Skip to main content

in this section

2015 Merrill Presidential Scholars: Include two MAE students:

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Eric Ching and Ankith Harathi to be honored at the Merrill Presidential Scholars Convocation in May.

Merrill scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholastic accomplishments, but also because they have “demonstrated remarkable intellectual drive, energetic leadership abilities and a propensity to contribute to the betterment of society.”

Philip Merrill ’55 created the Merrill Presidential Scholars program in 1988, allowing Cornell to celebrate—on an annual, ongoing basis—excellence in teaching and scholarship.  The program has honored Cornell University’s most outstanding graduating seniors, while also recognizing the teachers who have played a significant role in ensuring their success.

Merrill Presidential Scholars rank among the top one percent of the class in their respective schools and colleges.

Each scholar is given an opportunity to recognize the high school teacher who most inspired his or her scholastic development and the Cornell faculty member who most significantly contributed to his or her college experience. Each spring, the scholars, along with their high school teachers and Cornell professors, are honored at a convocation hosted by Cornell’s president. The high school teachers are invited to campus as guests of the university to participate in the convocation, some traveling from as far away as Europe and Asia. Special events are planned to make their visit productive and meaningful.

Eric Ching

A graduate of John P. Stevens High School in Edison, NJ, Eric Ching will receive his B.S. this May in mechanical engineering with a minor in electrical and computer engineering. He is currently researching bubble nucleation using thin film micro-heaters for Professor C. Thomas Avedisian, and investigating the effectiveness of a recently proposed subgrid-scale model in computational fluid dynamics simulations for Professor Olivier Desjardins. He is also a telecommuting year-round intern for Sandia National Labs and is a TA for MAE 2030 (Dynamics). This fall, he will enroll in Stanford University's mechanical engineering graduate program. At the Merrill Presidential Scholars Convocation in May, Eric will be honoring Professor Avedisian as the faculty member who most positively influenced his undergraduate career, and Laura Unger as the high school teacher most responsible for his academic growth.

Ankith Harathi

Ankith grew up in Portland, Oregon and graduated as valedictorian from Jesuit High School. Upon admission to Cornell, he was named a Meinig Family National Commitment Scholar. He achieved an overall GPA of 4.07 while majoring in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and minoring in Business; he graduated with the distinction of Summa Cum Laude. Ankith was the Cooling System Team Leader of Cornell’s Formula Racing (FSAE) 9-time world championship team. He also held the position of Scholarship Chair in his social fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau. After graduation, Ankith will be joining Stroud International Consulting as an Associate Consultant.

The high school teacher most responsible for his academic growth is Mr. Paul Hogan.  Ankith said “Mr. Hogan was not solely a teacher, but also my coach and personal mentor as I attended Jesuit High School. I first met Mr. Hogan as my Speech and Debate class teacher; his passion and enthusiasm in the subject elicited the very same from me. My excitement for his teaching style and the subject led me to join Jesuit’s mock trial team. While on the team, Mr. Hogan taught me confidence and professionalism, not solely for mock trial, but for everyday situations, and I still find myself applying what he taught me.”

The Cornell faculty member who most significantly contributed to his college experience, MAE’s Professor Charles H.K. Williamson.  “After getting to know Professor Williamson in fluid dynamics through many discussions after lectures and office hours, he became my source of guidance throughout my college career. I would approach him with updates on various other classes, job and internship interviews, and about plans for after graduation. Professor Williamson has given me many helpful pieces of advice, with the most memorable being: ‘when you don’t put your full effort in something it’s more like a chore you are trying to finish quickly. When you wholeheartedly put all your effort in something, you begin to enjoy it.’”

For more information on the Merrill Presidential Scholars Program:

Office of the Dean of Students
401 Willard Straight Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-8201
(607) 255-1115

back to listing