Nevada Engineering Fall 2021

Promise Fulfilled: A look inside the William N. Pennington Engineering Building

"Promise Fulfilled" look inside the new William N. Pennington Enineering Building
Students and teachers working inside the William Pennington Building featuring robotics, chemestry, biology and the new labs available.

Nevada Engineering | Fall 2021

The stories of the students and faculty in the College of Engineering who are making a world of difference through their research, outreach and service.

Greetings from Dean Manos Maragakis

Manos Maragakis wearing face mask at podium
College of Engineering Dean Manos Maragakis.

Dear Friends,

In the face of many challenges in the past year, the students, faculty and staff in the College of Engineering have continued to collaborate in pursuit of solutions to the challenges we all face.

One year after opening, the William N. Pennington Engineering Building has already proven vital for our mission. In this edition of the magazine, we share scenes from the new building, including a look inside the University of Nevada, Reno College of Engineering Davidson Foundation Cleanroom. The ISO-5 (Class 100) Cleanroom opens up new avenues for research that will improve computing capacity, advanced manufacturing and medical treatments. Student success is at the heart of the College of Engineering. From our K-12 outreach and mentorship to opportunities for meaningful involvement with cutting-edge research projects, we provide our students with the experiences and guidance necessary to excel. Jerren Bailey was recently named an ACS Scholar after gaining hands-on research experience in the laboratory of Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering Assistant Professor Rashed Khan, and alumna Sierra Gonzales played a key role on the team that made history by landing a spacecraft on the asteroid Bennu.

Meanwhile, our faculty continue to pursue high-impact research. In this issue, we celebrate the NSF CAREER Awards of three of our faculty members (page 20): Dr. David Cantu, Dr. Yan Wang and Dr. Feng Yan. With these awards, our faculty have received seven CAREER Awards since 2019. Additionally, three of our faculty members received distinguished awards for their research (page 22): Dr. Krishna Pagilla was named a Foundation Professor; Dr. Mano Misra was recognized as the University of Nevada, Reno Established Innovator; and Dr. Ian Buckle was named the Nevada System of Higher Education Regents’ Distinguished Researcher. And these are only a few of the headlines and highlights you’ll see in these pages.

I am proud of the members of the College of Engineering. Together, they epitomize the enterprising and innovative spirit of engineering, and their efforts have once again resulted in all of our ranking-eligible graduate programs receiving rankings in the U.S. News & World Report.


Manos Maragakis
Dean, College of Engineering
University of Nevada, Reno

People standing in front of the William N. Pennington Engineering Building for a check presentation.

IEA Women & Minority in Construction Scholarship established

An April 30, 2021 check presentation established the IEA Women & Minority in Construction Scholarship.

Kaylie Greathouse and Reza Boushehri

Five years, nearly $4 million in scholarships

Students in the College of Engineering receive a range of scholarships to fulfill their academic and professional goals.

Fall Internship & Career Fair

On Wednesday September 22,  61 employers connected with 599 students.  Hosted by the College of Engineering's Career Services, the semiannual event is designed to help students transition from the University to fulfilling careers. 

Dean Manos Maragakis

"The College of Engineering is committed to providing students a globally competitive engineering education, conducting innovative, cutting-edge research and engaging with the community,” Dean Maragakis said. “This building propels these goals forward and contributes to the vitality of our region, our nation and our world.”

A look inside


Mechanical Engineering professors are founding members in new institute: AI for Dynamic Systems

Mechanical engineering graduate student Florian McLelland and Assistant Professor Floris van Breugel have modified a pair of skis to take readings on snow as riders ski over it in order to produce a model of the snow's characteristics. Their work is illustrative of the work performed in the new institute

AI for Dynamic Systems
Check presentation with two million dollar check and research team

DARPA international robotics challenge won by University of Nevada, Reno team

Walking and flying robots met challenge of navigating underground environments.

students and Ian Buckle on shake table platen

Foundation Professor Ian Buckle named 2021 Regents’ Distinguished Researcher

The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents’ award honors the exemplary contributions to bridge and earthquake engineering of College of Engineering Professor Ian Buckle.

Jerren Bailey in lab coat and gloves in a chemical engineering lab

Chemical Engineering student earns prestigious scholarship

The American Chemical Society selected senior Jerren Bailey as one of its 138 ACS Scholars.

Mano Misra

Mano Misra named 2021 University of Nevada, Reno Foundation Established Innovator

The award honors a career that includes 19 patents, 240 papers, and research funding totaling $35 million, in addition to mentorship of more than 50 M.S. and Ph.D. students.

