Alumni Awards 2022

May 5, 2022

MSU Engineering honors nine for significant accomplishments

Eight distinguished alumni of the Michigan State University College of Engineering will be honored with 2022 Alumni Awards on Saturday, May 7, at MSU’s Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. MSU Engineering will also recognize a high school educator whose noteworthy efforts to teach technical education and computer science reflect positively on MSU and the College of Engineering.

The 2022 Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award goes to Michael W. Lamach Sr.
The Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award goes to Michael W. Lamach Sr. (Courtesy: Brian Ach)

Engineering Dean Leo Kempel said that each spring the college honors select outstanding graduates for their professional and personal accomplishments. Awards are presented during the annual alumni banquet in East Lansing. The 2022 event will be the first in-person celebration since 2019, due to pandemic restrictions.

“The world-class achievements of these alumni exemplify how Spartan Engineers change our communities and world,” Kempel said. “I’m so glad we will celebrate together this year, so we can extend our heartiest congratulations to each of them.” 

The Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award
Receiving this year’s Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award is Michael W. Lamach Sr., retired Executive Chair and Chief Executive Officer at Trane Technologies and the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Ingersoll Rand. 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.

Lamach led Trane Technologies, a global climate innovator, for 12 years. As CEO, he transformed Trane Technologies from a diversified industrial manufacturing company, formerly Ingersoll Rand, to an industry-leading climate company with consistent top tier financial and ESG performance. He led the creation of the company’s purpose-driven sustainability strategy, its proprietary business operating system, and its widely recognized culture of engagement and inclusion.

He was named one of Harvard Business Review’s top performing CEOs and listed by Forbes among America’s 100 Most Innovative Leaders. He is active in the Charlotte, N.C., community and co-chairs the Charlotte Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative.

Lamach received a bachelor’s degree from MSU in 1985 in applied engineering sciences.

As part of the Erickson Award honor, Lamach will present the keynote address to 825 engineering undergraduates during the 2022 Spring Commencement on Sunday, May 8, in the Breslin Center.

Seven other alumni will receive departmental honors and the Green Apple Teaching Award will be presented on May 7.

Applied Engineering Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award

Jason Napolitano
Jason Napolitano

Jason Napolitano has been with Altair Engineering for nearly 27 years in various positions in management, sales, and technical support. He started as a software support engineer in 1995, the same year he graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Arts (applied engineering sciences). In 1997, he moved into the Altair sales organization as an account manager and in 2001, he took on a sales management role and was soon recognized with numerous awards for his achievements.

In 2012, he was promoted to Vice President – Americas, and from 2013 – 2017 he served as Executive Vice President – Global Sales, responsible for leading the global sales efforts for both the direct and indirect sales channels. Most recently, as Senior Vice President – Americas, he is responsible for overseeing sales, support, and operations for Altair’s business throughout the Americas.

Napolitano and his wife, Janelle, have three sons, Nicholas, Andrew, and Jacob, and live in Rochester, Michigan.

Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award

The accolades that praise the many accomplishments of Essex E. Finney Jr. date back to the 1960s. He received a Ph.D. in agricultural engineering from MSU in 1963.

Essex Finney Jr.
Essex Finney Jr.

Now retired and living in Bowie, Maryland, Finney served as the Associate Administrator, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and was Acting Administrator in 1993-94. ARS is the chief research agency for USDA. He was also a senior policy analyst in Washington, D.C., in the Office of the Science Advisor to the President in 1980-81. He is the past recipient of the Presidential Meritorious Executive Award.

During many years of service, Finney advanced through various leadership roles including being responsible for ARC programs in Beltsville, Maryland, the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, and the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.

Finney was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 1994 for his administrative leadership skills, quality research on the engineering properties of fruits and vegetables, and his work developing commercial instruments. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE), and a member of the Institute of Food Technologists and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Association.

Red Cedar Circle Award in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

John Wilkens
John Wilkens

John (Jack) Wilkens is the chief executive officer for Woundchek Laboratories (WCL), a company that specializes in developing and commercializing diagnostics for the wound care field of medicine. WCL is the first and only company to launch point-of-care diagnostics to assist caregivers in identifying why a wound may not heal.

WCL was formerly part of Systagenix, where he was vice president of diagnostics. He led the carve out of Systagenix’ s diagnostic business to become an independent company in 2014. Earlier in his career, he was CEO of RevDia which developed and commercialized a point-of-care periodontal disease diagnostic, and he was managing director of Unipath where he led the project to develop the world’s first digital pregnancy test.

He received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1969.

He and his wife, Virginia, have two grown daughters and live in Westport, Massachusetts, and Coconut Grove, Florida.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award

Bellandra Foster, PhD, PE, F.ASCE, is the president and owner of BBFoster Consulting, PC, in Greensboro, N.C. Her company provides professional services to public and private sector clients in the field of civil engineering, including facilities management, program management, quality control, site safety, owner’s representative, and utility coordination.

