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Class of 2020 Founder's Medalist


The Founder’s Medal was endowed by Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt and signifies first honors for each graduating class from Vanderbilt’s schools. The gold medal has been awarded since 1877. The recipient is named by the dean after consideration of faculty recommendations as well as grade point averages of the year’s summa cum laude graduates. 



Luke David Neise
Wildwood, Missouri

Luke D. Neise , from Wildwood, Missouri, is this year’s Founder’s Medalist for the  School of Engineering . He is graduating with a bachelor of engineering. A double major in mechanical engineering and classical civilizations, Luke’s goal is to work on the next generation of challenges in space engineering and space robotics. He served as payload lead for the Vanderbilt Aerospace Design Laboratory and was named a NASA Student Launch Initiative National Champion. With his fellow lab members, he researched and implemented a drone design for NASA to demonstrate improved planetary sample collection missions. He also helped bring the VADL mission to local schools through outreach presentations and experiments and served as president of the Vanderbilt chapter of the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society. Neise was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and is set to begin graduate study in the aeronautics and astronautics master’s program at Stanford University.