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DukEngineer Magazine 2022

In this issue: A Conversation with New Duke Engineering Dean Jerome Lynch, The Duke Quantum Center Launches a New Era of Computing, Students and Faculty Alike Adapt to the “New Normal”, How First-Year Design Affected Its Inaugural Class and more.

Scroll down to view all the stories!

Meet the Editors


Talya JeterTalya Jeter is a junior from Cleveland, Ohio majoring in biomedical engineering and neuroscience while minoring in African & African American studies. She’s passionate about writing, college and career readiness, so in her free time she helps high school students apply to college. She also loves to play video games and is on the Duke League of Legends Esports team. Other activities that she’s involved in at Duke are Duke eNable, Project Tadpole and Bass Connections.

Editorial Team

Shyamal Hitesh AnadkatShyamal Hitesh Anadkat is a graduate student in the Artificial Intelligence for Product Innovation program at Pratt. Shyamal earned a dual bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is passionate about software engineering, machine learning and entrepreneurship. Outside of work, he loves to run and read.

Katie CobbKatie Cobb is a senior from Vienna, Virginia studying mechanical engineering with the certificate in Energy and the Environment. On campus, she is involved with the Duke American Society of Mechanical Engineers. She enjoys baking, playing the piano and crossword puzzles.

Prakruti KumarPrakruti Kumar is a graduate student pursuing a Masters in Engineering Management. At Duke, she’s involved with the media club and helps lead photography events. During her free time, she loves to travel, explore cultures and photograph people and places.

Sunggun LeeSunggun Lee is a sophomore studying biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering. He is interested in developing tools and models for global health and enjoys learning about different cultures. Sunggun is also involved in Duke Engineers for International Development and a global health Bass Connections team on campus. In his free time, he enjoys listening to music, playing soccer and is currently attempting to learn the electric guitar.

Johnson LiJohnson Li is a sophomore majoring in ECE with a minor in biology. When not stuck in his room doing homework, he enjoys spending his free time reading, going on runs and taking naps.

Philip LiuPhilip Liu is a senior from Austin, Texas majoring in mechanical engineering, minoring in economics, and pursuing certificates in Innovation & Entrepreneurship as well as Philosophy, Politics & Economics. At Duke, he is an inaugural A. James Clark Scholar, tour guide for the Pratt School of Engineering and alumnus of the Duke in Silicon Valley program. His interests include technology, business, innovation, service and storytelling. Recreationally, Philip enjoys music, movies and sports.

Piyush MishraPiyush Mishra is a first-year Master of Engineering Management student. An experiential learning advocate, Piyush has worked as a technical consultant and a content developer. When not busy with coursework and assignments, he spends his time running an Instagram channel and exploring places.

Ishaan MehrotraIshaan Mehrotra is a freshman majoring in biomedical engineering major on the premed track while simultaneously pursuing an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate. Ishaan was born in Connecticut but grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. His favorite hobbies include playing sports (especially soccer and table tennis), going to the gym, hanging out with friends and discovering new music.

Nikhila MuraliNikhila Murali is an international student from India, currently pursuing her Masters in Engineering Management. She is an aspiring product manager and was a consultant at Deloitte prior to attending Duke. She is also actively involved as an executive member in the MEMPDC Consulting club as well as in the External Engagement wing of the DUU. In her free time, she likes to travel and enjoys spending time with the nature.

Editor not pictured: Sofia Rodriguez

Letter from the Dean

It’s an honor to welcome you to the pages of the longrunning DukEngineer Magazine as the new Vinik Dean of the Pratt School of Engineering. The content within is a credit to the accomplishments of my predecessors, most recently Ravi Bellamkonda and Jeff Glass. My thanks to both for everything they have done to make Pratt the preeminent engineering program I feel so excited to lead.

I was drawn to this opportunity because of the unique qualities that distinguish Duke from its peers. Duke students enjoy an educational experience equally shaped by design, innovation and a rich offering of co-curricular opportunities afforded by a liberal arts institution. Distinct areas of excellence such as biomedical technology, quantum computing and materials grow ever-brighter with the addition of talented new faculty. And there is a youthful energy that makes anything seem possible, as evidenced in the ambitious visions of the Pratt 2039 strategic exercise.

