UCF Scholar Named 2017 Goldwater Scholar

Posted by on Thursday, April 13, 2017 20:43 - 0 Comments

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Joey Velez-Ginorio, a UCF junior majoring in Computer Engineering with a minor in Mathematics, has been named a 2017 Goldwater Scholar. Joey is both a McNair Scholar and a Honors in the Major student.  Joey is also a participant in the NSF funded Career Advancement Mentoring Program for Young Entrepreneurs and Scholars (CAMP-YES). His research, which is within the field of Artificial Intelligence, has focused on developing an algorithm that allows machines to interpret specific human behavior that researchers and scientists have been attempting to engineer for decades.

Joey has conducted research across two machine learning labs at UCF.  Joey notes “the mentors I’ve met through UCF have really made the experience special. I owe them so much for where I am now.” His efforts led to a National Science Foundation summer research experience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) within the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines. He has since been invited back and is currently a visiting student at MIT in order to continue his research.

Joey’s academic path has not been without challenges. After a difficult semester early in his undergraduate career, Joey began to dedicate himself to school and learning in a new way.  His grades improved, he got involved in research, and joined the McNair Scholars program.  A new world of opportunities opened up for him, and now he looks forward to a bright future doing what he loves.  “Ultimately I want to inspire other students who are underrepresented or who have been put off course by personal troubles to persevere and know that if you dedicate yourself wholly to something, that others will take notice.” Joey credits the McNair Scholars Program with giving him direction and guidance towards his goal of becoming a faculty member.  Joey’s favorite quote is by Toni Morrison, “The function of freedom is to free someone else.”  Joey says that he plans to use academia to serve this function of freedom. He notes, “without the McNair program, I would have lacked the means to make this a reality. Because of this, McNair means everything to me”.

The Goldwater Scholarship, established in 1986 by Congress to honor the lifetime achievements of Senator Barry Goldwater, is the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the fields of natural sciences, mathematics and engineering in the United States. It aims to identify students of outstanding ability and potential and encourages them to pursue advanced study and research careers.

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