Annual mechanical engineering event celebrates career success, student awards

The University of Delaware’s Clayton Hall was the place to be April 10 for mechanical engineering upperclassmen, alumni, faculty, parents and industry friends as they networked at one of the department’s highlight events of the year – Career Celebration and Senior Appreciation day.

Hundreds joined department chair Suresh Advani, George W. Laird Professor, to celebrate the career success of distinguished alumni and applaud the impressive achievements of the graduating class of 2015.

The event was also an opportunity to acknowledge Senior Design capstone course industry sponsors. By providing real challenges for students to address, these companies offer students real-world experience in taking a project from concept to reality while guiding the design process. In return, sponsors appreciate the “fresh look” that the students bring to an “old” engineering problem.

The department recognized four Distinguished Career Award honorees — Paul N. Costello, a 1966 graduate; Thomas C. Embley, a 1987 graduate; Vance V. Kershner, a 1979 graduate; and Brian K. Murphy, a 1990 graduate — who shared their experiences in a panel discussion about how UD prepared them for success.

Earlier in the day, returning alumni and parents toured the mechanical engineering department’s specialized laboratories, including the unique new Design Studio “hacker space” learning environment that fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and hands-on research.

‘Fabulous time to be an engineer’

To underscore its commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration, the department invited chemical and biomolecular engineering alumna Karen A. Fletcher, a 1981 graduate who received a master’s degree in 1982, to deliver the keynote address.

Fletcher, who is chief engineer and vice president of Engineering Facilities Services and Real Estate for DuPont, opened by saying that the current wave of baby boomers retiring, coupled with the creation of new jobs, makes this a “fabulous time to be an engineer.”

Fletcher shared her own career journey, including how, at one point she served as director and then vice president of investor relations at DuPont.

How does a chemical engineer become a vice president in a finance department? “That phone call came because of the different experiences that I had through my career,” she said. “As a science company, DuPont had financial whizzes, but needed someone with a technology background and business savvy because investors ask a lot of questions about the R&D pipeline, our technology and why we’re better than our competitor. “

Fletcher closed the evening with the following wisdom: “Keep going through those doors. Give it a shot. It’s amazing to find yourself in places you never thought you could be,” she said. “But most of all, give back.”

The department thanked James A. Hutchison III, a 1978 graduate who received an MBA in 1982, and Nathan Cloud, a 1963 graduate who received a master’s degree in 1973, and the Mechanical Engineering Alumni Relations Planning Team for their work in coordinating this memorable event.

Senior Design awards

Two Senior Design teams — Team Southco and Team Hologic — were honored with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Outstanding Project Awards.

Team Southco members Zach Marks, Tim Heider, Louis Agostino and Chris Gregan were recognized for their work on an elastomeric latch fatigue test machine for Southco, a Concordville, Pennsylvania-based producer of engineered access hardware solutions.

Team Hologic members Jennifer Vitlip, Zhengyuan Zhou, Zachary Presant and Andrew Skocypec won for the bonded electronics peel tester they devised for the Newark office of Hologic Inc., which develops, manufactures and supplies diagnostic products, medical imaging systems and surgical products used in women’s health.

Student awards

The following mechanical engineering students received awards in recognition of outstanding academic achievement:

Senior awards

W. Francis Lindell Distinguished Senior Awards, presented to Joseph S. Esposito and Rebecca L. Runkle.

Mary and George Nowinski Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, presented to Michael E. Schenk.

ME Alumni Outstanding Senior Award, presented to Kelsey A. Devlin and Garrett R. Swenson.

Junior awards

W. Francis Lindell Distinguished Junior Awards, presented to Hunter L. Bachman and Matthew J. Hersh.

W. Francis Lindell Mechanical Engineering Achievement Awards, presented to Robert L. Heebner and Cindy Weng.

ME Alumni Outstanding Junior Award, presented to Thien-Nam D. Dinh and Michael A. Townsend.

Departmental awards

ASME Delaware Section Outstanding Student Award, presented to Francis J. Fish.

ASME Student Section Award, presented to Ryan M. Quirk.

Outstanding Student Leader Awards, presented to Kathryn K. Ordemann and Benjamin L. Brust.

Outstanding Student Service Awards, presented to Elizabeth A. Gorman and Jessica E. Penman.

ME Alumni Outstanding Sophomore Award, presented to Jayant E. Rao and Rishay Nathoo.

Graduate Achievement Award, presented to Anahid Ebrahimi.

Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards, presented to Nathan M. Giguere and Diana R. Haidar.

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Award, presented to Adam Bitar.

Additional photos are available on Facebook.

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