Former Pellissippi State Community College student Eleanor (Lily) Turaski of Blount County has been awarded the Tau Beta Pi Senior Engineering Cup, the highest honor from the Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Engineering, recognizing academic excellence, leadership and service.
Turaski was selected from approximately 2,000 graduating engineers for this honor and will receive an engraved cup and $5,000 in recognition of her accomplishments.
During high school, Turaski took multiple classes at Pellissippi State through the College’s dual enrollment program, which allows high school students to take college classes for credits they can then transfer to four-year institutions. In addition to taking dual enrollment classes, Turaski was a member of the College’s Science Club and participated in a research project with other Pellissippi State Chemistry students.
Turaski also participated in many academic contests sponsored by Pellissippi State for local middle and high school students — the Math Contest, the Science Bowl and the Science Olympiad. She said she is grateful Pellissippi State offered so many opportunities for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math fields.
“The courses I took at Pellissippi State gave me a strong foundation to be successful in my STEM classes at Georgia Tech,” said Turaski, who was home–schooled through high school and graduated in May 2017. “I am so thankful for professors Patricia Zingg and Rachel Glazener who made learning Chemistry fun!”
“Lily was an outgoing and inquisitive student from day one in my course,” said Glazener, an associate professor of Chemistry. “It was a joy to have her in my class and field her array of questions about chemistry. I have no doubts that with her dedication to the STEM field she will do great things in life!”
Turaski won a full scholarship to Georgia Tech, where she is a Stamps President’s Scholar graduating in May 2021 with a 4.0 GPA. She is majoring in Materials Science Engineering with a minor in Chemistry.
In addition to excelling in the classroom, Turaski has seven semesters of research experience in two Georgia Tech labs and has presented her research at four national conferences. For her research acumen, Turaski was selected for the prestigious Goldwater Fellowship in 2019, which recognizes the top students across the country participating in STEM research.
“I have really enjoyed my classes at Georgia Tech,” Turaski said. “Georgia Tech is a special place, where you are surrounded by incredibly talented and diverse people. I have learned so much not only from my classes and my professors, but also from my peers.”
As a sophomore at Georgia Tech, Turaski created an undergraduate leadership team for Women in MSE (Materials Science Engineering) to integrate with the graduate team, and she served as the first undergraduate president of the group. She also was instrumental in revitalizing the Material Advantage chapter at Georgia Tech, which was named one of the top five chapters globally in 2020.
In 2019, she founded the MSE Peer Partners Organization, which works alongside the Materials Science Engineering advising staff to help students with course scheduling, applying for internships and finding undergraduate research opportunities.
“She is a dedicated, thoughtful student, one who strives to build community and advocate for STEM women to magnify their voice,” said Mary Lynn Realff, associate professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech. “Turaski stands out among the thousands of students that have passed through my hands over the years just by how effective she has been in making the School of MSE and Georgia Tech a more inviting, inclusive and diverse community.”
Shortly after being named the winner of the Senior Engineering Cup, Turaski received a competitive fellowship from the National Science Foundation, which will pay for her to continue her studies at the graduate level. She will begin a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University in the fall, where she will focus on electronic materials.
Turaski is the daughter of Steven and DeeDee Turaski from Friendsville, Tenn. Her mother is a longtime adjunct instructor of Biology at Pellissippi State.