2024 Goff Prize Recipients

The annual John A. Goff Prize recognizes outstanding graduate students in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM), chosen by faculty based on their scholarship, resourcefulness, and leadership. This year, MEAM proudly celebrates two recipients: Sage Fulco, nominated by Kevin Turner, Professor and Chair in MEAM, and Jake Welde, nominated by Vijay Kumar, Professor and Nemirovsky Family Dean.

With a background in physics and engineering design, Sage Fulco brings a unique perspective to his doctoral research. Turner highlights Fulco’s research in the mechanics of materials, citing his seminal papers on the fracture toughness of architected materials. For instance, his investigations into the elastic-plastic fracture of such materials, as evidenced in his papers published in top mechanics journals like “Extreme Mechanics Letters” and the “Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids,” illustrate his significant contributions to the field.

Moreover, Turner commends Fulco’s leadership and collaboration skills, exemplified by his involvement in interdisciplinary projects. He collaborated with Zahra Fakhraai’s group in the Department of Chemistry to explore the properties of thin-film stable glasses, resulting in impactful publications in prestigious journals such as the “Journal of Materials Research” and “The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.”

In addition to his research, Fulco has demonstrated remarkable teaching capabilities. Turner highlights his role as a teaching assistant for ENM 2510, where he received accolades from students for his clarity in explaining complex concepts. Furthermore, Sage’s co-instruction of MEAM 5080 showcased his engaging lecture style, leading to exceptional course evaluations and student feedback.

The letter of recommendation for Jake Welde highlights his exceptional growth and contributions over the past eight years. Beginning as a freshman, he demonstrated a keen understanding of abstract concepts in analytical mechanics and control, coupled with innate talents in mechanical design and software development. His early projects, including the development of 3-D simulators for aerial vehicles and proofs for geometric properties, led to significant publications and presentations in prestigious conferences.

Welde’s research is evident in his exploration of mechanical systems evolving on principal bundles, which has provided insights into locomotion mechanisms for both robotic and biological systems. His work on motion planning and control for underactuated robotic systems, as well as his findings on the stability of cascades, have challenged prior assumptions and broadened our understanding of control mechanisms in aerial robotics.

Furthermore, Welde’s commitment to mentorship and inclusivity is commendable, as demonstrated by his efforts in mentoring underrepresented groups and guiding students from diverse academic backgrounds. He has played an active role in community service and academia, organizing events, mentoring young researchers, and excelling in teaching and pedagogy.

The John A. Goff Prize was established in honor of Dr. John A. Goff, former Dean of the Towne School and Asa Whitney Professor.