College announces 2020 alumni award recipients

Dean Williams holds up a glass in front of a screen showing the alumni award winners
Dean Williams toasts the 2020 alumni awards winners during a virtual reception.

South Africa’s first female nuclear engineer, a military jet propulsion systems designer, one of the developers of the Materials Genome Initiative, a nationally renowned historic preservation expert and an entrepreneur enhancing the lives of disabled Ohioans are among the 21 recipients honored with 2020 Excellence in Engineering and Architecture Alumni Awards.

The awards recognize exceptional alumni from across the College of Engineering who have achieved distinction in their fields or through their extraordinary service contributions since graduating from The Ohio State University. A celebration of the 2020 winners will be held in 2021, once it is safe to gather in person.

“We are delighted to honor these alumni who better their communities and our world through their extraordinary professional achievements, innovation and service,” said Dean David B. Williams, the Monte Ahuja Endowed Dean’s Chair. “They represent the best and brightest graduates from across the College of Engineering and inspire us all.”

Stanley Harrison headshot

The Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership will be presented to innovator and leader Stanley E. Harrison (BS ’58, electrical engineering). During his 20-year career at BDM Corporation, Harrison developed new technologies for the Department of Defense. After retiring as president and COO in 1988, he served as founding dean of the Harry F. Byrd Jr. School of Business at Shenandoah University. A longtime supporter of his alma mater, he established the college’s Harrison Faculty Award to recognize excellence in engineering education and created an endowed scholarship that supports up to four engineering students from Gallia, Jackson and Meigs counties in southern Ohio.

“The Ohio State University has been the basis for my professional life as an engineer, research scientist, entrepreneur, corporate operation executive and educator at the university level,” said Harrison.

Phil Combs headshot

Benjamin G. Lamme Meritorious Achievement Medal recipient Colin Philip (Phil) Combs (BS ’71, aeronautical and astronautical engineering) is the retired president and CEO of the Belcan Corporation, a global supplier of engineering and technical services. He also had a long-standing career at GE Aviation, where he was involved in the design and development of propulsion systems for a number of advanced military aircraft programs, including the F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter, B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“Being a graduate of The Ohio State University has not only had a profound impact on my professional career, but also my life journey,” shared Combs. “It not only provided me a necessary base of technical knowledge, but it established relationships that were instrumental in my chosen profession. Many of the AAE faculty, like Dr. Jerry Gregorek, provided much more than technical instruction. They became mentors who inspired me to succeed and ultimately they became lifelong professional associates.”

Sandra Harbrecht Ratchford headshot
Harbrecht Ratchford

Paul Werth Associates CEO and President Sandra Harbrecht Ratchford (MS ’74, education; MBA ’82) will receive the Meritorious Service Citation, which honors sustained and extraordinary personal service that has had a significant effect on the advancement of the college. As the leader of one of the nation’s oldest and most respected public relations firms, Ratchford provides counsel and strategy to senior executives on reputation management, organization positioning and public policy advocacy. She also chairs the college’s External Advisory Council.

“One thing I’ve discovered about engineers, is that, generally, they are rather humble about what they do. Advocates like me can help get their stories in front of policymakers, gifted young people, donors and other important stakeholders,” said Ratchford. “That’s something I can give back to engineering in return for the many ways it’s making our lives better.” 

Lee Ann Schwope Cochran
Schwope Cochran

The 2020 Texnikoi Outstanding Alumni Award will be presented to Lee Ann Schwope Cochran (BS ’03, materials science and engineering). A partner with Amphora Consulting, she has spent nearly 20 years in corporate workplaces across the aerospace, defense, startup and non-profit industries. Cochran also advocates for women and girls’ access to education, participates with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and works to advance diversity and inclusion in STEM.

“Attending Ohio State provided me the opportunity to become an engineer and have the success I have had in my career,” Cochran said. “The Women in Engineering program had a direct impact on building my confidence, supporting me during challenging times and teaching me early that perfection is not possible or necessary. Dr. Mary Juhas and Glenda LaRue changed my life in the most positive way, and I will forever be grateful.”

Seventeen alumni will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards for outstanding professional achievement in three distinct categories.

