Congratulations to the 2018 Alumni Award Winners

The 2018 Alumni Awards luncheon and ceremony will recognize 12 alumni and one civic leader. Help us celebrate these extraordinary winners on Friday, April 20 at noon in Hermann Hall. Registration is required, and tickets are $50 each or $25 for children under 12. View the full list of winners below.

Alumni Medal
The Alumni Medal honors distinguished service to the university by alumni who have displayed the qualities of the Collens Merit Award, Alumni Service Award, and Professional Achievement Award. This is the highest honor bestowed by the Illinois Institute of Technology Alumni Association.

Victor A. Morgenstern

This year’s recipient is Victor A. Morgenstern (CHE ’64). Morgenstern began his career as a patent attorney and then spent more than four decades in the investment business. He served as principal and chairman of Valor Equity Partners from its inception until 2012 and is currently senior advisor. Valor’s investments cover restaurants, health services, beauty supplies, and innovative manufacturers such as Tesla Motors and SpaceX. Before Valor, in 1976 Morgenstern was founding principal of Harris Associates and served as president, chief executive officer, and chairman. He also serves as managing partner of Resolute Partners, a private family investment partnership. Prior to his entry into the investment business, Morgenstern was admitted to the Maryland and District of Columbia Bars and the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals as a patent attorney.

Alumni Service Award
The Alumni Service Award honors an individual who demonstrates continuous, selfless commitment to and devoted enthusiasm for Illinois Institute of Technology through involvement in various areas of the university including, but not limited to, recruitment, support, service, and leadership.

Michael E. Hill

This year’s recipient is Michael E. Hill (CS ’82). Hill’s Illinois Tech education has been put to good use through his work at companies like Envision Innovative Solutions, General Dynamics Corporation, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Motorola. He has held several upper-level technology-based positions, including senior staff electrical engineer and senior systems engineer, and has extensive project management, design, and product development experience. Hill is one of the driving forces behind the creation of the African American Alumni Association (4A), Illinois Tech’s first formally recognized affinity group, which he has chaired since its inception in 2009. That same year the group initiated a tribute event to Nate Thomas, a visionary administrator at Illinois Tech in the 1970s and 1980s whose early identification program resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of African American students at Illinois Tech.

Collens Merit Award
The Collens Merit Award is awarded to an individual nominated by the staff and/or faculty who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the future of Illinois Institute of Technology through philanthropic contributions paired with involvement in his or her gift.

Joel D. Krauss

This year’s recipient is Joel D. Krauss (MATH ’71). Prior to his retirement in 2017, Krauss had been founding principal at Market Strategy Group since 2005, a role in which he advised organizations and executives on initiatives focused on achieving profitable growth. In 1985 Krauss co-founded OmniTech Consulting Group, which he sold to Diamond Cluster International in 1999. In addition to providing general scholarship support, Krauss established the Marvin and Elaine Krauss Scholarship Fund in 2011 in honor of his father. He and his wife, Sophia, often meet with their College of Science scholars to discuss their plans for the future.

Galvin Award
The Galvin Award was established for Illinois Institute of Technology to honor non-alumni for their leadership and dedication. This award recognizes an individual whose service, leadership, and philanthropy have significantly advanced the university.

James E. Cowie

This year’s recipient is James E. Cowie. Cowie has more than 25 years of investing experience in technology services and education. He served as managing director of Frontenac, a private equity firm, from 1988 until his retirement in 2015. At that time he became executive chairman of Collegis Education, a technology-enabled solutions provider serving colleges and universities. He currently serves as president and chief executive officer of Collegis. Cowie joined the Civic Outreach Committee of the Illinois Institute of Technology Board of Trustees in 2012 to help advance the priorities of Fueling Innovation: The Campaign for IIT. He has introduced the university to numerous civic and corporate leaders and raised the university’s profile in the business and civic communities while contributing to the successful completion of the campaign’s $250 million goal in 2016.

International Award of Merit
The International Award of Merit recognizes an individual whose achievements have strengthened Illinois Institute of Technology’s reputation on an international scale.

