Claud Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award

2017 - Steven H. Noll, JD

Steven H. Noll, 2017 Claud Erickson Award Recipient

Steven H. Noll graduated from MSU in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, with honor, and is also a graduate of the Honors College. While at MSU Steve was a member of the Spartan Marching Band.

After graduation, Mr. Noll worked as an engineer in the Government and Industrial Research Group at Magnavox Co., and then attended law school at Ohio State University, receiving his law degree in 1977. He has practiced law in the field of intellectual property, specializing in patent law, and is currently a partner in the firm of Schiff Hardin LLP in Chicago.

Mr. Noll's patent prosecution practice has focused primarily on medical devices, particularly all types of medical imaging, and he has obtained over 4,000 patents for his clients during the course of his practice. He has also represented clients in litigation involving many different technologies, including cryptography, traveling wave tubes for radar, printers, optical fibers, pacemakers, amorphous metal, papermaking machines, anesthesia systems and semiconductor devices.

Mr. Noll has also represented clients in copyright litigation and trademark litigation. He is registered to practice before the Patent and Trademark Office, and is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeal for the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Eleventh and Federal Circuits, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. He is a member of several bar associations, and served on the board of directors on the International Trade Commission Trial Lawyers Association.

Mr. Noll served two eight-year terms on the College of Engineering Alumni Board, including two years as the board chair. He also served on the most recent search committee for the dean of the College of Engineering. He is a guest lecturer each semester in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Capstone class, and also serves as a Design Day judge for that class each semester. In his estate, he has also bequeathed funds to the College of Engineering for an endowed chair. He is a member of the National Leadership Council of the College of Music, and served on the Advisory Committee for the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum.

Mr. Noll resides in Chicago with his wife, Sarah.


About the Award

Nomination Form (.doc)
Past Recipients

Dean Lawrence Wayne Von Tersch established the Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award in 1982. Claud Erickson, for whom the award was named, was the first recipient. Since then, it has been given annually to a College of Engineering graduate with a minimum of 15 years’ professional experience who has attained the highest level of professional accomplishment; provided distinguished and meritorious service to the College of Engineering and the engineering profession; and engaged in voluntary service at the local, state, national, and/or international level.

Claud Erickson, born in Manistee, Michigan, lived from 1900 to 1993. He had to help support his family during high school and took a full-time job immediately after graduation. At the urging of work associates who recognized his talents, Claud began college, but it was a constant financial struggle. At times, faculty members chipped in to keep him in school.

Claud ultimately received four engineering degrees from MSU, beginning with a bachelor of science in 1922. He later earned degrees in mechanical (1927), electrical (1933), and civil engineering (1934) and held a consulting professional engineer's license. He also studied law and was qualified to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

Claud was the first member of Lambda Chi Alpha, chartered in 1922 as the second fraternity at MSU; it now has well over 2,200 members.

He became the director and general manager of the Lansing Board of Water and Light and spent more than 50 years making the utility a strong, progressive force in the Lansing area. He was a nationally respected figure in public works, and in 1971 the Board named a new power plant in Delta Township after him.

Community activism was a way of life for Claud. He was the Ingham County chairman of the U.S. Treasury Savings Bond Drive for 50 years, beginning in 1941. He was honored in 1991 at the age of 91 by the U.S. Treasury Department for his 50 years of patriotic volunteer service. He was the only person in the United States known to have directed a local drive continuously since the program began during World War II.

He was a delegate to the Michigan Constitutional Convention, chairman of the Ingham County American Red Cross, and a trustee of St. Lawrence Hospital. He served at various times as president of the Lansing Rotary Club, the City Club of Lansing, the American Public Power Association, the Michigan Engineering Society, and the Greater Lansing Area Safety Council.

He and his wife, Thelma, were the parents of one son and four daughters. He was an avid stamp collector and was considered one of the nation's top authorities on electric-powered vehicles. He admired the simplicity of an electric car. He said, "It has only eight moving parts, and four of those are wheels."

Always maintaining close ties with MSU, Claud served on the MSU Foundation's first board of directors. He was asked by President John A. Hannah to oversee the construction of the Alumni Chapel. He also supervised the completion of 7,000 married-student housing units in just five months to accommodate U.S. servicemen returning to campus after World War II.

Claud always attended the spring commencement exercises of MSU's College of Engineering and the initiation ceremonies of the Chi Epsilon civil engineering honor society, and he kept close tabs on each alumnus who won the Claud R. Erickson Award.

When asked by President Hannah at one point, "Why do MSU alumni come back to campus year after year?" he responded, "Because they love the university that offered them the hand of friendship and the open door of opportunity."