School of Engineering - Infinite Mile Awards

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2003 SoE Awards Ceremony and Recipients


Elizabeth D. Cooper

Rolanda L. Dudley-Cowans

Ted M. Hoppe

Anita Kafka

Yueh Ping Lim

Maureen R. Lynch


LEES Headquarters:

Kiyomi Boyd

Karin B. Janson-Strasswimmer


Constance J. Beal

Robin C. Elices

Joan McCusker

Lucille A. O'Hehir

Helen V. Schwartz

Hilary R. Sheldon

JoAnn B. Sorrento

April 30, 2003


Hello. I am Tom Magnanti, and as Dean I am delighted to welcome you to the 3rd annual School of Engineering Infinite Mile Awards ceremony. For reasons that will become apparent throughout this ceremony, this event is one of the highlights of the year for me and I hope it will be for you as well.

Indeed, it is wonderful to see so many of you here today to celebrate the accomplishments of our colleagues. Past award winners tell us that one of the most rewarding aspects of receiving an Infinite Mile Award is this event, which certainly provides an opportunity for members of the SoE community to come together to gain an understanding and appreciation of one another's contributions.

A committee of former Infinite Mile Award winners selected this year's award winners. The committee members were Deborah Blanchard, Eileen Ng-Ghavidel, Jonathan Griffith and Marie Stuppard. Please join me in thanking them.

I would also like to thank the Dean's Office staff, who all contribute to the success of this gratifying event. There has been a buzz about this event in the Dean's office for days.

A bit of statistics.

Today, we will be presenting awards to fifteen individuals who collectively have contributed over 200 years of excellence to MIT. Just our 7 Sustained Excellence award winners, each with 15 plus years of service, have a combined total of 157 years of MIT experience! By the close of today's event we will have presented 50 School-based IMA awards to recipients who have collectively contributed over 870 years of excellent service to MIT! By next year we will reach 1000 years of MIT experience. Starts to sound like me! This longevity is a remarkable testimony to the quality of the MIT environment and especially the School of Engineering. MIT is an exciting and challenging place to work, but as these events aptly demonstrate, we are also a vibrant and a caring community. With our fifteen award winners today, we celebrate remarkable accomplishments by some simply outstanding individuals and teams.

But today we also celebrate everyone in the School of Engineering. You are a remarkable group!

We extend special thanks to those of you who took the time to submit nominations for your colleagues.

The School of Engineering owes its international reputation for excellence to the contributions all of you make.

Thank you for coming together to support this event and to support everyday, and in so many ways, the goals and aspirations of this simply wonderful institution.


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I had the pleasure of convening the selection committee for the School’s Infinite Mile Awards this year and I would like to add my thanks to Tom’s. Bill, Anne, Doris, Joan, thank you. Your task was not an easy one, but I think you will all agree that it was worthwhile and extremely satisfying, even inspirational. (I am saying all this for the benefit of this year’s award winners, some of who will be called on to help us next year!)

As Tom has told you, we will be presenting awards to fifteen members of the School of Engineering. Five individuals are being recognized today with gold awards in two different categories: “Excellence” and “Diversity and Community.” As we did last year, we have divided the other award winners into two groups, based on years of service. Six individuals will receive bronze awards. Four will receive silver awards in recognition of the fact that each has 20 or more years of service at MIT. Bronze and silver awards are being made in two categories this year: Excellence and Institutional Bridging.

Sheila Kanode, Tom Magnanti and I will be presenting the awards. We will alternate our presentations, beginning with the bronze and silver awards and ending with the five gold awards. In preparing our testimonials, we drew extensively and often verbatim on the wonderful nominations we received from all of you, and we thank you for those. Each award winner will receive a certificate and a check as well as a small memento, a paperweight. This year, at the suggestion of the selection committee, we have personalized the paperweights and I hope you will enjoy them.

After the ceremony, we will be serving delicious refreshments and I hope you will all join us.

