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Four CCEE graduates win 2023 Outstanding Senior Awards

All CCEE graduates shine in their own way, using their degrees to create and improve sustainable infrastructure for the betterment of society. There are a select few, however, that demonstrate continued excellence during their undergraduate studies. Each spring, the department recognizes these students with four Outstanding Senior Awards.

This year, the awards went to: Matthew Mottesheard for Humanities, which recognizes high achievement in CCEE with an equal commitment to a broad liberal education in the social sciences, arts or humanities; Cecilia Sanchez for Leadership, which recognizes demonstrated ability to provide guidance and direction within organizations and individually; Elias Zauscher for Citizenship and Service, which recognizes significant humanitarian contributions that improve the welfare of fellow citizens and the community; and Ting Ting Lin for Scholarly Achievement, which recognizes exceptional academic performance including participation in undergraduate research. 

Read more about what makes each of these outstanding grads exceptional and their plans for continued excellence looking toward the future. 


Humanities: Matthew Mottesheard

Matthew Mottesheard

When Matthew Mottesheard was not working toward his construction engineering degree in the classroom, completing a co-op, or participating in related engineering organizations, you could often find him on the field at Carter-Finley Stadium or the court at PNC Arena performing alongside the NC State Marching Band and Pep Band. He said that playing in the band has been an integral part of his experience at NC State, and his participation has taught him valuable lessons about teamwork, dedication, and perseverance. 

“Balancing rigorous rehearsals, performances at football and basketball games, and academic demands has honed my time-management skills and helped me develop a strong work ethic,” he said. 

Director of the Bands Paul Garcia said Mottesheard was elected to serve as trombone section leader for the last two marching seasons. 

“During this time, he demonstrated a strong work ethic and high level of maturity,” Garcia said. “His leadership skills are outstanding, and he responds extremely well in pressure situations. I have also witnessed his ability to work well with others in a cooperative setting. Mr. Mottesheard was able to help bring together a group of students from various backgrounds and ability levels to establish a common goal and achieve a high level of performance through teamwork. His enthusiasm for music and his overall demeanor has made him an excellent mentor to everyone in the NC State athletic band community.”

Mottesheard also served as an NC State University Ambassador, public relations chair for NC State’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), president of Chi Epsilon International Civil Engineering Honor Society, and as a member of Tau Beta Pi the National Engineering Honor Society. “He also completed three co-op rotations and an internship with Brasfield & Gorrie doing pre-construction and project management.

“Without the time-management and work ethic skills I developed through my participation in band, I would not have been able to balance all of my extracurriculars and academics while maintaining a 4.0 cumulative GPA,” he said.

CCEE Associate Professor Alex Albert said he first noticed Mottesheard as one of the brightest students enrolled in his introductory class to construction engineering in the Spring of 2021. 

“Since then, I have become much more acquainted with his passion for construction engineering and his active involvement as a student leader within and beyond NC State,” Albert said. “He has also been an outstanding student in our department — among the best I have had the honor of meeting. He has been an inspiration to several students seeking an engineering and construction career.”

After graduation, Mottesheard will work for Brasfield & Gorrie as an assistant project manager. 


Leadership: Cecilia Sanchez

Cecilia Sanchez

When asked about her experiences with leadership, construction engineering student Cecilia Sanchez recalls her summers growing up as a 13-year-old. Each morning, she would wake to the sound of her alarm at 4 a.m., taking a silent van ride with her mom to a rural area where they would pick tobacco for a grueling eleven hours while the hot sun beat down. 

“This was my reality for two summers — I learned the value of hard work, perseverance and higher education,” Sanchez said. “This experience would set the course for my future endeavors as an undergraduate student at NC State.” 

As a first-generation college student, Sanchez said she had difficulty transitioning onto NC State’s large campus. 

“To first-generation college students, navigating higher-education is a difficult task that can have a significant impact on their academic success,” Sanchez said. “Knowing this, I knew I wanted to serve as a role model for first-generation minority students such as myself. I have worked closely with prospective and incoming students where I have provided guidance through mentoring, offering insight into my pursuits, and sharing my own academic obstacles as well as advice to overcome them.”

Sanchez has held numerous leadership roles on campus including as a Goodnight Scholar, a CCEE Student Ambassador, and president of NC State’s student chapter of ASCE. She has also worked as a civil engineering drafting intern for Herring-Sutton & Associates and a cooperative education student for Brasfield & Gorrie (B&G). 

“Ceci is not only a leader at B&G, but among her peers and within her community as well,” said Shawnak Doshi, project manager at B&G. “She has taken  on countless formal leadership roles within organizations at NC State, and she also leads informally as a role model to the people around her. She motivates her  peers to become more involved and passionate about their careers and coursework. She motivates other co-ops at B&G to get out of their comfort zone and learn about other projects. More than anything, she  serves as an example within her community of what a strong young leader can be capable of.”

“Ceci’s leadership style is both mature and effective,” said Roberto Nuñez, CCEE lecturer and senior construction extension specialist. “Ceci is an extremely good and humble listener; her most valuable asset however is her unselfish ability to serve others, her drive to work in a group and lead a team to achieve a common goal through her calm brilliance to efficiently dissect a problem and generate solutions and opportunities for all parties involved.”

Sanchez still reflects on those summers spent working on farms. 

