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Laura Sawyer

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GRAND Skookum

Electrical Engineering

Laura Sawyer of Long Island, NY is incredibly focused on excellence in academics. She holds an impressive 3.89 GPA and is a mainstay on the President’s List. She has also been able to apply her classroom education to real world experiences. She’s partnering with Dr. Kwaczala on a project called GoBaby Go, where they redesign and assemble toy cars for use by children with disabilities. The project works with patients at Shriner’s Children’s Hospital to track their physical therapy progress in regards to their motor skills, muscle movement and trunk control. Laura is making continuous improvements that will help monitor the children’s progress as well as improve the cars.

She spent this past summer interning in New Mexico at the Air Force Research Laboratory, an experience that has been the most defining of her academic career. Laura was part of a project where she was responsible for developing the diagnostic tools to quantify nonlinear and thermal effects in optical fiber, utilizing this information to create novel micro-structured fiber designs, and participating in fiber amplifier power scaling experiments. The impact of her research was recognized with an award at the end of the summer as well as invitation to return and continue the research after graduation.

Laura has dedicated her spare time to extracurricular activities that give back to both the greater community and her WNE community. She has participated in the Alternative Spring Break program for two years, and this past year had the pleasure of serving as the Fundraising chair for the trip to New Orleans. She is excited to continue as chair again this year. In her hometown Laura volunteers with Just for Kicks, a soccer program for children with learning disabilities.

A Peer Adviser for the past three years, Laura had to convince herself to even submit her application the first year. Little did she know that PA was soon to be her strongest passion. In her second year as a PA, Laura found the role of Training Chair, preparing the new PA’s for their journey. This year she is a member of Steering Committee, which presents a new challenge in mentoring her peers, as well as supporting first year students.

After graduation she plans to pursue a PhD in either electrical engineering, physics or radiation oncology.