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Trustee Scholarship recipient Jay Amarillo ’05 (Haverhill, Mass.), a double major in A.B. engineering and art, is one of the first recipients of the new $2,500 Haestad Methods Engineering Scholarship.

He won the award after writing a paper on his independent research to help a Native American nation bring its drinking-water system into compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Guided by Sharon Jones, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, Amarillo evaluated Haestad Methods’ GISConnect software and WaterGEMS software as potential solutions to interoperability issues for water utilities. He examined the software tools for use in small utility systems at the Tohono O’odham Nation in southwestern Arizona. Jones serves the nation as a consultant and has found groundwater areas on its land that are at high risk of contamination from arsenic.

In the evaluation, Amarillo used as-built drawings and their associated Microsoft Access databases with the Haestad software in realistic design and management scenarios. The evaluation considered the limited resources of small utilities for software and training, while emphasizing the potential benefits of life-cycle utility management.

“The project focused on the issue of interoperability between computer-aided design and drawing and drawing/geographical information system (CADD/GIS) software products in terms of water utilities,” he explains. “The issue is a popular one today, as both CADD and GIS rely on spatial data, but have evolved separately over the past 30 years. Unfortunately, the approach to CADD/GIS interoperability is often very case specific because it depends on the needs of the users, the resources of the developers, and the quality of that data. Consequently, the current software tools for CADD and GIS are limited in terms of the ability to share digital data.”

Amarillo was studying Roman art and architecture and the Italian language in Florence, Italy, last fall when Jones emailed an invitation to evaluate software in research related to his civil engineering concentration and interest in architecture.

“I am very excited about this project as it has practical applications in today’s world, both in terms of addressing the interoperability issue, as well as potentially helping a Native American nation whose data the project will utilize,” he says.

The student was “very happy” to work with Jones, who is serving this summer as Faculty-Member-in-Residence for the Washington Internships for Students of Engineering program, ranked among the 100 best internship opportunities in the United States by Princeton Review. Jones used a NASA Summer Faculty Fellowship to conduct research last summer at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., where she developed and used web-based, state-of-the-art GIS technologies for infrastructure management.

Jones developed GIS structures for the Tohono O’odham Nation and was recognized for her work with the Indian Health Service’s Tribal/Urban Recognition Award. She regularly involves Lafayette students in her research, which she publishes in scientific journals and presents at academic conferences.

“She is a very well qualified and caring mentor,” he says. “Professor Jones is approachable, easy to talk to, and extremely knowledgeable in her field. In fact, the data used in the project evaluation was gathered on-site in southwestern Arizona by Professor Jones herself. Also, I know Professor Jones was involved with mentoring several honors thesis students, in addition to leading the new Engineering Policy course involving both engineers and students outside the engineering major. Being so involved, it amazes me that she remained so focused and energetic during our meetings.”

“Lafayette is the premier environment for such undertakings,” he adds. “The ease of accessibility of professors and their genuine interest in students who are willing to work at such projects makes it so. The engineering faculty here is exceptional; all the professors I have dealt with have had either significant work experience outside academia or are outstanding academics, having vast knowledge in the ways of research and what new issues are developing and being dealt with in their fields.”

Amarillo takes private classical piano lessons at Lafayette and helped establish the College’s first water polo team. He is a member of Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection and former assistant at the Kirby Sports Center’s climbing wall.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Forty-two students were accepted to present their work at the annual conference last month.

Selected from among Lafayette’s top applicants, Trustee Scholarship recipients such as Amarillo have distinguished themselves through exceptional academic achievement in high school. They receive from Lafayette an annual minimum scholarship of $7,500 (totaling $30,000 over four years) or a grant in the full amount of their demonstrated need if the need is more than $7,500.

Categorized in: Academic News