William Roser

William Roser named fellow in the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program

The civil engineering doctoral student is also a GAANN Fellow focused on improving the earthquake-resiliency of structures to reduce their carbon footprint.

students and professors conferring with microscope in background

DOE grant expands materials testing ability, increases capacity for nuclear research

Researchers can now investigate nano-scale materials with expanded in-situ transmission electron microscope capabilities.

National Science Foundation CAREER Awards

In 2021, three faculty in the College won prestigious NSF CAREER awards, continuing a growing tradition in the college.

David Cantu

David Cantu: Improving the efficiency and sustainability of rare earth elements extraction

Because of the important role rare earth elements play in modern applications, the research is critical for the continued advancement of cutting-edge technology.

Yan Wang

Yan Wang: Cooling down devices in a hot industry

Yan Wang investigates phonon waves to develop effective thermal engineering strategies.

Feng Yan

Feng Yan: Reducing the carbon footprint of machine learning

Computer Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Feng Yan recently received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award that aims to improve the efficiency of machine learning.

A growing tradition

In the past three years, the College of Engineering has seen seven faculty members earn National Science Foundation CAREER Awards, highly-competitive grants designed to support early-career faculty who have outstanding potential in research and education.

Feifei Fan

2020: Feifei Fan

"The role of heterogeneities in electro-chemo-mechanics of electrodes and interfaces"

Matteo Aureli

2019: Matteo Aureli

"Fluid-Structure-Control Interactions in Bioinspired Robots with Actively Morphing Fins"

Mohammed Ben-Idris

2019: Mohammed Ben-Idris

"Reliability and Resilience Assurance of Cyber-physical Energy Systems"

Jim La

2019: Hung (Jim) La

"Less Obstructive Vital Evaluation-inspection Robots for Bridges (Bridge-LOVER)"

Dean Manos Maragakis

"In the face of many challenges in the past year, the students, faculty and staff in the College of Engineering have continued to collaborate in pursuit of solutions to the challenges we all face.... Together, they epitomize the enterprising and innovative spirit of engineering, and their efforts have once again resulted in all of our ranking-eligible graduate programs receiving rankings in the U.S. News & World Report."



I wanted to attend a great engineering program at an R1 University.... I wanted to be able to conduct research as an undergraduate to better prepare myself for graduate school.

Tyreis Gatson


Tyreis Gatson

Krishna Pagilla named Foundation Professor

Krishna Pagilla sitting next to the Truckee River
Researchers gathering samples in a desert environment
Researchers collecting a sample on the side of a road

Innovative research for more than 25 years

After receiving his Ph.D. in environmental engineering from University of California, Berkeley in 1994, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Chair and Ralph E. and Rose A. Hoeper Engineering Professor Krishna Pagilla has embarked on a career that, to date, has resulted in more than 200 publications and more than $10 million in research grant funding. Most recently, he received awards totaling $3.3 million to study COVID-19 prevalence through wastewater surveillance. After being elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2020, the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation named Pagilla a Foundation Professor. With the recognition, the University has etched Pagilla’s name in the granite pillars of its Honor Court, which celebrates the contributions of elite campus and community leaders.

Of the honor, Pagilla said, “I had several honors before, but this really pleasantly surprised me because it is the highest honor the Foundation gives to the faculty, and you get to keep the title for your lifetime. I’m humbled. It really means a lot. In fact, it motivates me to do more of what I’m doing now and highlight the University’s achievements within the community as well as the larger scientific community.”

Kedar Deshpande named the 2021 James G. Scrugham Medalist

Kedar Deshpande ’03 MS (Computer Engineering) is the CEO of retail and customer service powerhouse Prior to becoming CEO in the fall of 2020, he held multiple executive-level positions with the company, including VP of Technology & Marketing and Chief Operating Officer. Since joining Zappos in 2011, Kedar has overseen and worked alongside teams creating technological innovations for more efficient business operations and launched marketing campaigns that drove consumer awareness and encouraged brand loyalty – all while having fun and, in the spirit of Zappos Core Value #3, creating a little weirdness.

The James G. Scrugham Medal is an award initiated by the college in 2006 to acknowledge successful alumni and James G. Scrugham. Alumni who have demonstrated success in their chosen profession are honored with this award - often receiving national recognition. Any alumna or alumnus of the College of Engineering is eligible.

Kedar Deshpande

The Wolf Pack Way

The Wolf Pack Way highlights the achievements of recent graduates who have excelled in their fields.

A path of greatness

A major pedestrian path on campus was recently lined with banners featuring outstanding recent graduates doing great work all over the world and dubbed The Wolf Pack Way. The path features an inaugural 50 alumni, with plans to add more as it extends roughly a mile from the main University entrance all the way to the north end of campus.

We are proud to share the College's Wolf Pack Way.

