Inaugural department awards honor two mechanical engineering alumni

Sean Garrick and Joseph Kolly.

From left: Dr. Sean Garrick and Dr. Joseph Kolly

By Sarah D'Iorio

Published October 12, 2022

“It is our hope that this recognition program will grow awareness of the contributions of the MAE department, SEAS, and the university through one of its most tangible products—its alumni and their incredible achievements. ”
Brian Rothery, BS' 87
MAE DAB Member; Partner, Scully, Scott, Murphy, & Presser PC

Two graduates of the UB Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE)—Dr. Sean Garrick and Dr. Joseph Kolly—have been selected to receive the department’s inaugural alumni awards.

The newly established MAE Alumni Achievement Award program recognizes outstanding contributions and the impact that UB mechanical and aerospace engineering alumni have had in the engineering field and society.

The initiative was first proposed by Francine Battaglia, professor and chair of the MAE department, and then formally established by the Mechanical and Aerospace Department Advisory Board (DAB) in 2021. Nominations were submitted to the DAB and its members reviewed them and selected two winners.

"The MAE department has many outstanding alumni who have made noteworthy contributions to mechanical and aerospace engineering, and to society as a whole," said Brian Rothery, BS '87, one of the DAB members who helped establish the awards and a partner at Scully, Scott, Murphy, & Presser PC.

"It is our hope that this recognition program will engage our alumni, instill a sense of pride in our current and future students, and grow awareness of the contributions of the department, SEAS, and the university through one of its most tangible products—its alumni and their incredible achievements," he said.  

Due to COVID, an award ceremony has not been held yet for the 2022 awardees, but the department is planning to hold a ceremony on campus this spring. 

Nominations for the 2023 MAE alumni awards are now being accepted. Click here to submit a nomination.

2022 Awardees

Dr. Sean Garrick, BS (1992), MS (1994), PhD (1998) in mechanical engineering

University of Illinois ‑ Urbana‑Champaign Champaign
Vice Chancellor, Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Jul 2019 ‑ present
Professor, Dept of Mechanical Engineering, Jul 2019 ‑ present

Sean Garrick.

Dr. Sean Garrick has led a phenomenal career in academia and is making an impact in research and education through outreach and leadership in professional societies. It is not just the scientific contributions such as publications or funding, but his initiatives to support underrepresented minorities in engineering. For example, early in his career at the University of Minnesota, Garrick worked with minority serving universities to encourage and provide a pathway for students to attend graduate school. He worked with non-for-profit organizations to create programs to engage youths and underrepresented groups. He created a freshman seminar for liberal arts students to improve retention by developing a sense of belonging. Garrick also engaged with K-12 teachers and worked with local communities to connect underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students with middle school teachers and students. Professionally, Garrick he has helped organize activities to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. His activities have not gone unnoticed, and he was recently hired by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to serve as the first vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Dr. Joseph Kolly, PhD in mechanical engineering (1996)

MITRE, Tysons Corner, VA

Joe Kolly.

Dr. Joseph Kolly has had a distinguished career in public service at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and more recently as the first Chief Safety Scientist at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in Washington, DC. As the Chief Safety Scientist at NHTSA, Dr. Kolly led efforts for data sharing between the government and automakers, developed new risk assessment methodologies for automated vehicles, and developed a new risk-based process for vehicle recall management. In November 2021, Dr. Kolly joined The MITRE Corporation as the Director of the Transportation Innovation Center where he will oversee MITRE's research into multi-modal transportation and the Integrated Demonstration and Experimentation for Aeronautics (IDEA) Laboratory, where MITRE prototypes and future aviation concepts are tested. Dr. Kolly's work in government service has benefitted the American public through his efforts to improve highway and transportation safety in the midst of rapidly changing automobile technologies. His leadership roles and accomplishments highlight his application of deep technical expertise towards solving challenging problems in the public interest.