School of Engineering Annual Awards

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

photo of Georgios Fragkos

Georgios Fragkos
Outstanding Graduate Student
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Georgios Fragkos came to the U.S. from Greece and said he was interested in engineering from the time he was in high school. He participated in several programming competitions and student seminars, which awakened his interest in computer engineering.

“I was fascinated by the fact that through engineering I would be able to change the world with inventions and solutions that would positively affect and change people’s lives.”

He also liked that engineering is linked with research because he loves the process of problem solving and analytical thinking.

During his undergraduate studies at National Technical University of Athens, he was offered an internship at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Switzerland, where he conducted research regarding the ATLAS experiment. After that, he was a research assistant for two years at the Institute of Communication and Computer Systems at National Technical University of Athens. He was part of the EU Horizon 2020-funded BLOOMEN research project, where he researched the blockchain data structure and graph databases in regard to micro-payments, cyber security and media rights management for fair and secure compensation.

While at UNM, he has been involved in IEEE and IEEE HKN and is a member of the Electrical Engineering Students’ European Association. He said his favorite memory at UNM was the first time he entered the PROTON lab and met his colleagues and academic advisor, Dr. Eirini Eleni Tsiropoulou. “I knew that this would be the start of an excellent and fruitful research collaboration that would last for the next several years.”

In his spare time, he enjoys basketball, swimming and hanging out with friends.

He is grateful for the support of his parents, Kostas and Gioula, his brother John, as well as Dr. Tsiropoulou.

In August, he will begin an internship at Sandia National Laboratories in the renewable and distributed systems integration department focusing on PV cybersecurity standards research and development. Long-term, Georgios would like to work in a R&D team like at Sandia.

photo of Kendric Ray Ortiz

Kendric Ray Ortiz
Outstanding Senior
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Kendric Ray Ortiz comes from a small village called Mesquite about 250 miles south of Albuquerque. He was attracted to engineering because he enjoys problem-solving and designing.

“I love the idea of creating something new from scratch and improving things. Engineering has enabled me to do just that,” he said.

Kendric has been active in IEEE, Formula SAE, and has volunteered for many School events. He has worked at Sandia National Laboratories and the Hybrid Systems and Controls Laboratory at UNM.

He has enjoyed his time working on projects with friends. “Feeling that weight lifted off of our shoulders and the sense of accomplishment was great.”

In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, going hiking, fishing, and hunting, and doing robotics at home.

Kendric plans will return to UNM in the fall as a Ph.D. student studying control systems engineering under Meeko Oishi. After he gets his Ph.D., he would like to work as a research and development engineer at Sandia.

photo of Skyler Valdez

Skyler Valdez
Outstanding Junior
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Skyler Valdez was born and raised in Albuquerque. She recently transferred to UNM in order to pursue a degree in computer engineering, which she chose to study after gaining an interest in game development and machine learning.

For the past year, she has worked as a software developer for the MESA facility at Sandia National Laboratories, where she helps design and program GUIs from the ground up for applications in microtechnology. She also owns and operates a seasonal art business in connection with the Spanish Colonial Arts Society and Spanish Market in Santa Fe, which she started at the age of 17.

While at UNM, she has gotten involved with IEEE, the Society for Women Engineers, and the WHY Lab. “I encourage all engineering students to take advantage of the great opportunities these organizations have to offer!”

She said her career plans are constantly changing since she likes “to go with the flow and work on whatever interests me,” but she’d like to one day launch a tech business in software with her twin brother, a computer science student at UNM.

Some of her favorite memories at UNM have been struggling with her fellow students on homework and spending late nights studying in the EE building (and most likely eating too many donuts, she said).

She sums up what she’d like to do with her life: “If I can, I’d like to spend the rest of my life painting, programming, and seeing the world with a couple good friends and my loving family.”

Skyler said she is thankful to her parents and those who nominated her for this award. “I am very humbled to be recognized seeing all the great talent and potential here in the ECE department.”

photo of Nicholas Ross

Nicholas Ross
Outstanding Sophomore
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Nicholas Ross, from Temecula, Calif., first became interested in engineering from competitive robotics, particularly FTC and Robosub.

He became a lab assistant to Eric Hamke last semester, and the experience he gained there quickly afforded him an opportunity for an internship at Sandia National Laboratories. He has also been active in IEEE.

Nicholas said his favorite memory is working with drones in the WHY Lab with Dr. Hamke, and IEEE Xtreme, a 24-hour coding marathon.

He gives kudos to Dr. Hamke for helping him in his journey. “He has been an enormous help for me, both inside and outside of class. He's taught me many new skills and given me lots of new connections. I believe my success is largely due to his support and kindness.”

In his spare time, Nicholas enjoys climbing and automotive work. He is currently rebuilding a salvaged motorcycle.

His future plans include working in virtual reality and creating the next generation of hardware interfaces.