Riley Prewett Wins the Wells Prize

October 23, 2023

Riley Prewett '24
Riley Prewett

The Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences is recognizing three undergraduate students with the Robert L. Wells Prize, awarded annually to high-achieving seniors who also excel in a humanities field, as determined by the highest GPAs at the end of their junior year.

Prewett complements engineering skills with service and international experiences

In high school, Riley Prewett was initially unsure what field he wanted to pursue. He enjoyed chemistry and math, so chemical engineering seemed like the best of both worlds. He quickly found he chose the right major.

“My first semester here, I took Introduction to Sustainable Energy as a requirement for ChemE and that really sparked my interest in renewables,” says Prewett. “Over this past summer, I had an internship with Loureiro Engineering Associates working on energy audits for a variety of manufacturing facilities and constructing models based on data collected on site and from energy efficiency calculations. Now, looking at my future, I am exploring jobs in renewables.”

But from the start, Prewett also knew he personally needed to complement his STEM major with studies in the humanities. He had studied Spanish since the 7th grade and was “ecstatic” to continue studying the Romance language at the University.

“I have met some fantastic professors in the Spanish department and have grown my skills, especially in writing,” says Prewett. “Last semester, as the last class to finish my minor, I took ‘Buñuel, Dalí, Lorca: Surrealism in Spain and Beyond’ with Professor [Claudia] Schaefer and it is 100 percent one of my favorite classes I have taken at U of R so far.”
Prewett extended himself even further outside the classroom once the pandemic restrictions eased. During his sophomore year, he started volunteering with the STEM Initiative, a community service organization focused on exposing local Rochester grade school students to different STEM fields, and now serves as vice president. Also during his sophomore year, he became chair of the Boar’s Head Dinner, a campus tradition that dates back to 1934.
Last fall, he went on an exchange program to the University of Melbourne in Australia, an experience he says introduced him to amazing people and created great memories. Now, he serves as an ambassador for the Center for Education Abroad to help other engineering students experience similar perspective-changing opportunities.

Upon graduation, he hopes to spend the summer traveling Europe before launching his professional career in the fall.