Finally, we ask that you hold your applause until we finish reading each testimonial. Thank you. And now, as they say, let the games begin.

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Constance J. Beal , Chemical Engineering


Assistant Dean Kanode: Our first award winner as profiled by a strong nominator "is one of the hardest working, most dedicated and most conscientious individuals I know." Another says "she is always professional, hard-working, outgoing, supportive, creative, and collaborative and also has a wonderful talent for making everyone feel at ease." Yet another says "she is an incredibly kind and giving person with a zest for life, a willing smile and a big heart."

What perfect adjectives for describing Connie Beal.

Connie currently serves in Prof. Langer's lab, a very active group of approximately 110 graduate students, postdocs, researchers and UROP students. We have learned that Connie doesn't just treat everyone with respect and equity, but she goes out of her way to ensure that they each have a positive MIT experience.

Connie always goes the extra mile with faculty, students, and colleagues. An E25 neighbor comments, "when I ask Connie a question on MIT procedure, not only will I get the information on the current procedure, but also the history of the process, the reasons why we settled on the current one, and the person to contact (whom she usually knows personally)."

As I read the nominations I was struck by how involved Connie has become in educational outreach over the years. When I first met Connie she was working with the Council on Primary and Secondary Education. During her time with this program she was actively involved with the Science and Engineering Program for Teachers, or SEPT, that brings science teachers to campus for a week each summer and the the Network of Educators in Science and Technology, or NEST, which provides education outreach to pre college teachers and students. Connie's dedication to these initial outreach activities of SEPT and NEST, and her continued voluntary contributions, have resulted in her election to the governing boards of each. In addition, and most recently, she collaborated with colleagues in CMSE and BPEC to establish the NSF's Research Experience for Teachers Program, RET. This program allows junior high and high school teachers the opportunity to perform research in various MIT labs. Connie recruits both teachers and mentors to this program. Being as proactive as she is, Connie organized a RET pilot semester with Langer's Lab and BPEC. It was so successful that she is currently reviewing new applications for this summer.

Connie, you have earned the personal and professional admiration of all who have had the pleasure of working with you as you have consistently delivered excellence over the last two decades in your service to MIT and the community.

It gives me great personal pleasure to present you with a School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence.

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Elizabeth D. Cooper, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


Assistant Dean Savicki: For many of us at MIT, the principle point of contact with a department, center or laboratory is the Administrative Officer, in MIT parlance, the AO. Particularly in the School of Engineering where there are more than thirty separate units, we in the Dean's Office rely heavily on the AOs and we consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have so many dedicated and talented individuals in these roles. Among this year's Infinite Mile award winners are three Administrative Officers all of whom have stepped up to and surpassing even our very high expectations, met the challenges of working in non-conventional, and in some cases unique organizations within the School. The are: Elizabeth Cooper, Roni Dudley-Cowans and Robin Elices. I'll begin with Elizabeth.

In 1997 Elizabeth Cooper left her position as AO in the Physics department and joined the School of Engineering as the first Director of the Administrative Services Organization, the ASO. This was a brave move on Elizabeth's part and one she was urged to undertake for the good of the Institute. The ASO was and still is unique at MIT. It is the "headquarters" for two otherwise completely independent academic departments both reporting to the School of Engineering and one interdepartmental laboratory, which reports to the Vice President for Research! It doesn't get much more complicated than that ‚ but complexity has become our specialty and it seems to be Elizabeth's forte. After launching the ASO, Elizabeth went on to help launch another new SoE enterprise, the Engineering Systems Division, another non-conventional organization in which every faculty member holds a 50% appointment in the Division and a 50% appointment in another academic department.

Elizabeth is one of a relatively small group of people in the School who are called upon over and over again to serve on cross-functional teams. She has done so many times and has made important contributions to administrative processes across the Institute.

