Masahiro Ward Named 2017 Senior Class Gift Award Winner

Masahiro Ward, winner of the 2017 Senior Class GiftThe second award from the Texas ChE Senior Class Gift Endowment has been presented to senior Masahiro Ward for his outstanding accomplishments as a class tutor for CHE 319 Transport Phenomena.

The Senior Class Gift was started in 2013 by six chemical engineering seniors who pledged $5,000 over five years to seed an endowment to fund  incentive awards for teaching assistants (TA) or tutors and undergraduate research opportunities  within the department. Now alumni of the department, founders Daniel Horne, Colin Gentry, Matthew Ferris, John Wilbur, Camila Bastidas and Dan Dietz have worked together since 2013 to encourage gifts from other graduating seniors to support the endowment to benefit all chemical engineering undergraduates.

“I am glad to know that my tutoring is effective, and that I am able to help my underclassmen work through a difficult subject,” Ward said. “While the monetary prize is certainly compelling, the accomplishment of knowing that I have done my job well is the bigger prize.”

Tutors and teaching assistants are nominated for the award by students they teach. Students that nominated Ward described him as patient, a “pure genius”, and willing to go beyond what is required of him.

One nominator claimed Ward was “the guardian angel” of his GPA, and another explained, “I don’t think I would be able to do Transport without Masahiro. He is a genius and single-handedly saved my grade in this class.”

After nominations were collected, the endowment committee, including the six founders and current senior representative and former award winner of the Senior Class Gift, Kyle Dalal, chose the recipient from top candidates.

“When you are teaching a difficult subject, students will usually try to follow along but do not really understand what is going on,” Ward said. “When the student finally does grasp the concept, I can always see his or her ‘Ah ha!’ moment light up his or her face.  I love seeing this expression of enlightenment.”

Daniel Horne, who had the initial idea for the endowment, was inspired by meeting department namesake Dr. John McKetta Jr. at his 95th birthday party in 2010 and learning about the story behind the Challenge for McKetta.  The campaign recognized McKetta’s dedication to students and decades of philanthropic efforts for education by naming the department in his honor.  The challenge, which was officially completed in April 2016, raised more than $28 million for future Texas ChE students.

This fund will honor, and represent, every year’s senior class by supporting tutors and teaching assistants that go beyond what is expected of them. Once the fund reaches $500,000 it will also provide undergraduate research opportunities.


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