Alumni Awards 2023: MSU recognizes world-class achievements

May 9, 2023 UPDATE

The College’s 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented Saturday to (left) Keith Tinsey, James Wineman, Brian Kent for his brother John Kent, Dean Leo Kempel, Geoff Gavrila, Donnie Haye, Ron Flinn, and Aaron Copeland. Missing from photo is Brendan Klare.
The College’s 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented Saturday, May 6, during the 20th annual alumni banquet. Honored (from left) are Keith Tinsey, James Wineman, Brian Kent for his brother John Kent, Dean Leo Kempel, Geoff Gavrila, Donnie Haye, Ron Flinn, and Aaron Copeland. Missing from photo is Brendan Klare.












May 2, 2023

MSU Engineering honors nine for significant accomplishments

The Michigan State University College of Engineering will honor eight distinguished graduates with 2023 Alumni Awards on Saturday, May 6, at MSU’s Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. The College 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.

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 world-class achievements of these alumni exemplify how Spartan Engineers change our communities and world,” Kempel said. “We will gather together and extend our heartiest congratulations to each of them.” 

The 2023 Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award

Donnie D. Haye
Donnie D. Haye

Receiving this year’s Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award is Donnie D. Haye. The award is the College’s top alumni honor and recognizes professional accomplishment, volunteer service, and distinguished service to the college and the engineering profession.

Haye is a global business leader with multiple IBM executive positions in operations, finance, service delivery, and transformation. She is a recognized leader in enhancing client services and business operations through the development and implementation of innovative analytics, AI solutions, and automation, with the accompanying process transformation. Highlights of her teams’ work are featured in the books Analytics Across the Enterprise and Supply Chain Metrics That Matter. She and colleagues were awarded a patent for Real-Time Analytics for Streaming Data.

She is a member of the Michigan State University Foundation Advisory Board, and she spent 10 years on the College of Engineering Advisory Board, including two as chair.

Haye received a bachelor’s degree from MSU in 1981 in applied engineering sciences. She resides in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. 

As part of the Erickson Award honor, Haye will present the keynote address to more than 900 Spartan Engineers during the 2023 Undergraduate Spring Commencement on Sunday, May 7, 3:30 p.m. in the Breslin Center.

The other 2023 Alumni Awards go to:

Applied Engineering Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award

Geoff G. Gavrila
Geoff G. Gavrila

Geoff G. Gavrila
BS, 1974
Applied Engineering Sciences

Geoff G. Gavrila is a retired independent consultant. He is the CEO at Strategic Planning International and has applied his technical and business expertise to the defense support industry. Prior to becoming self-employed, he had senior positions with Jacobs Technology in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, MacAulay-Brown, Inc., and MTC Technologies, Inc, both in Dayton, Ohio.

He completed a 20-year U.S. Air Force career with his final assignment to Headquarters Air Combat Command as an action officer for reconnaissance programs requirements. Specifically, he worked on the development and acquisition of manned and unmanned platforms, sensors, data links, and ground processing and exploitation systems.  A highlight of his career was being a Civil Engineering squadron commander, base commander, and civil authority for the United States Trust Territory of Wake Island.

He and his wife, Irene (MSU ’72), currently reside in Yorktown, Virginia. 

Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award

Keith G. Tinsey
Keith G. Tinsey

Keith G. Tinsey
BS, 1989
Agricultural Engineering

Keith G. Tinsey facilitates production and customer supply for chipping potatoes for Black Gold Farms locations in Indiana, Michigan, and North Dakota. He has a broad background in applied engineering for farming and agricultural systems. He is recognized for his expertise in harvest, post-harvest handling, storing, shipping, transportation, and utilization of potatoes.

From humble beginnings in 4-H and FFA to a national agricultural leader and the presidency of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), Tinsey has excelled in his profession while developing diverse and cross cutting relationships to advance opportunities for students and others in agriculture. His passion for operational excellence in farming extended and optimized potato storage that led to significant additional business and food waste reduction for Michigan based Walther Farms and North Dakota based Black Gold Farms.

Among his many connections to MSU, he is past director of the Michigan Agricultural Electric Council and directed outreach to improve farm-level electrical wiring and safety. He also advanced relationships between utility companies and the agricultural industry.

He lives in Grand Ledge, Michigan. 

Red Cedar Circle Award in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Award

John P. Kent
John P. Kent

John P. Kent
BS, 1980
Chemical Engineering

John P. Kent is a technology executive who retired from full time work in 2022 following a 42-year career in the semiconductor industry.  

After graduating from MSU, he joined IBM in Essex Junction, Vermont, where he worked with a team to introduce polyimide materials into the semiconductor insulation and etch processes for 16K-64K generation high performance memories. During the following 23 years, he was responsible for the development and engineering of memory and logic components spanning the areas of Deep-Ultraviolet Lithography, Electrical Characterization, Equipment Engineering, and Wafer Fabrication. Through the years, Kent led technical and chip design teams in multiple sites in the U.S., Belgium, China, Germany, and India.

