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Montana Tech Junior Brent Sordo Named Goldwater Scholar

goldwater.jpgMontana Tech students Brent Sordo, a junior majoring in Geological Engineering, and Levin Mullaney, a junior majoring in Electrical Engineering, have been honored by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship Foundation. Both Montana Tech students are two-time campus nominees for the Goldwater Scholarship.

Sordo, born and raised in Modesto, California, received the prestigious Barry Goldwater Foundation Scholarship. His father, a middle school math teacher, encouraged him in mathematics as well as to work diligently to make whatever he wanted a reality. He moved to Butte to attend Montana Tech knowing only that he wanted to pursue some kind of engineering. There, he found his niche in the geotechnical field as it combined engineering with his love of the outdoors. His time at Montana Tech has presented him with numerous research and other academic opportunities, and that encouraged him to seek to apply his talents to academia, especially education. He plans to pursue a PhD in Civil Engineering with the long term goal of eventually becoming a professor. “I am honored and excited to have been chosen to receive this great recognition,” said Sordo. “The Goldwater Scholarship and the preceding achievements that have led to it would not have been possible without the opportunities and guidance provided by my professors, the Goldwater Committee, and many others. Thank you to everyone who has contributed. I hope to live up to this honor with a lifetime of contribution to education and research." Geological Engineering professor Mary MacLaughlin mentored Sordo’s research.

Mullaney, from Butte, Montana, received an honorable mention Goldwater. The son of Pam and Butch Mullaney, he plans to pursue a career in flight controls. “I am truly humbled to be recognized by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship Foundation,” noted Mullaney. “This award is a greater representation of the many people who have devoted their time to me throughout the past years. I believe the greatest gift someone can provide is their time, so I am incredibly thankful for everyone who has encouraged and supported me.”

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation awarded 211 scholarships for the 2018-2019 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States. An additional 281 nominees were named as Honorable Mentions.

The Goldwater Scholars were selected based on academic merit from a field of 1,280 natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering students nominated by the campus representatives from over 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide. Of those reporting, 110 of the Scholars are men, 99 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their highest degree objective. Twenty-nine Scholars are mathematics and computer science majors, 142 are majoring in the natural sciences, and 40 are majoring in engineering. Many of the Scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering, and computer science.

The one and two year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 91 Rhodes Scholarships, 131 Marshall Awards, 150 Churchill Scholarships, 100 Hertz Fellowships and numerous other distinguished awards like the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on November 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the preeminent undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Since its first award in 1989, the Foundation has as of 2018 bestowed 8,132 scholarships worth approximately 65 million dollars.

Sordo and Mullaney join nine Montana Tech students who received the Goldwater Award or Honorable Mention. They are: Molly Brockway (2016), Macy Ricketts, (2015 Honorable Mention), Jordan Leone (2014, Honorable Mention), Ryan Hensleigh (2014, Honorable Mention), Joe Mitzel (2013), Robert Hark (2012), Chris Dienes (2007), Calley Jones (2000), and Ariane Erickson (2011, Honorable Mention).
“It is an honor for Montana Tech to have received recognition by the Goldwater Foundation for two of our students,” explained Montana Tech Chancellor Don Blackketter. “Both Brent and Levin are highly deserving of the awards and this lifetime achievement. I would like to thank all the faculty and staff who were heavily invested in helping our students be successful and recognized.”

Dr. Marisa Pedulla chairs Montana Tech’s National Student Awards Committee (NSAC), which supports Montana Tech students for major national and international scholarships. The mission of NSAC, which was founded in 2006, is to create a campus community that fosters and supports outstanding Montana Tech students throughout their education and to nominate and assist Montana Tech’s top students in the preparation of applications for prestigious National Awards. “Helping Montana Tech’s outstanding undergraduates to realize their potential and be recognized for their accomplishments has been a tremendously rewarding endeavor,” explained Pedulla. “It’s exciting and motivating to work closely with the student nominees and dedicated committee members in the process of preparing applications. Honoring Sorto and Mullaney by the Goldwater Foundation is incredible for not only them, but the entire Montana Tech community.”
In the past 12 years, Montana Tech’s NSAC has had four Goldwater Scholars and four Goldwater Honorable Mention awards. Two students, Jack Stratton (2009) and Casey Clark (2011), were finalists for the Rhodes Scholarship. Montana Tech 2010 chemistry alum, Cory Sonnemann, who graduated from Pacific Northwest University College of Osteopathic Medicine, won a National Health Service Corps Scholarship. Katie Tabaracci, Joe Mitzel and Ivan Sljivar, a metallurgical engineering alum, all won the NAIA Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award.
Former Montana Tech Chancellor Dr. W. Franklin Gilmore served as President of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation from 2012 to 2015. The Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on November 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.