MSU's Joe Thiel wins Rhodes Scholarship

Montana State University

Whether through the prism of student government, the Montana Board of Regents or Montana State University's chapter of Engineers Without Borders, MSU student Joe Thiel has a keen interest in how groups go through the process of making difficult decisions.

After being selected Saturday for a 2013 Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, the Idaho Falls, Idaho-raised Thiel said he wasn't sure where to begin analyzing the decision that makes him the third Bobcat in the past six years to earn the prestigious honor.

"It was pretty surreal," Thiel said of hearing the announcement that he'd been picked from such a talented group of students after a two-day selection process in Seattle. "I had very low expectations for having my name called. But to have (the selection panel) decide to make this investment in me is very humbling and just emphasizes how important it is for me to pay that investment forward."

When Thiel heads to Great Britain in October, he plans to pursue master's degrees in public policy and the economics of development. Thiel, who came to MSU as a Presidential Scholar, is set to graduate in May with a double major in chemical engineering and liberal studies.

Otto Stein, professor of civil engineering and faculty adviser to Engineers Without Borders at MSU, said he had little doubt that Thiel would get the scholarship.

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