Distinguished Alumni Award for Academic Excellence

  • Headshots of 7 Distinguished Alumni Award for Academic Excellence recipients
    From top left: John E. Allison, Linda Broadbelt, Nien-Yin (NY) Chang and Rick Freuler; From bottom left: Daniel Gallego-Perez, Dorota A. Grejner-Brzezinska and Timothy M. Pinkston
    John E. Allison (MS ’77, metallurgical engineering) is the Hosford Collegiate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan. He played a leadership role in the development of the national Materials Genome Initiative, which led to his election to the National Academy of Engineering for contributions to automotive casting technology and computational materials engineering.
  • Renowned for her kinetic modeling expertise, Linda Broadbelt (BS ’89, chemical engineering) is the Sarah Rebecca Roland Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and associate dean for engineering research at Northwestern University. She is a member of National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • During his 45-year career with the University of Colorado Denver’s Department of Civil Engineering, Professor Nien-Yin (NY) Chang (PhD ’76, civil engineering) has been a passionate educator, researcher and mentor. He initiated the engineering college's first doctoral program, helped revitalize the computer science and engineering program, and created the Center for Geotechnical Engineering Science.
  • Rick Freuler (BS ’74, MS ’74, PhD ’91, aeronautical and astronautical engineering; BS ’74, computer and information science) is a professor of practice with Ohio State’s Department of Engineering Education. He helped develop and directs the Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors Program, which has impacted more than 7,000 engineering honors students since 1998. The author of 35 papers in engineering education, Freuler also contributes to the aerospace engineering field with over $7.7 million in research and 140 publications/presentations. 
  • Prolific inventor Daniel Gallego-Perez (PhD ’11, biomedical engineering) is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and surgery at Ohio State. His research on developing nanotechnology-driven platforms for basic and translational biomedical applications have led to significant contributions to the fields of drug and gene delivery, cancer diagnosis and treatment, and regenerative medicine. He has filed more than 10 patents.
  • Renowned scholar in theory and applications of the Global Positioning System, mapping, and navigation of autonomous vehicles Dorota A. Grejner-Brzezinska (MS ’95, PhD ’95, geodetic science and surveying) is a senior associate vice president for research at Ohio State and associate dean for engineering research. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, serves on President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, is the author of over 350 papers and has led nearly 60 sponsored research projects.
  • Acclaimed computer system architecture and interconnection networks researcher Timothy M. Pinkston (BS ’85, electrical engineering) is the George Pfleger Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering and vice dean for faculty affairs in University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering. With over 100 technical publications, he has made key research contributions for abating interconnection network routing inefficiencies and preventing deadlock. 

Distinguished Alumni Award for Career Achievement

  • Headshots of 8 Distinguished Alumni Award for Career Achievement recipients
    From top left: Alan W. Blake, William J. Dawson, James T. Kienle and Allen M. Lo; From bottom left: Margaret Mkhosi, Raymond L. Nix, George Pantalos and W. Norm Shade 
    Industry expert and transformational leader Alan W. Blake (BS ’84, industrial and systems engineering) is the chief operating officer of Kettle Cuisine, a private label food manufacturer. His 35 years of delivering strong financial results includes executive roles at Blue Apron, Campbell Soup Company, Ocean Spray, P&G and Revlon. He is also a board member for Fusion Transport, where he serves as a coach for executive leaders.
  • William J. Dawson (BS ’81, chemical engineering) spent his 38-year career conceiving, developing and improving processes and products designed for the clean use of energy. In 1994, he co-founded Nexceris LLC, an engineering and product launch company based in central Ohio. As CEO, he oversaw Nexceris’ successful commercialization of over 100 products globally in the fuel cell, battery and catalyst markets, and its growth to over 40 employees.
  • James T. Kienle (BS ’67, architecture) focused his 45-year architectural career on preservation design and achieved a national reputation as a historic preservation specialist. He was VP and director of preservation for HNTB for 28 years and recently retired from Moody Nolan. Kienle’s notable projects include the Indiana Government Center South, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Circle Theatre and master plans for the Indiana and Kentucky State Capital campuses.
  • Allen M. Lo (BS ’90, electrical engineering) is deputy general counsel for product, IP and legal operations at Facebook, where he leads a team of over 250 responsible for providing legal counsel and protecting company intellectual property rights. Previously, Lo was deputy general counsel for patents at Google, where his team played a central role in the smartphone patent wars.
  • Margaret Mkhosi (MS ‘03, PhD ’07, nuclear engineering) is the first female nuclear engineer in South Africa. As the director of the Centre for Nuclear Safety & Security at the National Nuclear Regulator in South Africa, she oversees more than 16 national and international academic, research and technical support organizations. Mkhosi also serves as the Women in Nuclear Global Executive for Africa, where she provides mentorship to women in over 10 countries.
  • The founder of two real estate development and revitalization firms, Raymond L. Nix (BS ’92, landscape architecture; MS ’94, city and regional planning) has spent his professional career committed to community and affordable housing development. His national experience transforming distressed neighborhoods into livable communities of choice includes developing over 1,400 residential units throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions totaling more than $298 million in development costs.
  • A cardiovascular explorer for over 47 years, George Pantalos (BS ’75, aeronautical and astronautical engineering; MS ’78 biomedical engineering) has developed surgical devices and procedures to enable research projects. A professor of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery and biomedical engineering at the University of Louisville, his research focuses on understanding and treating heart failure in both people and animals with mechanical devices, including artificial hearts, ventricular assist devices and cardiopulmonary support systems.
  • A gas compression machinery expert, W. Norm Shade (BS ’70, MS ’70, mechanical engineering) is a senior consultant and president emeritus of ACI Services Inc., a leading manufacturer of custom‐engineered reciprocating compressor products. In 2003, he started WiNS Consulting Services, which provides expert technical services for all types of gas compression machinery. He has authored more than 400 articles and technical papers, in addition to four books.

Distinguished Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

  • Headshots of 2 Distinguished Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation recipients
    From left; Seyed Madaeni and Ali Rahimi
    Seyed Madaeni (PhD ’12, industrial and systems engineering) created new artificial intelligence software that increases the commercial viability of renewable energy technologies by integrating them into the electric grid, predicting and managing variable power output, and using batteries to smooth their output. He is chief executive officer of technology provider AMS. Previously, Madaeni guided electricity market participation at Tesla.
  • Passionate entrepreneur Ali Rahimi (BS ’14, computer science and engineering) founded Ohio At Home Healthcare Agency in 2011 to help a friend meet her home care needs. The company has since helped hundreds of clients in central Ohio. In 2015, he founded Medforall, which provides assistive technologies and remote support to help individuals with disabilities increase their independence safely.
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