Virginia Tech has named Alek Duerksen, of Waynesboro, Va., as the Outstanding Graduating Senior in the College of Engineering for the 2008-09 academic year.

Duerksen is expected to receive his Bachelor’s of Science degree in mining and minerals engineering from the College of Engineering in July of this year. He will be receiving an honors baccalaureate diploma with a research based thesis, as well as minors in geosciences and creative writing. During his time at Virginia Tech, Duerksen has participated in a variety of extracurricular activities and held a wide range of leadership positions.

Recently named a National Science Foundation fellow, Duerksen has conducted his research in the fields of underground hard rock mining methods and the effects of mine safety legislation on mining technology in the United States. In addition to his academic excellence in science, Duerksen has also excelled in English. As a junior, he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa national honor society, a rare honor for an engineering major.

During the summer of 2008, Duerksen travelled to Chile with P&H MinePro Services, a major mining equipment manufacturer. While there he conducted a comprehensive analysis of the contract sites’ maintenance and repair practices and performances. He conducted his research and presented his findings to a national-level management team entirely in Spanish.

“The path I have chosen has taken many bends and been ridden with obstacles, yet it has played a dominating role in forging my present character and enabling me to represent Virginia Tech in the highest and best way possible,” said Duerksen. “I am honored to have the opportunity to do so once again with this nomination.”

The Outstanding Senior Awards are presented at the Student Honors Day Banquet each spring. These awards are co-sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association and the senior class.

The purpose of the award is to recognize outstanding student performance in each college of the university. Students are selected on the basis of their grade point average (3.4 or higher on a 4.0 scale) and outstanding performance in several or all of the following areas: academic achievement, extracurricular activities, leadership positions, and contributions of service to the university and/or community.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college's 5,700 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a "hands-on, minds-on" approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 1,800 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

Written by Krystyne Hayes. Hayes, of Front Royal, Va., is a junior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

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