SEAS honors alumni, corporate partners and students for giving back

Annual awards night recognizes Robert Hanley, Jr. with 2017 Delta Award; James Wehrfritz receives Volunteer Recognition Award

James Wehrfritz (left), recipient of the 2017 Volunteer Recognition Award, converses with engineering graduate students at the Fourth Career Perspectives and Networking Conference. Wehrfritz has played an active role in the event, which provides students with insight on their future career paths and connects them to industry leaders. Photo: Onion Studio

By Sarah D'Iorio

Published October 17, 2017

“Part of gratitude is looking back and trying to thank those who helped us get where we are. But I think another part of gratitude is sharing your time, treasure and talents. ”
Robert Hanley, Jr., 2017 Delta Award Recipient

About 75 people gathered at the Fourth Annual School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Awards Night to celebrate the school’s alumni and corporate partners in an evening event that featured an award ceremony, networking opportunities, and dinner.

Liesl Folks, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, led the presentation of awards, which included five awards to exceptional members of the school’s community, as well as student scholarships awarded on behalf of the engineering alumni association.

“Many of the people that are here tonight have made extraordinary contributions to their fields and to UB,” said Folks. “Tonight gives us an opportunity to reach out and recognize those contributions specifically and talk about the impact they’ve had on the community here at the university.”

Joining Folks in the presentation of awards was SEAS Director of Constituent and Alumni Relations Bethany Mazur. Three representatives from the UB Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association – including Kurt Bessel (president); John Coles (board member); and Dan Muffoletto (committee member) – also participated in the ceremony.

Delta Award: Robert Francis Hanley Jr., ISE BS ‘90 
Inspired by the engineering term meaning “the difference,” this award is given annually to a donor who has made a significant difference for the school, our students, and our culture through his or her generous philanthropy.

From left: Mark Karwan, Robert Hanley, Jr., and Liesl Folks. Photo: Onion Studio

A member of the Delta Society for over 20 years, Robert Hanley, Jr. has demonstrated continuous generosity to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In 2001, Hanley set up the Karwan/Thomas Industrial Engineering Fund, named in honor of the two professors, Mark Karwan and Warren Thomas, who were most influential during his time at UB. To date, it has supported 20 undergraduate industrial engineering students with their educational expenses.

“Part of gratitude is looking back and trying to thank those who helped us get where we are. But I think another part of gratitude is sharing your time, treasure and talents,” said Hanley.

Hanley’s expertise in Systems Applications and Products (SAP) includes materials management and quality management, mentoring and training of new SAP consultants, and substantial practical experience in supportable implementations and system upgrades. He has held a range of SAP positions, including Platinum Consultant and Director of Platinum Consulting. He has worked with a number of companies on their SAP implementations, including Quaker Oats (PepsiCo), Kimberly-Clark, and Wrigley.

Bob received his BS in industrial engineering from the University at Buffalo in 1990 and currently serves on the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department Advisory Board.

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award: David D. Cadigan, EE BS ’08
Awarded to a young alumnus or alumna in recognition of outstanding contributions to their career field, academic area, and/or community.

From left: Eileen Cadigan, David Cadigan, Catherine Cadigan, and Michael Cadigan. Photo: Onion Studio

A leader among his peers, David Cadigan is an enthusiastic and motivated alumnus, whose attitudes and actions have inspired others to reach the same levels. He currently serves on the UB Engineering Young Alumni Board as chair and is a member of the Delta Society. He also serves on the Young Alumni Experiential Learning committee, working with the students and school representatives to improve experiential learning at the university.

Cadigan is an advisory engineer with IBM in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he is a technical team lead  within the Poughkeepsie Memory Development Lab. Cadigan has held various leadership roles for both the Z and POWER systems brands within IBM. He is currently responsible for end to end memory subsystem test and product delivery for IBM Z systems. He also contributes to client briefings around IBM's commitment to Z systems test.

Cadigan earned a BS degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University at Buffalo in 2008 and an MS in electrical engineering from Columbia University in 2015. 

Volunteer Recognition Award: James J. Wehrfritz, CSEE BS ‘78
Awarded to an alumnus or alumna who has dedicated considerable personal time and resources for the benefit of our students, school, and UB community.

From left: Lauren Sassoubre, James A. Wehrfritz, Joseph Atkinson, Liesl Folks, James J. Wehrfritz, and Chris Connor. Photo: Onion Studio

James Wehrfritz frequently donates his time to students in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences — most often mentoring graduate students, participating in networking events and panels, and playing a key role in the school’s Career Perspectives and Networking Conference. He has also been instrumental in helping the school launch the SEAS 360° Professional Development Program, a training series for the school’s graduate students.

Wehrfritz started an international energy industry consulting firm Erie-Niagara Consulting LLC in 2014 after a long career with Exxon Corporation, beginning in 1978, and then Exxon-Mobil Corporation after the merger. At Exxon, he held management and professional positions, involving upstream (production), midstream (transportation), and downstream (refining) organizations, along with business development, planning, engineering, construction, marketing, and operations.

