor Society and is also a member of the ASCE Steel Bridge team which performed extremely well at the recent Southwest Conference competition. In addition, she served as fundraising chair for the ASCE Student chapter. As if this were not enough activity, Xiaolin has also interned with two leading engineering companies in Hawaii since May 2021. Clearly, she is well on her way to becoming a leading civil engineer here in Hawai’i or wherever she decides to practice. Congratulations Xiaolin!”



“This semester’s Outstanding Graduating Senior for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is Christopher John Agcanas.

Chris’ achievements literally span the sea to the sky. In the sea, Chris helped develop an autonomous underwater vehicle with the Disaster Prevention & Emergency Management Department at UH West Oahu. In the sky, he developed an unmanned aerial vehicle to monitor vital signs remotely using Doppler radar. And on the ground, he developed a self-balancing gait trainer for persons with cerebral palsy and the elderly with movement disabilities.

Chris’ greatest contribution to the Department was in his role as the Chair of the Student Advisory Board. I formed the first SAB 20 years ago and have worked closely with each Chair since then, and can say that Chris was among the top three. Under Chris’ leadership, the SAB met every week and produced a report that was inserted into our accreditation self-study report last year, and we fully anticipate receiving full accreditation.

Congratulations, Chris!”


“The Outstanding Graduating Senior or OGS in Mechanical Engineering this semester is Isabella Kotsol.

She has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout the entirety of her academic career. Simultaneously, she has participated in a broad range of extracurricular activities such as the pi tau sigma honor society, Society of Women Engineers, and the Surfrider foundation. She has served as a university learning assistant for students in mathematics classes, participated in an internship designing H.V.A.C. systems, and worked on payload drop and flight tests for fixed wing drone designs. For her senior design project, she has been developing an autonomous ocean recovery vehicle for use with balloon satellites.

She is in our Bachelors-and-Master’s accelerated Master’s degree program, and is today finishing her Bachelors degree having taken the maximum of 3 double-counted courses allowed in this program. This semester she connected with a project in Dr. Godwin Severa’s lab in the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, focusing on basic research in materials for hydrogen storage and energy technologies, and this will support her MS degree studies in the upcoming academic year.

Over the summer she will be traveling to Cornell University to participate in a workshop on research using synchrotron x-rays, supported by the National Science Foundation, and then she’ll be participating in a summer study-abroad program for language immersion in France, a long way from her home in Kauai.

I wrote a recommendation for Isabella for this summer program, and it started with the words, “Isabella Kotsol is the absolute best you can find academically at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.” The OGS award shows that this is the consensus across our department’s faculty. Congratulations, Isabella, for your hard work so far. We wish you good luck for the future.”

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