School of Engineering - Infinite Mile Awards

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2004 SoE Awards Ceremony and Recipients


Wanda Cook

James Dezieck

Frederick J. Donovan

Barbara Hughey

Susan Kaufman

Krishnanchali Panchalingam

Cynthia Skier

Peter W. Young


Su Chung

Mary Gibson

Kenneth E. Greene, Jr.

Jean-Francois Hamel

Erminia Piccinonno

Lourenco Pires

Sharon Trohon

April 29, 2004


Hello, I am Tom Magnanti and as Dean it is my great pleasure to welcome you to the fourth annual School of Engineering Infinite Mile Awards Ceremony.

First, I would like to thank each member of the Dean's Office who helped organize this marvelous event: Catherine Avril, Lisa Bleheen, Lauren Clark, Mary Anne Gowen, Marielle Risse, Brian Tavares, and Sandy Tenorio, with special thanks to Donna Harding for coordinating the effort and keeping the team on track.

I also want to thank the former Infinite Mile Award winners who served on the selection committee, which was convened this year by Sheila Kanode. They are Kim Bond Schaefer, Dick Fenner, Ping Lee, and Karin Janson-Strasswimmer. Thank you!

This wonderful event is billed as our Infinite Mile Awards Ceremony, but I prefer to think of it as a Festival. According to the dictionary, a festival is an occasion devoted to joyous community observances held annually to celebrate the harvest of an important product. As many of you know, for the last four years we have gathered in this room, at this time of year, for the same purpose. We have music, present awards, and serve refreshments (including delicious cake) – sounds pretty festive to me. But more to the point, we are here to celebrate a very important product, namely, the extraordinary efforts of the School's staff.

So I welcome you to the joyous occasion of the School's fourth annual Infinite Mile Awards Festival. The joy comes from recognizing the outstanding individuals you will soon hear about and it comes from our deep gratitude to those of you who took the time to so eloquently praise the contributions of your co-workers. The Institute is a very busy place, as we all know, and it is gratifying to see so many of you belie the familiar adage that MIT is a no-praise zone.

Pearl S. Buck might have captured the nature of today's festivities much better than I when she wrote, "The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it." As I think you will agree, each one of our award winners today has learned the secret of joy in work.

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Su Chung, Center for Technology, Policy, and Industrial Development


CTPID, the Center for Technology, Policy, and Industrial Development, is mid-sized and complex with research volume of just short of $8M funded by 50 industry sponsors and 15 government agencies. The center includes 9 virtual programs, mostly interdisciplinary, each with unique administrative needs relative to structure, sponsor relations, subcontracts and staffing.

Su Chung supports the efforts of around 80 faculty, staff, and students including 20 faculty members from 8 different departments, as they conduct their research activities through the Center. Like all administrative officers, Su's responsibilities range from contract negotiations and budget preparation to human resources and space management. We learn from her nominations that Su works tirelessly in creatively supporting the ever-changing requirements of the Center's programs and is always extremely responsive, putting in long hours to demonstrate her "can do" approach to problem solving.

Su is involved in many CTPID contractual agreements and often needs to be assertive while balancing the desires of the faculty with the policies and practices of the Institute. Su has a gentle manner, but she is no shrinking violet. We are informed that in her consistently positive way, with a compassionate and professional manner Su politely, but firmly, draws the line.

An admiring colleague says, "Su demonstrates how powerful a gentle manner can be." Indeed Su is unassuming, but a stellar administrator. Despite her unassuming manner, she is driven by integrity, ensuring that she is knowledgable about every situation, and her patient persistence, complete engagement, and due diligence ensure positive closure on all issues.

Su works through interpersonal conflicts in an exemplary manner, always demonstrating empathy, a sense of equity, and knowledge of legal issues — all with a unique grace. Recently she has had to manage several highly sensitive grievance cases and has done so effectively with her ever-present professionalism.

The Center Director notes that Su extends her supportive and nurturing attitude to all. She is a compassionate and committed supervisor always looking out for her staff and colleagues and helping them to advance professionally. She is equally respectful and responsive to all regardless of rank or title, never too busy to stop her activities to help.

Su is characterized as one who will do whatever it takes to make the program, the Center, and MIT a success. Another colleague, who considers herself privileged to have the opportunity to work with her, sums up Su's contributions by writing "Su is one of those longtime MIT employees who truly goes the extra mile for others without a single thought of personal gain."

