Alumni

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Alumni share how U-M ME shaped their careers and lives. Read more stories

Beth Ann Less

Beth Ann Less - BSE, 2017

From my early-childhood obsession with Legos and building Hot Wheels tracks, I knew that I had the most fun when I was building, fixing, tinkering, and playing with things. As I got older, I realized that these characteristics of problem solver, innovator, and creator that I possessed were synonymous with "engineer," and I immediately discovered what I wanted to do with my life. I looked at many engineering programs but connected most with the Mechanical Engineering program at Michigan because of its focus on building teamwork and collaboration skills, solving problems with a global mindset, and providing hands-on experience from freshman year through senior year. A defining moment for me came during a session in the machine shop during my ME 250 class, the introductory design and machining course. All semester I helped my team design and fabricate a small robot, and it was finally the day to power it up for the first time. The little robot lit up, drove forward and backward, and could extend its hook-arm to grab things! I felt so much joy and, with resolute certainty, knew that I had discovered the major that would make me happy for the rest of my life. 

For me, engineering is all about discovering and actively pursuing my passions and enabling others to do the same. I have worked very hard to get to the point that I’m at today, and while I definitely didn’t enjoy the long nights camped out in the library or the intentionally vague instructions that accompany most lab projects, I was always able to find the inner strength to power through because of my deep desire to become an engineer. Looking back, I now recognize that overcoming these difficult challenges has made me a stronger and more capable problem solver and engineer. 

As I advanced through my degree, I devoted myself to helping others succeed because I think it is important to give back and provide the experiences to others that I was able to learn from myself. I became an Instructional Assistant for ENGR 100 as well as a freshman mentor through the Center for Engineering Diversity and Outreach. I think it is extremely important that every student feels welcomed and empowered by the College of Engineering from the start, and I am passionate about doing my part in providing all students with the resources, lessons, and encouragement to achieve their goals of becoming an engineer. As a society, we will all be better off if we work together to learn from each other and empower each other to reach our best potential.

Thanks to the many opportunities in the Mechanical Engineering program, I found that my interest was centered in mechanical design and manufacturing. I was happy to be able to continue my education by pursuing a Masters of Engineering in Manufacturing, and look forward to entering the workforce next year as a proud Michigan Engineer! Go Blue! 

Tyler Tallman

Tyler Tallman - MSE, 2012; PhD, 2015

I loved my time in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, everything from playing on ME-student softball teams in the summer to meeting with friends for coffee-fueled late nights of homework at Mujo’s in Duderstadt. However, with regard to shaping my future career, the single biggest influence was undoubtedly the mentorship I received from my PhD advisor, Dr. Kon-Well Wang. So much of what I do now as a junior faculty member is based on what I learned from Dr. Wang. This includes everything from always making time for weekly one-on- one meetings with my graduate students to even little nuances in how I deliver lectures. The value of good mentorship cannot be understated. I have a lot of personal friends who pursued doctorates in science and engineering at other institutions and had much worse experiences largely due to neglect from their advisors. Fortunately, I never had to experience a lack of direction. I could always count on Dr. Wang to patiently guide and teach me. I’m very grateful to have had my graduate experience at an institution that values and cultivates such a developmentally-salubrious environment, an institution like the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan.

Tyler is currently an Assistant Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics at Purdue University.

Deanna Hoffman

Deanna Hoffman - BSE, 1994; MSE, 1996; PhD, 1999

I joined the mechanical engineering family at The University of Michigan as Deanna Winton and left it as Deanna Hoffman having transformed in profound ways that have shaped my very being. I selected this university because it provided me the opportunity to sample two different career passions: music and engineering. I brought a love of oboe performance, physics, and calculus with me. Walking the halls, classrooms, libraries, and practice rooms underscored my comfort in digging into all things technical and realization that I can enjoy music performance with a little less digging. A career in mechanical engineering ultimately prevailed, and I leaned headlong into my engineering studies. The best engineering education, of course, has many facets, and one I needed to solidify quickly was hands-on experience. Strengthening that facet required getting out of my comfort zone and stepping into designing and building with confidence. I devoted many long hours into the 1993 solar car team and drove Maize & Blue across the finish line in both the U.S. and Australian races. The technical and personal lessons I learned with my teammates founded the engineering feats I have achieved since.