Bellandra Foster
Bellandra Foster

She is a two-time graduate of MSU. She received a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering in 1983 and a Ph.D. in civil engineering in 1999.

Foster and her companies have received many awards for contributions to civil engineering and entrepreneurship, including the U.S. Department of Transportation Minority Business Enterprise of the Year, MDOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise of the Year, National Society of Black Engineers Award for Outstanding Entrepreneur, Michigan Chronicle Woman of Excellence, Dwight D. Eisenhower Fellow, King-Chavez-Parks Fellow, and Great Lakes Center for Truck and Transit Research Scholar. She was named an American Society of Civil Engineers Fellow in 2021.

Her philanthropic and volunteer contributions include founding the MSU Benefield-Foster Spartan Scholarship, serving two terms on the MSU Civil Engineering Advisory Board, and the College of Engineering Alumni Board. She is a licensed professional engineer in Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina.

Computer Science and Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award

Xian-He Sun
Xian-He Sun

Xian-He Sun is a University Distinguished Professor and the Ron Hochsprung Endowed Chair of Computer Science and former chairman of the Department of Computer Science at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

He is a three-time graduate from MSU, earning master’s degrees in mathematics (1985) and computer science (1987), and a Ph.D. in computer science (1990).

He is a prominent scholar in high performance computing (HPC), with a spread expertise in computer system software, architecture, and performance modeling. He has published more than 300 research articles, book chapters, and books in the field and has six U.S. patents. His memory-bounded (also called Sun-Ni's law) and memory access delay performance models are introduced in many modern textbooks and are considered critical in the performance evaluation of scalable computing systems. 

His recent work, the Concurrent Average Memory Access Time (Concurrent-AMAT) model, is considered by many as an essential tool for solving big data problems. His algorithms and software systems have been adapted by widely used commercial and open-source software libraries. His citation count is more than 24,000 based on Google Scholar.

He was named an IEEE Fellow in 2012 for his contribution in scalable computing. His recognitions include the IEEE CS Golden Core Award and the ACM SIG Governing Board Service Award.

John D. Ryder Electrical and Computer Engineering Alumni Award

Charles Macon
is a principal electronics engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio. He oversees the research and development of advanced technologies to improve the survivability of the nation’s fielded and next-generation warfighting forces. His responsibilities include identifying research gaps and analyzing new developments across a range of scientific areas to close any gaps.

Charles Macon
Charles Macon

He is a three-time graduate in electrical engineering, earning bachelor’s (1983) and master’s degrees (1998) and a Ph.D. (2001).

Prior to his current role, he led numerous research projects to improve national computational electromagnetic, antenna modeling, and radio frequency measurement capabilities. He chaired the Electromagnetics Code Consortium, a cadre of researchers and software developers from across the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), NASA, academia, and industry, who worked to improve the modeling capabilities of the nation’s premier antenna and electromagnetic scattering codes for national defense applications.

He has published in various journals and conferences and is a Senior Member of IEEE.

Macon currently serves as a member of the MSU College of Engineering Alumni Board. He has provided leadership to the external advisory board for MSU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).

Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award

Marcia Lampela is an association professional with a technical background, who has advocated for women in STEM throughout her career. She is a long-time supporter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and was named a Fellow in 2008. Her other SWE roles include serving on the Board of Directors and as treasurer.

Marcia Lampela
Marcia Lampela

SWE particularly became a meaningful part of her life when a career pivot allowed her to work with SWE in multiple operational and governance roles from 2009-2016. She led the team responsible for programs, governance, and office operations, and she was critical to transitioning SWE’s growth and advancement on a national scale. She advocated the transfer of administrative responsibilities from volunteer leaders to staff, including a more formalized and standardized mentor program. As manager of governance, she helped SWE focus on volunteer and board leadership and the re-organization of titles and functions.

Currently, Lampela is the site manager for the Discovery Partners Institute at the University of Illinois System in Chicago. She manages DPI’s facilities at 200 S. Wacker Drive and serves as site leader for on-site events.

She has served on the external advisory board for MSU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering since 2018 and continues to be active in the MSU Alumni Club of Metro Chicago. She received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1984.

Green Apple Teaching Award

Isaac Perry
received a bachelor’s degree from MSU with a major in English and a minor in mathematics in 2001. After having taught English and math for the first 15 years of his career, he successfully implemented a computer science education program at Lakeland High School in White Lake, Michigan.

Isaac Perry
Isaac Perry

He now teaches five AP-level classes, including AP English Language and Composition, AP Computer Science Principles, and AP Computer Science A (Java). He is the adviser for the National Honor Society and the Diverse Students United Club. His community leadership in Milford includes being a founding member of the Huron Valley Martin Luther King Jr. Day Committee, the Huron Valley Film Organization, and Village Fine Arts Association – activities he continues to support to the present.

He and his wife, Andrea, have two children, Lincoln and Layla, and live in Milford, Michigan.

Perry was nominated for the Green Apple Teaching Award by Ken Michalak, who will graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.