Their faces lit up the scoreboard, they patted Howard’s Rock and they celebrated by the end zone.
Some of Clemson University’s top alumni gathered in Memorial Stadium on the night of April 25 for the annual showcase gala of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences. Three of the college’s alumni were inducted into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists, while three others were celebrated as Outstanding Young Alumni.
The newest academy members are I.V. Hall, Denise Rutledge Simmons and Vanessa Ellerbe Wyche. This year’s crop of Outstanding Young Alumni are Chelsea L. Ex-Lubeskie, Allison Godwin and Amol V. Janorkar.
Honorees walked down an orange carpet to the field, where they were greeted by a bluegrass band and a congratulatory message on the scoreboard. They later went to the nearby Reeve’s Recruiting Room for dinner.
About 150 family, friends, academy members and supporters turned out to help celebrate with the college’s dean, Anand Gramopadhye.
“Each of today’s honorees has an individual story to tell,” he said. “More importantly, they all serve as inspirational motivators.”
Fewer than 0.2 percent of alumni are inducted to the academy, the college’s highest honor. Members have made major contributions to their professions and brought significant distinction to the college and university.
The Outstanding Young Alumni award is reserved for graduates of the college who are 40 years old or younger and have made significant achievements to their profession or the welfare of society.
Here’s a look at the honorees:
I.V. Hall: He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clemson and followed those with an MBA from Pennsylvania State University. He also graduated from the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program in 2009.
Hall began his engineering career at Kensey Nash Corporation working in cardiology and moved to the orthopedic device company, Synthes in 1997.
In 2012, he played a significant role in the merger of DePuy and Synthes companies under Johnson & Johnson, where he now serves as the worldwide president for trauma, extremities, craniomaxillofacial, and animal health.
He personally holds ten patents on orthopedic medical devices. His two decades of experience in product development, life cycle management, and team and global leadership has transformed the sphere of bioengineering.
Hall is always eager to share his time, talent, and resources with Clemson University in spite of his rigorous international travel schedule. He was instrumental in securing the Hansjorg Wyss Endowed Chair for Regenerative Medicine: Biomaterials and Implant Designs, which included a $4 million endowment to support academic work and research that focuses on orthopedic and biomaterials research.
Hall and his wife Susan, a 1994 Clemson graduate, have created two endowments for advancing the college, and they both contribute annually to the Dean’s Excellence Fund through the Leadership Circle.
Hall serves on the Clemson University Foundation Board of Directors. In the college, he is a past chair and current member of the Clemson Bioengineering Advisory Board. He is also a member of the CECAS Dean’s Advisory Council
Denise Rutledge Simmons: She has been called a “trailblazer.” After receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Clemson, she became the first female and the first African American to hold the position of engineer in the Eastern Division of the South Carolina Electric & Gas Company.
She was a mentor and source of inspiration for many other women and people from underrepresented backgrounds in technical positions throughout the company.
Simmons later began an academic career as an adjunct faculty member, teaching at several institutions, before joining South Carolina State University as an assistant professor in civil engineering technology.
She also continued her education and became the first African-American female to receive a doctorate in civil engineering from Clemson.
Simmons’ academic research focuses on preparation of the civil engineering workforce by exploring the role of resilience and leadership, removing barriers, and investigating the effects of co-curricular activities on the successful development of academic competencies by underrepresented students in civil engineering.
Shortly after joining the faculty at Virginia Tech, she was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER award. She has garnered regional and national recognition for her research, including the 2016 College of Engineering’s Outstanding New Assistant Professor award and the 2018 National Distinction Award for Research.
Last year she joined the faculty in the Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering at the University of Florida.
Throughout the entire arc of Simmons’ career, her engineering practice has informed her academic research, which now informs engineering practice.
She continues to return to Clemson to share her expertise and experience with our students. Simmons is often a guest speaker for classes, PEER events, and student organizations.
Vanessa Ellerbe Wyche: Over the course of her 30-year career, Wyche has been of service to her country and community. She is the first African American to serve as deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, an organization of 13,000 civil service and contractor employees in Houston, and at White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
As second in command of Johnson Space Center, her responsibilities include leadership of NASA’s astronauts, mission control operations, the International Space Station, development of human spaceflight programs and spacecraft for missions in low earth orbit and future missions to the moon and Mars.