In 2000, Elizabeth became the AO for MIT's largest academic department: EECS. According to one nominator, Elizabeth redefined the position of AO in EECS, no mean achievement considering her predecessors. Furthermore, EECS has not one, not two, but three department heads, and an Education Officer. Now there's a challenge for an administrator, but one Elizabeth was met easily. In redefining the role of AO, Elizabeth has become an integral member of the department's leadership team and two of her nominators cite her contributions to that team, particularly her ability to mediate and effect compromise.

My favorite segment from this year's nominations relates to this point and I quote: "(Elizabeth exhibits) remarkable perceptiveness that lets her come up with efficient solutions to a range of problems from budget juggling, to managing space and personnel, to interfacing with a cantankerous faculty. This is most readily observed by Elizabeth's interactions during the twice-weekly department heads meeting." The EECS department heads? Cantankerous? Is that true?!

Elizabeth's dedication to her department, the School and MIT, her keen, clear thinking and exceptional management skills are critical to the smooth operation of our largest and most complex department, and it is with much gratitude and great pleasure, Elizabeth, that we present you today with a School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Excellence.

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Rolanda L. Dudley-Cowans, Biological Engineering


Assistant Dean Savicki: Our next Infinite Mile Award winner, Roni Dudley-Cowans, is a relative newcomer to the Institute, having joined MIT as the AO in the Division of Toxicology in 1992. Roni moved to the School of Engineering in 1998 when the Toxicology faculty joined with a group of engineering faculty to form the Division of Biological Engineering and Environmental Health (BEEH). The division has changed its name twice since then and is now known as BE. I think Roni must hold the record as the AO for the organization that has undergone the largest number of name changes in the shortest period of time. But that is only the tip of the iceberg.

In the past five years, Roni's division moved to the School of Engineering, expanded its faculty size to 22 by adding 12 faculty members with split or "dual" appointments, with the other halves residing in any one of five different departments. It tripled its research volume and expanded its degree programs to include two PhD programs, an SM, an MEng, and MIT's largest undergraduate minor. Roni's division is lead by two co-directors, one of whom is also the Director of BPEC, a separate interdepartmental laboratory. Now earlier, I said things didn't get much more complicated than the ASO, but maybe I was wrong.

Throughout this period of rapid and often chaotic growth the co-directors and the Dean's Office have unhesitatingly relied on Roni to keep the division's administrative house in order and she has done so with gratifying skill and grace, good humor and common sense. Others have relied on her too. Change, as we all know, often causes tension and throughout this dynamic period of change, Roni has been ever mindful of the well being of the BE support staff, keeping them informed of impending changes and their likely effects, showing her concern for them and for their professional growth. To quote one nominator, Roni has a "devoted support staff...." She is always available if they have questions or concerns. She is efficient and compassionate. (What a great combination!)

Roni, on behalf of your many supporters and admirers, it is an honor and a pleasure to present you with this School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Excellence.

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Robin C. Elices, Chemical Engineering/Materials Science Engineering


Assistant Dean Savicki: The third AO, in alphabetical order, among our Infinite Mile Award winners today is Robin Elices. Robin, like Elizabeth, is another of our prize recruits from that other School at MIT.

Robin came to the Institute in 1988 and moved rapidly up the administrative ladder to the position of AO in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. She joined the School of Engineering in 1999 as Elizabeth Cooper's successor as Director of the Administrative Services Organization, the ASO which I described earlier.

In 1999, the ASO was still something of an experiment and this was a bold move on Robin's part. We are very glad she decided to take the chance and Robin, we hope you are too.

As I said earlier, the ASO is unique at MIT. It was formed in the wake of the 1996 special retirement incentive, in an effort to achieve economies of scale and to attract first-rate administrative talent, which it certainly has done, twice! The ASO has thrived under Robin's thoughtful and meticulous leadership. Today, the ASO provides financial oversight to five profit centers with $54 million in annual expenditures. The units affiliated with the ASO include 350 faculty and staff and close to 500 graduate students. Nominators speak highly of Robin's ability to recruit and retain a talented and dedicated staff and her ability to create a work environment where people like to work and success is appreciated. Others cite her extraordinary efficiency and thoughtfulness. Her "quiet and dignified performance as AO" it is said, "can only be described as outstanding." Robin is also cited for her numerous and valuable contributions to cross-functional School and Institute committees and her name is one of the first to come up whenever a new task force is being formed. She is an invaluable resource for of those of us, and we are many, with whom she shares her knowledge and insight graciously and tirelessly.

