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Swanson School names bioengineering senior Nathan Smialek as Co-op Student of the Year

Nathan SmialekPITTSBURGH (December 15, 2015) … In recognition of his accomplishments during a four-semester rotation at Philips Respironics, Nathan Smialek was selected to be the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Co-op Student of the Year. Mr. Smialek, a native of Girard, Pa., will receive his bachelor’s degree in bioengineering in spring 2016.

“Nathan’s mentor at Philips Respironics indicated that his mature demeanor and leadership skills set him above the average co-op participant, and his success there after four semesters was a tremendous accomplishment,” noted Maureen A. Barcic, co-op program director. “Additionally, he has maintained a strong academic and extra-curricular record, and mentored eight medical design project teams.”

Among his activities, Mr. Smialek is University Innovation Fellow; a member of the U.S. delegation to Vice Premier Liu at Intel U.S.-China International Maker competition ceremony; and served as President of Engineers for Sustainable Medical Development (ESMD) for which his design team developed an optical coherence tomography (OCT) microscopy mount used in pediatric procedures. The device, for which they filed a provisional patent application, is a mechanical mounting system that allows a surgeon to utilize an OCT microscope while attempting surgery to restore sight in pediatric patients.  The device was used clinically in multiple surgeries. 

Mr. Smialek stated, “Working alongside industry professionals and actively participating in the development of medical products was the most valuable experience of my undergraduate career.  My time at Pitt has been defined by rigorous academics with the co-op program providing a complementary opportunity to extend my skills acquired as part of my education.”

Finalists for the Student of the Year Award included Stephanie Lee (Mechanical Engineering, Eaton) and Morgan Skapik (Materials & Metallurgy Engineering, PCC Airfoils).

Honorable Mention recipients were James Brucker (Industrial Engineering, FedEx Ground), Renee Corbett (Civil & Environmental Engineering, Langan Engineering), Alex Horn (Chemical Engineering, Air Products & Chemicals) John Pidgeon (Industrial Engineering, Connors Group), Andrew Pouleson (Computer Engineering, Rockwell Automation), Eric Walker (Electrical Engineering, Mine Safety Appliances), and Sheridan Zivanovich (Computer Science, ANSYS, Inc). 

The Co-op program also announced its 2015 Employers of the Year: Robinson Fans, a co-op supporter since 1999, and Zoll LifeVest, an innovative and diverse partner since 1998.

Cooperative Education is the rotation between school and full-time work assignments that relate directly to a student’s academic discipline. Pitt’s co-op program enables students to complement classroom studies with practical experience, technical knowledge, and financial reward. Student works full-time for a term, and then returns to school for full time study. To complete the program requirements and receive certification, engineering students must work a minimum of three four-month terms. To date more than 5,200 students have participated in Pitt’s program, with 985 undergraduate and 40 graduate students participating in the 2014-2015 academic year. 


Author: Paul Kovach

Contact: Paul Kovach