Alumni Awards 2021

May 3, 2021

MSU Engineering honors nine with top alumni recognition awards

For significant achievements and outstanding contributions, nine distinguished alumni of the Michigan State University College of Engineering are being honored with 2021 Alumni Awards. The college also honored a high school educator for her notable efforts in inspiring students to study math, science, and engineering.

Engineering Dean Leo Kempel explained that each spring the college honors outstanding graduates for their demonstrated professional success and exceptional accomplishments in their personal lives. Awards are usually presented during an annual alumni banquet in East Lansing, but the celebration is virtual in 2021 due to the current COVID-19 health crisis.

“We are very proud of the world-class achievements of these impressive leaders,” Kempel said. “They serve as living examples that Spartan Engineers can change communities and our world. I send our heartiest congratulations and appreciation to each of them.”

Engineering Alumni Board Chair Dave Foulke said this year’s recipients are well worth celebrating. Foulke received an applied engineering sciences degree in 1988.

“I am very honored on behalf of the college’s alumni and the Engineering Alumni Board to extend our hearty congratulations to the 2021 award winners. Each are exemplary Spartans and impactful professionals. Our world is better because of their ongoing contributions,” Foulke added.

The Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award

Michael K.J. Milligan is the 2021 recipient of the college's highest alumni award.
Michael K.J. Milligan is the 2021 recipient of the college's highest alumni award. He received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1983.

Receiving this year’s Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award is Michael K.J. Milligan, PhD, PE, CAE, executive director and chief executive officer of ABET, a nonprofit organization that accredits more than 4,300 college and university programs in 41 countries in the disciplines of applied and natural science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology. Each year, these programs prepare over 175,000 students to enter the global workforce.

The Erickson 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.

At ABET, Milligan leads a full-time staff headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, that supports more than 2,000 volunteer experts from 35 professional and technical societies. He is responsible for executing ABET’s strategic vision, administration and global operations and reports directly to the President, ABET Board of Directors. Milligan serves on several international advisory boards and executive committees focused on STEM education. Read more on Michael K.J. Milligan.

Eight other alumni received departmental honors or the Green Apple Teaching Award. This year’s honorees are:

Applied Engineering Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award

Holly D. Aikens - Applied Engineering Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award
Holly D. Aikens - Applied Engineering Sciences Award

Holly D. Aikens
BS, 1993, Applied Engineering Sciences

Holly D. Aikens has been recruiting Spartan Engineering students for jobs in industry since just after she was a student on campus herself. First as a recruiter at Detroit Diesel and since 2000, as a recruiter for Ford Motor Company Purchasing. Her focus is on AES students in the supply chain cognate.

Aikens has been Ford’s full frame buyer (chassis) since December 2014.

She has helped AES students get internships and jobs in manufacturing, supply technical assistance, and global data and analytics.

She has been a member of the AES Alumni Board since 2002 and has chaired the board for the past two years. She is also a continuous source of mentoring to undergraduate and graduate students, while also serving as a capstone judge in 2018 through 2020. Read more on Holly D. Aikens.

Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award

Todd D. Forbush - Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Alumni Award
Todd D. Forbush - Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Award

Todd D. Forbush
BS, 1987, Agricultural Engineering
MS, 1989, Agricultural Engineering

Todd D. Forbush is the current president of the Michigan Section of The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

He is committed to getting produce to the plates of people who need the nutrition, while making sure the produce is not spoiled by pathogens on the path from the field to the plate.

Forbush received a bachelor’s degree in 1987 and a master’s degree in 1989 in agricultural engineering. Since graduation, he has applied his knowledge and experiences to the commercial potato storage industry at Techmark, Inc.

A recognized expert on potato storage, he has presented webinars at the World Potato Congress and for the Manitoba Potato Growers and Michigan Potato Growers; also at the Mid Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference.

Forbush said he loves working for produce farmers in Michigan and around the world. “These men and women invest themselves and their finances in producing healthy fruits and vegetables for our consumption,” he added. Read more on Todd D. Forbush.

Red Cedar Circle Award in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

Gary L. Hockstra - Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Alumni Award
Gary L. Hockstra - Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Award

Gary L. Hockstra
BS, 1980, Chemical Engineering

Gary L. Hockstra spent 37 years at the Dow Chemical Company. Upon his retirement in 2017, he was serving as vice president of the Ethylene Envelope and a member of the Operations Leadership Team.

He spent eight years volunteering for MSU on the Engineering Alumni Board, as well as the Chemical Engineering Alumni Board.

Hockstra joined Dow in 1980 in Midland, working in research and development in several different areas. During his career he moved to new leadership roles and new locations - in the U.S. and abroad. Among his assignments, he moved to Italy in the 1980s to design, build, and run a new pharmaceutical plant and to Terneuzen, The Netherlands, in the 1990s to consolidate control rooms with the Operator Station system. He relocated to Texas in the mid-1990s and began a series of positions where he assumed additional responsibilities.

In 2007 he was named vice president and site director - Texas Operations in Freeport. Hockstra was named vice president of M&E for Advanced Materials in September 2011, moving to Philadelphia. In early 2014, he was named vice president, Ethyleye and Propylene Operations and returned to Texas – a role he held until his retirement. Read more on Gary L. Hockstra.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award

Douglas J. Peters - Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Award
Douglas J. Peters - Civil and Environmental Engineering Award

Douglas J. Peters
BS, 1992, Civil Engineering

Douglas J. Peters is nationally recognized as one of the construction industry’s most innovative visionaries, providing business and civil engineering leadership on more than $1 billion in self-perform construction projects across the U.S. over the past 29 years.

He began at MSU in 1989 and was a member of the Chi Epsilon National Civil Engineering Society. One day after graduating in 1992, he was commissioned into the Regular U.S. Army as a Distinguished Military Graduate of the Spartan Army ROTC Battalion, Engineers, second lieutenant.

