Riley Konsella '17 named Watson Fellow

Publication Date

Riley Konsella ’17 will travel the world next year thanks to the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program.

This marks fifth straight year that Union has had a student named as a Watson Fellow. The children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM, and his wife, Jeanette K. Watson, established the program in 1967 to honor their parents’ longstanding interest in education and world affairs.

This year’s selection committee included: Doug Klein, the Kenneth B. Sharpe Professor of Economics; Jennifer Mitchell, visiting assistant professor of English; Kristina Striegnitz, associate professor of computer science; Shane Cotter, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Shilpa Darivemula ’13; Maggie Tongue, director of the Scholars Program; and Lynn Evans, director of National Fellowships and Scholarships.

Union’s most recent Watson winners include Htoo Wai Htet ’16, Warren Thompson ’15, Karlee Bergendorff ’15, Sean Day ’14 and Shiqing He ‘14. Other recent winners include Joshua Anderson ’13, Shilpa Darivemula ’13, Rahde Franke ’10 and James Morton ’10.

Konsella, a computer engineering major and astronomy minor, will receive a $30,000 stipend to travel the world for 12 months. Learn more about his project here:

Hometown: Lakewood, Colo.

Major: Computer Engineering

Minor: Astronomy

Activities: Concordiensis, Club Hockey, Film Committee and Mountebanks Theater

Project title: Stuck in Traffic: Steering Offbeat Transportation Solutions through Human Pushback

Proposed countries: Denmark, Norway, Rwanda, Singapore, Vietnam and Brazil

Description: “From cars and bicycles in Norway and Denmark to motorbikes and gondolas in Vietnam and Brazil, countries around the world each have distinct approaches to transportation. I will experience the peculiarities of these systems and how transportation is evolving through the emergence of new technologies. Projects like self-driving cars in Singapore and autonomous drones in Rwanda signal the beginning of rapid and controversial changes in transportation. My Watson Fellowship will be spent investigating the fascinating ways in which governments solve traffic and transportation problems, and how citizens react to these changes through advocacy or resistance.”

Learn more about the Watson Fellowship program.