Withrow and Engineering Awards 2022

Feb. 1, 2022

Eighteen to be honored at 32nd Annual Engineering Awards 

The Michigan State University College of Engineering will recognize 18 top faculty and staff members for excellence in service and distinguished contributions during the 32nd Annual Engineering Awards. The honors are considered among the college’s most prestigious distinctions and will be presented on Monday, March 21, at 5:30 p.m. at the University Club.

Engineering Dean Leo Kempel thanked this year’s recipients and congratulated them for their achievements.

“Each year we have the privilege of recognizing exceptional faculty and staff through our college awards,” Kempel said. “We are honored to celebrate the talent, dedication and excellence demonstrated by this year’s award winners and are grateful for all they do to make this college a premier space for engineering education and research.” 

The Withrow Endowed Teacher/Scholar/Service Award program was established through a gift from Jack Withrow (BS, MECH EGR, ’54; MBA ’71) and Dottie Withrow (BA, speech therapy and elementary education, ’55) to recognize members of the college who have demonstrated excellence in instructional and scholarly activities and rendered distinguished service to the university and the student body. 

The 2022 awards and recipients are:

Excellence in Diversity Award - Emerging Accomplishments
This award recognizes faculty and staff members who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in advancing diversity through research, teaching, and outreach.

Shanelle Foster
Shanelle Foster

Shanelle Foster, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been an outstanding champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). She has demonstrated a proven track record of working to increase the numbers of underrepresented and majority students pursuing STEM fields. Her DEI initiatives include mentoring, advising and hosting underrepresented and majority students in undergraduate research.

She has worked diligently to expose future engineers to the field of electrical engineering through her outreach efforts in the K-12 education space. Her willingness to open her lab and share her knowledge has inspired numerous students to succeed in STEM. This includes being featured on the national and award-winning show, Curious Kids, on WKAR TV.

Her concerted efforts to weave inclusion into the fabric of her research program help to break down barriers that support the racial and gender disparity in engineering. She offers an empathetic ear to students dealing with microaggressions in the classroom, on project teams, and the laboratory environments. She continues to serve as an ambassador for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at key events targeting admitted and prospective engineering students.

She has been co-program coordinator of the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) for a number of years, serving in instrumental roles as an instructor and offering much needed emotional support for participants. Along with her many duties, she continues to represent ECE in the college's K-12 math, science and technology outreach for gifted middle-school students, DAPCEP, and the High School Engineering Institute Summer programs.

As one former student said: “Before I met Dr. Foster, I had no representation of what a black woman in electrical and computer engineering could look like. She is an amazing educator and mentor, who fights to take students along with her as she climbs the ladder through academia. Dr. Foster changed my life.”

Excellence in Diversity Award - Sustained Excellence

Robert Ofoli
Robert Ofoli

Robert Ofoli, associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science, has built an outstanding record of sustained commitment for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). He serves as an exemplar for his colleagues across his department, the college, the university, the community, and the broader scientific community.

His promotion of DEI in the college is extensive and spans many years of service. He has mentored 13 Ph.D. and 12 master’s students from diverse countries in three different disciplines (chemical engineering, agricultural engineering, and food science). These students have gone on to successful professional careers around the world.

For at least two decades, he has served as faculty mentor for the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) at MSU, guiding the Chem-E car team through regional and national competitions. He worked with the Sloan Foundation to help ensure a diverse student body across several departments in the college. He has promoted global education by running a college-wide study abroad program in Russia. And three years ago, he began working with the Golf Association of Michigan to diversify the organization, particularly with youth.

In his current role as the college’s Faculty Excellence Advocate, his devoted efforts include developing inclusive job descriptions to attract diverse applicants and ensure equal treatment of all candidates through non-discriminatory assessment of applicant pools. As chair of the AIChE Fellows Council, he is currently working to diversify the Fellows membership with qualified women and minority chemical engineers and by serving as a champion for their Fellow nominations. For his broad-based efforts in support of AIChE programs, he was elected a Fellow of the society in 2018.

As one nominator said: “His unwavering dedication to this cause has been a remarkable effort that has enhanced our university community in countless ways.” Added another: “He is dedicated to anchoring these principles in our students, in our university, and in our profession.”

Withrow Global Leadership Award
This award recognizes faculty and staff members who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in advancing global scholarship through research, teaching, and outreach.

Lalita Udpa
, University Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering, has continuously made international collaborations and outreach a priority for her career – elevating MSU’s international stature.

Lalita Udpa
Lalita Udpa

She plays a leading role in the collaboration programs between MSU and the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, which has led to more than 40 research collaborations across all engineering departments. It is one of MSU’s most successful partnerships and has led to the creation of MSU’s first dual Ph.D. program.

She also led the recruitment of Khorana and Bose Scholars for MSU within the Big Ten. She was actively involved in capacity development programming with the University of Duhok, Iraq, using funding from the U.S. Department of State. It was a first-ever collaboration for our college and helped the college engage with MSU units, including Arts and Letters, Lyman Briggs, and International Studies and Programs.