Victor Y. Tsao

This year’s recipient is Victor Y. Tsao (M.S. CS ’80). In 1988 Tsao and his wife, Janie, Chinese immigrants by way of Taiwan, helped to launch the revolution in small business and home computer networking from their California garage. As founders of Linksys, the Tsaos partnered with overseas manufacturers to bring affordable networking to the masses. Tsao led product development and all company operations, while his wife led sales and business growth. By 1999 Linksys had developed the very first broadband router that cost less than $300, allowing average consumers to hook all their Internet devices up to one broadband line without a dial-up connection. In 2001 Linksys introduced one of the first consumer routers for wireless Internet. By 2005 the company controlled more than half the consumer networking market.

John J. Schommer Honor I Award
The John J. Schommer Honor I Award is awarded to alumni who excelled in both leadership and performance as student athletes at Illinois Institute of Technology and who also went on to achieve significant success after graduation.

Michael W. Mikula

This year’s recipient is Michael W. Mikula (MET ’91, M.S. MME ’93). Mikula joined Ford Motor Company in 1993 as a process engineer and was selected to participate in its prestigious four-year Manufacturing Leadership Program in 1997. He then held a series of management positions at Ford, overseeing the $1.6 billion overhaul of manufacturing processes at four different plants to introduce Ford’s EcoBoost engine in 2006 and helping Ford’s Van Dyke manufacturing plant increase production from 800,000 units to 1.8 million units per year from 2009 to 2012. In October 2017 Mikula was named global chief engineer for manufacturing system and infrastructure at Ford. In this role he oversees the manufacturing processes for engines, transmissions, axles, batteries, and motors across the globe, playing a critical part in the introduction of next-generation electrical and hybrid technologies.

Lifetime Achievement Award
The Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed posthumously on an individual who has recently passed away and who, during his or her life, achieved personal success, made an outstanding contribution to his or her chosen field of endeavor, and achieved recognition by his or her colleagues.

Robert H. “Pete” Bragg II

One of this year’s recipients is Robert H. “Pete” Bragg II (PHYS ’49, M.S. ’51, Ph.D. ’60). After earning his master’s degree, Bragg worked as a laborer at Dover Electroplating Company before moving on to Portland Cement Association Research Laboratory. He worked at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company after earning his Ph.D., where he managed the Metallurgy Department and worked with the Re-Entry Materials Program. In 1969 Bragg accepted a full professorship and joint appointment in the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was the only African American in the department until 1987. Bragg was named a fellow of the National Society of Black Physicists in 1995 and received their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. He was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 1992 to conduct research for one year at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria.

Vice Admiral Diego E. Hernandez, Retired

This year’s second recipient is Vice Admiral Diego E. Hernandez, Retired (PSYC ’55). Vice Admiral Hernandez’s military career spanned from 1955–1991. He became a naval aviator and piloted fighter jets from several aircraft carriers and went on to lead 147 combat missions in Vietnam, including the first strike conducted against two surface-to-air missile sites in North Vietnam. He was shot down twice in the space of five months. In 1980 Hernandez became commanding officer of the USS John F. Kennedy—he was the first Hispanic to serve as commanding officer of a United States Navy aircraft carrier. In 1982 he was named commander of U.S. Naval Forces Caribbean and in 1986 became commander of the U.S. Third Fleet. In his final military assignment in 1989, Hernandez served as deputy commander in chief of the U.S. Space Command as well as vice commander in chief of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Outstanding Young Alumnus/Alumna Award
The Outstanding Young Alumnus/Alumna Award recognizes an individual age 40 or younger who has advanced rapidly over the course of his or her career and has displayed significant achievement in the areas of leadership and professional success.

Rebecca A. Buchmeier

One of this year’s recipients is Rebecca A. Buchmeier (M.ARCH ’06). At the age of 39, Buchmeier has already made her mark on the Chicago skyline. She played a central role in the completion of the bright blue Roosevelt University tower on Michigan Avenue and served as both project architect and project manager of the Hyatt Place Hotel at 28 North Franklin Street—a notoriously difficult site with an area of only 90 feet by 90 feet, which many companies had tried and failed to develop. Buchmeier also designed the South American prototypes for Hampton and Hilton Garden Inns, using local materials and motifs to create a balance between Latin American culture and company branding. Currently she is project manager for a new Marriott Moxi Hotel in the central business district of Portland, Oregon. She is also working with the National Park Service to restore and convert a historic bank into a boutique hotel in Des Moines, Iowa.