After graduating from Clemson, with a Bachelor of Science in ceramic engineering and a Master of Science in bioengineering, Wyche began her career with the Food and Drug Administration, in Washington.
She later took a job with NASA and has made many outstanding scientific and technical contributions to the nation’s space program, including International Space Station assembly oversight, which has had astronauts continuously in orbit around the earth for nearly 19 years.
Wyche has received numerous honors, notably, two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, two NASA Achievement Medals, two JSC Innovation Awards, and a 2014 Women at NASA award. She was also among the “2016 Women Worth Watching” according to the Profiles in Diversity Journal.
Featured in the January 2017 issue of Role Model Magazine, Wyche is known as a passionate mentor for women and underrepresented students and a tireless promoter of STEM.
In 2013 she instituted an annual science fair at an underserved elementary school.
She partners with engineers from NASA and volunteers from local non-profits to mentor students over the course of six weeks as they develop science projects. About 800 students have participated to date.
Plans are underway to expand the science project mentorship program to another elementary school in the Houston area.
She is also the Life to Eagle Coordinator for her church’s Boy Scout Troop, where her mentorship has helped 14 young men earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
Her body of work shows what can be attained through the diligent intersection of talent, hard work and dedication.
Chelsea Ex-Lubeskie: She graduated in 2012 with her Bachelor of Science in bioengineering and followed that with her master’s in 2013.
She went on to begin a startup, Tarian Orthotics, LLC to commercialize the innovative shoulder brace that she designed while at Clemson.
During her tenure at Tarian, she worked part-time as a marketing analyst at the MUSC Foundation for Research Development.
After three years, Ex-Lubeskie and her business partner dissolved the startup, and she was offered a
foundation position as licensing manager. In this role, she evaluated a variety of medical device and breakthrough technologies for commercial potential, managed protection of intellectual property, marketed technologies to prospective licensees, and negotiated option and license agreements.
In January 2018, she was named business development manager for the foundation.
Ex-Lubeskie now primarily works with MUSC startups to provide guidance and help secure Small Business Administration funding for research and technology transfer.
She also helps the South Carolina Research Authority, Clemson bioengineering, and SCBIO foster collaborative relationships to accelerate technology development.
Allison Godwin: She received her Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering and Ph.D. in engineering and science education from Clemson. Her degrees launched her into a tenure-track position as an assistant professor in Purdue’s School of Engineering Education.
Godwin captured the attention of her more senior colleagues when she was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER grant, one of the the foundation’s most prestigious awards for junior faculty.
In addition to the CAREER grant, she has garnered more than $4 million in funding since she joined the faculty in the fall of 2014.
Godwin’s research accomplishments have received national and international media attention. She has won several best paper awards from engineering and science education societies.
One paper Godwin co-authored with Clemson faculty promoting STEM fields among children generated 14 news stories from 12 media outlets in North America, Asia, and the Middle East, reaching over 1.9 million people on social media.
Godwin’s classroom effectiveness led to an invitation to the 2016 National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium.
She has made an extraordinary mark on the world through her distinguished faculty career and has remained involved with her alma mater as a donor, an unofficial mentor for our current students, and a member of the advisory board for the Department of Engineering and Science Education.
Amol Janorkar: His research prowess and skill in the classroom as a graduate student at Clemson made it obvious that he was well suited for the university environment as a professor.
After completing a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School in the Center for Engineering in Medicine, Janorkar joined the faculty at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 2007. He is now a full professor in the Biomedical Materials Science Department.
Janorkar has been very successful in securing funding for his research in cell-biomaterials interactions, tissue engineering, and drug delivery. Grants from governmental and corporate partners exceed $2.2 million in extramural funding.
Over his career Janorkar has published 45 peer-reviewed journal articles, one of which has been cited 1,400 times.
He received the TEACH Prize for 2018, the highest honor bestowed upon a faculty member at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The honor generated an article in the Society for Biomaterials Forum.
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