Research on autonomous robots, nanowires and 3D models of human bones make up highlights of Ruth Chelsea Diroff’s undergraduate career at Tennessee Tech University and led to her selection as this year’s winner of the university’s most prestigious student award.
Diroff, a senior mechanical engineering major, is this year’s recipient of the Derryberry Award. Established in honor of Everett Derryberry, who retired in 1974 after 34 years as president of the university, it is presented annually to a graduating senior who has exhibited scholastic attainment arising out of moral and intellectual integrity; successful campus activity where participation indicates a commitment to good citizenship, interest in one’s fellow person, and instincts for leadership; and physical vigor as shown by fondness for and success in sports.
Diroff took advantage of several undergraduate research experiences. At TTU under the guidance of Stephen Canfield, she researched the use of autonomous robots as therapy tools for children with disabilities. She participated in the University of Notre Dame’s summer nano-bio research program and was part of a research team at the Center for Musculoskeletal Research Lab in Knoxville.
In addition to her research, Diroff served a summer internship at United Launch Alliance in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
She took on multiple leadership roles at the university, serving as president of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society and treasurer and fundraising chairperson for the Society of Women Engineers.
At TTU, Diroff won the Marie Ventrice Engineering Scholarship in addition to the Mechanical Engineering Transfer Scholarship. As a transfer from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, she also received several awards at UTK, including the SWE “Most Active Member” award in 2008. She was also a four-year KFC Colonel’s Scholars Program recipient.
As an athlete, Diroff has completed several half marathons and she has been active in intramural flag football, volleyball, soccer and ultimate Frisbee.
As a volunteer, Diroff assisted with tutoring and supported TTU’s Engineering a Future. She also worked through the Society of Women Engineers to help raise children’s interest in science and mathematics with a special event at the Cookeville Children’s Museum.
Diroff, a graduate of Father Ryan High School, is the daughter of Greg Diroff and Ann Diroff and granddaughter of Bill and Connie Derrick of Nashville.