Engineering student receives Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship

KENNESAW, Ga. | May 9, 2019

Honors student second KSU recipient to receive prestigious STEM award

For the second time in school history, a Kennesaw State University student has received the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, given annually to highly qualified students planning to pursue careers as scientists, mathematicians or engineers.

Biya Haile, a sophomore Honors College student studying mechanical engineering, was among the 496 college students to receive the award this year. He was selected among a pool of about 5,000 students representing 443 institutions across the country, and joins Jiexi Liao, a 2013 recipient, as the only Kennesaw State awardees. 

“We are proud of Biya and all that he has accomplished,” said KSU President Pamela Whitten. “The Goldwater Scholarship is awarded to the brightest minds across the country, and Biya has distinguished himself  through his tireless research and involvement in student organizations. We look forward to being a part of his continued growth and are excited for what the future holds for this impressive young man.”

Biya Haile

Originally from Ethiopia, Haile moved to the U.S. in 2015 and immediately enrolled at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, Ga. Though he initially struggled to learn English, he overcame the language barrier to graduate in the top 5% of his senior class. While visiting colleges as a high school senior, Haile said he immediately fell in love with KSU’s campus culture and wealth of academic resources, particularly the access to faculty members with extensive academic and industry experience.

Since arriving at KSU in August 2017, he has been rooted in research projects involving aerospace engineering and the application of nanotechnology, presenting his work at numerous events including the 2018 National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure Research Experience for Undergraduates Convocation and the 2019 National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Haile currently works as a student assistant at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology and is an assistant mechanic at AeroVentures Flying Club. A student pilot seeking a private pilot license, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in aerospace engineering or materials science.

Haile also belongs to numerous student organizations, including the KSU Aerial Robotics Competition Team, the University chapter of the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Experimental Aircraft Association. He previously served on the Student Government Association and the International Students Association.

“Biya represents the very best our institution has to offer,” said Kathy Schwaig, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “As a University, we are proud to offer a rich research environment where our undergraduate and faculty researchers work hand in hand. Biya has taken full advantage of those tremendous opportunities as a student, and he serves as a strong model of success for his fellow classmates.”

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by the United States Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater. The purpose of the program is to provide a continuing source of highly-qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields.

“Receiving this scholarship demonstrates that hard work and never losing sight of your dreams will always help you reach your goals,” Haile said. “This isn’t just my achievement. It is also that of the faculty members who assisted me through the process, and the credit goes to them. By receiving this award, I hope that others are encouraged to do the same.”

– Travis Highfield

Submitted photo

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit