College celebrates 13 outstanding alumni
A decorated aviator who rose to the Navy’s second-highest rank, an automotive engineer helping GM revolutionize the future of battery electric trucks, a change agent for tech startups and a philanthropist who helped build thriving communities are among the 13 alumni who were honored during the 2023 College of Engineering Alumni Awards on October 20.
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.
“This is among my favorite nights of the year,” Dean Ayanna Howard, the Monte Ahuja Endowed Dean’s Chair, shared with distinguished alumni and their guests. “You make me proud to lead an institution that produces such inspiring alumni.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership was presented posthumously to Austin E. “Dutch” Knowlton (BS ’31, architectural engineering) who helped build and shape thriving communities throughout his lifetime. He was the owner and chairman of the Knowlton Construction Company, which he started in 1937. Knowlton and his company were responsible for more than 600 large construction projects throughout Ohio and the Midwest, including school buildings, hospitals and libraries. In 1981, he established the Knowlton Foundation, which aims to promote and advance higher education. Knowlton and his foundation have generously supported architecture, aviation and the Gateway to Engineering building at Ohio State and its School of Architecture, and airport terminal and flight school are named in his honor.
Decorated Naval aviator and technology startup incubator co-founder Walter J. Davis Jr. (BS ’59, electrical engineering) was awarded the Benjamin G. Lamme Meritorious Achievement Medal. Throughout his 37-year naval career, Davis rose steadily through the ranks, serving as an aviator, test pilot, executive officer, commanding officer and ultimately the Navy’s second-highest rank of vice admiral. He served two combat tours in Vietnam and a third in the Middle East, and was the Navy’s engineer for the F-14 airplane. When he retired, Davis was deputy chief of naval operations for space, information warfare, command and control directing the Navy’s information technology budget. Today he is vice president of organizational development for EvoNexus, a San Diego-based nonprofit technology startup incubator he co-founded in 2010.
Three 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.
Charles M. Muse (BS ’13, aeronautical and astronautical engineering) was named program engineering manager for battery electric trucks at General Motors in 2021. In this role, he is responsible for the design, development and validation of the first-ever all-electric GMC Sierra EV and Chevrolet Silverado EV full-size pickup trucks. He also serves as a speaker and mentor across various platforms spanning STEM industry conferences to youth mentorship programs.
Stacyann P. Russell (BS ’10, industrial and systems engineering) is the founder and CEO of The Daraja Collective where she works with organizations to launch and scale tech startups in the U.S., Canada and globally. She is also the director of the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps Hub: West Region where she works with nine academic institutions across California, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico to help researchers learn how to translate fundamental research into the marketplace.
John M. Sosa (BS ’10, MS ’14, PhD ’15, materials science and engineering) is CEO and co-founder of MIPAR Software LLC, a global leader in algorithm development and image analysis software. Sosa’s specialized doctorate research at Ohio State in 2D and 3D microscopy and characterization of titanium alloys served as the foundation for MIPAR’s development and initial commercialization. Established in 2017, MIPAR serves hundreds of corporations, nonprofits and universities across six continents.
Eight alumni earned Distinguished Alumni Awards for outstanding professional achievement in three distinct categories.
Distinguished Alumni Award for Academic Excellence
- Ashutosh Sabharwal (MS ’95, PhD ’99, electrical engineering) is a chaired professor of engineering and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University. His research on developing new wireless technologies, and novel digital health medical devices and algorithms has led to multiple startups. Sabharwal is also a co-founder of medical device innovator Cognita Labs.
- Emily Talen (M ’84, city and regional planning) is professor of urbanism at the University of Chicago, where she teaches urban design and directs the Urbanism Lab. Her research is devoted to urban design and urbanism, especially the relationship between the built environment and social equity. A Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners, Talen has published five books and written extensively on the topics of urban design, new urbanism and social equity.
Distinguished Alumni Award for Career Achievement
- Shalabh Chandra (MS ’92, biomedical engineering) has more than two decades of experience in medical devices and medical diagnostics. Currently, he is president at Spacelabs Healthcare in Snoqualmie, Washington. An active member in his community, Chandra is on the board of Snoqualmie Valley Shelter Services and is a member of the Snoqualmie Economic Development Committee.
- Mahantesh S. Hiremath (MS ’84, PhD ’87, civil engineering) has over 30 years of experience in the energy, infrastructure, oil and gas, and space technology industries. He currently serves as vice president of SC Solutions, a premier engineering consulting company based in Silicon Valley, California. A Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Hiremath served as the society’s 140th president in 2021-22
- Sravana Karnati (PhD ’94, chemical engineering) has 25 years of leadership experience delivering innovative technology solutions for a variety of industries, including chemical, high-tech, media, travel and retail. Currently the senior vice president of technology for Walmart International, Karnati previously held leadership roles at Amazon, AspenTech, Disney, Expedia, Oracle and SterlingCheck.
- Wendy A. McCall (BS ’98, chemical engineering) is a U.S. alliance director for Microsoft, managing roughly $2.5 billion in cloud revenue. She’s held various roles in marketing and enterprise sales leadership for the past 22 years, including 13 years at Microsoft. McCall is also a city commissioner for the City of San Mateo (CA) and a member of Buckeye Engineering Women in Executive Leadership (BEWEL).
Distinguished Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
- Laura Ensign (BS ’07, chemical engineering) is currently the Marcella E. Woll Professor of Ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins University. Her research has led to the translation of pharmaceutical products that improve clinical management of human disease. Ensign has co-founded three startup companies at various stages of clinical trials and is an inventor on numerous patents licensed to pharmaceutical companies, including many protecting FDA-approved therapies.
- Srinivasan “KG” Ganapathi (MS ’88, PhD ’90, metallurgical engineering) has pursued technological innovation to drive his entrepreneurial ventures throughout his career and is the co-inventor on over 40 issued and applied patents. Currently, he is co-founder and CEO of Vimaan Robotics Inc., a computer vision company for warehouse inventory management. Ganapathi also serves on the Founding Advisory Board of UC Berkeley’s Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology Undergraduate Program.
View photographs from the 2023 College of Engineering Alumni Awards celebration.