After serving with the U.S. Army, he worked for a national concrete construction services firm and earned a master’s degree in project management from the Northwestern University Department of Civil Engineering. Peters joined Christman in 2001 as a project manager, was promoted to director of concrete operations in 2007, to vice president in 2009, and to executive vice president in 2014. He was promoted to president of Christman Constructors, Inc. in 2016. Peters is also a member of Christman Enterprises and Christman Constructors, Inc., board of directors.

Peters spearheaded and contributed to completion a variety of multimillion-dollar projects for several of the country’s premier companies, nonprofits, universities, and municipalities. Included on the list is MSU’s STEM Teaching and Learning Facility, which is the first facility in Michigan built with mass timber for its load-bearing structure. Read more on Douglas J. Peters.

Computer Science and Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award

Patrick J. Flynn - Computer Science and Engineering Alumni Award
Patrick J. Flynn - Computer Science and Engineering Award

Patrick J. Flynn
BS, 1985, Electrical Engineering
MS, 1986, and Ph.D., 1990, Computer Science

Patrick J. Flynn is professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. He has held the Fritz Duda Family Professorship in the College of Engineering at Notre Dame since 2014 and is also a concurrent professor of electrical engineering.

His research interests include computer vision, biometrics, and image processing. He has advised or co-advised 21 Ph.D. dissertations, 10 postdoctoral fellows, 22 master’s theses, and two bachelor’s theses. His research has produced two patents and one commercial technology license. He has been involved in several entrepreneurial ventures including several start-up companies, one of which won Notre Dame's McCloskey Business Plan competition in 2013.

He is an IEEE Fellow, an IAPR Fellow, and an ACM Distinguished Scientist. He has received outstanding teaching awards from Washington State University and the University of Notre Dame, and Meritorious Service, Golden Core, Certificate of Achievement, and Technical Achievement awards from the IEEE Computer Society. Read more on Patrick J. Flynn.

John D. Ryder Electrical and Computer Engineering Alumni Award

James O. Fishbeck - Electrical and Computer Engineering Alumni Award
James O. Fishbeck - Electrical and Computer Engineering Award

James O. Fishbeck
BS, 1966, Electrical Engineering

James O. Fishbeck grew up in Lansing and earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at MSU while working nights as a transmitter engineer at WILS Radio, a commercial AM/FM radio station in Lansing.

He later joined Collins Radio as a flight control systems design engineer. His most interesting assignment was working as a member of the team that designed a custom flight director system for Air Force 26000, which used the call sign Air Force One when the U.S. President was on board. The aircraft was a customized version of the Boeing 707 passenger jet. Fishbeck was also the on-site engineer who oversaw the installation and certification of the new system, which included participation on several test flights. The airplane has been on permanent display at the Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio, since 1998.

He returned to MSU to earn an MBA degree in 1970 and then embarked on a 30-year career with Analog Devices, a leading global high-performance semiconductor company that creates products that sense, measure, power, connect and interpret. The company’s 2020 revenues totaled $5.6 billion, compared to $16 million during the year he joined the company.

Fishbeck began his Analog Devices career as a product marketing engineer, and subsequently held a series of marketing management positions prior to becoming director of investor relations, reporting to the CEO. He retired in 2002. Read more on James O. Fishbeck.

Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award

John R. Thome - Mechanical Engineering Alumni Award
John R. Thome - Mechanical Engineering Award

John R. Thome
BS, 1975, Mechanical Engineering

John R. Thome is professor emeritus at the EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) in Lausanne, Switzerland, considered one of the most prestigious schools in Europe in the fields of engineering, technology, and computer science.

He founded and headed the two-phase flow and heat transfer laboratory at EPFL in 1998. He also directed the doctoral programme in energy for 15 years, bringing it up to over 100 Ph.D. students. He retired in 2018.

He is currently co-owner and technical director of JJ Cooling Innovation Sàrl in Lausanne and Global Cooling Technology Group LLC in Phoenix. He is the author of five books and is editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Two-Phase Heat Transfer and Flow (16 volumes).

He received the 2017 Nusselt-Reynolds Prize, the 2019 IEEE ITHERM Award and the 2019 ASME InterPack Medal, the ASME Heat Transfer Division's Journal of Heat Transfer Best Paper Award in 1998, the United Kingdom’s Institute of Refrigeration J.E. Hall Gold Medal in 2008, the 2010 ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award, among others. Read more on John R. Thome.

Green Apple Teaching Award - Lindsay (Maddix) Hartley

Lindsay Hartley
BS, 1999, dual Mechanical Engineering and Applied Engineering Sciences

This year’s Green Apple Teaching Award recipient is a Spartan Engineer who discovered her passion for teaching high school students while serving as a cheerleading coach. The award honors a K-12 teacher who has inspired students to study math, science, and engineering.

Lindsay Hartley
Lindsay Hartley - Green Apple Teaching Award

Lindsay (Maddix) Hartley was a cheerleader at MSU and graduated with honors in 1999 with dual bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering and applied engineering sciences.

After graduation, she worked in automotive safety for Chrysler in Auburn Hills and served as a high school cheerleading coach at Troy High School. Inspired by her high school students, she earned a teaching certificate in physics and mathematics and completed a master’s degree in education.

Since 2008, she has been a physics and math teacher at Walled Lake Central High School. She incorporates a modeling teaching methodology into the physics curriculum and encourages her students to take educational risks. Around 95 percent of her students taking the AP Physics C exam have earned college credit.

She was nominated for the Green Apple Teaching Award by Chanel Sitto, a senior in chemical engineering and materials science. Read more on Lindsay Hartley.