Su, you are doing much more than your job, and have consistently gone the extra mile during many years of service to MIT. It is my personal pleasure to have the Dean present to you on behalf of CTPID, the Dean's Office and the School, this SoE Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence.

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Wanda Cook, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


Wanda Cook is the face of the Educational Computing Facility, in EECS. The Educational Computing Facility, more widely known as the ECF, takes care of the academic and administrative computing needs of the department. Wanda performs many and varied tasks for the group including purchasing all supplies, maintaining the group's inventory databases and also the computer library with catalogs, manuals and periodicals. She runs all the backups, does the accounting and correspondence and anything else required to support the facility. Wanda is the first to receive and handle client requests and does so with a kindness and thoughtfulness that keeps the office running in a pleasant, professional manner. All of her admirers describe her as the one who "just does it" but "does it" with incredible dignity. While "just doing it," she manages to be the calming influence throughout each colleague's personal computer crisis.

Wanda is also the nurturing member of the group who manages to keep everyone smiling. She does so with amusing anecdotes and of course with a supply of goodies.

We have learned from an admiring colleague that Wanda marches through her life and her work with unselfconscious determination comprised of both bottom-line practicality and unwavering total commitment as well as exemplary standards. In the latter she raises the bar of appropriate conduct for all, including her supervisor, who reports that she keeps him in line, and out of trouble. She also demands appropriate conduct of Rocky, their canine team member and office mascot, who we understand is a real network sniffer. Yes, Wanda lives by her word and expects nothing less from others. Her expectations, however, are balanced with compassion and kindness.

Wanda always volunteers to help out when a colleague appears to be overwhelmed, not only in the ECF but in EECS headquarters and anywhere else where there is a need. We are told that she often eliminates those needs by absorbing the tasks into her daily routine as she did with the department's ILP account, which she now manages. Wanda is characterized by a coworker as "steadfast worker bee, lion-hearted friend, and awe-inspiring, compassionate woman".

Wanda, admiring colleagues believe that your exemplary commitment and dedication to MIT are demonstrated day after day with outstanding resolve under extraordinary circumstances and they want you to know what an inspiration you are for all.

On behalf of the ECF, the Department, the School, and MIT, we are pleased to present you with this SoE Infinite Mile Award for Excellence.

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James Dezieck, Human Resources - School of Engineering


Jim Dezieck is the Human Resources Officer, or HRO, for the SoE and Resource Development. The School of Engineering boasts a faculty and staff headcount of over 1200.One can well imagine the myriad HR activities percolating from this core.Jim is our trusted consultant on all employee issues, always ensuring each employee's rights are protected and that we are following the Institute's policy and the law.As a certified mediator with a Master's in counseling and consulting psychology from Harvard University, Jim has not only the expertise but the emotional stamina to deal effectively with the employee issues our 30+ DLCs and programs face. Certainly the administrators serving these units effectively solve most situations locally. However, many others require special expertise, and Jim is the expert we turn to.Historically our HROs have been slaves to paperwork and not always available to help with the difficult situations. Jim has been, and continues to be, instrumental in enabling the transition of HR to SAP and in the implementation of the HR Payroll Service Center. He continues to work with the Center and with colleagues to improve and simplify the transactional processes, thus reducing the paperwork and thereby releasing his time to deal most effectively with the issues that require his professional expertise. Jim always demonstrates a strong commitment to providing excellent service.Jim has many qualities that inspire respect and admiration and make him a joy to interact with, but I am especially grateful for his calming influence. He has consistently demonstrated the ability to relieve anxiety and make a difficult situation less stressful for all involved. He does so with his warm personality, his gentle manner, his empathy for others, his thoughtfulness, and most importantly his resourcefulness and his extraordinary knowledge base.Jim is most admired by his colleagues and the Dean's Office for his respect for all individuals and his sense of balance. He never takes any interpersonal situation lightly and never displays bias. He acknowledges each as a unique problem, rolls up his sleeves with extraordinary optimism and compassion, and works tirelessly toward a win-win solution always knowing there are two or more real perspectives and that each perspective is reality.A most important element in crafting win-win solutions is effective communication, and Jim demonstrates again and again his commitment to keep all parties continuously informed. Several of Jim's administrative officer clients note that he can always be counted on for prompt, timely, and thorough follow-up.

Jim, we are so grateful you found your way to the SoE. It is my personal pleasure to have the Dean present to you, on behalf of the Dean's Office and all SoE DLCs, this SoE Infinite Mile Award for Excellence.

