SEAS honors alumni, corporate partners and students for giving back

Annual awards night recognizes Tom and Sharon Wilde with 2018 Delta Award; ValueCentric receives Corporate Partner of the Year Award

by Nicole Capozziello

Published November 9, 2018

On the evening of October 4, 2018, Slee Hall was abuzz with people gathered to honor exceptional alumni, students and corporate partners for the Fifth Annual School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Awards Night.

“I’m reminded tonight that everything we do depends on the community of amazing alumni, faculty, students, and staff that we’ve built.”
Liesl Folks, dean
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Liesl Folks, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), led the presentation of awards, which included five awards to members of the school’s community, as well as student scholarships awarded on behalf of the UB Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association (UBEAA).

“I’m reminded tonight that everything we do depends on the community of amazing alumni, faculty, students, and staff that we’ve built,” said Folks. “I’m humbled and inspired every day by the things that our students, past and present, accomplish and am so glad to have so many people here tonight to bear witness to their contributions.”

Joining Folks in the presentation of awards was SEAS director of constituent and alumni relations Bethany Mazur. John Coles, UBEAA board member, also participated in the ceremony.

Tom Wilde received the Delta award.

Delta Award recipients Tom and Stephanie Wilde talk with Todd Brooks (right) prior to the award ceremony. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Delta Award: Stephanie and Thomas G. Wilde, BS ’80 industrial engineering
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.

Members of the Delta Society for more than a decade and donors to UB for over 26 years, alumnus Thomas Wilde and his wife Stephanie have shown continuous dedication and generosity to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Their endowed fund, the Thomas and Stephanie Wilde Chair’s Excellence Fund, supports the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering by providing student scholarships, contributing funds for faculty, and rehabbing labs and classrooms.

In his over 30-year career, Wilde has worked in a number of leadership positions, currently serving as a principal in KPMG’s Advisory Practice and as a member of its National Advisory Leadership team. He has used his extensive experience in developing and implementing process improvement and technology-enabled business solutions to support and innovate federal, state and local markets.

Wilde received his BS in industrial engineering from the University at Buffalo in 1980, and an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. WIlde currently serves on the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Advisory Board.

The ValueCentric team pose for a photo with SEAS dean Liesl Folks.

From left, Judy Feldman, Liesl Folks, Scott Terhaar and Dave Janca celebrate ValueCentric's Corporate Partner of the Year award. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

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

Founded in 2002, ValueCentric is a leader in providing data management services and analytical solutions to manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and other participants in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

For the past four years, ValueCentric has been a Gold Level Engineering Partnership Program member, a program that strengthens the school’s relationships with local and national companies. Beyond recruiting UB students as interns and staff, ValueCentric seeks to involve students in innovation, with recent interns working in the areas of machine learning, big data analytics and mobile app development. In addition, ValueCentric has generously supported student clubs, senior design projects and events including UB Hacking and the Blockchain Buildathon.

“I’d like to thank the University at Buffalo for this prestigious award; we are honored to receive this recognition,” said Dave Janca, founder and CEO of ValueCentric. “There are many people who played important roles in building the great working relationship we have with UB, most notably Liesl Folks, dean of SEAS, and Andrew Olewnik, director of SEAS experiential learning programs.”

“I am looking forward to continuing our partnership with SEAS and am excited about future opportunities to work together to attract the best new talent for our organization as well as provide internal opportunities for training and development of our current employees,” added Janca.

CFO Scott Terhaar and CIO Judy Feldman joined Janca in accepting the Corporate Partner Award on behalf of the company.

Mike Mann and Liesl Folks at the SEAS alumni awards night.

Mike Mann shows off the Mentor of the Year award with Liesl Folks. Donald McMahon was a co-recipient of the award but was unable to attend the event. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Mentor of the Year Award: Michael J. Mann, BS ’77, MS ’79 civil engineering, and Donald R. McMahon, BS ‘75 civil engineering
Awarded annually to an alumnus or alumna who has dedicated considerable personal time and resources for the benefit of our students’ development and education.

When starting McMahon & Mann Consulting Engineers in 1993, Don McMahon and Mike Mann knew they wanted their company to be a place that could support their alma mater. Over their 25 years in business, their staff has grown from two to 18, many of whom are UB civil engineering graduates.

“When we started our own firm, one of the very first things we talked about was staying in contact with the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,” said Mann. “And we have managed to do that, through research projects we’ve done together, through lecturing, but most importantly, through working with many, many students over the years.”

Over the years, Mann and McMahon have nurtured many young engineers and given them the opportunity to expand their knowledge and pursue creative solutions. They have lectured to civil engineering students many times, assisted with courses and served in advisory roles with courses and with department accreditation. They have also served as mentors in our greater Buffalo community to students of all ages.

Andrew Whittaker, Dan Fenz, Michael Constantinou celebrate Dan's Outstanding Young Alumnus award.

