Engineering student wins CEIA Student Achievement Award


Lane Fortenberry | February 28, 2024

Joni McCawley poses for a photo next to the Milwaukee Tool sign.
Joni McCawley

Joni McCawley, a junior electrical engineering major at Texas State University, was selected as the winner of the Cooperative Education and Internship Association (CEIA) Internship Student Achievement Award.

The award will be presented to McCawley at the CEIA Awards Banquet in Tampa, Florida, in April. The selection criteria included submitted reviews from the employers who supervised the students during their internship.

McCawley completed an internship at Milwaukee Tool in Brookfield, Wisconsin, in summer 2023. There, she was placed on a research and development team within the Front End Innovation division, performing machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence tasks. Over the course of her internship, she conceptualized and designed an image-processing algorithm to handle complex computer vision challenges.

“My task was challenging but exceptionally rewarding and defined a transformative moment in my career, leading to remarkable personal and professional growth,” McCawley said. “My participation on this team allowed me to gain matchless experience working with industry-leading technologies and remarkably talented professionals.”

Dominick Ropella, robotics engineer and McCawley’s supervisor at Milwaukee Tool, wrote in a letter of recommendation that he was impressed by her growth over the summer.

“Joni impressed many with her ability to work independently on novel and difficult tasks, as well as collaborate with a broader technical team,” Ropella wrote. “By the end of summer, Joni was constructing segmentation pipelines that went far beyond my expectations. Joni had just finished her sophomore year of undergraduate studies but was independently performing tasks like someone with many more years of experience.”

McCawley was nominated by Elisa DeFord, career educator for the College of Science and Engineering, and Michelle Londa, Ph.D., co-op program coordinator and associate professor of practice in the Ingram School of Engineering.

“This award is not only a great accomplishment for Joni, but it also shines a spotlight on the quality of the programs at Texas State and the capabilities of our students,” DeFord said. “The banquet will be attended by hundreds of higher education professionals and employers who will all get to see how great she is, as well as how great Texas State is."

CEIA is a national organization considered to be the leader in work-integrated learning that provides opportunities for professional development while advocating for best practices in co-ops, internships, and other forms of experiential education.

Visit the Ingram School of Engineering’s Cooperative Education Program website for more information on their offerings.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922