Published: April 25, 2022

Each semester, the College of Engineering and Applied Science honors students for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the CU Engineering community.

Graduating students are nominated by faculty, staff and peers. For spring 2022, three ECEE students were among the winners. Congratulations to Phaedra, Nanu and Will! 

Check out the full list & award criteria

Phaedra Sophia Curlin

Research Award

Phaedra Sophia Curlin is graduating with a BS in electrical and computer engineering. She has been a research assistant in the CU Boulder Telerobotics Lab since May 2020. In August 2021, she became the lab’s manager under the direction of Professor Jack O. Burns, director of the NASA/SSERVI Network for Exploration & Space Science (NESS). According to Burns, “Phaedra's work has been to design, build and operate a robotic arm and rover, and a digital twin that operates within the Unity game engine. … She has been an excellent research assistant, exhibiting impressive problem-solving skills, independence and leadership among the team.” Phaedra has also served as the president of the CU Rover Club, which is on track to compete in the 2022 University Rover Challenge. Phaedra has written and received several Engineering Excellence Fund grants for the club and has been a tireless force in moving the interdisciplinary team forward. Beyond her research, Phaedra has also contributed to ECEE through her help in redesigning course ECEN 2270 and her participation on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.

Phaedra on research: “I think that what keeps me so excited about research is that it is at the cutting edge of what humanity is doing and that it will solve problems that we are facing today. I deeply enjoy solving complex issues as I also see it is a personal challenge to push my own knowledge in this area. … I believe that my experiences in electrical and computer engineering have allowed for me to have greater insight on the limitations of hardware systems – a major issue in robotics. I think that there is a lot to be done, from the perspective of electrical and computer engineering, in designing robots that will help humans on other celestial bodies.”

Padmakshi Dahal

Academic Engagement Award

Padmakshi “Nanu” Dahal is graduating with a BS in electrical and computer engineering. As a learning assistant for ECEN 2270 Electronics Design Laboratory, she was instrumental in redeveloping the course for remote instruction during COVID-19, implementing new hardware and experiments that continue to be used for in-person instruction. As a first-generation college student, she has served as a mentor for other first-gen K-12 students through CU Boulder’s Precollegiate Development Program. During her junior year, Nanu participated in the CU Summer Program for Undergraduate Research, working with a faculty member to develop a low-cost micro-ohm meter. Nanu has also been a student representative on department’s Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, where she discusses and develops ways to improve the curriculum and to better prepare graduates for their careers. Nominator Arielle Blum said, “Over the past four years, I have had the opportunity to watch Nanu grow and evolve into a fine engineer. She has been a passionate proponent of first-generation students and making the pathway easier for those to follow after her. She has juggled a rigorous academic program (in electrical engineering) with a minor in music along with her commitments to diversity and inclusion ... all while balancing research and assisting the department. I can’t think of any other student that deserves more recognition than Nanu. CU is a better place because of her.”

Nanu’s advice to future students: “Stand on your own two feet and don’t wait for someone else to help you. Take your learning in your own hands and challenge yourself. To try out things that aren’t part of your career path because as an engineer, we strive to help people with our developments. What better way to get ideas than to learn what are problems in our society?”

William Pryor

Wellness Award

Will Pryor is graduating with a BS in electrical engineering. According to nominator Angela Thieman-Dino, when it comes to supporting community wellness, Will is not standing outside and reaching in to lend a hand – he is alongside, leading, caring and innovating from "in the trenches." After losing four peers to suicide, Will co-founded a mental wellness non-profit called Connecting Flight, through which he has implemented mental wellness programming in the college, serving over 100 students and collaborating with professors, mental health professionals and volunteers. He participated in and served as a TA for the Learning to Work in Teams pilot course, which helps students communicate more effectively with others, build trusting relationships, and better navigate moods crucial to collaboration and a person’s sense of wellbeing. Nominator Aaron Roof said Will has also “directly contributed to the improved focus on mental health and wellness within the Presidents Leadership Class.” Through his nonprofit, classroom engagement and co-curricular commitments, he has cultivated a community of care in CU Engineering and beyond, and has done so in ways that exemplify engineering's grounded, informed, innovative and collaborative approach.

Will’s advice to students: “I sincerely encourage other students to stand up and better our approach to educating whole engineers. There is no shortage of support waiting to elevate your ideas and implement your solutions. I had never imagined that I could have started a non-profit or implemented wellness programming. You can too, and I hope you do!”