He earned his BS degree in civil engineering (water resources concentration) in 1978 and has completed graduate work at the University of Houston, as well as MBA courses.

Mentor of the Year Award: Robert G. Harrison, PE, MAE BS ‘83
Awarded annually to an alumnus or alumna who has dedicated considerable personal time and  resources for the benefit of our students’ development and education.

From left: Liesl Folks, Robert Harrison, and Gilda Harrison. Photo: Onion Studio

Robert Harrison has served as a valuable mentor to students at UB, most recently mentoring civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and chemical and biological engineering students on an interdisciplinary design project last spring. Harrison’s guidance provided the students with the required skills to work through a real world project.

“Every meeting with Bob was invaluable given the advice he shared from his years of experience, and it ultimately gave us professional insight to further understand how projects like these actually work in the field,” said Anthony Tintera, one of the students on the project. “His mentorship helped improve my understanding of what it means to be a practicing engineer.”

Harrison is vice president of engineering and construction at Transmission Developers, Inc. He has over 30 years of operating experience in diverse markets, including power (generation and transmission), industrial gases, and petrochemicals. A longtime Delta Society member, he currently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council and is the chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department Advisory Board. He holds a BS in mechanical engineering from the University at Buffalo and an MS mechanical engineering from the NYU.

Corporate Partner of the Year Award: Zodiac Aerospace
Awarded to a corporation that has invested significant time and resources toward the advancement of our school and our students.

From left: Robert Hyjak, Ashok Jain, and Kim Helmer with the Corporate Partner of the Year Award. Photo: Onion Studio

Zodiac Aerospace, a world leader in aerospace equipment and systems for commercial, regional and business aircraft, as well as helicopters and space applications, has been a dependable and influential corporate partner that has greatly impacted the success of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

For the past three years, the company has served as a Gold Level Engineering Partnership member, contributing over $10,000 to support engineering student clubs and events, as well as providing additional support that allowed the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space’s rocket design team to attend an international competition. Their employees have volunteered numerous hours to school events by speaking with students, sitting on panels and attending networking receptions to help prepare students for the workforce. In addition, Zodiac Aerospace has hired many UB graduates over the years.

Zodiac Aerospace employees Robert Hyjak, Ashok Jain (member of the Dean’s Advisory Council), and Kim Helmer (BS ’02, ME ’05, MBA ’15) accepted the award on behalf of the company.

UB Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association Scholarships
The UB Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association awards scholarships to engineering students who demonstrate leadership skills through involvement in campus and community activities as well as scholastic accomplishment. Established in 1992, the awards are funded through generous donations from the school’s alumni and friends.

Professor Howard Strauss Memorial Scholarship: Sravanika Doddi - Computer Science and Engineering, 2018
This award honors Howard Strauss, the founding faculty advisor of the UB Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association as well as a founding faculty member of the school. It is the association’s largest scholarship.

Portrait of Sravanika Doddi.

Sravanika Doddi

Sravanika Doddi, a BS/MS student in Computer Science, has been involved in research at UB since her freshman year with a particular focus on healthcare data, including analysis of datasets for projects as diverse as psychology and genetic predisposition. She is a key leader in several programs to help mentor women in the engineering field, including the Society of Women Engineers and Women in Science and Engineering. She serves as a SEAS Ambassador and has taken a leadership role in the Association of Computing Machinery, as well as in other numerous organizations at UB.

“The committee was particularly impressed with the breadth and depth of the activities that Sravanika has been involved in while also staying engaged with the community in a consistent and balanced manner,” said UBEAA Board Member John Coles.

Leaders in Excellence Scholarships
This scholarship recognizes “leaders in excellence” to encourage them to develop spirit and loyalty to the school.

From left: John Coles, Kurt Bessel, Madeleine Dewey, Lawreen Latif, Ladan Golshanara, Jessica Evans, Kellsi-Amber Ellis, Mostafa Sabbaghi, Lavone Rodolph, and Dan Muffoletto. Photo: Onion Studio

“The scholarship committee was very impressed with the caliber of students and their contributions to UB and community groups,” said Coles. “We believe these students have done an excellent job serving their peers and the Buffalo community, and are elevating the reputation of UB Engineering and Applied Sciences.”

The recipients are:

  • Madeleine Dewey – BS, Environmental Engineering, 2018
  • Sravanika Doddi – BS/MS, Computer Science, 2018
  • Kellsi-Amber Ellis – BS, Mechanical Engineering, 2019
  • Jessica Evans – BS, Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering, 2019
  • Ladan Golshanara – PhD, Computer Science, 2018
  • Lawreen Latif – BS, Computer Science, 2019
  • Seamus Lombardo – BS, Aerospace Engineering, 2018
  • Lavone Rodolph – PhD, Computer Engineering, 2018
  • Mostafa Sabbaghi – PhD, Industrial Engineering, 2018

The event was held in Davis Hall on October 5, 2017. It was sponsored by the UB Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.