Daniel Limcher, pioneer of UT's new computational engineering bachelor's degree, wins Carey Scholarship

Daniel Limcher, 2016 Graham Carey scholarship recipient

Daniel Limcher, a junior in Aerospace Engineering, received the 2016 Graham F. Carey Computational Science Scholarship.

Nominated by ICES Professor Clint Dawson who employed him in his research group this past year, Dawson characterized Limcher as “incredibly enthusiastic and motivated.”

“He is exactly the type of student that Graham Carey would have latched onto and never let go,” said Dawson.

Limcher currently has a 3.9 GPA, despite working 20 hours per week while pursuing his degree. He spent a portion of his workweek as an intern in Dr. Dawson’s laboratory.

“He helped to develop analysis tools for our storm surge models, learning python and other scripting languages in the process,” said Dawson. “He did a great job.”

This year Limcher becomes the first student to transfer into the Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Department’s new Computational Engineering degree program, which begins this fall.

“As such, he is a pioneer into the brave new world of computational science at UT,” says Dawson. “We feel confident he will be successful and will be a great ambassador for the degree once he graduates in May of 2017.”

Limcher says his interest in computational engineering was a natural progression of his coursework in the aerospace engineering bachelor’s degree program.

“When I was a freshman in the aerospace program, I took the “Intro to Computer Programming” course (ASE 201) with Dr. Tan Bui,” he recalls. “The class, while hard, proved to be extremely fascinating to me. Then, as time moved on and I took more advanced courses throughout the varied branches of the aerospace engineering discipline, any mathematically difficult or programming intensive course excited me much more than any of the other courses. Over time, I recognized this pattern, and when the Computational Engineering major was introduced, I marched straight to Sarah Kitten’s office and asked how I could get involved.”

Kitten, the department’s staff academic advisor and undergraduate coordinator, had watched the new bachelor’s degree develop under the direction of ICES’ Dawson. As a result, she connected Limcher with the ICES professor as Limcher’s interests advanced.

“After multiple conversations with Sarah Kitten about my interests in programming, numerical methods, and dynamics, she suggested that I speak with Dr. Dawson,” Limcher says. “I then met with Dr. Dawson a few times to discuss computational engineering and its applications in research, and soon after, I was helping out on his team.”

Being the first to pursue the degree, naturally posed questions about the program’s efficacy, but receiving the Carey Scholarship helped allay some of the inherent risks of pioneering it, Limcher explained.

“As a student who has had a growing interest in where programming meets math and engineering, this scholarship has excited me even more that this field is not only innovative, but meaningful enough to have its own, dedicated scholarship. This encourages me to continue pursuing this field full force,” he says. “And from a personal standpoint, this will allow me to take out less in loans, greatly helping out my financial situation.”

The Graham F. Carey Computational Science Scholarship recognizes and supports the studies of exceptional undergraduate students at UT Austin who have demonstrated competency and interest in computational science and engineering. Given to one individual per year, the scholarship consists of a cash award of $2,500 and a certificate.

Posted: Aug. 30, 2016