Iowa State University student named Goldwater Scholar

AMES, Iowa - An Iowa State University student has been named a Goldwater Scholar for 2010-11. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. The award was announced today by the University Honors Program, which coordinates nominations and applications.

Connor Schenck, a second-year computer science student from Ankeny, is one of only nine computer science majors nationwide to be selected for the competitive scholarship. He is one of 278 recipients total.

As an undergraduate researcher in Iowa State's Developmental Robotics Lab, Schenck was part of a team of three students investigating object recognition using multiple modalities of perception. The study resulted in a research presentation and paper for the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. A second paper from the research has been submitted to a research journal.

Schenck is a research assistant in the Developmental Robotics Lab. He also serves as a teaching assistant in the human computer interaction program, helping students understand the concepts for a graduate-level course, "Computational Perception."

Schenck was in the President's Leadership Class in his freshman year, and is a member of the Honors Program. After graduating in fall 2011, he will pursue a doctoral degree and a career in research.

"I'd like to do research in artificial intelligence," Schenck said. "The most interesting part of it to me is its application in a real environment, which is why I work in robotics. I'm thinking about maybe being a professor. "

The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,111 students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The one and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Each university may nominate up to four students each year for the Goldwater Scholarship. Schenck's application was supported by his mentors Alex Stoytchev, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; Jivko Sinapov, computer science graduate assistant; and Stephen Gilbert, lecturer in psychology.

"Our nominees compete first for the campus endorsement. Then they hone their applications for the national competition," said Dana Schumacher, the University Honors Program's assistant director for research and scholarship.

The Goldwater Scholarships are presented by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, which was established in 1986 as a federally endowed agency. The scholarship program fosters and encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. Over the past 24 years, the foundation has awarded 6,079 scholarships worth about $58 million. Many Goldwater Scholars go on to earn Rhodes Scholarships, Marshall Awards and other distinguished fellowships.