Recent Alumni Award

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2016 Recipient

Vanessa Aponte
(AeroEngr PhD '06)

Serves as chairwoman of the Technology Insertion Board for Military Support Programs at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, tasked with
evaluating new technologies for use in spaceflight.

Launched a 10-year career with Lockheed Martin as senior systems engineer for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, focused on developing and testing craft for future deep space missions.

Developed new biosensor technology allowing fast, minimally invasive measurement of certain immune markers to monitor astronauts’ immune systems.

Selected as finalist and underwent NASA Astronaut Selection interview process in 2009 and 2012.

Established in 2013, the CU Engineering Recent Alumni Award recognizes outstanding recent alumni for professional achievements, continued service to the college and/or university, and outstanding personal characteristics within 10 years of graduation from the College of Engineering and Applied Science. The award is given to one deserving recipient each year, who is recognized alongside the college's Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award winners at the Engineering Awards Banquet, traditionally held in April.

Nominations will remain active for three years, meaning a nominee not selected for the award the year the nomination is submitted will have two additional years of consideration. Read more about the RAA Nomination Criteria and Procedure.

The Recent Alumni Award program is managed and administered by the Engineering Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Board.

Who is Eligible?

Alumni who have graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science with a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree within the last 10 years, as counted from the year of graduation for the most recent degree. (example: A May 2006 BS and May 2006 MS graduate would have eligibility through December 2016.)

Nomination Requirements

  • Nomination Form
  • Letter of nomination (written by nominator – self or other)
  • Minimum of 1 and maximum of 3 additional letters of support
  • Nominee’s resume or CV
  • No more than 2 pages of additional attachments (ie. articles, list of patents, supplemental biography, etc.) - optional

Nominations for candidates who do not meet the eligibility requirements will not be considered. Nominations that are received after the Oct. 31, 2016 deadline or are not complete by the deadline will be deferred until the following year. Nominations that do not conform to the stated guidelines (including the stated minimum/maximum number of supporting letters) will be returned to the nominator.

To nominate someone for the RAA, we encourage you to complete the online submission process (preferred method) at

Alternatively, you may submit your nomination by e-mail to, or fax (303) 492-2199, or mail to:

RAA Selection Committee
c/o Alumni Relations
College of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Colorado at Boulder
422 UCB
Boulder, Colorado 80309-0422

Award Criteria

The award selection process will be based on the following weighted criteria:

(50%) – Career accomplishments and professional development: Nominee has made significant or distinct contribution to organization, business, or cause since graduation from the college. This may include demonstrated experience or knowledge of field. Examples: formal recognition/awards, patents, innovations, key projects; active membership and involvement in professional organizations; leadership roles in professional groups or boards, or in the company/industry in which they are employed; training and certifications, advanced education, and licenses.

(25%) – Continued involvement with CU and CEAS: Nominee actively participates in university or CEAS sanctioned/organized events or activities and/or gives back to the college/university in the form of time or money. Examples: student mentorship, senior design project involvement, departmental engineering boards, engineering societies, freshman projects, alumni events, financial contributions, speaking engagements, industry recruitment, etc.

(25%) – Character, growth, and service: Nominee exhibits exemplary personal qualities and development, as seen through some or all of the following: proven leadership skills or qualities, passion for interests, demonstrated integrity and ethical decision-making, and commitment of time, experience and/or recurring involvement with volunteer, nonprofit, or outreach work.

Winners must be present to accept the award in person at the Engineering Awards Banquet (April 22, 2016). A nominee who is chosen for the award but unable to attend the banquet will be returned to the pool for consideration the following year as long as the nomination is still within its three-year "active" status.

Winner Selection

A Recent Alumni Award Selection Committee composed of five voting members is drawn from the following groups:

  • Engineering Advisory Council (current members)
  • Industry
  • GOLD Board (current and past members)
  • CEAS faculty
  • Past winners

and two non-voting, ex officio members from:

  • College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean’s Office
  • Engineering Development

This selection committee will meet after the nomination deadline each year to review the nominations and recommend a winner for dean approval. Winners and nominators will be notified of the outcome of each year's selection process following the selection meeting and well in advance of the Engineering Awards Banquet.

Previous Winners

Name Year CU Degrees
Vanessa Aponte 2016 PhD AeroEngr '06
Evan Thomas 2015 AeroEngr, Jour, MS AeroEngr '06, PhD '09
Avery Bang 2014 MS CivEngr '09
(MS CivEngr’09
(MS CivEngr’09
Elliot Goldman 2013 BS/MS MechEngr '04


Important Announcements

CUEngineering:  A publication for alumni and friends. Read the 2016 edition of CUEngineering magazine here.

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