Distinguished Engineering Alumni of 2022

May 11, 2022

Nine honored by MSU Engineering for outstanding accomplishments

Dean Leo Kempel presented the 2022 MSU College of Engineering Alumni Awards during ceremonies on May 7. Recipients are (back row, left): John Wilkens, Charles Macon, Dean Leo Kempel, Michael W. Lamach Sr., and Essex Finney, Jr.; and (front): Marcia Lampela, Jason Napolitano, Bellandra Foster, and Xian-He Sun. Missing from photo is Isaac Perry.
Dean Leo Kempel presented the 2022 Engineering Alumni Awards to (back, left): John Wilkens, Charles Macon, Dean Leo Kempel, Michael W. Lamach Sr., and Essex Finney, Jr.; and (front): Marcia Lampela, Jason Napolitano, Bellandra Foster, and Xian-He Sun. Missing from photo is Isaac Perry.

The Michigan State University College of Engineering handed out its most prestigious alumni awards during ceremonies at MSU’s Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on Saturday, May 7. MSU Engineering also recognized 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 event was 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,” said Dean Leo Kempel. “I’m so glad we celebrated together this year, so we could 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 was 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.

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

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

Seven other alumni received departmental honors and the Green Apple Teaching Award was presented.

Applied Engineering Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award
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. Today he is responsible for overseeing sales, support, and operations for Altair’s business throughout the Americas as senior vice president – 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. 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.

Red Cedar Circle Award in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
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. 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. She has received many awards for contributions to civil engineering and entrepreneurship. She received a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering in 1983 and a Ph.D. in civil engineering in 1999.

Computer Science and Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award
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 prominent scholar in high performance computing (HPC), with a spread expertise in computer system software, architecture, and performance modeling. 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. A three-time MSU graduate, he received master’s degrees in mathematics (1985) and computer science (1987), before earning a Ph.D. in computer science in 1990.

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. A three-time MSU graduate, he earned bachelor’s (1983), master’s (1998) and doctoral (2001) degrees in electrical engineering.

Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award
Marcia L. 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. She worked with SWE in multiple operational and governance roles from 2009-2016 and was critical to transitioning SWE’s growth and advancement on a national scale. Currently, Lampela is the site manager for the Discovery Partners Institute at the University of Illinois System in Chicago. She received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1984.

Ken M
Ken Michalak accepted the Green Apple Teaching Award on behalf of Isaac Perry.

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 teaching English and math for 15 years, he successfully implemented a computer science education program at Lakeland High School in White Lake, Michigan. He now teaches AP-level classes that include AP English Language and Composition, AP Computer Science Principles, and AP Computer Science A (Java). He and his wife, Andrea, and two children, live in Milford, Michigan. Perry was nominated for the Green Apple Teaching Award by Ken Michalak, who graduated on May 8 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Michalak has accepted a job with the Ford Motor Company’s Rotational Program. He is interested in data analytics.