Ultimately, my passion for music, and more specifically sound and vibration, thrived in my studies. The pleasure of learning these subjects, although hard earned, were forged in the fire of Dr. David Dowling’s formidable acoustics class. I managed with what I thought to be an average performance but was thoroughly content with my earned knowledge. However, when Dr. Dowling offered a research assistant position, my first instinct was to look over my shoulder to see if he was speaking to another student. I was delighted to learn that he was indeed offering me the position and spent a fortunate four and a half years researching engine vibration under his watchful and compassionate eye. After securing both an MSME and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering during those four and a half years, I was well poised to join the ranks of engineering research and development at Ford Motor Company where I continue to contribute to the evolution of product development. I help shape and am proud of the noise and vibration our customers experience.

Reflecting back on these early years of my life highlights the genuine influence of The University of Michigan on the marvelous journey I continue to travel, pushing Ford Motor Company with me every step of the way.
 

Alumni News & Newsletter

Do you have an alumni news item for publication on our website or in our Annual Report? Send your news items to me-www@umich.edu.

Gifts & Accolades

Katherine VozarVozar Honored with 2018 Michigan Engineering Outstanding Recent Alumni Award

Mechanical Engineering alumna Katherine Avery Vozar has been selected to receive the 2018 University of Michigan Engineering Outstanding Recent Alumni Award. Vozar (MSE 11’, PhD, 16’) is currently a Technology Integration Lead at Ford Motor Company, where her work is dedicated to integration emerging technology into forward model year vehicles, and accelerating systems-based, cross-functional development and implementation of relevant technologies sourced from multiple industries. Vozar also brought her unique vision and experience to assist as a Corporate-Partner-in-Residence at Techstars Mobility, a Detroit-based startup accelerator focused on funding companies with a novel approach to transportation, including (but not limited to) autonomous, connected, shared and electric vehicles.

Vozar has written more than 20 peer-reviewed articles and holds multiple patents, has co- advised doctoral students with faculty from around the world and has provided technical and project leadership on multiple government-funded multi-institution research collaborations. Giving back to her community is another passion of Vozar’s. As an alum, she became a member of the Michigan Engineering Alumni Board and a founding member of the Advisory Board for the Michigan Engineering Zone in Detroit, an innovation space where Detroit students acquire the knowledge and tools they need to propel themselves to higher education and careers in STEM. She also co-founded The Trending Up Foundation, which endeavors to raise awareness and accessibility of STEM careers for K-12 students from historically excluded groups through hands-on workshops, classes and scholarship opportunities.

Kimberly HammondsHammonds Honored with 2018 U-M ME Alumni Merit Award

Mechanical Engineering alumna Kimberly Hammonds has been selected to receive the 2018 University of Michigan (U-M) Mechanical Engineering (ME) Alumni Merit Award. Hammonds (BSEME, 90’) most recently served as the Group Chief Operating Officer of Deutsche Bank, where she was the third female in its history to serve on the Management Board of the 148-year-old company. She was named one of the top 10 Digital Leaders in Germany. Throughout her career Hammonds has worked in four different industries; automotive, technology, aerospace and defense, and, most recently, financial services. She served as the Group Chief Information Officer for the Boeing Company, and was the first female CIO in the company’s history. She also held executive positions at Dell Corporation and Ford Motor Company. Her global leadership experience extends across product engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, marketing, purchasing, operations and information technology.

Hammonds is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, serves on the Board of Directors of Redhat, Cloudera and Tenable, and is the founder and president of the Zoe Foundation, which provides art programs from cancer patients. She has actively supported the American Cancer Society, raising more than $5 million for the organization. She was recognized by Crain’s Business as one of the ‘Women to Watch’ in 2011.