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Frederick J. Donovan, Aeronautics and Astronautics


Our next Infinite Mile Award winner is Frederick Donovan. Fred is the IT systems manager for the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Fred is responsible for maintaining the computers used by the Aero/Astro faculty and staff, including hardware and software, and for maintaining several wireless networks. He also develops and maintains the approximately 40 computer systems the students use for coursework and design projects, and he created and maintains the department's local area network and servers. Fred installs and maintains a broad spectrum of software from Microsoft Office and Project to several types of computer-aided design software. He supports general mathematical software such as MATLAB and unique software like Satellite Tool Kit. He even set up a unique, multiple-computer flight simulator environment that allowed research on the flight performance of pilots and student-modified aircraft. Fred's efforts also extend to extra-curricular student activities, such as the MIT Rocket Team and the Mars-Gravity Biosatellite program, that include dozens of students. Because he is such an invaluable resource for so many people, he could really use a "take a number dispenser" outside his office.

Faculty and staff call on Fred when their computers crash, when they can't get the A/V equipment to work, when they can't print their mail, when they don't understand their software, when their laptops misbehave, and just about any time they are baffled by modern technology – and sometimes by not so modern technology. For example, one letter writer says she's even known Fred to work on a troublesome copier.

Fred never gives up on a problem. He tries everything until the problem is solved, and he does so with wonderful humor and grace. He is often able to change the atmosphere from "meltdown" to funny, and one nominator writes, "I have never heard a negative comment from Fred about anyone despite the fact that he has seen most of us at our worst." As you can imagine, Fred works long hours. One letter writer comments that the demands on Fred's time must be among the most stressful in the department, yet he meets every challenge with courtesy and tremendous expertise. The same letter writer goes on to recall Fred telling him one time that he was wondering what people were doing around the department so late in the evening – only to realize he'd been working all night and that the others were arriving in the early morning. Fred is a unique and vital asset to his department. He embodies the qualities we all strive for at MIT – scholarship, expertise, motivation, innovation, wisdom, tolerance, and humor.

Fred, reading the many nominations submitted on your behalf was both a humbling and an inspiring experience, and it is our great honor and a pleasure to present you with a School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Excellence.

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Mary Gibson, Center for Transportation and Logistics


It is a particular pleasure for me to present the next award to my longtime colleague, Mary Gibson. Mary first joined the School of Engineering in 1988 as the administrative officer for Project Athena. She left us for a brief stint in central administration, but luckily for us returned to the School in 1993 as Manager of Administration and Finance in the Center for Transportation and Logistics, affectionately known in MIT-ese as CTL. Mary's duties require a broad range of expertise, from managing the center's complex financial activities to building and maintaining the computer facility for the Center and for the academic program it supports, as well as the other myriad responsibilities associated with the position of AO at MIT, including personnel and space. Mary has a strong work ethic and a diverse set of skills, including very strong interpersonal skills. As one letter writer states, and I quote, "Mary interacts with numerous faculty, students and staff, and encounters difficult situations, often involving contentious personnel issues. She is always extremely professional, non-judgmental, patient, and generous with her time. I was always impressed by Mary's ability to put herself in another person's shoes and try to provide sympathetic explanations for actions that others might quickly condemn. Her insight and skill in managing these situations were essential to resolving them." Other letter writers comment in the same vein. They say, "Mary is the heart and soul of the Center for Transportation and Logistics." "She works tirelessly to advance the goals of the Center. During the move of the Center from Building 1 to E40 [always a treat for all concerned], she performed miracles, working with contractors, researchers, students, vendors, and the administration, keeping everyone on schedule." "Not only is Mary always available to answer any questions concerning MIT or other operations, she is incredibly proactive." "Mary knows how to navigate the administrative channels at MIT and make things happen." "Mary is the most dedicated and professional person I have ever worked with." "I have rarely witnessed a colleague with more dedication and commitment to her unit. Mary demonstrates professionalism in her ability to motivate her staff and to administer a wide variety of competing and complex tasks. Mary has an incredible amount of energy, is resourceful, and has institutional history that enables her to successfully meet the goals of her unit. Mary is a bright and savvy administrative officer." "She is a pleasure to work with." "Mary is a very kind and loyal individual." "She cares deeply about the Center and everybody in it and works very long hours to make sure that the ship is floating and running straight and true." In short," she makes MIT proud."

Mary, it is a pleasure and an honor to present you with a School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence.