He owns and operates Garnet Peak Associates, LLC, a consulting presence focused on engineering risk management. He serves as chair of the Idaho State University Foundation. He is a member of the MSU Engineering Alumni Board and the Technical Advisory Board, and Silvaco, an engineering design automation software company in Silicon Valley.  He is a senior member of the IEEE and AiChE.

He and his wife, Susan Moore Kent, reside in Bozeman, Montana.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award

Ronald T. Flinn
Ronald T. Flinn

Ronald T. Flinn, P.E.
BS, 1960
Civil Engineering

Ronald T. Flinn has been a fixture on the MSU campus for more than half a century. He arrived as a student in 1957 and chose never to leave. During his tenure, he was involved in the design and construction of nearly 75 percent of the campus's buildings and infrastructure. After earning his bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1960, he became a full-time employee and was promoted to plant engineer, associate director, interim director of building services, university engineer, assistant vice president, and vice president.

He was one of the driving forces behind the development of MSU’s south campus. Under his watchful eye, the MSU added the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, the Veterinary Clinic, the Chemistry and Biochemistry buildings, and the T.B. Simon Power Plant. He shared his expertise over the years, serving on countless university committees and initiatives, including the development of the 2020 Master Plan. He has been nationally recognized for his contributions to MSU and his profession. He was awarded the Midwest APPA Award for Excellence in Facilities Management. He also served as president of the APPA/Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers.

In 2013, the MSU Board of Trustees honored his exceptional service as its vice president for strategic infrastructure planning and facilities. He retired in 2015. His lifelong journey is captured in his memoir, "A Rendezvous with MSU" (2016 MSU Press).

Computer Science and Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award 

Brendan F. Klare
Brendan F. Klare

Brendan F. Klare
Ph.D., 2012
Computer Science and Engineering

Brendan F. Klare is the co-founder, president, and chief scientist of Rank One Computing, a leading provider of facial recognition, computer vision, and machine learning algorithms to the U.S. Government, state and local law enforcement agencies, the financial sector, and other industries. Rank One is employee-owned and located in Denver, Colorado.

While at MSU, he published dozens of peer-reviewed articles on the topic of automated face recognition and pattern recognition algorithms with his adviser, University Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Anil K. Jain. 

Before founding Rank One, he served as a subject matter expert consultant on the use of automatic face recognition algorithms for the U.S. Department of State, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). Prior to his academic studies, he served as an infantryman in the 75th Ranger Regiment, U.S. Army.

John D. Ryder Electrical and Computer Engineering Alumni Award 

James A. Wineman
James A. Wineman

James A. Wineman
BS, 1961
Electrical Engineering

James (Jim) A. Wineman began his career with General Electric in the Defense Systems Division in Syracuse, New York. He accepted a position with General Motors in 1962, where he was influential in developing surface hardening of iron using high powered CO2 lasers within the manufacturing environment. The work culminated in Wineman receiving the Technical Achievement Award from Laser Focus magazine.

As he rose through the management ranks within GM, he continued his lifelong love of learning and teaching as an adjunct faculty member in the engineering department of a local university. He retired from GM after 36 years.

Upon retiring, he started Wineman Technology, Inc. or WTI. He found a niche in the test machine build and data acquisition systems industry. Some of WTI’s projects included building novel test machine systems in the aerospace, military, and automotive sectors for Caterpillar, Boeing, Bombardier, and Space X, among others.

Following a second successful 29-year career, he sold WTI in 2020 and can now be found in either Petoskey, Michigan, or Naples, Florida. 

Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award

Aaron L. Copeland
Aaron L. Copeland

Aaron L. Copeland
BS, 1987
Mechanical Engineering

Aaron L. Copeland is vice president of engineering for Northrop Grumman’s Mission Systems sector. He has executive responsibility in leading the establishment of a scalable, model-based enterprise and partnering with business divisions in delivering engineering excellence.

While he has spent much of his career in the aerospace business, his experience over his 30+ year career has spanned automotive, space and aircraft products in engineering, manufacturing, product test & integration, business development, program / project management, global supply chain, finance, and human resources. He has also been a small business owner and is active in his community.

He currently serves on the Aerospace Industries Association Technical Operations Council Executive Committee and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Northrop Grumman Foundation. He is a past recipient of the Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) for Most Promising Engineer in Industry and the BEYA Modern Day Technology Award for career achievements. He has been an active member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and is the executive sponsor for the Northrop Grumman African American Task Group.

He resides in Baltimore with his wife, Julissa, and their son, Julian.

Green Apple Teaching Award

Jack Vogel
Jack Vogel

Jack Vogel
BS, 1987
General Science, MSU College of Natural Science

Jack Vogel is a retired high school physics teacher, who worked at Napoleon, Waverly, and Haslett high schools for 31 years. He created a classroom culture that valued student interaction and feedback. His instruction focused on diagnosing and correcting student misconceptions.

He also owned a company that helped students and school districts analyze mistakes and improve performance through instructional modules using the ACT and SAT examinations.

Vogel and his wife, Martha, live in Williamston, Michigan.

He was nominated for the award by Peter Phan, who graduated from MSU in mechanical engineering in December 2022. Each year, MSU Engineering recognizes a high school educator for their noteworthy efforts to teach technical education and computer science.