Santa Clara University


Dean Daniel Pitt

As our seniors scramble to complete their senior design projects, I like to look at the accomplishments of our amazing students. Every time one of our students does something great, we are all proud. Consider these examples.

SCU School of Engineering computer engineering major Tomas Bulka (along with teammates CJ Bridges and Pavel Pozdnyakov, both computer science majors from the College of Arts and Sciences) took fourth place in the first Microsoft Windows Challenge competition held on March 20. Twenty-nine finalist student teams designed and implemented a working prototype device for the theme: "Make the World a Safer Place." Microsoft's Windows Embedded Devices Group, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) and the Computer Society International Design Competition (CSIDC) sponsored the event.

The project, entitled "Mobile Digital Fingerprint Identification System," advised by Professor Daniel Lewis, implemented a mobile, digital fingerprint sensor. The system allows an authorized person, such as a childcare attendant, to verify a person’s identity. It is a simple system that is deployable anywhere. The system scans the finger, codes the fingerprint, and then compares it to the entries in a remote database to assure the person is who they say they are and has the proper authority. I got to try it out myself, and I even passed the test! The SCU team will go on to compete in the CSIDC Final Report Selection for the World Finals competition to be held June 27-29 in Washington D.C. For photos and additional information feel free to check out or

Shannon Flanagan, a civil engineering junior, has done so many great things I'm not sure where to start. She moved from Kansas, where she was awarded the Greater Kansas City Post of the Society of American Military Engineers Scholarship in 2002 and 2003, to study at Santa Clara and has been taking part in immersion trips without affecting the high level of performance in her studies. During spring break, she led a group of twenty-one students to build a house with Habitat for Humanity. She also volunteers at an area homeless shelter. Her summer internship last year with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave her real hands-on experience and helped her save money to study abroad in London. She is always ready to help. Through action, she has demonstrated the way the spirit of the poor and marginalized has touched her heart has allowed her to see her career as a calling to compassion.

On February 27, the Silicon Valley Engineering Council at its annual banquet awarded two SCU engineering students scholarships. The award winners are Scott Gunther, senior majoring in mechanical engineering, and Carol Reiley, senior majoring in computer engineering. They competed with 48 other applicants for six awards. More details about the scholarship can be found at

Many hundreds of people attended the banquet to see our students recognized. Among them were Steve Wozniak, the cofounder of Apple Computer who gave the keynote address, and Eric Drexler, the person credited with coining the term "nanotechnology." More information on the banquet can be found at What will our students do with their scholarships? Scott plans to study for his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and is trying to decide whether to attend Stanford University or the University of Washington. Carol plans to study for her Ph.D. in computer engineering and is pondering acceptances from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Colorado. Both have helped me in the University's Capital Campaign this year. Carol manages to find time to be president of our student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery and vice-president of our chapter of the Society for Women Engineers. And Scott serves as president of Pi Tau Sigma, the mechanical engineering honor society. Is there any doubt they will be outstanding ambassadors for the great engineering education we strive to offer at Santa Clara?

I would like to tell you about the two students whose project has produced such novel results that University is filing for patents, but I'm not permitted to disclose anything until the filing is completed. We don't do this very often and in any case do not allow overprotection of intellectual property to interfere with our external partnerships, but this case was compelling. I promise to tell you more about it later.