Robin, please accept this School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence as a token of our gratitude and our esteem.

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Ted M. Hoppe, System Design and Management


Assistant Dean Kanode: In less than 3 years, our next award recipient has had tremendous impact on the quality of student life in SDM. The Systems Design and Management Program is a pioneering program that offers distance education and an advanced degree to approximately 100 professionals at any one time. Ted Hoppe, as the "go-to" guy, has obviously enriched the SDM experience for all current and former students. One nominater noted "it is one thing to be a graduate student on campus, who can turn to other students or staff when they have questions. It is something else entirely when you are a midlevel engineering manager, 1500 to 6000 miles away, accustomed to complete support from your company, and discover you need to depend on one person at the MIT campus to be your lifeline."

Ted is that lifeline for all SDM students including an active alumni network. Ted offers structure in a chaotic environment as well as encouragement in trying times. He takes care of every detail for the students allowing them to focus on their primary objective while making them feel at home. He ensures that every contingency is completely organized and planned for, and he is master of a myriad of related topics such as registration, event planning, and graduation requirements. He continuously works on SDM process improvement as he seeks new opportunities to make the MIT experience more memorable for the students. One student notes that Ted provides them with Platinum level concierge service. Another notes that he is like having an administrative assistant, personal valet, butler, and good friend all rolled into one.

A recurring theme in Ted's nominations is evidence of always going the extra mile with the endless enthusiasm and tireless dedication he brings to the students and the Program. They note that it is rare in one's lifetime to encounter someone as dedicated and passionate about their work. Demonstrations of this dedication range from offering a winning smile in any circumstance to helping a visiting wife find suitable housing and get settled in.

He is known as the "bridge that spans MIT campus lectures and events, with off-site student collaboration.

It is evident that Ted puts in extremely long hours to ensure the success of the students and the Program. One nominee recalled that early on in the Program Ted came around the breakout rooms where the students were working on a project well into the night, gave out the SafeRide number and ensured that all students had a safe way home.

Ted, it is a pleasure to present you with an SOE Infinite Mile Award for Excellence with appreciation for your outstanding service.

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Anita Kafka, Industrial Performance Center


Assistant Dean Kanode: Anita Kafka is known as the heart and soul of the Industrial Performance Center. She has been at the Institute for close to 12 years and at the Industrial Performance Center for the past seven. We are informed that by building an intellectual and human community of researchers, Anita is totally dedicated to creating an environment in which faculty and students can do their best work. She has an instinctive understanding of what it takes to build a community and applies selfless dedication to the task. We understand that there is no detail that escapes her attention but all the while she is focussed on the overall mission and vision of the Center.

Anita embraces the new, whether in technology or technique, and approaches all with an enthusiasm and can-do attitude. She takes ownership of everything she does as demonstrated in the successful move of the IPC to a new building as she anticipated and intervened at all of the most appropriate times. Concurrently she orchestrated the administration of a major national conference.

A colleague says "I have lots of admiration and respect for her and what she does for the Director and IPC. She is without a doubt the most valuable asset we have and the only one I know who can organize a two day, 200 person conference in one week , and have it run without a single glitch!"

Another admirer says "Anita has great vision in terms of understanding and interpreting the mission of IPC. She is probably one of the most dedicated people I have ever worked with. She is savvy, with incredible common sense. She applies these skills in managing the program, the students and the staff, including the Director, and has an uncanny ability to modify her style to suit the needs of the person and the situation. Anita has great energy, focus and talent."

