Being involved hasn’t been a problem for Ahmed Elnahhas, a native of Egypt living in Kuwait City, Kuwait, who received the Phi Kappa Phi Medal in April as the top graduating senior in the Colelge of Engineering at Virginia Tech. He graduates in 2018 with a 4.0 grade point average in mechanical engineering.
Elnahhas served as a peer mentor in the Galileo engineering living and learning community, was a member of the astrobotics team his sophomore year, and a member of the Virginia Tech Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team’s controls subteam the past two years.
“A few weeks ago I received a letter saying I’d been nominated [for the PKP award], so I went to the banquet to support others I know in Phi Kappa Phi, ” he said.
Elnahhas said it was a great surprise when his name was called.
As a first-year student, Elnahhas chose mechanical engineering because it seemed to be the most applicable to finding work after graduation and had the most curriculum flexibility to taylor courses to his interest.
Now ready to graduate, Elnahhas is glad he chose the major. “Research was the luckiest shot ever,” he explained. “I wasn’t interested in graduate school until I got a research opportunity [my junior year] with Dr. Shima Shahab [assistant professor] in biomedical engineering and mechanics, working on ultrasonic acoustic energy transfer.”
As he delved into research, Elnahhas realized he wanted to continue his education after graduation. He has accepted a slot with Stanford University, where he will begin his doctoral program in mechanical engineering this fall.
While the department will lose Elnahhas, his sister, Sara, is currently a first-year general engineering student. “She had talked about bioengineering,” Elnahhas said, “but I’ve suggested she go mechanical engineering with a biomedical minor. We’ll see.”
Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most selective all-discipline honor society with more than 330 chapters in the United States. The Virginia Tech chapter was founded in 1921 as the 25th chapter organized to “recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others,” according to the chapter’s website.