Peter K. Schoenfeld Scholarship Fund endowed

Franziska I. Schoenfeld (AB ’53, DDS ’55) has made a gift to endow the Peter K. Schoenfeld Scholarship Fund. Established in honor of her son, Michigan Engineering alumnus Peter K. Schoenfeld (BSE ME ’98), the fund will provide need-based scholarship support to undergraduate students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering who are residents of the state of Michigan. Preference will be given to transfer students, either from other academic units within the University or from outside the University, and students who are United States citizens or permanent residents of the U.S.

After graduating with her DDS in 1955, Dr. Schoenfeld owned and operated a general dentistry practice for 30 years, retiring in 1985. After her retirement, she served as a dental editor for the Michigan Dental Association Journal, authoring and editing dental articles and dentist profiles.

Yudong ChenYudong Chen (MSE ME, PhD '91) - 2017 Alumni Merit Award

Mechanical Engineering alumnus Yudong Chen has been selected to receive the 2017 U-M ME Alumni Merit Award. Chen (MSE ME, PhD '91) is currently president of Bosch (China) Investment Ltd. He has served as US-NSF-STA Research Fellow at the Japan Science and Technology Agency, where he served as a consultant for Japanese researchers and industries on concurrent manufacturing systems, and on FMS for the automotive industry. Chen joined the Bosch Group Gasoline Engine Department as the Senior Vice President responsible for business development in China.

Chen was Executive Vice President in charge of Original Equipment Sales for Bosch (China) Investment Ltd. from 2008 to 2010. In 2011, he went on to serve as the President of Bosch (China) Investment Ltd., a role he remains in today. 

 

See previous alumni merit award recipients.

Marshall Jones Laser pioneer Marshall Jones (BSE ME ‘65) joins the Inventors Hall of Fame

Marshall Jones was inducted May 4th, 2017, into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Washington DC for his pioneering work with industrial lasers.

There are only 547 members of the Hall -- only about 100 of whom are still living -- out of an estimated 2 million engineers working in America today.

Since 1974, Jones has worked for GE Global Research, where he currently serves as principal engineer in Manufacturing & Materials Technologies.

 

Ken SnodgrassKen Snodgrass (BSME ‘69, MSE ‘71) - 2014 Distinguished Alumni Service Award

ME Alum Ken Snodgrass (BSME ‘69 and MSE ‘71) Receives 2014 Distinguished Alumni Service Award

Ken Snodgrass is a mechanical engineer, automotive professional, and co-founder of the Michigan Engineering Zone (MEZ) in Detroit. After graduating from the University of Michigan College of Engineering (BSME ‘69 and MSE ‘71), Ken accepted a position in Light Truck Engineering at Ford Motor Company where he would work for 30 years in a wide variety of management positions in product development including international assignments and joint programs with various Asian and European auto manufacturers.

 

Theodore T. Tanase (BSE ME ‘63) and Priscilla B. TanaseTanase Scholarship Fund

Theodore T. Tanase (BSE ME ‘63) and Priscilla B. Tanase of Seattle, Washington, with a $100,000 gift, have endowed the Theodore and Priscilla Tanase Scholarship Fund to provide need-based support to full-time undergraduates at the College of Engineering. They desire that first preference be given to students from the State of Hawaii, followed by the State of Washington. Ted is the founder of Ensocare, which provides web-based care coordination solutions to help manage patient care transitions, reduce length of stay and reduce readmissions. Priscilla enjoyed an early career in the fitness industry, and more recently as a family therapist.

 

Sheri SheppardSheri Sheppard (PhD ‘85) - 2014 U.S. Professor of the Year

Sheppard is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University.

The U.S. Professors of the Year program salutes the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country—those who excel in teaching and positively influence the lives and careers of students. Sponsored by CASE and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, it is the only national program to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

In her role at Stanford, Sheppard teaches a wide range of undergraduate and graduate mechanics courses, courses on teaching and workshops on professional development. She also advises new lecturers and tenure-line faculty on their course design, serving as a faculty sponsor on several of those courses.

 

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Alumni generosity is vital to Department of Mechanical Engineering's success and excellence. Donations to ME help support undergraduate and graduate financial aid, building and renovation projects, and the ME Endowment Fund. Giving is easy with our online giving form.