Congratulations to Our 2021 Department Student Award Winners

news story image

Top row: Kieran Barvenik, Annina Commins, William Gerst 
Middle Row:
Samuel Gigioli, Daniel Kirchner, John Lathrop
Bottom row: Abigail Meyer, Peter Mnev, Kyle Pinchney

On May, 5, the Department of Mechanical Engineering, along with the Clark School of Engineering will celebrate more than 70 undergraduate students for their outstanding excellence in academics, leadership, and service during the Annual Honors and Awards Ceremony.

Among the recipients are nine mechanical engineering students recognized with the following department awards:

The Academic Achievement Award is presented to juniors in Mechanical Engineering who have excelled academically to obtain a cumulative grade point average of 4.0.

Awarded to Kieran Barvenik and William Gerst

The Chairman’s Award is presented to graduating Mechanical Engineering seniors for excellence in academics, outstanding service to the department, or outstanding leadership in the department.

Awarded to Annina Commins, Samuel Gigioli, Daniel Kirchner, John Lathrop, Abigail Meyer, Peter Mnev, and Kyle Pinchney

About the Recipients (in alphabetical order)

Kieran Barvenik is a junior mechanical engineering student with a 4.0 GPA. He is enrolled in both University Honors and the Engineering Honors program. On the Terps Racing Baja team, Kieran is the leader of the powertrain subgroup. He is also an alumni mentor for a FIRST Tech Challenge high school robotics team. Kieran has held internship positions at both the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and BAE Systems, Inc., and is preparing to intern with Northrop Grumman this summer.

Annina Commins is a senior mechanical engineering student. She is a transfer student from Montgomery College, where she was a tutor in the Academic Support Center. At the University of Maryland, Annina works with a team of undergraduate students to develop and parameterize control-oriented models of anatomical processes. This work is in support of a multidisciplinary research effort at the university to develop a novel ventilator design for COVID-19 patients.

We proudly recognize our students on their 2021 departmental and college-wide awards. To those graduating this year, we wish you well in your future endeavors.

William Gerst is a junior with a 4.0 GPA, pursuing a double degree in mechanical engineering and computer science. He is a member of University Honors and has worked with Terrapin Works as part of the software design team. William also participated in the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) regional championships in 2018 and 2019. Currently, he is a teaching assistant for the Discrete Structures course in the Department of Computer Science.

Sam Gigioli is a senior mechanical engineering student with a 3.5 GPA. Sam is a member of the University of Maryland’s Mechanical Contractors Association–Metropolitan Washington (MCAMW) team and competed against other schools nationwide, finishing third and sixth in the past two years. Sam is now a Palace Acquire intern for the Air Force and plans to return to the University of Maryland for a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Daniel Kirchner is a senior mechanical engineering student with a 4.0 GPA. He is a member of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honor Society. Daniel works with Professor Ryan Sochol as an undergraduate research assistant in the Bioinspired Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory at the University of Maryland. In his work, Daniel helps to design and test new techniques for the additive manufacture of specialized materials.

John Lathrop is a senior mechanical engineering and mathematics student. He leads the Tanzania project in the University of Maryland student chapter of Engineers without Borders, designing battery backup and water filtration systems for health clinics in Tanzania. He is currently a teaching fellow for Vibrations II and formerly a teaching fellow for Dynamics in the Keystone Program. John conducts research in the aerospace engineering and materials science departments, focusing on soft robotics and radiation sensing. He will begin Ph.D. studies in control and dynamical systems at the California Institute of Technology in fall 2021.

Abigail Meyer is a graduating senior in mechanical engineering. She has been involved with the Flexus Living and Learning Program, the Honors College, the Women in Engineering (WIE) community, and has been a committed member of the Terps Racing Engineering team. Within Terps Racing, she has been a part of the Baja SAE team and has been the team captain for the last three years. Within WIE, she volunteered for many events introducing girls to STEM. Abby has accepted a position at Oshkosh Corporation in a rotational engineering program and is excited to be moving to Wisconsin this summer.

Peter Mnev is a senior mechanical engineering and computer science double major with a 3.9 GPA. He is the president of the Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honor Society and team captain of the Maryland Unmanned Aerial Systems club. Peter is also a part of the Gemstone Honors Program on team ASTRO. With this team, he presented at the 2020 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Conference and received the Best in Theme award for the Autonomous Utilization category. Peter plans to continue his education with a master’s degree to begin a career in robotics research and development.

Kyle Pichney is a third-year mechanical engineering student with a 4.0 GPA. He is a recipient of the Banneker/Key and A. James Clark Legacy Scholarships, and has graduated from the Honors College Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (EIP). His EIP team won the Social Impact Award and he won the Outstanding Team Leader Award in the Terp Tank Capstone Symposium. He is a member of the Leatherbacks Combat Robotics club and will be the incoming vice president. Kyle is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Tau Beta Pi, Pi Tau Sigma, and Phi Kappa Phi. He plans to apply to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree.

We proudly recognize our students on their 2021 departmental and college-wide awards. To those graduating this year, we wish you well in your future endeavors.

Visit to view the complete list of Clark School 2021 award recipients.

Published May 3, 2021