From left, Andrew Whittaker, Michael Constantinou, Dan Fenz and Abigail Martinez-Fenz celebrate Dan's Outstanding Young Alumnus award.
Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award: Daniel M. Fenz, BS ’03, MS ’05, PhD ’08 civil engineering
Awarded to a young alumnus or alumna in recognition of outstanding contributions to their career field, academic area, and/or community.

A valuable young leader in his field, Daniel Fenz earned his BS, MS and PhD degrees in civil engineering from UB.

Since receiving his PhD in 2008 under Michael Constantinou, Samuel P. Capen Professor and SUNY Distinguished Professor, Fenz has gone on to become a research engineer and structures team lead for Offshore, Infrastructure and Environmental Applications at ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company Corp., where he is using his UB training in mechanics and experimentation to expand arctic (cold weather) engineering around the world. Fenz has authored four journal articles, all in tier one archival journals, and was chosen by the National Academy of Engineering to deliver the Gilbreth Lecture, which recognizes outstanding young American engineers, in 2014.

Fenz is a member of the Delta Society and a frequent volunteer in SEAS and the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering.

Liesl Folks and Bob Harrison.

Bob Harrison accepted the Volunteer Recognition award from Liesl Folks on behalf of Allison O'Connor. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Volunteer Recognition Award: Allison C. O’Connor, ME ’91, mechanical engineering
Awarded to an alumnus or alumna who has dedicated considerable personal time and resources for the benefit of our students, school, and UB community.

Allison O’Connor has spent countless hours volunteering at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, always answering the call to help guide and mentor students.

After earning her ME in mechanical and aerospace engineering in 1991, O’Connor began her career at the NASA Glenn Research Center as a research engineer working on alternate fuels for the Space Shuttle program. For the past 15 years, she has worked at Moog, where she is now Operations Manager for A&T and Propulsion Test at Moog’s Space and Defense Group.

She has generously given her time and energy to numerous student activities, including BEAM (Buffalo Area Engineering Awareness for Minorities) summer camps and the annual SEAS Career Perspectives and Networking Conference for graduate students, as well as serving on the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Advisory Board. This past summer, she hosted one of the school’s signature “Insider’s Look” events at the Moog In-Space-Propulsion facility, leading a behind-the-scenes tour of the historic facility to alumni and select student leaders.

Maliheh and John Coles.

From left, Aliakbar Alamdari, Maliheh Karamigolbaghi and John Coles celebrate Maliheh's award. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

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: Maliheh Karamigolbaghi, PhD 2019 civil engineering
This award honors the University at Buffalo Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association’s founding faculty advisor,  Howard Strauss,  who was also a faculty member of the school. This is the largest scholarship given annually by the UBEAA.

Maliheh Karamigolbaghi, a PhD student of Joseph Atkinson, professor and chair of the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, has a demonstrated history of making meaningful contributions at UB, both in the classroom and the UB community. She is an active member of the CSEE Jarvis Hall graduate student committee, vice president of UB’s Environmental and Water Resource Institution, and is the current president of the Iranian Graduate Student Association, which she founded last year.

“As a graduate student at UB for the past five years, I learned that UB has so much to offer and it is up to us to take the opportunities or not. Our diversity - of thought, of experience, of culture, of heritage - contributes to UB’s dynamic and intellectually stimulating environment,“ Karamigolbaghi said. “We appreciate and take pride in that fact, and I can safely say that we are a true community. That we are UB.”

“Maliheh’s contributions have set a foundation for our university to be more visible, accessible and impactful on a diverse student body from around the world,” said John Cole, UBEAA board member.

Leaders in excellence scholarship award winners.

This year's Leaders in Excellence award winners. From left, John Coles (UBEAA), Rishabh Bhandawat, Olivia Gustafson, Shanelle Ileto, Kathryn Lukasiewicz, Samantha Ring, Zachary Steever, Daniel Wilczewski and Liesl Folks (SEAS dean). Not pictured: Ramla Qureshi. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Leaders in Excellence Scholarships
This scholarship aims to recognize “leaders in excellence,” encouraging students to develop spirit and loyalty to the school both in themselves and their fellow future alumni.

“This year’s pool was exceptional,” said UBEAA board member John Coles. “As a committee, we look for candidates with the best possible balance of breadth and depth. This year’s awardees represent the best students, who’ve demonstrated an excellence in the classroom, clubs, university and community, and are on a clear path towards a future of being an engaged and impactful alumni once they have left the walls of UB.”

The recipients are:

  • Rishabh Bhandawat – PhD,  Industrial Engineering, 2021
  • Olivia Gustafson – BS, Aerospace Engineering, 2019
  • Shanelle Ileto  – BS, Computer Engineering, 2020
  • Kathryn Lukasiewicz – BS, Industrial Engineering, 2019
  • Ramla Qureshi – PhD, Civil Engineering 2020
  • Samantha Ring – BS, Biomedical Engineering, 2019
  • Zachary Steever – PhD, Industrial Engineering, 2021
  • Daniel Wilczewski – BS, Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering, 2019