Three graduate students honored with Distinguished Master's Thesis Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Three Penn State graduate students ─ Umme Hani, Aravinth Sadagopan, and Olivia Shotyk ─ have been awarded the Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award.

The award recognizes excellence in master’s-level thesis research in any of the disciplinary areas of the arts and humanities; social sciences - applied and basic; physical and computational sciences - applied and basic; life and health sciences; and engineering.

Hani is a master’s student in architecture. Hani is conducting research that will combine coastal resilience planning frameworks and successful ecotourism guidelines to establish criteria that will ultimately enhance coastal resilience from natural disasters through ecotourism.

According to Hani, this framework will then be developed and modified to meet specific conditions of the Sundarbans coast in her home country of Bangladesh, by means of a thorough contextual study. 

Hani notes that the framework she creates will act as a guide to develop a conceptual master plan to serve ecotourism in the Sundarbans. She points out that the framework can be adapted by other countries for the design of ecotourism strategies that serve the dual purpose of conservation and coastal resilience.

Sadagopan is a master’s student in aerospace engineering. Sadagopan's research recognizes that a globally surging demand for unmanned aerial vehicle applications necessitates the development of a compact high-propulsive power-generating aero-engine. Foreseeing all the existing options in the next 10 years — with many of them requiring immense technological maturity — Sadagopan and his adviser decided that pushing the design limit of well-established gas turbine technology is the most cost and time-effective option.

Sadagopan focused on developing a compact single-stage mixed-flow compressor that combines the benefits of conventional multi-stage axial and centrifugal compressor designs for the small aero-engine segment.

Sadagopan’s thesis results have been described as strategically important in the field of air breathing propulsion and aerospace engineering.

Shotyk is a master’s student in landscape architecture. Noting that there are few examples of contemporary indigenous landscape architecture in North America, Shotyk examined a number of pre-colonial sites of significance to North American aboriginal communities that she states should be re-categorized as cultural landscapes or vernacular design.

Through conversations with members of the aboriginal community and cultural experts, Shotyk explored these vernacular landscapes for the oral histories and narratives that shaped the spatial arrangement and offer explanations for the physical design.

As the nominator explained, considerable research in the design profession is either research for design or research about design. Shotyk, he wrote, “is ambitiously combining both aspects in order to strengthen the discipline as an inclusive cultural practice.”

The three students were honored during the annual Graduate Student Awards Luncheon held on April 11 at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Last Updated April 12, 2019