Mark S. Haraburda

The second recipient is Mark S. Haraburda (M.S. FM ’04). In 1995, as the Internet began to disrupt a range of industries, the market data and services firm Barchart was founded. Today, the dynamic data and technology company competes head-to-head with industry giants like Bloomberg, IDC, and Thomson Reuters, thanks in no small part to Haraburda, who, as managing director, helped to grow the company’s business significantly over the course of 11 years. In 2016 Haraburda was made chief executive officer of Barchart at the age of 38. Prior to joining Barchart in 2007, he served for one year as director of business development for the Chicago Board Options Exchange and seven years as director of market data products and information at the Chicago Board of Trade, during a time of profound technological change and innovation for both organizations. In 2015 he founded the conference FinTech Exchange Chicago, which draws more than 500 financial technology professionals from around the world annually.

Mayank Kashyap

The third recipient is Mayank Kashyap (Ph.D. CHE ’10). Kashyap made a splash with his doctoral dissertation by solving a problem in fluidization that had mystified scientists for half a century: understanding the reason for extremely low Sherwood numbers of fine particles in fluidized beds. Kashyap discovered that the fine particles were actually forming clusters, and that if the clusters could be reduced, fluidization would improve significantly. In addition he discovered how to increase solids concentration in the core of fluidized bed risers to produce more gasoline from crude oil. Kashyap’s findings drew major attention and won him the 2012 George Klinzing Best Ph.D. Award in Particle Technology from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Upon his graduation in 2010, he joined Ascend Performance Materials, where he helped the company save $8.5 million a year by producing greater amounts of the chemical acrylonitrile from propylene, winning three company awards for his work. In 2014 at the age of 33, Kashyap became one of the youngest lead scientists at Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), where he produced several fluidization plans with potential benefits of $60 million per year, winning two more company awards as well as a promotion to become one of SABIC’s youngest staff scientists.

Professional Achievement Award
The Professional Achievement Award recognizes outstanding achievement in any professional field. This award honors alumni whose achievements in their fields have brought distinction to themselves as well as credit to Illinois Institute of Technology.

Charles J. Carter

One of this year’s recipients is Charles J. Carter (Ph.D. CE ’09). In 2016 Carter became the first person to be promoted internally to president of the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) in the organization’s 100-year history. The AISC sets the standards to which all steel buildings in the United States are designed and constructed. Carter joined the AISC as a staff engineer shortly after completing his master’s degree and began working with seasoned engineers, construction experts, and academics from across the country. In the 1990s he pioneered the online publication of AISC’s millions of pages of educational documents on steel, helping to grow the organization’s membership from 1,500 to more than 30,000 today. He also helped to develop the AISC’s first Seismic Design Manual for earthquake-resistant buildings; oversaw production of a unified Steel Manual covering both Allowable Stress Design and Load and Resistance Factor Design; and led the reformation of the AISC Code of Standard Practice. In conjunction with his role at AISC, Carter sits on many national committees, including those of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Structural Engineering Institute.

Nestor J. Zaluzec

The second recipient is Nestor J. Zaluzec (PHYS ’73). While working at Sherwin-Williams Research Center to pay his way through college, Zaluzec was “discovered” when his co-workers caught him programming one of the company’s new calculating machines to do his homework, and by the time he graduated from Illinois Tech, he had designed and built Sherwin-Williams a spectrogoniphotometer that went beyond the capabilities of anything in the company’s lab. He went on to a doctoral program at University of Illinois, where he developed seminal techniques for quantitative analysis of the X-rays emitted by specimens in the transmission electron microscope, improving the measurement and imaging of objects as small as atoms. He created an entire suite of hardware and software to do the analysis, and scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee were so impressed that they nominated him for the prestigious Eugene P. Wigner Fellowship, allowing him to do any kind of science he wanted at Oak Ridge for the next three years. Zaluzec then moved to Argonne National Laboratory, where he spent most of the 1980s advancing instruments and analysis techniques for materials science. In the 1990s he continued his focus on improving instruments, developing Telepresence Microscopy and STEM Position Resolved Diffraction and inventing the Scanning Confocal Electron Microscope. In 2009 he was a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Transmission Electron Aberration-Corrected project. Today, he continues to design various new cutting-edge microscopes to image and analyze nanostructures, soft and molecular materials, polymers, and single particles like viruses.