Last fall, I was lucky enough to get to know the community better through events such as the Board of Visitors meeting and the celebration of the grand opening of the Wilkinson Building. It quickly became clear to me what it is that makes Duke Engineering such a special place: the people who call it home.

I have already begun meeting with faculty one-on-one to learn about their programs and aspirations, as well as staff and student groups that are working to make Duke Engineering a more vibrant and inclusive community. In an effort to match the high level of engagement I’ve encountered across the entire campus, I am also beginning a regular series of small gatherings called Table Talks to hear from anyone who wants to join me in discussion.

Jerry Lynch

“I wholeheartedly believe that Duke and Pratt are ready to rise to meet the challenge, and I look forward finding out just how high we can go together.”

One thing that I have already heard loud and clear is that we have much work to do—both as engineers living within a world full of grand challenges and as people living and working together to meet them. I plan to start my tenure as dean by redoubling our efforts to create a diverse and inclusive community. We must also continue to explore and amplify our investments in frontier research areas such as climate solutions, artificial intelligence, robotics and digital health.

None of this is easy. All of it requires leadership. It requires innovation. And it requires diversity of thought and approach. But I wholeheartedly believe that Duke and Pratt are ready to rise to meet the challenge, and I look forward finding out just how high we can go together.

Jerome P. Lynch, PhD, F.EMI
Vinik Dean of Engineering

Letter from the ESG President

Engineering Student Government (ESG) is proud to serve as a liaison between administration and engineering students to help improve the experience of Pratt students. As we begin our new board year, ESG has set out three main initiatives: build a stronger sense of community within Pratt, improve major and career advising for students, and ensure accessible mental health resources that are tailored to our needs. With these initiatives, we aim to solve the most pressing issues that Pratt students face.

As our lives continue to shift toward pre-pandemic norms, ESG is choosing to prioritize rebuilding community amongst engineering majors. We are excited to provide spaces for students to connect with and inspire each other such as E-Socials, E-Picnics and E- ball, among other activities. In the past, “E-Socials” have served to allow students to network amongst each other and to meet recruiters in a more intimate setting. This year, we are proud to announce E-socials will be back in person! In addition to weekly networking events, we are excited to bring back larger scale (and well-loved) ESG events each semester including E-Picnic and E-Ball. These extra-curricular events promote interpersonal connection that benefits students’ lives inside and outside of the classroom.

As you know, being an engineering student is difficult. ESG wants to work to make the lives of engineering students as easy as possible and give them a strong sense of support. With students facing rigorous courses and busy schedules, we want to reduce the stress that comes along with deciding on a major and career. Career events will give Pratt students an understanding of what potential careers will be a good fit for their skills and interests. To address these challenges, and minimize the time commitment associated with these big decisions, we are planning a major fair where students can stop in and understand their options along with an expansion of online resources students can access on their own time.

Nikita Suri

“ESG wants to work to make the lives of engineering students as easy as possible and give them a strong sense of support.”

The final goal for ESG is improving mental health among Pratt Students. Thus far, we have begun conversations about projects that can improve student well-being and mental health. We aim to create safe spaces where students can convene, share about their experiences, and understand they are not alone in their struggles. Support specific to the Pratt experience will foster an environment more conducive to vulnerability, empathy and overall better mental health.

I am so honored to take over this role as Engineering Student Government President. I feel a strong sense of responsibility and pride having been given the chance to improve the lives of Pratt students. I am inspired daily by my peers in a plethora of ways and especially by their resiliency throughout this pandemic. I look forward to enacting the changes Pratt students want and need.

Nikita Suri
Engineering Student Government President

Letter from the EGSC President

It is February 2022, effectively two years since I was moved from in-person to virtual classes. It has been two years since a large shift in the way our community has been operating. During this time, the Engineering Graduate Student Council (EGSC) has been working hard to fulfill our purpose, to facilitate pathways for building holistic relationships throughout Pratt and to foster a welcoming and safe learning environment. We have had to be extremely creative to generate safe, comfortable, inclusive spaces that allow us to create that sense of community that is so important.

