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University of Tulsa senior Kirk Smith named Rhodes Scholar


TU Senior names Rhodes Scholar

TU’s 2017 Rhodes Scholar Kirk Smith (left) and his mentor, Todd Otanicar, a TU mechanical engineering professor

Kirk P. Smith, a University of Tulsa mechanical engineering senior, has been awarded a 2017 Rhodes Scholarship – one of only 32 recipients in the nation. The honor was announced Sunday, following two days of interviews.

“This is a momentous occasion for The University of Tulsa, for our College of Engineering and Natural Sciences and for Kirk. He exemplifies the best of what TU seeks to inspire in each of its students: intellectual curiosity, integrity and service in a changing world,” said university President Gerard Clancy.

Rhodes finalists are selected for their outstanding scholarly achievements, character, commitment to others and potential career leadership. Rhodes Scholars receive two years of full financial support to pursue a degree at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

A St. Louis, Mo., native, Smith is a captain of the Golden Hurricane cross country team, a TU Presidential Scholar, an inaugural member of TU’s Global Scholars program and a National Merit Scholar. At Oxford, he plans to pursue a doctorate in engineering science.

“Kirk’s ambition to engineer energy sustainability is already hitting stride. His research in Tulsa, Colorado and Germany is evidence of his creativity, collaborative skills and persistence,” said TU Provost Roger Blais. “Kirk’s research mentors testify to the depth and scope of his work in their labs as well as his readiness to take on graduate studies in any competitive setting in the states or overseas.”

As a scholarship recipient of the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD), he was invited to participate in the Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE Germany) program in the summer of 2016. He interned at Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt and assisted doctoral students with thesis research on polymeric solar thermal collectors.

“We are proud of Kirk’s accomplishments thus far and look forward to seeing what the future brings. His research holds great promise for the energy industry and long-term renewable energy efforts,” said James Sorem, dean of TU’s College of Engineering and Natural Sciences.

Smith is TU’s first Rhodes Scholar since 1988. University of Tulsa students and alumni have won more nationally competitive awards than all other Oklahoma colleges combined.