Nicoll Presented with CSU Trustee Award and Scholarship

Philip Nicoll is a mechanical engineering major at Cal Poly Pomona.


Philip Nicoll, a resident of La Crescenta and second-year student in applied mathematics at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, has been awarded a 2023 CSU Trustees’ Scholarship Award for Outstanding Achievement. The awards are presented annually to one student from each California State University campus based on academic achievements, financial need, excellence in community service and personal hardship.

Nicoll will receive a $7,000 scholarship as the Edison International Scholar. In announcing the scholars, the CSU noted Nicoll’s journey overcoming adversity and financial challenges while developing resiliency and strong emotional intelligence. 

He credits Crescenta Valley High School teachers Mr. [Arin] Gregorian (math) and Mr. Samuel Levering (economics and social studies) for inspiring students to reach higher and “investing their personal time to teach above and beyond the standard curriculum.”

At Cal Poly Pomona, Nicoll is an active member of the Student Innovation Idea Labs where he has learned soldering and 3D printing, and the Rose Float team where he is in his second year as a member of the design team where he will be “welding, machining, shaping, or anything else where I can operate as a valuable part of the team.”

This year, he has joined another unique hands-on learning opportunity at Cal Poly Pomona, the Bronco Space club. As a member of the Bronco Ember team developing a CubeSat wildfire detection system, he will be working on development of the AI model used to extract infrared information from high altitude imagery helping the system differentiate between what may be a nascent forest fire, a small campfire or sun glare. The satellite has already had two high altitude tests flights sponsored by NASA.

As a counter-balance to a full class schedule and team projects, Nicoll is grateful for the university’s rock-climbing community.

        “Rock climbing has really helped me to de-stress this last year with all of the academic pressure,” he said. “The team is incredibly welcoming.”

The CSU Trustees’ Awards for Outstanding Achievement is the highest student distinction within the CSU and were announced at the September meeting of the university’s board of trustees.

        “The life stories of these extraordinary students who have triumphed over personal hardships to stand among the university system’s most distinguished scholars are a testament to the transformative power of public higher education,” said CSU Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester. “Through donor support, the CSU is able to provide students who have faced educational barriers the opportunity to pursue a college degree and apply their life experiences and classroom knowledge to elevate their communities and our great state.”