We tested out virtual events and orientation, which went well but, as we all know, are not a substitute for in-person events. But thankfully it seems like we are starting to turn a corner and are moving toward rebuilding our in-person gatherings and events (fingers crossed). At the beginning of this school year, we enjoyed some really exciting in-person events again. We hosted Pratt chats, outside and socially distanced, with a great energy that felt nearly back to normal. We celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival with some moon cakes in the E-quad for the first time ever. In true Duke colors, we hosted a watch party for a basketball game and hosted a professional headshot event.

While I truly enjoyed all these events, I joined EGSC because I want the graduate community to feel close-knit. Close enough where when you are stuck on a problem, you know what peer will help you overcome that problem. That is why I am really looking forward to some future events that will be ongoing. We will celebrate this resilient, hard-working and focused group of graduate students by showcasing their projects, successes and activities. We will continue to find ways to facilitate connections between students, so you have that network to lean on whenever you need it. “Envisioning the Invisible” is an example of one of those events that is ongoing right now, as a contest that showcases the unseen beauty of research and, in doing so, what we at Pratt are working on. I am especially excited to start hosting more events like this. We are looking forward to working with the new Vinik Dean of Engineering, Dr. Jerome Lynch, to bring more events to life and bring the Pratt community closer together.

Karsten Poulsen

“We will celebrate this resilient, hard-working and focused group of graduate students by showcasing their projects, successes and activities.”

I look forward to both the end of this school year and the beginning of the next, with the progress and evolution that Pratt is going to experience. I am thankful and appreciative of the hard work this team of graduate students has been putting forward to help continue to bring Pratt together in a safe, comfortable and inclusive environment. This team includes:

  • Brittani Carroll (Vice President)
  • Shreyansh Chordia (Communications Director)
  • Siddhant Sandeep Bapat (Treasurer)
  • Xu Han (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Community Director)
  • Eva Kim (CEE Representative)
  • Kaleb Kassaw (ECE Representative)
  • Ravi Prakash (MEMS Representative)
  • Dimple Malik (MEM Representative)

I am looking forward to continuing to serve and be a part of the Pratt community through EGSC.

Karsten Poulsen
EGSC President

Letter from the EAC President

Dear Duke Engineering Alumni:

2021 was a year of change and adaptation, yet there is much to celebrate as the Pratt community continues to find ways to optimize the student experience and increase meaningful interactions among alumni and students. The Engineering Alumni Council (EAC) continued virtual engagement initiatives throughout the year, and while we are grateful that these programs have become even more impactful through expanded access to a broader range of alumni, we are invigorated by the prospect of returning key events to campus.

Following two years of canceled plans, this spring we are thrilled to host the Engineering Awards Banquet to honor Distinguished Engineering Awardees for 2020, 2021 and 2022. To further recognize their achievements, all nine awardees are featured in this issue of the DukEngineer. I encourage you to read more about the accomplishments and service that make them each uniquely deserving of distinction and hope you will join fellow alumni, former professors and current students in celebration at the Washington Duke Inn on April 22.

The EAC’s ambitious year-round Pratt Mentoring Program continues to grow, engaging more than 700 alumni and students this year. Our goal is to expand the scope of the mentoring relationship to embrace student purpose, character and well-being as a complement to Pratt’s 360 Coaching advising strategy. Students have requested further engagement opportunities, and we look forward to including career panel discussions and connections to internship opportunities as the program matures.

Tracy Nickelsburg

“Your involvement helps drive an enriched experience for our current students and other alumni.”

Transition to an online platform has also significantly expanded alumni participation in the EAC’s resume and mock interview workshops and aligns the student experience with current interviewing norms. Our two-hour virtual event in January engaged over 600 Pratt alumni and students. With interview sessions blocked for eight minutes, students were able to be matched with multiple alumni, resulting in 1,795 total interactions. The virtual platform efficiently delivers multiple opportunities for the students to engage with alumni, hone their resume and interview skills, and seek general advice on work and networking.

Pratt alumni play a key role in supporting students and maintaining a vibrant exchange of knowledge and resources. On behalf of the EAC, my heartfelt thanks to the many alumni who give freely of their time and consistently demonstrate overwhelming dedication and willingness to connect with current students and the world-changing ideas they are forming.