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Kenneth E. Greene, Jr., Materials Science and Engineering


Those of you who have never ventured into the department headquarters of Materials Science and Engineering are missing a real treat. Several years ago, when the Dean's Office was under renovation, DMSE kindly took me in and I was able to observe firsthand the work and demeanor of our next Infinite Mile Award winner, Ken Greene. I also had occasion to work with Ken many years ago when he was in Mechanical Engineering, and already counted myself among his admirers. I was extremely gratified to learn that he had been selected for an Infinite Mile Award this year, and it is an honor and a pleasure to present these remarks.One letter writer tells us that Ken "is solely responsible for creating the serene environment in the DMSE headquarters office, which is adorned by small animal sculptures hidden among an atrium of plants." When you enter headquarters, you " are greeted by Ken's welcoming hand. All are struck by his charm and dapper appearance." But there's much more. We are told that Ken is committed beyond reasonable expectation. He is sincere in all that he does. He is sensitive and kind. Ken treats all around him with respect and commands the respect of his peers in return. A colleague tells us that "Ken stands out in (her) mind as one of the most gracious and humble individuals (she) has ever known. He is willing to give 100%, but asks for little in return." She adds, "I have not met a more loyal person."Another letter writer, who joined MIT quite recently writes that she was totally overwhelmed with the size and complexity of MIT. But for "the dedication, commitment, loyalty and pure love of MIT" that Ken Greene demonstrated, her first month here" would have been disastrous. Ken PATIENTLY explained the ins and outs" of working at MIT (and I think you will all agree that we have more than our share). He explained where to go for what, never complaining if she asked the same question more than once. Ken didn't settle for giving directions. Instead, he accompanied her to offices she needed to find, demystifying the network of tunnels and buildings. This letter writer graciously states that all MIT staff are very helpful, "but Ken Greene is the most enthusiastic, supportive, and dedicated person (she's) had the privilege to work with."

Ken, it gives me great pleasure to present you with a School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence and to second the words of my colleague who writes, "those who are lucky enough to be able to call Ken a friend are blessed indeed. He is truly a pleasure to be around and we have all been lucky to have him in our midst for these past 35 years."

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Jean-Francois Hamel, Chemical Engineering


Our next award winner, Jean-Francois Hamel, is a lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Jean-Francois has, in the words of one letter writer, "truly gone the infinite mile in order to launch a new undergraduate laboratory course, 10.28, (which) was offered for the first time in the fall of 2003. The overall rating for this new class was truly exceptional: 6.6 out of 7.0. A tremendous amount of planning and hard work was required to achieve these amazing results." The overwhelming consensus among faculty is that the lion's share of the credit for developing and overseeing the complex logistics of successfully running the laboratory goes to Jean-Francois. The sentiments of the faculty are echoed in those of the students. Here is a typical comment: "In three years of undergraduate study at MIT, I have yet to see an instructor parallel Jean-Francois Hamel in his devotion to his students. As a lecturer, his clear presentations and patience in answering questions made the theory behind our labs easy to comprehend. His care for our understanding of the material was apparent through the multitude of daily emails he would send us updating our progress in the lab. He never ceased to keep us informed and was our primary resource for any and all questions we had regarding the class." Jean-Francois communicated with each of the 16 students enrolled in 10.28 via email, responding to concerns and soliciting feedback. During the final phase of a particular lab module, Jean-Francois stayed on call throughout the weekend. Students knew that no matter how late it was at night, Jean-Francois would respond to their emails within an hour, sending them data, research papers, and answers to their questions.Jean-Francois's dedication goes beyond the classroom. He is described as a great UROP supervisor, and he even helps students find jobs. One student wrote, "I distinctly remember receiving an email in which (Jean-Francois) told us to contact him if we wanted more information for summer job opportunities. Since that email, there have been numerous more about opportunities abroad and all across the United States. All of us greatly appreciate his willingness to help us find jobs in industry and his understanding that what we learn in the sub-basement of 66 will be of true value if we are able to apply it to the real world." Jean-Francois is a talented and tireless teacher who has won the respect, the gratitude and the affection of faculty and students alike. One student writes, "One of my fondest memories of (10.28) is having Jean-Francois round us up for pictures with his professional digital camera, and looking around the lab seeing the place covered with photographs that JF had taken throughout the term. I will always associate 10.28 with Jean-Francois Hamel's enthusiasm, dedication and his willingness to help his students."

Jean-Francois, it is our great pleasure to present you with this School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence.

