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HCDE 2020 Awards of Excellence

June 9, 2020

The Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering is proud to announce the recipients of our 2020 Student Awards of Excellence.

The HCDE faculty annually recognize outstanding undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate excellence in the areas of academics, leadership, and innovation. 

Julie Kientz, Professor and Chair of HCDE, presented the awards at the departmental graduation ceremony on June 9. All awardees were able to join Professor Kientz on screen in the virtual ceremony to give a few remarks. The award presentation begins at minute 31 in the video of the 2020 Graduation Ceremony

The below statements about the awardees were submitted by HCDE faculty.

Academic Excellence

Nikita KovalovsNikita Kovalovs, HCDE Undergraduate Award for Academic Excellence 

Nikita is graduating as a top student academically in HCDE and a model student in terms of his outreach and dedication to promoting the benefits of engineering for underrepresented young people. Nikita excelled in every one of his classes, consistently going above and beyond and demonstrating deep mastery of a variety of concepts. He was heavily involved in HCDE’s K-12 Outreach Program, with Husky ADAPT, which is an extracurricular activity that adapts children’s toys to make them accessible for children with disabilities, and with Project EMAR, a stress relief robot for adolescents.

David RappaportDavid Rappaport, HCDE Graduate Award for Academic Excellence 

David is graduating with his Master's in HCDE with a perfect 4.0 GPA in the program. In group projects, David has demonstrated himself to be a team player who is highly dedicated and hard working. David left a lasting memory with Professor Leah Findlater’s accessibility and inclusive design course, who said that David consistently exceeded expectations, including a project that involved reading and synthesizing the academic research literature on sensory substitution with a depth that stands out in her memory two years later. 

Leadership & Engagement 

Nicole WashingtonNicole Washington, HCDE Undergraduate Award for Leadership & Engagement 

Nicole is a quintessential advocate for other students and a true bridge builder, who has demonstrated stellar leadership in HCDE in multiple roles. Nicole is an exceptional student who understands that inclusion is at the heart of quality leadership. She has contributed to the Department's Diversity Committee and offered invaluable insights as a course assistant and research assistant.

Khyree WatsonKhyree Watson, HCDE Undergraduate Award for Leadership & Engagement 

Khyree has demonstrated leadership across the University, where he pursued dual degrees in HCDE and Education, Communities, and Organizations from the College of Education. Khyree has served as an Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity Student Ambassador and as a mentor for the Foster School of Business’s Young Executives of Color program. Last year, Khyree was named to the 2019 Forbes Under 30 Scholars program in recognition of his academic work and leadership experience.

Elena AgapieElena Agapie, HCDE Graduate Award for Leadership & Engagement 

Elena has been a leader in the Department's outreach efforts, an active mentor to peers and students in her Directed Research Groups, and on the faculty search committee. Elena has also been a leader within the cross-campus DUB group, helping coordinate the weekly seminar, organize the first-ever DUB doctoral consortium, and fundamentally rethink responsibilities and roles for student coordinators. Finally, Elena has also been a strong representative for HCDE, DUB, and UW, and our field at large at conferences such as Grace Hopper. Elena will start as an Assistant Professor of Informatics at UC Irvine in autumn 2020.

Angel VuongAngel Vuong, HCDE Graduate Award for Leadership & Engagement 

Angel has served as President of HCDE's Graduate Student Association. Throughout her time in HCDE, Angel has demonstrated a commitment to organizing all kinds of community-building events and initiatives for the graduate students. She has consistently promoted and advocated initiatives, and has served as a mentor to undergraduates as well.


Anna SchmitzAnna Schmitz, HCDE Undergraduate Award for Innovation  

Anna has been a quietly positive force in the department during her almost 4 years with us. She participated in the department’s K-12 outreach efforts, and recently assisted PhD student Cindy Bennett with her dissertation. Anna was a charter member of the UW Design for America studio, a nationwide, student-driven organization focused on using design for social good in the community. She has risen to leading this cross-campus program as president of the UW studio, overseeing its expansion to becoming the largest DfA program in the nation. Anna’s innovative contributions to DfA and HCDE are far-reaching.

Three headshotsAshley Boone, Maya Klitsner, and Jamie Vanderwall, HCDE Team Award for Innovation  

Ashley, Maya, and Jamie took on outstanding leadership and innovation roles in Irini Spyridakis's Directed Research Group on STEAM education and co-authored an accepted paper at PNW ASEE on STEAM outreach in underserved communities through the lens of play, creativity, and movement. They helped conduct research, design, assess, and implement culturally relevant and innovative curriculum to 4th and 5th graders from a resource constrained after school program in Seattle. The team implemented curriculum that involves kinesthetic movement, collaborative and creative project-based learning, scaffolding interdisciplinary collaborations and promoting a culture where engineering, science, and art are given equal consideration. Ashley is  also one of this year’s UW’s Husky 100. The Department thanks them for taking creative innovation to new heights!

Mitchell Mitchell Fajardo, HCDE Graduate Award for Innovation 

Mitchell has been an exemplary graduate student in HCDE, but most especially in his role as a teaching assistant and instructor for HCDE 210, our large undergraduate class serving first and second year students across campus. He shaped, molded, and took ownership of the course curriculum and made substantive and innovative improvements to it. He was a tireless instructor, and always had an open door to meet with students in the class and to inspire and mentor the undergrad course assistants he worked with. Given the extra challenge of converting HCDE 210 to remote learning in spring quarter, Mitchell did so with much success.

View the students accepting their awards on the video of the 2020 Graduation Ceremony