Alumni and Outstanding Graduates

Outstanding Graduates

four students

The Engineering & Design Department faculty nominate one graduating senior from each of our four programs every year.  These students are recognized for not only their outstanding academic achievements, but their commitment to excellence in leadership, research, community, and service. 


2023 Outstanding Graduates: (L to R) William Watts (Manufacturing Engineering), Dan Struble (Polymer Materials Engineering), Aili Emory (Electrical and Computer Engineering), and Noah Crow (Industrial Design)

Engineering & Design Alumni


Gina Kim

Manufacturing Engineering, BS, 2021, Outstanding Graduate

"Having my Manufacturing Engineering background at Western has been super helpful because I have a good understanding of things like process flow and ergonomics. The program at Western is great because what we learned in class and labs is what you see in the field and having this type of hands-on experience was the best way to learn!" 

Undergraduate Research: Tool Wear in Aramid Honeycomb Machining Research

Activities and societies: Society of Women Engineers, Mentor for the Becoming Engaged Engineering Scholars program

Robotics Sales Specialist, Olympus Controls, Seattle


Kelsey Leppek

Industrial Design, BS, 2022

Kelsey was awarded the 2022 West District Student Merit Winner from the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) in her senior year. Kelsey is originally from Colorado and has an eclectic work background in pottery, trail building, wilderness therapy guide, and sustainability educator. 

Industrial Designer, Astro Studios, San Francisco

Dan Struble

Dan Struble

Polymer Materials Engineering, BS, 2023, Outstanding Graduate

Few other programs offer the combination of skills and opportunities afforded by Western's PME program. Breadth is provided through coursework ranging from the theoretical and microscale up to macroscale engineering and manufacturing. Depth can be found in the program's robust undergraduate research opportunities. Combine these with the greatest and most supportive faculty and staff, collaborative cohorts facilitated by smaller class sizes, and more hands-on learning than you'll get anywhere else; and you have a truly unique and amazing program.

Undergraduate research: Novel biobased alternatives for high-performance thermoset composite matrices

Student Clubs: Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering (SAMPE), Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE)

PhD Candidate, University of Southern Mississippi, School of Polymer Science & Engineering


Matthew Kosica

Industrial Design, BS, 2021, Outstanding Graduate

"The WWU ID program was instrumental in shaping my success. Thanks to the unique blend of engineering and design education offered by WWU, the collaboration between engineers, business stakeholders, and end-users of the products I design feels more seamless, setting me apart in this competitive field. It provided me with the essential tools, knowledge, and skills to secure my first ID job while nurturing character traits for continued growth, perseverance, and success."

Industrial Designer, HP, San Francisco, CA


Paul Goins

Manufacturing Engineering, BS, 2021

"The Manufacturing Engineering program here at Western was an amazing experience for me. Each class I took brought with it an exciting opportunity to learn more about how the products we see and use every day are created, and I was able to bring home quite the assortment of fascinating parts that I had the satisfaction of making myself. On top of that, all the professors genuinely cared about my success and development as an engineer, and I was able to work alongside a group of my peers who became some of my closest friends."

Quality Engineer, Janicki Industries, Sedro-Woolley, WA


Riley Hernandez

Electrical and Computer Engineering, BS, 2020

Mathematics, BS, 2020

"WWU's Electrical and Computer Engineering program is an intense but thoroughly rewarding program. It is also lab-based curriculum over one that is strictly theory-based."

Student Club:  Society of Women Engineers

Electrical Engineer and Designer, Anvil Corp., Bellingham 


Lina Ghanbari

Plastics & Composites Engineering, BS, 2019

Material Science Minor

"The WWU Engineering & Design Department offers incredible opportunities for those who are willing to seek them out. Be open to new experiences and try to get out of your comfort zone, you may find a passion for an aspect of engineering you did not know you had!"

Research projects: Benzoxazine Nanocomposites for Additive Manufacturing

Student Clubs: Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineers (SAMPE)

PhD Candidate, Polymer Science, University of Southern Mississippi


Robert Kearney

Plastics & Composites Engineering, BS, 2017

Material Science, MS, University of Southern California, 2020

"WWU Engineering takes a multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving and positions you to be an effective team member on any project you are a part of. I encourage getting involved in Professional Societies such as SWE, SAMPE, ASM, or many others to ensure you are driving your learning to the relevant problems of industry, and get involved in research as soon as possible."

Undergraduate research: Resin Transfer Molding Materials & Process Development for Aerospace Sandwich Composite Parts

Student Club:  Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineers (SAMPE)

Product Development Engineer, Boeing, Seattle


Christine Kerby

Manufacturing Engineering, BS,  2019

Mathematics Minor

"WWU offers a hands on learning environment that not only supports students in their pursuit of an engineering degree, but also in being adventurous with their interests and extracurricular activities. A program only limited by an individual’s imagination and perseverance."

