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Doctoral Students Receive National Black Engineering Awards

Doctoral Engineering Students Receive National Awards


MOSCOW, Idaho – Two University of Idaho graduate engineering students recently received national recognition at The Golden Torch Awards in Las Vegas, Nev. The awards, which honor the best and brightest in technology, concluded the 35th Annual National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Convention.


Edward J. William II, an electrical engineering doctoral student from San Diego, Calif., received the 2009 Mike Shinn Distinguished Member of the Year. The prestigious award is given to one male and female NSBE member who has demonstrated high scholastic performance, dedicated service to NSBE and other organizations, and who possesses high professional promise. William received $7,500. As part of the U.S Navy sponsored award, William will fly with the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels.


"This award means that all dreams can come true if you seek to accomplish the tasks," said William. "The tasks may become obstacles and may sometimes mean failure, but failure yields success with utilizing ambition."


In addition to his award, William was elected to a national advisory board position as academic excellence chairperson. He also will be featured in the upcoming issue of NSBE's magazine.


William received NSBE's 2007 Alumni Extension Technical Scholars award, for which he received a $2,000 scholarship for his master's degree work.


Rachel M. Bonas, computer science doctoral student originally from the island of Trinidad and Tobago and current NSBE chapter president at the University of Idaho, received a $3,000 Board of Corporate Affiliates Scholarship.


Bonas first came to the U.S. when she was 18 on a tennis scholarship from Norfolk State University in Virginia, where she received her bachelor's degree in computer science. She then received her master's degree at Howard University in Washington, D.C., before pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of Idaho.


“It is my hope that while in a leadership position in NSBE, I can help influence as many young kids as well as University of Idaho students to strive for whatever their hearts can dream," said Bonas. "We do outreach with students in the area, and it is a joy to see their faces light up with excitement when we introduce them to many aspects of engineering."


"This is a remarkable student group with strong leadership," said Margrit von Braun, dean of the College of Graduate Studies. "The name of the awards says it all: 'The best and brightest.' These awards honor their hard work on behalf of the University of Idaho, which has included presenting robotics programs with the Boys and Girls Clubs throughout our region and recruiting for University of Idaho programs at national conferences. They are touching lives and demonstrating their own – and the university’s – excellence." 


The University of Idaho chapter of NSBE received the Regional Small Chapter award at the 2008 national conference.


NSBE is the premier organization serving African Americans in engineering and technology. The Golden Torch Awards are given by NSBE to recognize excellence among technical professionals, corporate, government, academic leaders, university and pre-college students. For more information about NSBE, visit Learn about the local chapter at

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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 150 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit

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