Anita we understand that your positive attitude and your infectious sense of humor make you a joy to work with and that you are treasured by all of the students, staff and faculty involved with the Center and beyond

I am so pleased to have the opportunity to present you with this SOE Infinite Mile Award for Excellence.

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LEES Headquarters: Kiyomi Boyd and Karin B. Janson-Strasswimmer, Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems


Assistant Dean Savicki: This year, our single award for Team Excellence goes to Kiyomi Boyd and Karin Janson-Strasswimmer, the "frontline" team in the headquarters of the Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems.

Karin and Kiyomi are cited by one nominator "for the excellence of their quality work as a team together with their creative energy and enthusiasm in managing the LEES headquarters and especially for their friendship and dedication to the welfare of students, visitors, and laboratory members." Another nominator tells us that "to ask either Karin or Kiyomi for help is to ask both of them. They work extremely well as a team and will share work in whatever way makes the most sense. This applies to all office activities from academic support to accounting. One could not ask for better teamwork."

With a minimum of direction and with a cordial, friendly and caring manner, Karin and Kiyomi cover a remarkable amount of ground. They serve as course secretaries for EECS subjects taught by LEES faculty, assisting with the preparation of course notes, homework assignments and exams. They construct and maintain course and laboratory web pages as well as faculty home-pages. They handle accounts, purchases, travel, technical typing, payroll and similar office responsibilities for 8 faculty and six research staff members, 50 graduate students, many UROPs and numerous postdocs and visitors.

They also support a large research consortium consisting of over fifty member companies. A major activity of the consortium is a schedule of two or three large technical meetings each year, held in various locations around the world and attracting between 200 and 300 participants each. Karin and Kiyomi are responsible for pre-meeting logistics and one or the other will attend the meeting to coordinate on-site activities. Their work before and at the meetings is intense often lasting well into the night, requiring weekends, leaving no time for sightseeing.

In addition, both are multi-lingual and between them they are fluent in English, Japanese, German, French, Italian and Spanish, making them an even more valuable resource not only for international consortium members but many of the labs visitors to whom they are able to clearly communicate important information about settling and surviving in the Boston area.

One letter writer states, "one could not ask for a more friendly or helpful pair of individuals to be the first people you meet upon entering LEES," or I would add, any other office at MIT.

Karin and Kiyomi, we are very pleased to present you both with this well-deserved School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Team Excellence.

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Yueh Ping Lim, Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems


Assistant Dean Kanode: "Her mind is clear and analytical while her personality is kind, interactive, and conscientious." "She is the model of a modern research program administrator." Yueh-Ping Lim's nomination letters are overflowing with such complimentary comments.

As research program administrator for LIDS, the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, Yueh-Ping analyzes the requirements of each funding agency, prepares technical and financial templates, coordinates the technical contributions and the budget proposals and sees the proposals through funding, interacting with the government funding agencies and facilitating the equitable division among the various agencies for the transfer of funds. She then of course monitors the major milestones and coordinates reporting and reviews. She also edits technical reports and prepares presentations for sponsors.

These core responsibilities are conducted in exemplary fashion with exacting professional standards and yet she is always offering to be involved with many other Lab activities and is sought after for her technical expertise on many projects; these projects range from establishing an administrative database to implementing a CAD/CAM program to assist with the layout of floor plans for the LIDS space in the new Stata building. She also developed and now maintains the LID's website. A colleague notes that all projects, small or daunting, are done well and on time. We learn that her success in consistently meeting deadlines is in part due to her ability to help the faculty meet theirs; a delicate balance of persistent firmness coupled with a very pleasant and humble approach.

Her colleagues note that she has the unique ability to communicate complex ideas in a simple understandable way, thereby bridging a potential gap between faculty and staff.

Yueh-Ping's background in EE adds a substantive additional dimension to her role. For example, it is typical of Yueh-Ping to write (not edit) a technical report . In one instance she wrote the technical report for a departed faculty member simply from student papers preventing a potential crisis for the Lab and the Institute.