Student Club: Society of Manufacturing Engineers

Reliability Engineer, Ash Grove Cement Seattle


Jo Bloomfield

Industrial Design, BS, 2021

User Experience Minor

"Being a part of the Industrial Design program has been a game changer. I'm thankful for the hands on learning experience and tight knit bond I made with my peers and professors.

I will never regret the endless hours and determination it took to make it through the Industrial Design program. I know I am graduating with an abundance of skills, and a love for the career path I set myself up for."

Student Club:  Industrial Designers Society of America

Industrial Designer at Master & Dynamic, Bellingham


Myann Refai

Manufacturing Engineering, BS, 2017, Outstanding Graduate

"In my role it’s important for me to be a “detective” and look for any and all manufacturing concerns in the 3D virtual CAD space for my given vehicle program before it makes its way to a plant for production. So I look for things such as ergo concerns, locating features on parts, keeping fasteners common across multiple vehicles in the same plant, etc. When I identify issues or opportunities for improvement, I then work with the product team to resolve them!"

Student Club: Society of Women Engineers

Manufacturing Engineer, General Motors, Michigan


Evan Sacker

Electrical and Computer Engineering - Energy Concentration, BS, 2021

Mathematics Minor

"If you’re willing to work hard, you’ll go far. Perseverance is key. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it’s all around you in this program. There is a strong sense of community at Western and it is a really valuable experience if you embrace it."

Student Clubs: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

System Operations Engineer, Powin Energy


Katherine Ray

Plastics & Composites Engineering, BS, 2019

"The Plastics and Composites program at Western Washington University is a well balanced program that focuses on both the theoretical and physical requirements for plastics processing, coupled with extremely valuable hands-on learning. The professors and leaders of this program provide the education, community, and opportunities necessary for success after graduation."

Research projects:  Zodiac Aerospace and Nike sponsored projects

Student Clubs:  Society of Women Engineers

Process Engineer, Nike, Beaverton, OR


Angela Plessner

Manufacturing Engineering, BS,  2017

"The best part of the program was the hands on portions. The time spent doing engineering activities and not just learning about them really helped me understand and feel confident in applying those learnings to real life. Get involved in clubs and internships. It was those extra things that landed me in a great role after graduation."


Student Clubs:  Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Society of Women Engineers

Quality Engineer, Fluke Electronics


Levi Hamernik

Plastics & Composites Engineering, BS, 2019, Outstanding Graduate

Undergraduate research: Development of Benzoxazine Matrix - Best Student Paper, Waterbourne Symposium 2019

1st Place Recipient, PhD Category, SAMPE University Research Symposium, 2022

"Thermally Reprocessable and Chemically Recyclable Polyimine Vitrimers Derived from Main-Chain Benzoxazine Polymers (MCBPs)"

PdD Candidate, University of Southern Mississippi


Elayna Simmons

Plastics & Composites Engineering, BS, 2018

"The PCE major is a fantastic program with so many ways to learn hands-on and make connections in a real world area of expertise. Challenge yourself to learn about the beauty -- and drawbacks -- of plastics and composites. There's much more than meets the eye or what you see in media."

Undergraduate research:  Biobased and biodegradable plastics

Recycling Department Manager Engineer, Achilles USA


Michael Konig

Industrial Technology - Vehicle Design, BS, 2018

MBA, Kansas University, current

"Get involved in a club (especially WWU Racing) or activity in the engineering department. It’s the best way to get hands on experience and learn from students outside your major, which will make you that much more valuable when entering the workforce. Also, understand how lucky you are to be in a program that is to focused on lab based work."

Student Club:  Society of Automotive Engineers - WWU Racing

Business Operations Manager, Motivo Engineering, Gardena, CA


Jacob Green

Plastics & Composites Engineering, BS, 2014

Material Science Minor

"The best ABET accredited Plastics Engineering program of it's kind. Not only do students learn theory from professors who have backgrounds in industry, the labs at WWU are fully equipped with analysis and plastics processing equipment for hands on experience that is invaluable for landing that first engineering job. I had my first industry job offer before walking the graduation stage thanks to the reputation and prestige of WWU."

Process Engineer, Cascadia Custom Molding

Jeff Wiggins

Dr. Jeffrey Stuart Wiggins

Industrial Technology, BS, 1988

College of Science & Engineering, Distinguished Alumni Award, 2017

Jeff received his BS at WWU and then went on to get his MBA.  Soon after, he was General Manager for Nike at a time of significant environmental regulations, which he helped the company emerge with a completely new product line.  He later went back to school to receive his PhD in Polymer Science and Engineering from the U of So Mississippi.  He is currently a faculty member at USM in Polymer Science and Engineering.  He directs a multi-million-dollar research group with multiple industrial partners while also helping create a pipeline for WWU undergrads to consider research as a career (through NSF’s REU program and by recruiting WWU graduates to USM’s grad programs which he does by visiting campus once a year). He has published 23 papers since 2010 relative to his current work at U of So Mississippi.

Director of the School of Polymers, University of Southern Mississippi