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Alumni Awards

Sixteenth Annual College of Engineering Alumni Awards Banquet

The 2019 Alumni Award winners are (l to r) Front row: Larry Fleis, Karen Newman, Kim Smith, Kathy Fish, Penny Wirsing, Scott Piggott.  Back row: Dean Leo Kempel, Kevin Corfixen, Farshad Fotouhi, Dave Foulke.
The 2019 Alumni Award winners are (l to r) Front row: Larry Fleis, Karen Newman, Kim Smith, Kathy Fish, Penny Wirsing, Scott Piggott. Back row: Dean Leo Kempel, Kevin Corfixen, Farshad Fotouhi, Dave Foulke.

Eight distinguished alumni of the Michigan State University College of Engineering were honored Saturday, May 4, during the 2019 Alumni Awards Banquet at MSU’s Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. MSU Engineering will also recognize a high school educator who has been teaching science at Grandville High School for more than 30 years and whose significant accomplishments reflect positively on MSU and the College of Engineering.

The Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award

Dean Kempel presented the 2019 Claud R Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award to Penny Wirsing.
Dean Kempel presented the 2019 Claud R Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award to Penny Wirsing.

Receiving this year’s Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award is Penny Wirsing, PE, an environmental manager at Torrance Refining Company LLC in Southern California and the 2019 president of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). The award is the highest honor presented to an alumnus by the college. It recognizes professional accomplishment, volunteer service, and distinguished service to the college and the engineering profession.

Wirsing graduated Mason High School in 1974, and found herself a divorced mother at the age of 18. She began taking classes at Lansing Community College and received an associate’s degree in business management in 1979. She transferred to MSU and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1983. She later earned an MBA from the University of Washington.

She has been working in the environmental science and engineering fields for more than 30 years. In her current position, she is responsible for ensuring Torrance Refining’s compliance with local, state and federal regulations. She has worked in similar roles for Mobil and ExxonMobil.

Throughout her career, she has mentored young women within her company, in the local community, and at colleges and universities. She was one of five founding members of a networking organization formed in the early 1990s to promote the personal and professional growth of women at Mobil Corporation. She has also volunteered with a broad range of programs to encourage girls to engage in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities.

She is current national president of the Society of Women Engineers, a 40,000-member professional organization dedicated to encouraging women to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders. She has been an engaged member of SWE since she was a student at MSU, serving in numerous leadership roles.

Seven other alumni received departmental honors and the Green Apple Teaching Award:

  • David Foulke, of Findlay, OH, health, environmental and safety and training manager for Marathon Petroleum Corporation will receive the Applied Engineering Sciences (AES) Distinguished Alumni Award.
  • Scott Piggott, chief executive officer of the Michigan Farm Bureau, will receive the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award.
  • Kathy Fish, of Cincinnati, OH, chief research, development and innovation officer for Proctor & Gamble, will receive the Red Cedar Circle Award in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.
  • Larry J. Fleis, PE, of Grand Rapids, MI, cofounder of Fleis & VandenBrink (F&V) Engineering, Inc., will receive the Civil and Environmental Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award.
  • Farshad Fotouhi, dean of the College of Engineering at Wayne State University (WSU) in Detroit, will receive the Computer Science and Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award.
  • Karen Newman, is vice president of the IBM Services Division, managing the Global Honda account, will receive the John D. Ryder Electrical and Computer Engineering Alumni Award.
  • Kim Smith, vice president and general manager of Boeing Fabrication, will receive the Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award.

The Green Apple Teaching Award

MSU student Samuel Daniels, a senior in chemical engineering presented Kevin Corfixen the 2019 Green Apple Award.
MSU student Samuel Daniels, a senior in chemical engineering presented Kevin Corfixsen the 2019 Green Apple Award.

The 2019 Green Apple Award was presented to Kevin Corfixsen, who has been teaching science at Grandville High School for three decades. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he joined Grandville High in 1988 to teach freshman physical science and biology. He has taught Honors Chemistry since 1990, and AP Chemistry since 2005. He has also been a mentor teacher at the summer AP Institute offered at Grandville High School. This award was established in 2006 to honor K-12 teachers who are inspiring students to study math, science, and engineering. He was nominated for the Green Apple Teaching Award by Samuel Daniels, a senior at MSU majoring in chemical engineering.

Read more about the accomplishments of this year’s distinguished winners. (.pdf)

For more information about these awards or the College of Engineering Alumni Awards Banquet, please contact Kaleigh Jaeger-Hale, Assistant Director for Alumni Relations, jaegerk1@egr.msu.edu.

Alumni Awards Program Booklets

The following booklets will open in a new window as a PDF (.pdf).

Departmental Alumni Awards

Each year, the College of Engineering gives awards to distinguished alumni in each department who have brought honor to the college through their exceptional achievements, both professional and philanthropic. The awards are presented at a banquet each spring during commencement weekend.

Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award

The College of Engineering gives its highest honor, the Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award, to one alumnus or alumna each year. The awardee is recognized at the spring alumni awards banquet and again at the commencement ceremony, where he or she addresses the graduating students.

MSU Alumni Association Alumni Awards

Each year the MSU Alumni Association annually seeks and accepts nominations of alumni for the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Honorary Alumni Award, and the Alumni Service Award. These are the highest awards bestowed by the MSUAA and are presented to MSU graduates and friends who have demonstrated outstanding volunteer service and have achieved the highest level of professional accomplishment, including special honors or recognition, and who demonstrate personal integrity and character.

Joon S. Moon Distinguished International Alumni Award

Each year, the MSU Office of International Studies and Programs sponsors the International Awards Ceremony to bring together MSU faculty, staff, students, community volunteers, and others from the wider Michigan community to recognize and celebrate outstanding contributions toward international understanding. One of these important awards is the Joon S. Moon Distinguished International Alumni Award, which recognizes international alumni who have brought especial credit to MSU through their professional achievements.