Yueh-Ping your infectious dedication to work, extraordinary technical abilities, and remarkably competent professionalism, combined with your refreshing modesty and your kind attentive concern for others has earned you the strong admiration of all the faculty, staff and students you interact with.

Your contributions in less than two years at MIT are extraordinary and it is our pleasure to present you with a SOE Infinite Mile Award for Excellence.

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Maureen R. Lynch, Mechanical Engineering


Assistant Dean Savicki: Our next award winner is Maureen Lynch of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. We are told that for the past five years Maureen has worked tirelessly "to produce 2.007 and 2.009. Both courses involve around 100 students each. Each course involves 8-10 lab sections and requires the ordering of tens of thousands of custom parts and (and I'm quoting a faculty member now) dealing with many difficult-to-herd faculty members who all, of course, know how to do it better." In addition, Maureen orchestrates the production of the public events in which the students demonstrate the machines they have built for class.

Another nominator describes Maureen's important role in the famous 2.007 design contest. "(Maureen) was instrumental in getting the contest moved to a bigger area so more people could attend. She deals with the MIT police, MIT facilities, MIT Audio Visual and all the faculty, staff and students. She also deals with all the outside vendors, she makes sure all the companies that support the contest get their contributions in on time and that everyone gets thanked at the end of the contest." The same nominator adds, "Maureen also keeps up with Professor Alex Slocum, which is amazing."

Even while keeping up with Professors Wallace and Slocum, which is no mean feat, Maureen still has energy and good will for others. A professor who was, for a time, without administrative support and whose office was located near Maureen's writes that "although at first I hesitated to ask her for help ..., she volunteered her help and repeatedly assumed tasks on my behalf without being asked.... She does that not only for me but for everybody else. I am constantly amazed at her diligence and passion for cooperation, most of it beyond the call of duty since she is enmeshed (in) a multitude of other demanding tasks."

"Maureen (Lynch) should be the subject (and I'm still quoting) for a study of human motivation. She seems to be driven by an inexhaustible internal driving force to do everything when she senses it is needed, whether she is asked to or not .... I do not know what makes people behave like Maureen, but whatever it may be we need more like her..."

Amen to that. Maureen, thank you for your all you do. It is indeed a pleasure to present you with a School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Excellence.

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Joan McCusker , Civil and Environmental Engineering


Assistant Dean Kanode: Her warm welcoming smile and her total dedication to the IESL Intelligent Engineering Systems Lab within CEE is appreciated by all who have the opportunity to witness it and we in the Dean's Office are fortunate to be neighbors with CEE and get to enjoy the warmth and witness the professionalism of Joan McCusker . Joan supports 4 faculty and 35 students. All of the students seek out her warm support and her ability to bridge the gap and pave the road for communicating more effectively with the faculty.

Joan is constantly being sought out by students for guidance and moral support. For almost 32 years Joan has been a source of strength and support for CEE/IESL students, helping them with both academic and personal problems, not to mention the necessary bursts of energy she provides with a dish of daily treats always available in her office area .

Faculty nominators indicate that Joan is an outstanding administrative assistant, an invaluable resource in dealing with the MIT systems and offices, very hard working, a mother to the students, and a "real gem."

I'm convinced that Joan's husband deserves this award almost as much as she and I'm sure you will agree with me after you hear the following tale of commitment!

Each year, Joan takes responsibility for coordinating the collection and grading of exams with faculty across departments and has an exam packet ready for each student at 9:00 a.m. on the day of his/her doctoral qualifiers. One year, Joan anticipated a blizzard the evening before exams were scheduled so she took the exams home with her. Sure enough we had a major storm, MIT closed, and buses and taxi's were not running in the morning. That doesn't stop Joan from fulfilling her responsibility! She and her husband shoveled out the family car and drove to the residence of each student to hand deliver the exam packets.

Now that is definitely "going the extra mile!" Unfortunately Joan's husband is in Kuwait with a military medical unit and is not available to accept this award, but we hope he will be home soon and pleased to hear of our celebration of Joan's many years of dedicated service.

