Marko Djapic, Katrina Guido, Roger Kleinmann and Ian Porada will graduate first in the Stevens Institute of Technology Class of 2018. With a perfect GPA of 4.0, these accomplished students have attained the highest academic achievements of this year’s graduates. Djapic, Guido, Kleinmann and Porada spoke about their Stevens experiences, both on- and off-campus, meaningful research opportunties, non-academic interests and future plans.
Marko Djapic of Goshen, New York will receive a bachelor’s in chemical biology. After graduation, Djapic will pursue a career in dentistry and attend Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in the fall. It’s a career choice that was inspired by his mother, who practiced as a dentist in her native Serbia.
“What I like about dentistry is that it’s technically challenging work, but it has a significant artistic component to it as well.”
He gained valuable insight into the profession while working at Innovation Dental Studio in Jersey City, New Jersey and job shadowing Dr. Tomas Torres, a dentist in his hometown.
As a student researcher, Djapic worked extensively with Stevens professor Sesha Alluri synthesizing analogs of physovenine with the goal of producing novel acetylcholinesterase inhibitors for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
Djapic is not the first in his family to attend Stevens. That distinction belongs to his older brother, Luka Djapic ’15 M.S. ’16.
He is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the national health pre-professional honor society, and the Stevens Health Professions Club. His involvement in a wide range of campus activities outside the classroom reflects his varied interest in art, culture and sport.
He served as president of the art club and played intramural basketball.
A food enthusiast, Djapic says one of the best things about living in Hoboken and the greater Hudson County area was exploring the diversity of the region’s eclectic dining scene. He shared this passion with the Stevens community as a regular contributing writer for The Stute’s food column “Cuisine Corner.”
He is also passionate about jazz and was a member of the Stevens Jazz Band. Citing jazz greats Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus among his favorites, he says his love for the “expressive genre” began when he picked up the bass at 13 years old.
“With jazz you can bend the rules to create something you want. What comes from that flexibility is great, not just individually, but when you’re playing with other people.”
After graduation, Djapic plans on traveling to Serbia and enjoying his summer with family.
Katrina Guido of Macungie, Pennsylvania will graduate with a bachelor’s in physics. After graduation, she will pursue a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Ohio State University, with a research focus in brain implants for the treatment of epileptic seizures and other movement-related disorders.
Her research interest stems from a fascination with the human thought process. She says she wants to work on research that will help contribute to society, whether it’s in academia or industry.
Guido gained valuable work experience from summer internships at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, working on graphene detectors for terahertz radiation, and at Penn State University, where she built an apparatus to determine the electromagnetic properties of various materials.
She thanks Stevens faculty for helping her identify her post-graduate goals.
“Professor Harry Lenzing taught my first upper-level electromagnetics course and was instrumental in helping me get the Penn State internship. It was through that experience that I became serious about getting a Ph.D. in electrical engineering.”
Guido will become the second member of her family to earn a Stevens degree. Her uncle, Anthony LiCausi, graduated with his master's in systems engineering in 2009.
She is also a scholar athlete, having competed on the Stevens women’s tennis team for three years. Outside of academics, she cites her activities as a resident advisor for freshmen and upperclassmen as her most profound campus experience.
“Being an RA introduced me to many of my friends, and gave me the opportunity to become more involved on campus than any other activity or organization could have.”
Guido belongs to two honor societies that recognize academic and non-academic achievements: Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society, and Rho Alpha Sigma, the residence life honor society. Citing the importance of having a community for women who support other women, she co-founded the Alpha Phi chapter at Stevens.
After graduation, but before beginning her Ph.D. career at Ohio State, Guido plans to delve into her passion for baking by working at a bakery this summer, either near her home in Pennsylvania or in Columbus, Ohio.
Roger Kleinmann of Hamilton, New Jersey will graduate first in the Stevens Class of 2018. He has earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanical engineering with a 4.0 GPA. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in robotics technology, potentially in the area of defense, additive manufacturing or healthcare.
Kleinmann grew up with a strong interest in art and an affinity towards math and science. While he had planned on attending school for illustration, his focus shifted to engineering when he joined the robotics club in high school. He still practices art, and credits this background for helping him become a better engineer.
“People may not realize that art is very important to effective engineering. It brings a certain amount of creativity to the table, and that creativity, I find, is indispensable to what I do as an engineer.”
Kleinmann was a Stevens Scholar and a recipient of numerous scholarships, including the American Bureau of Shipping Scholarship, the Society of American Military Engineers Scholarship, the Edwin A. Stevens Scholarship and the FIRST Robotics Scholarship.
He is also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Pi Tau Sigma and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity.
He has built an impressive portfolio of work experiences, but considers his experience as a student teaching assistant as perhaps his most meaningful.
“I came away from my two years as a TA broadening my knowledge of electrical design and contributing to the education of students. So that was very valuable and rewarding for me.”
Having suffered from plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis, he counts among his notable research experiences his involvement in the design and construction of a cable-driven ankle exoskeleton to aid in the rehabilitation of stroke patients.
For Kleinmann, engineering is not only a career but a passion. Even in his free time, he takes on design challenges, from designing an experiment that was launched in a NASA rocket to building his own 3D printer.
As his Stevens journey comes to a close, he is thankful for the broad support and encouragement from faculty in the mechanical engineering department.
“They really helped me figure out my path and made a difference in my education.”
Ian Porada of Evergreen, Colorado will graduate with a bachelor’s in computer science. After graduation, he plans to pursue graduate studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada with a research focus in artificial intelligence, machine learning and reinforcement learning.
The computer science talent is a Stevens Scholar and a member of Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the international honor society for the computing sciences.
As a Stevens Scholar, Porada was afforded graduate-level research opportunities. Among his student research experiences, Porada worked closely with Stevens faculty in research areas involving stereo vision and 3D computer vision technologies.
Those research experiences, together with a stellar academic record and a strong interest in artificial intelligence, helped Porada win a prestigious scholarship named in honor of Google Research Director Peter Norvig, a pioneer in artificial intelligence and machine learning research.
In addition to winning the scholarship, Porada had the chance to meet Norvig.
"It was kind of surreal," he says, "He wrote our textbook, the AI textbook almost every school uses. He’s a major figure in the field."
Porada gained valuable work experience from a summer internship at Amazon, working in the company’s Seattle headquarters as a member of the demand forecasting team. It was an experience that gave Porada an insight into the workplace culture at the behemoth retailer.
“They try to have each team function as a startup, and that’s why they have a lot of small, really cool projects, like Amazon Go.”
Outside of class, the Colorado native has enjoyed experiencing the endless cultural and entertainment options in the Hoboken-New York City area, especially its music scene.
“I could go to a different concert every weekend. I feel like Hoboken has to be one of the best locations for a college. It’s as close as you can get to New York City while still having a true campus experience.”
Stevens' 146th Commencement will be held on May 23, 2018. For more information, visit Commencement 2018.