Biomedical Engineering Student Wins Goldwater Scholarship

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

Hal Holmes, a third-year student in biomedical and electrical engineering, has won a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, awarded by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. 

Goldwater scholarships--established by Congress to honor the late Senator Barry M. Goldwater--are based on academic merit, research experience and intent to pursue a career in science, engineering or mathematics. The purpose of the program is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields.

Colleges and universities nominate students for the scholarships, which cover up to $7,500 in tuition and fees. Holmes is the eighth Michigan Tech student ever to win a Goldwater Scholarship.

"The Goldwater Scholarship is the preeminent award in science and engineering at the undergraduate level,” said Will Cantrell, associate professor of physics and Michigan Tech faculty representative for the program. "It is highly competitive, and it is a testament to Hal's creativity and hard work that he has been selected as a Scholar."

Holmes has published a peer-reviewed paper in the journal Biosensors and was chosen to give a podium presentation at the Biomedical Engineering Society annual meeting in 2011. He also won the Undergraduate Grand Award at the 2011 Graduate Research Forum. Serving as president of Circle K International’s campus chapter, Holmes also was community service chair for the Biomedical Engineering Society and a Housing and Residential Life resident assistant.

“I am incredibly honored to have been selected as a Goldwater Scholar, but more so I am extremely grateful to everyone in my life whose support and encouragement have made this achievement possible; I would not be here today without them,” said Holmes.

After he completes his bachelor’s degree, Holmes plans to earn a doctorate in biomedical engineering.

Rupak Rajachar, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and Holmes’ advisor, described the scholarship winner:  “Hal is the type of student that defines our program—technically strong, results driven, and service oriented both to his profession and community. Not only is he an exemplary student, more importantly he is an exceptional person with the maturity, temperament and attitude to be a gifted engineer and a worthy representative of the Goldwater Scholarship.”

The Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation received 1,123 nominations this year and awarded 282 scholarships. There are nine other winners from Michigan, including students at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, and Hope and Calvin Colleges.

Goldwater Scholars usually go on to do very well at getting competitive graduate fellowships such as those from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy and NASA, Cantrell said.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.