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Ten scholarships to be presented at 2023 Cutting Edge Conference

By Genny Homyack

Congratulations to the winners of the 2023 Cutting Edge Scholarships. These scholarships include a one-year student membership to the UCA Division and full conference registration and travel reimbursement to the 2023 Cutting Edge Conference.

The creative idea that scholarships could extend beyond supporting tuition expenses to include conference attendance began brewing within the UCA Executive Committee sometime in 2017. Since then it has had great success in meeting its goal of encouraging and supporting more young members to attend UCA conferences. In the summer of 2021, this program was extended to include the Cutting Edge Conference. These student attendees have heard first-hand about the projects, opportunities, and rewards of a career in the field of tunneling and underground construction while having the unique experience of participating in educational and networking events with underground industry professionals.

Ashley Ricketts from the University of Florida is one of the 10 scholarship recipients attending Cutting Edge this year. She wrote, “Thank you so much for considering me for a UCA scholarship and offering the opportunity to attend the Cutting Edge conference. I am excited to absorb a wealth of knowledge and gain exposure to this fascinating industry.”

Mohammad Furquan from the University of Texas-Arlington, another recipient also expressed his thanks “I’m grateful for the exciting news. I appreciate the support from UCA and the opportunity to connect with professionals, learn from experts, and gain a deeper understanding of the latest developments in the field of Underground Construction. I’m looking forward to attending the conference, which is a significant milestone in my academic and professional journey. Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity.”

This year there were 39 applicants and 10 scholarship winners. The recipients are Alexander Maleski- University of Virginia, Shengfeng Huang- Stevens Institute of Technology, Piyush Patil -Purdue University, Onur Inal- University of Leoben / University of Pittsburgh, Suraj Bhandari- Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Roya Bakzadeh- New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Mohammad Furquan- University of Texas at Arlington, Ashley Ricketts-University of Florida, Sangram Sunil Chandgude-Purdue University, and Aseem Jain-Purdue University.

Leon Jacobs, UCA Vice Chair said “It has been great to see the Cutting Edge Scholarship program and student interest in underground construction grow over the last two years.  It is also nice to see submissions from an increased number of universities, another indication that more universities are presenting underground construction curriculum. The increased number of quality applicants makes it challenging to select the 10 recipients. The UCA Executive Committee appreciates the Young Members Committee including Victoria Encapera, Lane Boyd, Anuradha Khetwal and Rajat Gangrade for their time and dedication required to review and recommend the recipients. Congratulations to all the recipients and I look forward to meeting you at the Cutting Edge Conference in Austin, Texas.”

For more information about scholarships, contact

To register for Cutting Edge, click here:

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