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April 29, 2009

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WORCESTER, Mass. – April 29, 2009 – Indraneel Sircar, a senior at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), was named today to the Second Team in USA Today’s 2009 All-USA College Academic Team program. Students awarded this recognition excel in scholarship and extend their intellectual abilities beyond the classroom to benefit society. Sircar’s achievement was nationally noted April 29, when USA Today announced the winners in the newspaper. 

In the All-USA College Academic Team program, the First, Second, and Third Teams of 20 each were selected by a panel of judges from approximately 500 students nominated by colleges and universities across the United States. Judges considered grades, leadership, activities, and, most importantly, how students extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom.

In addition to Sircar’s academic achievement inside the classroom, the newspaper recognized the mechanical engineering major for his out-of-the-classroom achievements and activities, including his studies involving liquid piston engines. With fellow student Cecil Piya, Sircar researched the required-for-graduation project, which investigated the use of a liquid piston to optimize the efficiency of gas compression. The project’s scope included identifying the optimal operating characteristics of the liquid-piston compressor and establishing a foundation for future research. His advisors were James D. Van de Ven and David Olinger, WPI’s professors of mechanical engineering.

"I am truly honored to be recognized by USA Today,” said Sircar, 22, of New Delhi, India. "I feel enormous gratitude for the support I have received from my professors, family, and friends during the last four years; this award is a testament to their role in helping me succeed.”

Sircar also noted how WPI’s intensive, project-based curriculum and programs played a strong part in his achieving that success. Sircar is founding president of Engineers Without Borders’ WPI chapter, and he has received many academic honors and community service awards from the university, including the Salisbury Prize earlier this week. Sircar, an Alpha Phi Omega brother, recently received yet another national honor, in the form of a Tau Beta Pi Fellowship -- a $10,000 award for graduate school next academic year (he will pursue a Ph.D. at Purdue University) – as well as the prestigious WPI Two Towers Award in 2008. He has also volunteered his time at the Heifer International Farm in Rutland, Mass., served as a Crimson Key tour guide, participated in the university’s Trustee Mentor Program, and played track and field and cross country at WPI.

"WPI has offered me numerous opportunities in the form of internships, scholarships, and research projects in the past four years that have encouraged and enabled me to pursue such a high standard of education,” Sircar explained. "My winning this award is simply evidence that WPI’s standards of undergraduate education are among the highest in the United States.”

Professor Van de Ven worked with Sircar as one of his course instructors, and as his project advisor. "In class, Indraneel’s performance was outstanding, both individually and as a member of his project team,” he said. "Indraneel has demonstrated excellent performance and teamwork, and has exhibited strong initiative in seeing through a challenging and research-intensive project. His combination of intrinsic motivation, curiosity, and high standards are highly productive and contagious to those around him. Indraneel is also passionate about creating a positive impact on society; he has a bright future ahead of him.”

"This is an outstanding honor for Indraneel and for WPI, as USA Today judged him among the very best students in the country,” said Peter Hansen, WPI associate professor of Humanities and Arts, and the university’s advisor to undergraduate awards. "Indraneel’s research on alternative energies, volunteer work at the Heifer Farm, and leadership of Engineers Without Borders all exemplify the best WPI tradition of combining ‘theory and practice.’”

Criteria for the All-USA College Academic Team were developed in consultation with USA Today’s education co-sponsors: the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Said USA Today Executive Editor John Hillkirk: "USA Today is pleased to be able to honor academic excellence and community service throughout the country.”