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Awards and Honors

College honors outstanding seniors for 2023

2023 College of Engineering Outstanding Senior Awards winners, from left: Noha Zayan, Jerin Smith, Ethan Frey and Annie Kate Watson.
2023 College of Engineering Outstanding Senior Awards winners, from left: Noha Zayan, Jerin Smith, Ethan Frey and Annie Kate Watson.

Four seniors in the College of Engineering received 2023 Outstanding Senior Awards for their exceptional contributions to NC State and beyond in Citizenship and Service, Humanities, Leadership and Scholarly Achievement.

Seniors are nominated by their respective academic departments in the College of Engineering, and winners are chosen by a selection committee made up of faculty and staff members in the College. Departmental nominees were honored during a ceremony held at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on NC State’s Centennial Campus where the four COE winners were also announced.

Senior Award for Citizenship and Service

Annie Kate Watson

An excellent student and dedicated volunteer and mentor, Annie Kate Watson made it her duty to give back to others in the same way in which many people in her life have helped her get to where she is today.

Watson, a biomedical and health sciences engineering major in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, was involved with The Helping Hand Project, becoming the chapter president her senior year. She oversaw the production of 21 custom prosthetic hands for children with limb differences. She also helped novice members gain the skills needed to participate in the 3D printing for fabricating the prostheses.

As a Park Scholar, Watson served as a peer mentor each year to assist incoming classes in their transition and acclimation to college. She was also involved in Special Olympics North Carolina. During her time with the program, she successfully supported nearly 5,700 athletes. Some of her achievements include providing athletes with positive encouragement during the weekly live fitness sessions and hosting a social night for athletes who wanted to connect socially in addition to their fitness activities.

Watson interned for two summers at Cook Medical, where she learned to work with laser micrometers. She also conducted undergraduate research with the Orthopaedic Mechanobiology Lab and was awarded an Abrams Scholarship to support this work.

Senior Award for Scholarly Achievement

Ethan Frey

Ethan Frey has set himself apart through his exceptional academic accomplishments at NC State.

A senior majoring in materials science and engineering with a concentration in nanomaterials, Frey holds a 4.0 GPA and plans to pursue his Ph.D. with the goal to advance research in fusion energy. He has received a number of outstanding scholarships and awards, including the Future Leader in Chemical Engineering Scholarship, Engineering Student Research Video Award and three Research Project Funding Awards from the NC State Office of Undergraduate Research.

Since 2019, Frey has worked as a student researcher in the lab of Professor Michael Dickey. His work initially focused on studying thin films consisting of particles of liquid metal. Now, he has started treating these films with a laser to change their optical properties and has come up with original ideas for further testing, including introducing carbonaceous materials to produce graphene in the liquid metal, something that has never been reported on.

Frey has co-authored or been the first author of seven publications, one of which was recently accepted to the Fusion Science and Technology journal. He has also given six oral presentations and six poster presentations.

Outside of the classroom, Frey serves as the secretary of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) and was the assistant coach for Cross Country and Track Club for two years.

Senior Award for Humanities

Jerin Smith

Jerin Smith is an exceptional student double-majoring in computer science and Japanese. He is passionate about both engineering and the humanities — and able to understand the human aspects of the Grand Challenges for Engineering that society is facing.

A Benjamin Franklin Scholar, Smith has taken a full range of language courses and has demonstrated a superior ability at cultural analysis and expression. His studies in Japanese have not only included studying the language, but writing on and studying cultural phenomena.

Jerin is also involved with NC State’s Jazz Program. He has taken classes ranging from Digital Audio Workstations to Music Composition, and has performed with four ensembles on tenor saxophone, guitar and flute since 2019. His dedication, exemplary leadership and musical growth has been an inspiration to those around him, and he handles the pressure of performing in the premier jazz ensemble with grace and professionalism. This past December, Smith traveled to Chicago with the Jazz Orchestra for a performance at one of the largest and most prestigious music education conventions in the world.

During his time at NC State, Smith was also a member of the Air Force ROTC program and was the region III director of operations of the Arnold Air Society.

Senior Award for Leadership

Noha Zayan

Noha Zayan has exemplified leadership throughout her time at NC State as a student in NC State’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE).

Zayan took on leadership roles across campus. She was technology chair and then president of NC State’s chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), which won the 2022 Outstanding Chapter award. She also represented her department and college by engaging with new generations of students as an engineering ambassador and as a CBE student ambassador.

Additionally, Zayan served as a chancellor’s aide. She demonstrated extraordinary leadership in her academic and extracurricular activities. She is described as being the first to volunteer and the last to leave an event, and she showed a passion for learning in and out of the classroom.

For three semesters at NC State, Zayan was a teaching assistant and helped first-year students with their transition to college while instructing a class of 100 students. She has also been heavily involved on campus through the Muslim Student Association, Arab Student Organization, CHAARG, Club Fencing, Research and Development Club, Women in Science and Engineering Village, Canvas Club and Girls Engineering Change. Zayan has been a leader at NC State since she stepped on campus, and with her drive and academic aptitude, she has helped make the University a better place.