In addition, she has been instrumental in facilitating an exchange program across all levels (undergraduate, graduate, and faculty) between her Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) group and NDE groups in China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Portugal. During the Fall of 2018, she spent her sabbatical leave in Italy, closely collaborating with NDE and Nondestructive Testing (NDT) colleagues and their groups in various Italian universities – helping to strengthen research and educational ties.

She is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for her work on NDE inverse problems, a Fellow of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing and the Indian Society of Nondestructive Testing. Her past awards include Withrow Distinguished Scholar Award, MSU Beal Outstanding Faculty Award and MSU Ralph H. Smuckler Award for Advancing International Studies and Programs.

“Lalita is a phenomenal scholar,” one nominator said. “She is well recognized for her exemplary research and her intentional efforts to change demographics in the field of engineering with a specific focus on students from underrepresented groups and to expand MSU’s global collaborations.”

Withrow Student Service Award
This award is presented to an adviser, academic specialist, or non-tenure-track instructor for outstanding service to students in the college.

Katy Luchini Colbry
Katy Luchini Colbry

Assistant Dean for Engineering Graduate Student Services Katy Luchini Colbry is a caring advisor, student advocate, and nationally recognized expert in engineering education and graduate student success. She has developed robust professional development programs serving students at all stages, from first-semester professorial assistants through Ph.D. candidates.

“She has demonstrated calm, caring leadership in response to challenges and has become a trusted adviser supporting students’ academic, personal, and professional success,” one nominator said. “Her “Monday Motivation” messages are a weekly touchpoint and source of encouragement for our graduate community and exemplify her personal approach to student support.”

Added another nominator: “Her services … promote a healthy, productive, creative, and successful student body. Her work touches undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff in their cultivation of this experience, and her efforts and service are invaluable to everyone in the college community.”

In the past decade, she has helped develop graduate recruitment and retention strategies, which now include robust professional development programs. Examples include the popular “Lunch & Learn” series, the annual Graduate Research Symposium, and the Graduate Leadership Fellows program. She also created and teaches several new courses that help graduate students develop professional skills, support students pursuing internships, and develop students’ proficiency at writing research publications and preparing graduate theses.

Her efforts to broaden participation in engineering have been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Sloan Foundation. Beyond campus, she helps lead the Graduate Studies Division of ASEE and organizes national efforts to provide virtual professional skills training for a global audience of engineering students and practitioners.

Beyond campus, she has volunteered for more than 20 years with Tau Beta Pi (TBP), the Engineering Honor Society. She serves as the director of Engineering Futures, TBP’s professional development program, which offers workshops to thousands of engineering students each year.

Withrow Exceptional Service Award
This award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional institutional, public, and community service. Nominations are submitted by department chairpersons to the dean and associate deans for final selection.

Martin Crimp, professor of chemical engineering and materials science, has provided exceptional service to MSU and the College of Engineering through his engaged activity on the Faculty Senate, Faculty Council, Steering Committee and many other university, college, and department committees. Always engaged in college and campus life, he is willing to lead in ways that ensure that the university works in the way it ought to, and to facilitate effective communication between the faculty and the higher administration.

Martin Crimp
Martin Crimp

In a body that is often too reactionary, he has been a voice of reason that leads to good outcomes. His efforts have enhanced accountability structures that increase the likelihood that rational decisions are made based upon input from many diverse voices. His service to the university during trying times in the past few years has been especially impactful.

As important as his service has been at the highest levels of governance, he has consistently served on department and college committees, where he is known for his deep understanding of how the university actually works. All of this has been on top of exemplary efforts to his profession through consulting, reviewing, editing, and service in professional societies.

As one nominator wrote, “I deeply appreciate Marty’s eye for precise and clear language. Marty has always been interested in how the university functions. I am grateful for his willingness to ‘speak truth to power’ in ways that can be heard. Writing this nomination has deepened my understanding and awe of the beneficial impact Marty has made on this university.”

Added another nominator,” His devotion to the university is always evident in his careful preparation and knowledge. There are many who ‘just show up’ for meetings. That is never Marty Crimp. He is an active advocate for the faculty and for faculty voice in university government.”

The 2022 Withrow Distinguished Scholar Awards are:
Senior Scholar – Kalyanmoy Deb – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Junior Scholar – Kristen Cetin – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Junior Scholar – Alexandra Zevalkink – Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

The 2022 Withrow Teaching Excellence Award recipients are:
Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering – Chris Saffron
Biomedical Engineering – Sudin Bhattacharya
Chemical Engineering and Materials Science – Carl Lira
Civil and Environmental Engineering – Susan Masten
Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering – Yang Yang
Computer Science and Engineering – Charles Owen
Electrical and Computer Engineering – Tim Hogan
Mechanical Engineering – Michael Lavagnino

The 2022 Gloria Stragier Award goes to Laura Post, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the 2022 Spartans Will Award will be presented to Paula Palmiter, Institutional Space Planning and Management. More at: Dedicated and Creative Service/Spartans Will.