First Senior Class Gift Award Recipient Named

First Senior Class Gift Recipient Kyle Dalal with SCG committee

The first award from the Texas ChE Senior Class Gift Endowment has been presented to senior Kyle Dalal for his outstanding accomplishments as a class tutor for CHE 353 Transport Phenomena.

The Senior Class Gift was started in 2013 by six chemical engineering seniors who pledged $5,000 over five years to seed an endowment to fund  incentive awards for teaching assistants (TA) or tutors and undergraduate research opportunities  within the department. Now alumni of the department, founders Daniel Horne, Colin Gentry, Matthew Ferris, John Wilbur, Camila Bastidas and Dan Dietz have worked together since 2013 to encourage gifts from other graduating seniors to support the endowment to benefit all chemical engineering undergraduates. With strong student support, the fund reached more than $70,000 in pledges this year, making its first payout or award possible.

“I’m proud to be a tutor for this department and I’m incredibly excited for the future of the chemical engineering department and how it will be affected by this award,” Dalal said.

Tutors and teaching assistants are nominated for the award by students they teach. Students that nominated Dalal described him as selfless, engaged and truly dedicated, referencing stories of when Dalal “always made up office hours for the ones he missed, and never failed to schedule hours despite his own course load” and “instead of just going through each problem and telling us how to do it, he asked us questions about how we would approach a certain problem and encouraged us to take an active role in our learning”.

Dalal held an integral role in the success of the students he taught, with some of the nominators stating “I’m not sure I would have gotten through Transport without Kyle,” and “I wish he could tutor every other class in my future.”

First Senior Class Gift Recipient Kyle Dalal with SCG committeeAfter nominations were collected, the endowment committee, including the six founders and current senior representative Shelley Broman, chose the first award recipient from top candidates.

“My favorite part of tutoring is seeing the light bulb go off in the heads of the students I teach,” Dalal said. “Often, I use simplified metaphors to get the concept across. When a student understands how the metaphor relates to the physical phenomena, there is a look of astonishment as they understand both. It’s a great feeling.”

“In addition to his teaching style there are also multiple accounts of him going above and beyond his required duties and also fulfilling his obligations in the face of emergencies and course loads,” Texas ChE alumnus Matthew Ferris said.

Daniel Horne, who had the initial idea for the endowment, was inspired by meeting department namesake Dr. John McKetta Jr. at his 95th birthday party in 2010 and learning about the story behind the Challenge for McKetta.  The campaign recognized McKetta’s dedication to students and decades of philanthropic efforts for education by naming the department in his honor.  The challenge, which was officially completed in April 2016, raised more than $28 million for future Texas ChE students. Initial senior class gift donations counted towards the Challenge for McKetta.

“The six founders really want to stay involved and encourage others to give back,” Horne said. “We really love the department and appreciate opportunities this program has given us—we want to be involved for the rest of our lives. This is a way for us to do that.”

This fund will honor, and represent, every year’s senior class by supporting tutors and teaching assistants that go beyond what is expected of them. Once the fund reaches $500,000 it will also provide undergraduate research opportunities.

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