CS@VT Celebrates Spring 2013 Commencement

Publish Date: 05/31/2013

On Saturday, May 18, the Virginia Tech College of Engineering conferred degrees on the class of 2013, including approximately 95 Computer Science undergraduate students.  Graduate degrees were conferred at the Graduate Commencement on Friday, May 17.  On Friday afternoon, Computer Science graduates, their guests and families, enjoyed a reception in Owens Banquet Hall.  Several students were recognized for outstanding achievements and contributions, including John McElmurray, Joshua Rush, and Jared Pepin for undergraduate academic achievement, Avneet Singh and Adam Zarger for service to the department, and Michael Naper as the Outstanding Undergraduate TA and as the Outstanding CS Senior.  Three graduate students were also recognized: Shveta Soundararajan and Hari Pyla for outstanding teaching, Paul Sathre as the outstanding Master's student and Alex Endert as the outstanding doctoral student.  Thomas Walton was awarded the George Gorsline Memorial Scholarship Award, given each year to a rising senior who has made the most significant rebound from his freshman year. 

Google Album of Spring 2013 Commencement Photos

For pictures and more information about the event, please scroll down. 

Undergraduate Awards

John McElmurray, Senior Scholar Award

John is one of two seniors recognized for outstanding scholarship in Computer Science. 

John is a College of Engineering Dean's Scholar.  He is member of Phi Beta Kappa and is founder and president of VT Creative Technologies Club.  He has interned with Camouflaj, LLC, and Microsoft, and has accepted a full time position with Microsoft after graduation. 



Josh Rush, Senior Scholar Award

Joshua is one of two students recognized for outstanding scholarship in CS.  Joshua is completing minors in math and music. He is a member of the Virginia Tech Debate Club and Virginia Tech Jazz Ensemble. He has interned with Rackspace and Microsoft. He will be working with the Windows Phone Shell team at Microsoft starting in August.



Jared Pepin, Transfer Scholar Award

Jared transferred from Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg, VA, Fall 2010.  He was very involved while at VT.  He was active in the Virginia Tech Mobile Application Development Club, Computer Science Community Service, and served as a CS Ambassador.  He was a member of the CS honor society Upsilon Pi Epsilon, and Phi Beta Kappa.  Jared has interned with GCE Federal in Reston, VA, and has accepted a full time position with them after graduation. 



Avneet Singh, CS Service Award

Avneet was one of two CS seniors recognized for service to the department.  Avneet completed majors in Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science with minors in Economics and Mathematics.  His service to the department includes serving as a developer for web and mobile applications for the CSRC, our corporate affiliates group, co-founder and lead of the Computer Science Mentoring Program, founder and president of Mobile Application Development Club at VT, and he was on the programming team.  Avneet has accepted a position with Microsoft after graduation. 



Adam Zarger, CS Service Award

Adam's first service to the department started several years ago when he mentioned that he was going to be on campus doing research for the summer and he would be glad to assist with the CS Information Sessions.  Since that first summer, Adam has been one of our most consistent and effect CS Ambassadors, always willing to talk with prospective students and their families and company representatives about the opportunities for CS majors a VT.  Adam will be working with Excella Consulting after graduation. 


Michael Naper, Outstanding Senior and Outstanding TA Award

Michael completed majors in Computer Science and Mathematics and a minor in Astronomy.  In addition to a stellar academic record, Michael has served in multiple service and leadership roles at VT.  He was one of our most active CS Ambassadors, mentored younger students in the Galileo program, as tutoring coordinator for UPE (CS honor society), and as part of a new CS Department mentoring program.  Michael made a major contribution as an undergraduate teaching assistant.  As a UTA, Michael supported four different courses during his many semesters as a UTA and served as unofficial source-of-help for almost any course. Michael was an almost constant presence in our department's undergraduate learning center.  Michael interned at Google for multiple summers and has accepted a full time position with Google after graduation.  Michael was not only the Department of Computer Science Outstanding Senior and Outstanding TA, he was also the Department of Mathematics Outstanding Senior. 


Thomas Walton and Anne Gorsline; George Gorsline Memorial Scholarship

Dr. George Gorsline served as this department's first head and was a member of our faculty for 20 years.  Affectionately known as Dr. G to his students, Dr. Gorsline was a champion of the "everyman" student and those students who faced challenges, but who persevered and stayed with the program to complete a degree in Computer Science.  He advised and encouraged them, and then applauded their successes. Dr. Gorsline died in 1987.  In his memory, his wife Anne and numerous grateful alumni established the George Gorsline Memorial Scholarship.  True to Dr. Gorsline's spirit, this scholarship is given each year to at least one rising senior who has persevered to become a successful CS major.  This year the department was pleased to award this scholarship to Thomas Walton.  Thomas was born and raised in Roanoke, VA.  He started at VT in Spring of 1993.  After several absences, Thomas returned to VT Fall 2011 to complete his degree in Computer Science and has earned an outstanding GPA since his return.  He has completed undergraduate research, worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant, and will intern this summer with Meridium. 



Graduate Awards

Shvetha Soundararajan - Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant

Dr. Soundararajan has been a teaching assistant for a wide range of courses, from the first course for computer science majors to a graduate level course in research methods.  Her ratings by faculty members have never been below 4.5 out of a possible 5.  She has been a steady and encouraging presence in our undergraduate courses for several years.  Many of her students have expressed their appreciation for the way she patiently explains new material.  Dr. Soundararajan completed her PhD in CS this spring. 



Dr. Hari Pyla - Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant

Dr. Pyla was an extremely effective teaching assistant for two very demanding undergraduate courses:  Introduction to Computer Organization (CS 2505) and Computing Systems (CS 3214).  CS 3214 has been considered the most demanding course in the departemnt, and many students credit Dr. Pyla with helping them survive that special experience!  Each of Dr. Pyla's faculty supervisors commended him for his dedication to his assignment and to the students.  Dr. Pyla completed his PhD in CS Spring 2013.