College celebrates 15 alumni for exceptional achievements, service
A barrier-breaking leader in higher education and the arts, an internationally recognized nuclear engineering expert and one of the nation’s leading design justice advocates are among the 15 alumni honored during the 25th Annual Excellence in Engineering and Architecture Awards on September 30, 2022.
The celebration recognizes 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.
“We are proud to recognize these 15 esteemed College of Engineering alumni who have distinguished themselves as changemakers, leaders, innovators and passionate volunteers,” said Dean Ayanna Howard, the Monte Ahuja Endowed Dean’s Chair. “Their impactful efforts to improve our world are an inspiration.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership was presented to Colette Pierce Burnette (BS ’80, industrial and systems engineering), who is the first Black female president and CEO of Newfields—home of an art museum, park and garden in Indianapolis. Previously, she was the first female president of Huston-Tillotson University where she achieved significant growth in the university’s endowment, launched pioneering academic programs and established strong partnerships with organizations such as Apple, Tesla and Indeed.
American Nuclear Society President Steven A. Arndt (BS ’81, engineering physics; MS ’84, PhD ’10, nuclear engineering) was awarded the Benjamin G. Lamme Meritorious Achievement Medal. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory distinguished scientist led the United States’ support programs to the former Soviet Union following the Chernobyl accident and as part of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s response to the Fukushima accident.
Meritorious Service Citation recipient Chuck Elgin (BS ’78, industrial and systems engineering) was a technology executive for several of the nation’s largest banks prior to his retirement. The engaged community volunteer’s contributions include helping build 175 handicap access ramps for people in need and serving on the Department of Integrated Systems Engineering Advisory Board for 42 years.
Five alumni received the college’s Texnikoi Outstanding Alumni Award, which recognizes younger alumni for achievements since graduation that exemplify qualities such as leadership, integrity and community participation.
- Elizabeth J. Biddinger (PhD ’10, chemical engineering) is an associate professor of chemical engineering at The City College of New York and deputy director of the Center for Decarbonizing Chemical Manufacturing Using Sustainable Electrification, whose research focuses on electrochemical reaction engineering for green chemistry and energy.
- Ben Gilbert (BS ’11, computer science and engineering) is the co-founder and managing director of Pioneer Square Labs, a startup studio and early-stage venture capital firm in Seattle that has created over 50 venture capital-backed technology companies in the Pacific Northwest. He is also the co-host of Acquired, a podcast with more than 250,000 subscribers that has been ranked the #1 technology show on Apple Podcasts.
- Harry A. Kennedy Jr. (BS ’13, electrical and computer engineering) is the founder and executive director of nonprofit HAKing Innovation, which has impacted over 5,000 students and is building a community of technical talent via its workshops, after-school programs and summer camps for students of all ages. He is also a technical specialist for electronic system design at Altair Engineering.
- Bryan C. Lee Jr. (BS ’06, architecture) is an architect, educator, writer and one of the nation’s leading design justice advocates. He is also the founder and design principal of Colloqate Design, a nonprofit design practice focused on expanding community access to and building power through the design of social, civic and cultural spaces for racial and social equity.
- Theodore Roosevelt Nicholson III (MS ’09, PhD ’11, biomedical engineering) owns medical device consulting firm TRN3 Consulting, which supports sustainable innovation in health care, energy, agriculture, water and housing development for underserved and underrepresented communities. He is also the chief technical officer for IASO Automated Medical Systems, a critical care startup.
Seven alumni earned Distinguished Alumni Awards for outstanding professional achievement in three distinct categories.
Distinguished Alumni Award for Academic Excellence
- Kenneth Ray Diller (BS ’66, MS ’67, mechanical engineering) is an experienced leader, accomplished scholar and innovator. A professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, his technology for simple and safe thermal methods helps people get to sleep more effectively and drop their overnight blood pressure without medication.
- Aimee T. Ulstad (BS ’84, mechanical engineering) is an award-winning associate professor of practice in Ohio State’s Department of Integrated Systems Engineering who brings her 30+ years of professional industry experience to the classroom. She was also part of the core team that developed the four-year Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology degree program now offered on three regional campuses.
Distinguished Alumni Award for Career Achievement
- Rudolph P. Frizzi (BS ’85, civil engineering) is a managing principal and executive vice president at LANGAN Engineering and Environmental Services. During his 35-plus years in industry, Frizzi has provided civil, geotechnical, expert and forensic engineering consultation on projects located on practically every continent, including skyscrapers, sports arenas and stadiums, vehicular tunnels and deep excavations.
- Bonnie M. Hammersley (BS ’79, ceramic engineering) is a senior advisor to the U.S. Secret Service focused on workforce resiliency and human resource information technology issues. A retired executive of the Department of Defense, she served over 20 years in the Senior Executive Service and is a two-time Presidential Rank Award recipient.
- Christopher Meyers (BS ’94, MS ’96, architecture) is the founding owner and principal architect of Meyers + Associates, a Columbus-based architecture and interior design practice he established in 1999. He leads the nationally recognized firm with innovative design solutions for a wide range of diverse project types.
- Paul Wood (BS ’83, MS ’88, welding engineering) is a senior advisor to First Reserve, a leading energy-focused global private equity firm that has raised over $31 billion in capital and completed 650+ transactions globally. Before his retirement in 2017, he was the CEO and board chair of Brand Industrial Systems.
Distinguished Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
- Xi-Yong (Sean) Fu (MS ’00, PhD ’01, materials science and engineering) is a co-founder and the CEO of RVAC Medicines. The international mRNA platform company creates innovative products to treat diseases with unmet medical needs and has raised $170 million in funding. Previously he was group vice president and head of International R&D of Luye Pharma.
View photographs from the 25th Annual Excellence in Engineering & Architecture Alumni Awards celebration.