“I grew up in a community where working in the agricultural fields 66 hours a week was the norm and higher-education was just a dream that was not worth pursuing,” She said. “I have learned that leadership goes far beyond the soft skills obtained through experience. A good leader accomplishes the given goal, but a great leader inspires others to challenge themselves and do things they never thought were possible. Looking ahead as I enter the construction industry, I aim to continue my leadership pursuits and focus my attention on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to increase minority presence in management positions. Striving to reach my goals is important, but being an inspiration for others to pursue their goals is my dream.”

After graduation, Sanchez will serve as an assistant project manager at Brasfield and Gorrie in its health care division.


Citizenship and Service: Elias Zauscher

Elias Zauscher

Environmental engineering student Elias Zauscher’s service endeavors reflect his love of the environment and his passion for teaching. As a freshman, he volunteered with NC State’s living and learning group EcoVillage, which is centered around environmental service. He worked at local Raleigh learning gardens such as the Camden Street Learning Gardens, the Agroecology Education Farm, and the SOL Garden, an on-campus garden led by students. He continued on in the program as a resident mentor, guiding first-year students in their own environmental journey. 

To further promote environmental sustainability, Zauscher joined NC State’s Sustainability Stewards, where he served as a member of the resource conservative team.

“I have helped complete projects such as replacing aerators around campus and publicizing the NC State Solar Space,” he said. “I have also helped host events such as Snolar Cones (solar-powered snow cones) and Solar Waffles (waffle makers powered by the sun) to help recruit and spread awareness about sustainability on campus. More recently, I have organized data for the campus-wide energy and water competition, where all on campus residents attempt to reduce their energy and water consumption. As Stewards, we parse meter data as well as provide useful saving tips to students.”

As part of the team, Zauscher also assisted with a grant proposal that resulted in $23,000 for a pollinator garden on NC State’s Talley Student Union Terrace.

“Elias has stated that his core values are environmental sustainability and teaching. I believe these values are directly related to contributing to the betterment of your community and serving others, and Elias exemplifies them daily,” said Keondra Jenkins, program coordinator for NC State’s Sustainability Office. “As a Steward, Elias has shown great care for his fellow students and the campus community. Elias has been a valuable contributor to countless projects within this program.”

In addition, Zauscher has served as a teaching assistant for a computer engineering course focused on Python.

“Although the first semester was entirely on Zoom, the joy I felt from teaching stuck with me,” he said. “For the past five semesters, I have created an engaging and encouraging learning environment for my students. As an added bonus, the majority of students in my sections are from my department. This creates a stronger bond between myself and the students where I can answer any questions about the department as well as the course itself.”

Beyond these activities, Elias has also worked as an intern at the Bionomic Educational Training Center in Durham — where he worked with a team to install rain gardens, critical area plantings, and cisterns for the City of Durham — and as a research assistant in CCEE to advance research in clean and sustainable water supply.

“I have been continuously impressed by the research that Elias conducts,” said CCEE Professor Emily Berglund. “He has excellent technical skills in engineering systems and computer programming; at the same time, he demonstrates critical thinking, resourcefulness, independence, and initiative.”

After graduation, Zauscher plans on continuing his education at CCEE, pursuing a Ph.D. in civil engineering with a concentration in computing and systems and a special focus on water resources management. He will continue to do research under Berglund in her Sociotechnical Systems Analysis Laboratory.


Scholarly Achievement: Ting Ting Lin

Ting Ting Lin

Three words to describe civil engineering student Ting Ting Lin: ambitious, meticulous and hard-working. Each of these characteristics play a key role in her successful academic career at CCEE. 

Lin has managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA and earned a class rank of No. 1 in the civil engineering program and College of Engineering while juggling several extracurriculars. She has been involved with the American Society of Civil Engineering, the Society of Women Engineers, engineering sorority Alpha Omega Epsilon, the NC State’s Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Student Chapter, and the Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering Student Ambassador program. Lin has also served as a teaching assistant for civil engineering graphics, an undergraduate research assistant at CCEE, and an engineering intern at McKim & Creed and WithersRavenel.

Teaching professor Steve Welton said he has had Lin as a student in a steel design class and in the senior design capstone class.

“Her outstanding academic performance of a 4.0 is clearly evident based upon her transcript, but a piece of paper cannot capture the sincerity of her interest in learning,” he said. “Ting is an outstanding student that is engaged and works diligently to achieve outstanding excellence consistently. The detail in her notes and the thoroughness of her efforts are incredible and she is always engaged, attentive, and focused on the topic being delivered.”

Professor Rudi Seracino said that Lin really excelled in her role as a student ambassador at CCEE. 

“She represents the department at the highest level and is able to effectively communicate with prospective students and families, as well as practicing engineers and other visitors to the department,” he said. “I was always most confident of a successful tour, regardless of the guests, when Ting was involved. Ting was also among the first to volunteer and participate in departmental activities. Through this role, she also provided me with valuable insight into our department and degree programs from a student perspective. I did my best to implement many of her suggestions, some of which is helping our department become more equitable and inclusive.”

In addition to her activities related to CCEE, Lin said she has been involved in other hobbies and interests, which “allows me to have the most balanced and happy life I can.

“This, I have found, is my key to success in school, in life, and hopefully also in my career. I play sports, go to the gym, complete amateur carpentry projects, organize social events for classmates and friends, and attend as many school sporting events as possible. I have an ambitious career goal but an even more ambitious life goal, to be happy in both work and life.”

After graduation, Lin will be working as a staff professional II at WithersRavenel, where she will be working on a large land development project called Chatham Park in Pittsboro, North Carolina.