News Archives

  • UNM
  • >Home
  • >News
  • >2021
  • >June
  • >‘Excited by the opportunity’: ECE student among winners of IEEE section awards

‘Excited by the opportunity’: ECE student among winners of IEEE section awards

June 28, 2021 - by Kim Delker

photo of Sara LaTouf
Sara Kathryn LaTouf

Sara Kathryn LaTouf, who recently earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at UNM, was awarded the IEEE Albuquerque Section 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Engineering Student Award.

LaTouf, who was admitted to UNM as a nontraditional student in 2018 and completed 137 credit hours in 36 months, graduated this spring with a 3.96 GPA. She conducted research with Dr. Eirini Eleni Tsiropoulou, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

LaTouf is an active-duty sailor in the U.S. Navy who worked as a naval nuclear power plant operator and instructor prior to her transfer to UNM. She was awarded a highly-competitive Navy scholarship and was part of a commissioning program called “Seaman to Admiral, 21st Century.” She trained with the UNM’s Navy ROTC unit in areas such as armed drill, physical fitness, leadership, ethics and naval engineering.

In addition, LaTouf also participated in the ECE departmental honors program and was project manager of the School of Engineering team for a competition hosted by Sandia National Laboratories. The competition required the design, fabrication and testing of a fully-integrated acceleration switch that could survive, sense and record a range of temperatures, random vibration and acceleration for potential national security applications.

“For me, STEM has always been a means to an end, where the ‘end’ is connecting with people,” LaTouf saud. “Whether participating in a study group, providing tutoring, collaborating on research, or working on a project, I am most excited by the opportunity to learn alongside others. I am grateful to my classmates, my shipmates, and especially to my research advisor, Dr. Tsiropoulou, for seeing my potential and contributing to my multidimensional growth as an undergraduate student.”

LaTouf also performed research in the PROTON Lab with Tsiropoulou, conducting work in research topics related to the National Science Foundation project NSF CRII: NeTS: Real-life modeling for EFficient RESource management in Heterogeneous multi-user systems – REFRESH.”

LaTouf has co-authored, prepared, and submitted two IEEE Transactions articles in the areas of network economics for cyber-physical social systems with applications in smart grid systems and social systems.

"Sara’s disciplined character, hard work, team spirit and kindness in every interaction make her the ideal collaborator to work with, but also a good friend,” Tsiropoulou said. “Sara is a rising star that will shine both in the Navy and as a professional electrical engineer. Keep making us proud of you, Sara!”

Other chapter awards given to students in the School were:

Sigma Xi Outstanding Undergraduate Award: Luke Denoyer
IEEE Outstanding Graduate Engineering Student: Justin Smith
IEEE Outstanding Young Engineer: Jacob Mueller