School of Engineering Annual Awards

May 11, 2020

The UNM School of Engineering Annual Awards recognize our faculty, students and staff who go above and beyond in their work. These are the 2020 winners from the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Department of Mechanical Engineering

photo of Brian Romero

Brian Romero
Outstanding Senior
Mechanical Engineering

Brian Romero is originally from Taos but was raised in Albuquerque. He said engineering was a natural career choice for him because growing up, he always liked to tinker with things and see how they worked.

While a student, he has held internships at both Sandia National Laboratories and at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He has also been involved with UNM chapters of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Association of Energy Engineers.

One of his favorite memories of UNM is the campus, particularly in autumn. In his spare time, Brian enjoys reading, hiking and amateur astronomy.

After he completes his degree, he would like to join a national lab or other research institute.

photo of Rachel Starkweather

Rachel Starkweather
Outstanding Senior
Mechanical Engineering

Rachel Starkweather, an Albuquerque native, always loved math and problem solving and liked the idea that engineering could change the world for the better.

While a student, she has been an intern at Sandia National Laboratories for two years in validation and qualification sciences and spent a summer researching at the Advanced Materials Laboratory at UNM.

She has been involved with the Society of Women Engineers for four years, serving as an officer for a year, and was involved with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for three years and was also an officer. In addition, she was president of the UNM Beekeeping Club for two years.

One of her favorite memories at UNM was completing her senior capstone project with a great team. “We were able to bond over long days and sleepless nights. Ultimately, we created a project that we were really proud of and that made us feel like accomplished engineers.”

“The professors, staff, and faculty in the School of Engineering and in the Department of Mechanical Engineering have made me experience at UNM incredible,” she said. “I am confident that my classmates and I will be able to accomplish great things as engineers because of the foundation we have built at UNM. Thank you."

Rachel’s future plans include graduate school at Georgia Tech as part of Sandia’s Critical Skills Recruiting Program. Once she completes her master’s degree, she will continue to work at Sandia.

photo of Donato Piroscafo

Donato Piroscafo
Outstanding Junior
Mechanical Engineering

Donato Piroscafo is from New Haven County, Conn., and chose engineering as a field because he loves a good challenge and is interested in machine design.

Aside from schoolwork, he has kept busy with a variety of jobs and volunteer activities. He has been on the Formula SAE team and a member of Tau Beta Pi, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Albuquerque Soccer League and the Engineering Club (Gateway Community College). He is an intern at Vibrant Corporation and was an agricultural engineering intern in 2018.

Donato says his favorite UNM memory was his first visit to campus. “I was on a road trip, and I had my dog Khalifa with me. She was all upset that there were Lobo statues.”

In his spare time, he likes soccer, walking or jogging, snowboarding, riding motorcycles, taking road trips, hiking, repairing cars and motorcycles, and reading. He also enjoys New Mexico United games.

His future goal is to win the 2021 Formula SAE competition with LOBOmotorsports and “find a company that has a mission worth dedicating my career to and obtain my professional engineering license.”

photo of Mary Arnhart

Mary Arnhart
Outstanding Sophomore
Mechanical Engineering

Mary Arnhart was always torn between engineering and the medical field, but decided on mechanical engineering and plans to focus on biomedical engineering in graduate school, which will allow her to fulfill her interest in biology and chemistry while utilizing her engineering skills to ultimately help others throughout her career.

The Albuquerque native has is an R&D intern at Sandia National Laboratories with the material mechanics and tribology department. She has been involved in the Society of Women Engineers, serving as professional development committee chair in the fall. She is also a member of the UNM Fishing Club.

Mary said her favorite memory was attending a SWE conference in Anaheim. Her hobbies include running, binge watching Netflix shows, and being around her friends.

Her plans are to obtain a biomedical engineering master’s degree, then work in industry. Eventually, she would like to develop her own medical technology business where she would focus on biomaterials and assess the quality of medical equipment.

photo of Shannon Siderius

Shannon Siderius
Outstanding Staff Award
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Shannon Siderius is the department administrator in Mechanical Engineering, overseeing the business operation and working with the chair to ensure strategic success of the department. Shannon has demonstrated her excellent management skills and collaborative spirit in supervising staff and office operation. She always approaches challenges with a positive attitude and calm manner, and has become the go-to person for not just the staff members in the department but others as well. Her outstanding organizational skills and ability to manage multiple priorities and confidential situations have made her a great asset in not just the department but School of Engineering as a whole. With the department down two staff members, for several months, Shannon went beyond the call of duty to cover for the needs of the department, without hesitation. She is enthusiastic and very professional. Since she joined the School of Engineering, she has been instrumental in making sure the Mechanical Engineering department is present in all activities at the school level. Congratulations to Shannon for this well-deserved honor!