Thank you for staying connected to Duke and the Pratt School of Engineering. Your involvement helps drive an enriched experience for our current students and other alumni. Contact pamela.hanson@duke.edu to get involved in our signature initiatives and for more information on the 2022 Engineering Awards Banquet. We look forward to seeing you back on campus or at a virtual event soon. Forever Duke!

Tracy Nickelsburg E'88, P'22, P'25
President, Engineering Alumni Council

Alumni & Development News

Growing Duke Engineering’s Strengths

A man leans against a blue wall in front of a black and white mural

A Conversation With Jerome P. Lynch

Duke's New Vinik Dean of Engineering discusses his background, joining the Pratt School of Engineering and his plans for the future

A man in a suit and glasses standing in a laboratory

Merging Policy and Technology for a Resilient Water System

New CEE faculty member Andrew Jones III is pursuing ways to remove tough biofilms and bring water equity to communities

A bunch of machines lit with blue and red light with a maze of lasers running between them

Duke Takes a Quantum Leap

The Duke Quantum Center has the excitement of a startup and the ambition to match as it races to compete with the likes of Google and IBM

The Duke Engineering Difference

A teacher and students standing in front of a projector screen featuring a student on zoom

Hybrid Classes in the New Normal

How Duke Engineering instructors and students shifted to hybrid in-person and remote classes during the pandemic

A brightly lit work room full of tables and projects being worked on by students

The Class of 2022’s First Bond

A look back at the critical role EGR 101 played in the future of its first class of Duke Engineers

Launching New Programs

A bright rocket launching from a cloud of white smoke

Let’s Talk About All Things Space Duke Space Initiative

An inside look at Duke's growing Space Initiative that brings together resources from across campus

Glasses sitting on a laptop keyboard

A First-Hand Dive into Duke’s AI for Product Innovation Master's Program

An account of the first year in as Duke 'AIPI' student

Engineering Fuel

A red overhang sits above a wooden entryway with snacks and drinks within

A Tale as Old as Twinnie’s

While the menu items or décor may change, Twinnie’s Cafe was, is and shall forever remain an inseparable, salient feature of Duke Engineering

Distinguished Alumni Awards 2020-2022

Fred Fehsenfeld Jr. headshot with The Heritage Group logo

Fred Fehsenfeld Jr.: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award

Fred M. Fehsenfeld, Jr. is a third-generation Fehsenfeld family business leader, currently serving as Chairman of The Heritage Group Holdings Company Board

Laurie Conner headshot with The Detection Group logo

Laurie Conner: 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award

Laurie Conner is president of The Detection Group, an emerging growth company providing cloud-based IoT water solutions for the built environment

Nick Naclerio headshot with Illumina Ventures logo

Nick Naclerio: 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award

Nicholas Naclerio develops and commercializes innovative technologies in semiconductors, genomics and health care

Leslie Voorhees Means headshot with Anomalie logo

Leslie Voorhees Means: 2020 Distinguished Young Alumni Award

Leslie Voorhees Means is the co-founder and CEO of Anomalie, the first direct-to-consumer wedding dress company

Lisa Burton O'Toole headshot with HearstLab logo

Lisa Burton O’Toole: 2021 Distinguished Young Alumni Award

Lisa Burton O'Toole provides investment and resources for early-stage, women-led startups across media, data, health care and technology

Andrew Waterman headshot with SiFive logo

Andrew Waterman: 2022 Distinguished Young Alumni Award

Andrew Waterman is chief engineer at SiFive, where he designs high-performance microprocessors

George Truskey

George Truskey: 2020 Distinguished Service Award

George Truskey has been at Duke for nearly three and a half decades serving in a wide variety of roles

Adrienne Stiff-Roberts

Adrienne Stiff-Roberts: 2021 Distinguished Service Award

Adrienne Stiff-Roberts's impact over nearly 20 years can be felt throughout every corner of the school and even into the surrounding community

Linda Franzoni

Linda Franzoni: 2022 Alumni Distinguished Service Award

During nearly 25 years at Duke, Linda Franzoni has served in many capacities for many organizations ranging from student groups to international boards