Joanie, it is my personal pleasure, and Lisa's too, to present you with an Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence on behalf of the School.

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Lucille A. O'Hehir , Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


Assistant Dean Savicki: Our next award winner is Lucille O'Hehir. Lucille has spent most of her long MIT career to date outside the School of Engineering. She joined the School in 1999 and we are indeed fortunate to have her with us.

As you will see, Lucille is a Paragon of efficiency, with a capital P. The tasks within her purview include RA appointments, parking, the directory, the staff payroll, vacation reporting, and visa processing in, ready, the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

To give you some idea of scale, Lucille enters approximately 560 RA appointments, only one of her many tasks, three times a year, in two different systems. One letter writer tells us that Lucille oversees this process with "grace, dignity and intelligence.... (While) her primary concern is getting the student paid," she is invariably courteous, and considerate of the many people who are involved in this complex process.

Lucille is also responsible for EECS's support and service staff payrolls. Over 80 support staff in numerous centers and laboratories appear on EECS accounts. Lucille is responsible for allocating support semester by semester, based on EECS's teaching database, and she is responsible for assuring the accuracy of the charges. Her strong organizational skills allow her to manage this arcane process with ease.

One letter writer describes Lucille as "knowledgeable, organized, consistent, humorous and thoughtful." Another says she is "a peacemaker," "unfailingly pleasant," "helpful to students with questions," and "gracious to individuals who are late getting information in" (although of course that hardly ever happens around here!).

Despite her own heavy workload, Lucille is always willing to lend a hand in other projects if she sees that people are overwhelmed, and because she now has things under control, as she puts it, she has volunteered for other responsibilities in the department.

Lucille, I am exhausted just thinking about all you do. It is a pleasure to present you with this School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence.

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Helen V. Schwartz, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


Assistant Dean Kanode: Quite simply, Helen Schwartz is one of those quiet people that you rarely notice in an organization, but whose absence would quickly bring everything to a grinding halt. So indicates one faculty nominator who recently had the opportunity to observe how essential Helen's contributions are to EECS.

Since 1986, Helen has been the Database Administrator for the department. She keeps the massive database structure needed to operate EECS, running smoothly and unobtrusively. This is a tall order for the largest academic department at the Institute with 1000 undergraduates and 600 graduate students, not to mention 300 MEng students and approximately 2800 graduate applications per year! Under Helen's stellar attention, this database tracks degree requirements, monitors variations in programs, maintains long term statistical histories essential to staff planning, and consistently houses all sorts of student data. One might assume Helen would get bored, but this job can be very challenging because every time the department changes the way it does business, as when they added the MEng program or when they revise the doctoral qualifiers or graduate admissions procedures, you guessed it, the database changes.

One faculty nominator says "ongoing activities also require special care and handling. In supporting the UG office, for example, Helen must manage the Department's computerized undergraduate degree audit. This is no easy task since our undergraduate curricula are complicated, poorly understood by everyone, fraught with exceptions, and subject to changes that are not always properly communicated to students or faculty (not to mention to Helen). Thus each term, with extreme care and patience, she spends considerable time helping students understand their degree status."

Another says "It would be impossible to manage these programs without a very reliable computer system that is able to deal with these complexities. Helen has been instrumental in creating and upgrading this computer system and one of her strongest attributes is her understanding of the curricula and the database and her responsiveness to others who do not share that understanding. Helen is a very important member of our team."

Helen, you are considered a great team player, always ready to pitch in, giving everyone prompt and equal attention as you demonstrate exemplary dedication to supporting the department in general and the headquarters staff in particular and more broadly, the School and the Institute.

Please accept this SOE Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence as a token of our appreciation.

