Two exceptional Vermont Technical College engineering students were honored by the college and recognized at a Vermont Society of Professional Engineers event on February 24 at the DoubleTree Hotel in South Burlington. This event is part of E-Week, a national celebration of Engineering professionals and their work.
Niels Huisman and Sarah Ferland were chosen as Vermont Tech’s Student Engineer of the year and Student Engineering Technician of the year, respectively. Awards are bestowed annually to one graduating bachelor’s degree student and one graduating associates degree student from the college's engineering technology programs.
Niels, a Milton native, came to Vermont Tech as a non-traditional student. He entered the Electromechanical Engineering Technology program, the only of its kind in Vermont.
“It was working with motorcycles that triggered a realization that I really enjoyed building and repairing things. I liked being able to look at a machine as complex as a motorcycle, and comprehend how all the systems worked together to create a moving, working piece of art. I had finally found something I was passionate about.” Niels is a motor sergeant in the Vermont Army National Guard, where he manages the vehicles and drivers for his unit.
“While I do very little with my engineering skills in the Army, I believe my experiences and skills in one, make me better at the other. My leadership training and the interpersonal skills acquired in the Army have helped with interacting with students and faculty, and the technical knowledge I’ve gained at Vermont Tech has helped me better manage electronic equipment in the Army.”
Vermont Tech helped Niels discover other passions, like software development and space exploration. Niels participated in the CubeSat team, a project supported by funding from NASA. Niels is also very involved in the Vermont Tech community. He has served as a tour guide and helps staff the Vermont Tech IT helpdesk at the Williston Campus. As a tour guide, Niels interacted with prospective students and their families, showing them the countless opportunities that Vermont Tech has to offer.
“The hands-on approach to learning has been effective and I am confident using equipment and techniques necessary for jobs in this field. I am truly grateful for my time at Vermont Tech, and I look forward to continued involvement with the Vermont Tech community in the future.” For his senior project, Niels and his team are constructing a replica of the beloved Star Wars robot, BB-8.
Sarah Ferland of Essex Junction came to Vermont Tech from the Center for Technology Essex, a high school tech center. There she studied Computer Systems Technology. She discovered Vermont Tech at the Williston Campus Try a Major Day, an annual event held at both Vermont Tech residential campuses. She is currently enrolled in the Software Engineering Program. Sarah values a personal connection to her education and learns better in a small class environment. Vermont Tech’s small student-to-faculty ratio was perfect for Sarah.
In her first year, Sarah got a job with the Vermont Tech IT department where she learned the necessary industry skills to be a successful computer professional. She also participated in student council assisting the activities coordinator in planning and promoting campus events. This past summer, Sarah experienced life as a camp counselor for Coder Camp, an initiative to introduce kids to the world of coding and programming language. She is now an RA in the Williston Hall.
Sarah says, “Both of these experiences have helped grow in leadership positions, learning how to instruct others and to think quickly and effectively on the spot.”
Vermont Tech has thoroughly prepared Sarah for life after graduation. Her teachers are a well-utilized network of support and offered Sarah insight on succeeding as a female in a traditionally male-dominated field.
“Vermont Tech has taught me beyond the classroom, giving me life skills and tips on how to work in the computer industry. They have given me opportunities to grow as a leader and teach others the wonders of my major. Vermont Tech has become a great resource for me, and I look forward to my next two years as a student here.”
Christopher Rivet, the E-Week Committee Chair has been an Engineer in Vermont for six years, and has been involved with E-Week for three. “It’s very important at events like this to get the students involved, it gives them the opportunity to meet with professionals and be recognized for their achievements. It gives us a chance to give back to the students.”
Vermont Tech would also like to recognize this year’s nominees.
Student Engineer of the Year Nominees
Zach Matthews of Hinesburg, Software Engineering
Leo Sprinzen of Burlington, Architectural Engineering Technology
Garrett Royce of Washington, Manufacturing Engineering Technology
Windsor Roy of East Ryegate, Electrical Engineering Technology
Student Engineering Technician of the Year Nominees
Tyler Couture of Essex, Architectural & Building Engineering Technology
Nathan Perry of Randolph, Civil Engineering Technology
Christopher Sabatino of Rutland, Mechanical Engineering Technology
Hunter Pockett of Proctor, Electrical Engineering Technology
Raymond Albanese of Ludlow, Computer Engineering Technology
Vermont Tech makes these selections based on academic excellence, professionalism, reputation, character, as well as communication and leadership skills. These individuals then have their names submitted to the Vermont State National Engineers' Week Committee, which holds an annual banquet with engineers from around the state.