During his tenure on the Calvin alumni board, Ronald “Shawn” Blanton ’87, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., was asked to consider one project he could uniquely do as a board member given his expertise and location. Blanton pondered this challenge and developed a partnership between his university and the Calvin engineering department.

Blanton would come to campus each fall and interview current Calvin engineering students for potential summer internship positions at Carnegie-Mellon. That partnership has continued to grow over the years and this summer, six Calvin students did research work in Pittsburgh with Carnegie-Mellon professors. Pictured (from l.) are: Paul Griffioen, Anthony Jin, Nathan Slager, Andrew Bouma, Paul Brouwer and Chad Malinowski.  All are senior engineering students with electrical/computer concentrations (except Andrew, who is in a mechanical concentration).

“Through the effort of Prof. Shawn Blanton over the past several years, Calvin’s engineering program has a strong connection with one of the top engineering graduate schools in the world,” said Calvin engineering professor Randy Brouwer. “It is a win-win situation for both Calvin and Carnegie-Mellon University:  Calvin students are offered incredible opportunities to do advanced research with leading experts, and CMU has discovered how talented Calvin students are and have since been recruiting them heavily. Our undergraduate students are currently working directly with graduate students and professors on research that is far beyond what they will see in their undergraduate program.  I hope that similar partnerships can be developed with other engineering alumni that are working in university research programs around the country.”

In another recent Calvin-Carnegie connection, Ben Niewenhuis ’12, a current PhD student working with Blanton, was named the first-ever recipient of the IBM SRC Robert H. Dennard Fellowship at the university. Blanton said of Niewenhuis: “It is a great honor to have the inaugural Dennard Fellowship awarded to Ben… [he] is an outstanding researcher with both the ability and drive to have tremendous breadth and uncompromising depth in his work.”