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Engineering students chosen for prestigious Mizzou ‘39

Every year, the Mizzou Alumni Association Student Board (AASB) names 39 outstanding seniors to the elite Mizzou ’39 class, and this year three engineers made the cut.

Anna McLaughlin, Matthias Young and Matt Wopata all received the prestigious distinction for their academic achievements, leadership and service. The AASB began Mizzou ’39 in 2005 as a tribute to benefactors who helped found the University in 1839. Seniors who have a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA may apply. University faculty and alumni sort through the applications and choose just 39 students to represent the best among thousands of graduating seniors.

From left to right are Jim Noble, Anna McLaughlin and Chancellor Brady Deaton.

From left to right are Jim Noble, Anna McLaughlin and Chancellor Brady Deaton.

Anna McLaughlin is an industrial and manufacturing systems major from Kansas City.

In addition to her engineering degree, McLaughlin began the Crosby MBA program last year as a dual-enrolled student and will finish in May 2011. She is a member of Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Kappa Alpha Theta, Tau Beta Pi and St. Pat’s Board. She also served as president of Alpha Pi Mu and acts as an Engineering Ambassador. She has acquired numerous scholarships for her achievements in the College of Engineering, and completed two internships with JE Dunn Construction Company, with a third lined up for this summer.

McLaughlin’s grandfather graduated from MU with an engineering degree in 1950.

“I remember driving across a bridge that he built and thinking that I would like to build things one day,” McLaughlin said. “I am a very logical person and like to problem solve, which makes engineering the perfect major for me.”

With extracurricular activities and outreach projects, McLaughlin said it’s challenging to find time to get everything done.

“Engineering isn’t just a major, it’s a lifestyle,” she said. “The work is challenging, but that’s why I like it. Everyone, including faculty, staff, students and alumni, have made this an amazing experience for me.”

McLaughlin said her selection to ’39 was a huge honor.

“I feel like I have given my heart and soul to the engineering school, recruiting, organizing and being enthusiastic and I’m flattered that I was chosen to represent us in this group,” she said. “But my family is the real reason I have been successful thus far in my life. They celebrate my successes louder than anyone.”

From left to right are Paul Chan, Matthias Young and Chancellor Brady Deaton.

From left to right are Paul Chan, Matthias Young and Chancellor Brady Deaton.

Matthias Young came from Pleasant Hill, Mo., to pursue a chemical engineering major and a minor in mathematics. He is the head chemical engineer for Mizzou Hydrogen Car Team, which had an exciting run at the Shell Eco-Marathon in Houston last month.

Young conducts undergraduate research on energy storage technology for the chemical engineering department. As president of MU Engineer’s Club, Young flipped the switches to light the Jesse dome green at the start of E-week in March, and also was one of this year’s king candidates.

Young is a member of Tau Beta Pi and was distinguished as a Munich Summer Fellow in 2007. He has been on the Dean’s List every semester.

After he graduates, Young will intern in research and development at Proctor and Gamble for the summer. Come fall, he will begin a chemical engineering graduate program at Colorado University in Boulder. He interned once before with P&G, and with the DAAD-RISE Internship program in Stuttgart, Germany.

“Engineers turn the theoretical into the tangible,” Young said. “I enjoy bridging the gap between imagination and reality. The cell phone, along with many other modern technologies, was prevalent in science fiction long before it became reality; engineers took the concept and made it real.

“I marvel at how many amazing technologies have been created by engineers,” he said. “I am excited for what I and others will contribute in the future.”

From left to right are Matt Wopata and Chancellor Brady Deaton.

From left to right are Matt Wopata and Chancellor Brady Deaton.

Matt Wopata is a chemical engineering major from Kansas City with a minor in computer science. He is a member of FarmHouse fraternity, QEBH, Omicron Delta Kappa, National Leadership Honor Society and Tau Beta Pi. In 2009, he was in the top 30 finalists for homecoming royalty. He completed the Honors Discovery Research Fellowship his freshman year.

“It was kind of in my blood to become an engineer,” Wopata said. “My grandpa, uncle, father and cousin are all mechanical engineers. I decided to go chemical engineering because I had a great chemistry teacher in high school and was pretty good at it.”

Wopata has worked as an intern for MidContinental Chemical Company in Olathe, Kan., and with Honeywell FM&T in Kansas City. Following graduation, he will begin a co-op for Solae LLC in St. Louis.

“I’m the type of person who becomes bored with something quickly, and doing the same thing at a job every day would drive me insane,” he said. “My favorite part of engineering is the variety of things covered in the coursework and the flexibility that an engineer has when choosing his or her career path.”