Recent URI engineering, computer science graduate awarded Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship

KINGSTON, R.I. – Aug. 4, 2022 – Raymond Turrisi, who graduated from the University of Rhode Island in May with dual degrees in mechanical engineering and computer science, has been awarded a Fellowship by The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi—the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Turrisi was among 62 recipients nationwide to receive a Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship.

As a Phi Kappa Phi Fellow, Turrisi, of West Warwick, is pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and applied ocean physics and engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutes Joint Program.

“I’m grateful to have been selected for the fellowship. Attaining a fellowship from an honor society such as Phi Kappa Phi means that not only did you join because you believed you aligned with the organization’s mission and core values, but after they had the chance to learn about you, they chose to recognize and sponsor your academic ambitions,” said Turrisi, who received an $8,500 award. “What is unique about the Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship is that it is a cash payment provided directly to the recipient. It is up to you to choose how you use it for whatever you believe best supports your graduate studies and career. The fellowships they provide to 62 recipients each year can be a pretty life-changing amount to receive right after graduating.”

The first in his family to go to college, Turrisi compiled an impressive list of achievements at URI, in the classroom and research lab and in extracurricular activities – all while balancing education with nearly a full-time work schedule.

During his sophomore year, Turrisi began marine robotics and automation research as part of the Smart Ocean Systems Lab at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography. Among his research projects, he designed a multipurpose autonomous underwater vehicle and developed a differential tilting thruster. He also took part in the URI Engineering Capstone Design program, a one-year team project in which students produce an engineering solution to a real-world challenge. Turrisi helped develop an automated malting system for a local small craft brewery.

Along with publishing two papers and winning numerous undergraduate research grants, Turrisi was honored with a Barry Goldwater Scholarship, one of the most prestigious undergraduate awards in the nation, and was awarded a URI Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and nine-month stipend to extend his research.

Among his extracurricular activities, Turrisi served as captain of the URI Hydrobotics club, helping to increase membership from 7 to 29 members, and as a project manager for the student club, URI Engineers for a Sustainable World. He also served as vice president of the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, for which he organized tutoring for more than 70 engineering students, at a time when most undergraduate classes were online because of the pandemic. His senior year, he was awarded a Tau Beta Pi graduate fellowship – one of about 30 awards given out annually among the more than 300 applicants from engineering schools around the U.S.

In June, Turrisi began a full assistantship in the joint MIT-Woods Hole doctoral program, among the most prestigious oceanographic research institutions in the world. He is working in the MIT Autonomy Lab, where he’ll be specializing in autonomy and robotics for marine applications.

“I hope to dedicate my career to the robotics field, in areas which improve how robots engage in the human world around our ergonomics without accommodation and perform tasks for which humans are unfit,” Turrisi said in a University profile in May. “Some tasks require fulfillment in challenging or hazardous environments, and require robust autonomy, such as extraterrestrial and deep-sea exploration. I’m most interested in the intersection of artificial intelligence, controls, and the animation of mechanical systems.” 

Founded in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines, with chapters at more than 325 colleges and universities in the U.S., its territories and the Philippines.

Since its creation in 1932, the Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship Program has become one of the society’s most visible and financially well-supported endeavors, allocating $649,000 annually to outstanding students for first-year graduate or professional study. The selection process for a fellowship is based on the applicant’s evidence of graduate potential, undergraduate academic achievement, service and leadership experience, letters of recommendation, personal statement of educational perspective and career goals, and acceptance in an approved graduate or professional program.

To see the complete list of 2022 Phi Kappa Phi Fellows, visit