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Students Recognized for Success at College of Engineering Commencement


From left to right, Robert Ferguson, Lana Hussein, and Crystal Fernandez-Peña.

From left to right, Robert Ferguson, Lana Hussein, and Crystal Fernandez-Peña.

UTEP President Diana Natalicio recognized three students from the College of Engineering during commencement. Those students included Robert Ferguson, who received his Master of Science in mechanical engineering, Crystal Fernandez-Peña, bachelor of science in engineering leadership, and Lana Hussein, bachelor of science in mechanical engineering. The trio were recognized for their accomplishments in and out of the classroom. Among them are a soldier, a homecoming queen and an Au Pair who have worked hard to achieve their degrees.

"UTEP has been unimaginably helpful during my academic career." said Robert Ferguson, a former staff sergeant in the U.S. Army.

A native of Tampa, Florida, Ferguson served his country for 13 years and completed three tours in Afghanistan. During his time here at UTEP Ferguson was selected for a NASA Harriet G. Jenkins Graduate Fellowship, conducted research in methods for constructing landing pads on the moon and Mars, worked at the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center and will return there this summer. Upon graduation, he has been asked to assist with research in green monopropellants, a new type of propellant for thrusters in space, and hopes to continue in the field of research.

"I am from Jordan, UTEP has been a part of my family and has helped me succeed, inspire and grow each day," Lana Hussein said. "I moved to the US when I was eight, and will forever be grateful to this amazing university and the home it has become to me and my family.

During her time at UTEP Hussein was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, and also served in various capacities with UTEP's Student Government Association and has held peer-mentoring and leadership roles on campus. Hussein was UTEP's 2016 Homecoming Queen and a Sun Bowl Princess for the Sun Bowl Association. Apart from her involvement outside of the classroom she has been part of The BUILDing Scholars program, which funded her education and bolstered her research skills. Hussein also completed four research internships in various disciplines, including ONE Gas as a mechanical engineer.

After graduation, Hussein will work with ExxonMobil as a pipeline engineer. She hopes to return to campus during career fairs to help students find research and internship opportunities, and also plans to begin work on her Master of Business Administration.

"UTEP has everything to do with my academic success," said Crystal Fernandez- Peña. "UTEP has enabled me to enhance my engineering knowledge in a project-based-learning context, without the guidance of my professors, I would have never accomplished my goals."

Fernandez-Peña grew up in Oaxaca, Mexico; to learn English she spent a year in Ireland where she worked as Au Pair. In the evening she would ride her bicycle through the streets of Dublin to attend Language College at night. She first began her quest for an engineering degree in France, at the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées of Lyon. However after two years, she no longer had the financial resources to complete her studies. As a result, she found herself in El Paso she continued her studies at El Paso Community College while working two part-time jobs and then transferred to UTEP.

During her time at the university she has served as a research and development leader in the Center for Research in Engineering and Technology Education, where she conducted research on a web-based academic advising systems, conducted 3-D printing for low-expense college courses and built a STEM community. Fernandez-Peña is a former vice president of the American Society of Engineering Education and was on the leadership team for the STEMGrow research partnership with El Paso Community College. Her future plans include heading to Pittsburgh to pursue a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.


The University of Texas at El Paso
College of Engineering
Engineering Building Room A148
500 W University Ave
El Paso, TX 79968

Phone: (915) 747-6444
Fax: (915) 747-5437

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