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

Serdar Yonak

Serdar Yonak - BSE, 1994; MSE, 1995; PhD, 2000

In 1676, Sir Isaac Newton penned a letter to Robert Hooke, writing, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on [the] shoulders of giants.” Newton humbly reminds us to think about the contributions of others to our own success, and to not forget the cumulative nature of knowledge.

Today, I lead a team of engineers in developing hybrid vehicle components for Ford Motor Company. My career began at Ford, took me to Toyota and Infineon, and I am now back where I began. Coming full circle like this brings my thoughts to where I began my mechanical engineering studies, at the University of Michigan.

As the Mechanical Engineering Department celebrates 150 years, I reflect on these experiences as a student and am left with a feeling of gratitude. My professors, especially David Dowling, my Ph.D. advisor, not only taught me the foundation upon which I built my knowledge, they truly invested in my learning. If I struggled with a concept, they were available to guide me. If I succeeded, they celebrated with me. They contributed to my growth by regularly challenging my intellectual ability and teaching me how to learn fearlessly.

Sam Taylordean

Sam Taylordean - BSE, 2017

I have always known I wanted to be an engineer. The only difficulty came in selecting what type. To me, the appeal of engineering was how it is a refined form of problem-solving. MechE, in particular, was broad enough that it gave me all the tools I needed to succeed in my life after graduation. MechE had everything I wanted in a bachelor's degree: design classes, lab classes, a focus on teamwork... and flexibility for me to pursue a minor in a field I am very passionate about (boats!). I am now a Ph.D. student in the Naval Architecture field, and I truly appreciate how MechE helped me to get here.

Michael Hendrix

Michael Hendrix - BSE, 2004

As a young kid from Detroit, MI, I was exposed to mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan through summer experiences in DAPCEP (Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program). Over several years I was exposed to the greatness of U of M and I knew it was where I wanted to pursue my engineering degree. As I matriculated throughout the school, I found two key things that made my experiences in mechanical engineering so amazing: the rigorous curriculum and mentorship. 

The curriculum taught me skills that have been beneficial to my career even to this day. Strong analytics, root cause analysis, structured problem solving, and systems integration are just a few competencies that helped me to accomplish things like launching new model products at Ford Motor Company or optimizing operations at Tech startups.

Ultimately, I wouldn't have progressed through my undergraduate years at U of M without the help from many students and staff. For example, during my freshman year I had a senior mentor, Jason Forton (BSE '00), who gave me the "blueprint" to navigating engineering life and the intricacies of mechanical engineering. Additionally, Dr. Noel Perkins provided me with guidance and personalized leadership which helped me to grow and gain a passion for engineering.

Today my leadership and experience are rooted in how the ME department pushed my intellectual limits and drove me to approach areas of my career with the same precision and rigor I developed at U of M. Therefore, I am thankful for the academic accomplishments and personal growth that U of M afforded me.

Michael is currently an eCommerce Operations Manager for Newell Brands.

Alumni News & Newsletter

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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.


Support your department

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.