Kennesaw State engineering student earns prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

KENNESAW, Ga. | Apr 4, 2023

Kennesaw State University junior Derek Price II has been awarded a Barry M. Goldwater scholarship, presented each year to the nation’s top undergraduate scholars in the sciences, mathematics and engineering. 

Price, a mechanical engineering major from Stone Mountain, Ga., is one of 417 recipients selected this year and becomes the fifth Kennesaw State student to earn a Goldwater scholarship, joining Jiexi Liao in 2013, Biya Haile in 2019, Trae Dunn in 2020 and Angel Vasquez in 2022.

Price came to the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (SPCEET) with Zell Miller and Lockheed scholarships—and with an overwhelming enthusiasm for math and science. A meeting with fellow engineering students his first semester as a freshman set Price on his path toward research, which he pursued through KSU’s First-Year Scholars program. 

Derek Price II
Derek Price II

In Fall 2022 he joined the lab of professor Adeel Khalid in systems engineering, where he collaborated in the design and fabrication of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for a civil engineering company. Khalid said Price’s work ethic in the aerospace classes and with the aerial robotics competition team set him apart.

“He demonstrated that he could not only handle the upper-level engineering coursework efficiently but also excel in any course material presented to him,” Khalid said. “I was impressed by his willingness to work above and beyond what is required from him, and I am confident that he will be an asset to any organization he joins.”

Price also participates in the KSU Journey Honors College, where Dean Karen Kornweibel has had a front-row seat to watch Price grow into a top-flight researcher. 

“We are incredibly proud of Derek, who is the fourth Kennesaw State undergraduate—and third honors student—to receive a Goldwater since 2019,” she said. “Derek’s award is an excellent testament to his significant academic accomplishments, to KSU’s dynamic undergraduate research culture, to the dedication of faculty mentors across our institution, and to the efforts of our Office of National and International Scholarships and Fellowships.”

Michelle Miles, KSU’s director of national and international scholarships and fellowships, said that Price’s “drive to learn, to uncover and discover, is innate. Derek’s success is driven by a signature core strength and sustained by a sincere zest for learning. 

“His role on research teams is consistently that of an innovator and an actualizer. There is no doubt that his contribution to the field of aerospace engineering will be noteworthy. He is an outstanding young researcher, and I am delighted to support and celebrate his success.”


Price 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 Kennesaw Society of Black Engineers, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Price said he has loved math and science for as long as he has gone to school, and he wants to pass that love along to other minority students, hoping to inspire the next generation of underrepresented students to courageously pursue careers in STEM. He also plans to pursue a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and to continue his research into aeronautics, controls and robotics at a national laboratory.

“I would encourage undergraduates to challenge themselves and gain hands-on experience through research,” Price said. “KSU has so much to offer in terms of classes, research and extracurricular activities, and I’ve gained so much from participating fully.”

SPCEET Dean Ian Ferguson said Price exemplifies the excellence of the college’s students.

“Derek embodies the academic excellence of this college and has contributed in many ways, including participation in Student Competition Teams, as well as inspiring and supporting his peers at SPCEET,” Ferguson said. “Derek is one of many of our students whose achievements enable others to be outstanding student ambassadors who embody KSU’s vision of creating a student-centered culture through an exceptional educational experience focused on success.”

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by the United States Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. 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 is a great honor and a testament that shows hard work and dedication does pay off. This recognition has provided me with confidence to continue to pursue an impactful engineering career,” Price said. “I would like to thank the Office of National and International Scholarships and Fellowships, the Office of Research, SPCEET, KSU Journey Honors College, and all of the faculty members who supported me in this process and during my time as an undergraduate, as I would not be where I am today without them.”

–  Dave Shelles
Photos submitted 

Related Stories

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