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Hilary R. Sheldon, Materials Science and Engineering


Assistant Dean Savicki: Our next award winner is Hilary Sheldon of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Hilary is the administrator for 3.091 "Introduction to Solid State Chemistry," a subject MIT undergraduates can take to fulfill their chemistry requirement and approximately 500 students, mostly freshmen, do just that every year. The combination of the large enrollment and the fact that the majority of enrollees are in their first semester of college make this a particularly challenging subject to administer. One nominator writes that Hilary does so with "creativity, dedication and grace."

Hilary demonstrates remarkable problem solving skills, organizational ability, and versatility as she interacts with the registrar's office on grades and scheduling rooms, with the counseling deans on students in crisis, with the medical department on physical disabilities and mental health issues, and with AMPS to make sure the lectures are posted on the web only hours after the live performance. After taking a course on web design last year, Hilary redesigned the web site for 3.091. Course evaluations praise the web site for its clarity and ease of use. (Her faculty supervisor also receives praise for his research group's web site, which Hilary also redesigned.) In addition, Hilary created and maintains a database for 3.091. She processes the data and generates reports to identify trends and help the faculty understand how well the students are learning. She also assists with hiring and training TAs for 3.091. Students enrolled in 3.091 can meet one-on-one with a tutor for one hour per week. Hilary hires the tutors and schedules them with students seeking assistance. In doing so, she exercises judgement as to who would be a good match for whom.

Hilary loves interacting with the students and they feel welcome when they enter the office.

Another nominator tells us that one of the two reasons for the success of 3.091 "is the enormous and relentless effort that Hilary puts in making this a smooth and accomplished operation. Her dedication and efficiency in this pursuit are remarkable to the point that she makes the teaching extremely enjoyable for everyone, and, as a point of first contact for these hundreds of undergraduates, she is able to make the experience of their first college class both a memorable and affectionate one."

Hilary, please accept this School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence as a token of our gratitude and esteem.

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JoAnn B. Sorrento, Chemical Engineering


Assistant Dean Kanode: JoAnn Sorrento, administrator in Chemical Engineering, supports the Center for Biomedical Engineering and the Biological Engineering Division. Both of these entities foster cross-disciplinary research and education. JoAnn's open mind and friendly outgoing personality contribute greatly to making the students, researchers, and faculty from all corners of MIT feel welcome and served. We learn that JoAnn is exemplary in terms of being enthusiastically and energetically willing to undertake any and every task that is encountered across the full range of research, education, and administrative responsibilities. Moreover, she is way ahead of everyone in determining the important next steps that should be undertaken.

One admirer writes that "JoAnn is a role model for many support staff and motivates others to carry out difficult and demanding jobs." Another colleague writes "JoAnn is a strong leader, a good listener, and most important has a very open mind. It is people like JoAnn that really make a difference, and touch the lives of many around them in a positive way every day."

JoAnn's total commitment to her colleagues in ChemE and and BE extends beyond departmental boundaries. As a dedicated advocate for the support staff, JoAnn co-convened the Working Group on Support Staff Issues from 2000 through 2002. We understand that she led the group through these two years in exemplary fashion and raised its administration to a higher standard. She continues to be an active member and is currently chairing a task group. She worked diligently with senior HR staff on initiating events like the Institute wide annual support staff appreciation luncheon and the annual IAP Working Group Forum. Knowing how long it can take to get endorsement and support on a community undertaking we can only marvel at her success!

Many go to JoAnn seeking advice and/or asking for help. As a result she took a very active role in advising the Institute on the design and implementation of the new Support Staff classification system and we are grateful for her perspective and time.

JoAnn's MIT background has provided her with a broad administrative perspective. She joined MIT through the Chemistry department in 1975, moved to a position in IT in 1984 and then in 1988 joined the MIT/Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology. We are informed that JoAnn, always a leader, superbly orchestrated HST's move to their current location, working effectively with the project manager and then managing all the details while keeping all of the participants in a good frame of mind.

JoAnn , we in the School of Engineering are pleased to be the current beneficiaries of your contributions to the community and we are delighted to honor your leadership and commitment to institutional cooperation with an SOE Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence.

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