Schowalter Award Winner Says Get Involved; Follow Your Passion


Bentic Sebastian
Bentic Sebastian
Winner of Engineering at Illinois’ William R. Schowalter Award, Aerospace Engineering undergraduate Bentic Sebastian has a mission to “inspire other younger students to get involved and follow their passion.”

Sebastian, who will complete his degree in May 2015, currently serves as the director of the Aerospace Undergraduate Advisory Board (AEUAB) and as treasurer of the Illinois Robotics in Space (IRIS). It has been through his student blog posts for International Student and Scholar Services, however that he has most connected with students.

Sebastian’s blogs share the international student experience with topics that he was curious about as a freshman. He has written about Thanksgiving, Midwest winters, career fairs, making good conversations, the Freshman 15, and how to use technology effectively to enhance student performance.

Sebastian also has a passion for music, which he has pursued at the university by joining the accapella team Illini Awaaz. He has been a member for a year, singing as a baritone for the team.

“Most students think that it is impossible to follow their interests during college,” Sebastian said. “I hope to show that it’s possible, even necessary, to pursue them for the most wholesome university experience.”

This year Sebastian has been involved in the Senior Design Mentorship Program (AE 199 SDM). The program allows selected freshmen to serve on the AE Senior Design Team, contributing to the projects through three tasks. Last year, he helped modify the grading rubrics for the course to serve the interests of both the freshmen and seniors.

Also this year, he is the first line of communication between the freshmen, the senior team members, and the professors for the course.

Sebastian is interested in control systems, specifically AE applications like drones and quadcopters. He hopes to use his skills in the future to lead technical teams to build robust vehicles, by “inspiring team members to think of the big picture as motivation for their current tasks.”

William R. Schowalter served as the dean of the College of Engineering for 12 years. Established by Engineering Council upon his retirement in 2001, this award acknowledges his outstanding character, creativity, and enthusiasm, as well as his dedication to students and faculty. The recipient of this annual award reflects those traits through their leadership, creativity, encouragement of others, and dedication to the college.