Person in regalia in front of Manzanita Lake

Michelle Falcon Mujica

2020 B.S. Electrical Engineering
Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela
Power Systems Engineer, Eaton Corporation

Lydia Peri

Lydia Peri

2015 M.S. Civil & Environmental Engineering
Carson City, Nevada
Emerging Resources Program Administrator at the Truckee Meadows Water Authority

Yudong Luo

Yudong Luo

2018 Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering
Wuhan, China
Principal Robotics Research Scientist at SEEDLAND GROUP

Mitchell Lane

Mitchell Lane

2019 B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 2020 M.S. Mechanical Engineering
Pleasant Hill, California
Mechanical Engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Vick Singh

Vick Singh

2019 Ph.D. Materials Science & Engineering
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
R&D Scientist at Dragonfly Energy Corporation

Nathan Griffin Navarro

Nathan Navarro Griffin

2020 M.S. Computer Science and Engineering
Reno, Nevada
Gameplay Programmer at Squanch Games

Weixin Yang

Weixin Yang

2019 Ph.D. Electrical Engineering
Yunnan, China
Robotics Engineer at CreateMe

Athira Pillai

Athira Pillai

2019 M.S. Computer Science and Engineering
Mannar, India
Technical Business Analyst, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Practice, GCOM

Jason Hastings

Jason Hastings

2008 B.S. Chemical Engineering, 2010 M.S. Materials Science and Engineering, 2012 Ph.D. Materials Science and Engineering
Carson City, Nevada
Owner/Managing Consultant at HastingsPHD

Sierra Gonzales

Sierra Gonzales

2017 B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 2018 M.S. Mechanical Engineering
Washoe Valley, Nevada
Software Systems Engineer and Test Engineer at Lockheed Martin

Lauren Mazurowski in lab coat

Lauren Mazurowski

2021 M.S. Environmental Engineering
Reno, Nevada
Ph.D. student at Yale University in environmental engineering

Renjith Moolakatt

Renjith Moolakatt

2017 B.S. Electrical Engineering with an emphasis on Renewable Energy
Las Vegas, Nevada
Area Engineer -- Distributed Communications Engineer at Xcel Energy

Jhony Habbouche

Jhony Habbouche

2014 B.S. Civil Engineering, 2015 M.S. Civil & Environmental Engineering, 2019 Ph.D. Civil & Environmental Engineering
Ablah, Lebanon
Research Scientist at the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC), the research division of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) 

Share your news!

Our alumni make headlines everywhere they go, and we love sharing their stories.

Submit your alumni news
2 people graduating on the quad


Our students, faculty, staff and alumni keep making headlines. Check back often.

College of Engineering and its programs make 2021 U.S. News and World Report rankings

For the second year in a row, the College of Engineering and all of the ranking-eligible graduate engineering programs housed within it received rankings.

Engineering Rankings
Dian Li and Yufeng Zheng standing in front of a electron microscope, holding equipment.

Materials engineering assistant professor continues work on titanium alloys

Assistant Professor Yufeng Zheng receives NSF EPSCoR Fellowship grant

Seven people wearing casual business attire standing on the steps outside of the William Pennington Engineering Building.

‘Edge to Edge’ project aims to help communities better handle wildfires, other natural disasters

University researchers will gather and analyze weather data in Tahoe Basin for public distribution

Two adults standing in a banquet room: Milana Cimesa on the right, holding an award, with her husband on the left.

Civil Engineering student recognized by U.S. Department of Transportation

Doctoral candidate Milana Cimesa receives Outstanding Student of the Year award.


The College of Engineering gratefully acknowledges the support of Nevada Today and Nevada Silver & Blue in making these stories possible. Special thanks to Mike Wolterbeek, Karl Fendelander, Jane Tors, Moses Achoka, Sarah Strang, Isaac Hoops and Nikki Moylan.

Corporate Partners

The Corporate Partners program at the College of Engineering of the University of Nevada, Reno brings together a select group of companies and firms to collaborate with engineering and computer science educators, researchers and students. The mission of the program is to generate interactions between the College and the Corporate Partners that bridge the gap between theory and practice and bring a competitive edge to the College of Engineering, the partners, the region, the state and the nation.

The College of Engineering is proud to partner with the following companies.

Baker Hughes, a GE company, logo
ClickBond logo
Haws logo

Learn more

For more information about the program, please contact Flynn Ginty at or (775) 682-7696.

Engineering Corporate Partners

Lumos & Associates logo
Nevada National Security Site managed and operated by Mission Support and Test Services
Logo for Sierra Nevada Corporation reading Electronic Systems and Integration, Innovative and Agile Technology Solutions

Nevada Engineering masthead logo

Contact Nevada Engineering

Submit inquiries to Chris Moran at