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Barbara Hughey, Mechanical Engineering


Dr. Barbara Hughey of the Department of Mechanical Engineering is described as a Technical Instructor "par excellence." Barbara manages the experiments in 2.671, a required course for all ME undergraduates, and was an active participant in the recent extensive revamping of the subject. Barbara has been responsible for upgrading the instruments, the instructions, and the experiments themselves. Letter writers tell us that her work is characterized by a high level of sophistication, quality, dedication, and enthusiasm; and more than one faculty member remarked on the department's great good fortune in recruiting her for this important role. In addition to her duties of making the 2.671 experiments work day in and day out, week after week (which is no mean feat when you have 50 undergraduates each semester with little previous experimental experience), Barbara goes the extra mile. For example, she makes a special effort to learn all the students' names and schedules very early on and reaches out to them continuously. She corresponds with them all individually, constantly, throughout the term. One faculty member commented that she knew all 50 students' names before he had learned the 22 in his two sections. Faculty, staff, and students alike praise Barbara for her approachability, her positive outlook, and the high degree of caring she brings to her work. She is able to build a special relationship with all of her students. She becomes a friend, confidante, and mentor to many of the students when they are over-stressed or in danger of falling behind and thus fills a vital role as a bridge between the faculty and students that helps both get the most out of the 2.671 experience. Before leaving on vacation recently, Barbara wrote to a colleague alerting him to her concerns about one student who was having trouble with a thesis, and another student who might need access to an experiment to get caught up, and yet another who had a special need for a particular piece of equipment. In the high-pressure environment MIT students must cope with, such personalized attention is precious and rare and helps make MIT a great experience.

Barbara, it is a pleasure and an honor to second the words of your ME colleagues and to present you with a School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Excellence.

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Susan Kaufman, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


It is indeed a pleasure for me to present an Infinite Mile Award this year to Susan Kaufman, administrative assistant to the associate head for EE in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Susan's position is one of considerable complexity and responsibility, and numerous faculty members attest that her performance is nothing short of remarkable. Comments include: "Easily the best assistant I've worked with in thirty years of my professional life," "I am amazed how she has been able to sort out complicated demands and boundary conditions and come up with solutions to seemingly impossible scheduling and logistic problems," "Susan is exceptional," "Susan is phenomenal: extremely professional, extraordinarily dedicated, and handles even the most difficult situations with grace, patience, and sensitivity. She is a fine role model for administrative support not just in EECS but for all of MIT." Perhaps the single most challenging task associated with Susan's position is assisting in the organization and management of the EE Faculty Search Committee. The committee is composed of ten EE faculty members, four of whom are lab directors. Susan organizes almost everything associated with the faculty search. She does so flawlessly and always with a smile. She manages the applications of close to 200 candidates and coordinates 12-16 faculty interviews annually. One faculty member writes, "it is hard for me to think of a more important function for a department than new faculty search. This is a process that must run flawlessly, and must present the utmost professionalism both internally and externally. Much of the demand for excellence in this process falls to Susan, since she sits at the intersection of all important communications. In pursuit of excellent faculty candidates, the ten faculty search committee participants all have strong opinions and expectations of the process. Susan must manage the interface to each faculty member. She does this with extreme professionalism and good spirit. Even when faced with conflicting demands, she manages to maintain her good spirit." Susan's exceptional work ethic, her commitment to excellence, her high efficiency, and her ability to make quick decisions make her invaluable, but there's more. We are told that Susan is also one of those people whose enthusiasm and energy appear to be unlimited and whose unfailingly pleasant demeanor adds so much to our work environment. Susan is always smiling and is always cheerful no matter how busy she is. She is always caring with everyone around her, whether it is a faculty member, an undergraduate or a graduate student, a distinguished visitor, or the DHL delivery person. She makes time to listen to whatever stories people feel they need to tell her. She makes everyone feel welcome.

And we welcome you, Susan, to the society of School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award winners.

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Krishnanchali Panchalingam, Biological Engineering


Krisha Panchalingam is the primary research technician in BE. She joined MIT four months after Prof. James Sherley in 1998 and together they partnered to establish his lab. Prof. Sherley notes that his beginnings at MIT were made easy by Krisha's excellent character, talent, and collegiality. Her expertise allowed him to confidently pursue the other demands of academic life as she assumed primary responsibility for oversight and development of the lab's operation as it grew in staff and evolved in new research directions. She readily absorbed the dynamic aspects of sponsor requirements, government regulations, and resulting MIT policies and procedures.Prof. Sherley notes that his partnership with Krisha is one of the most valued parts of his MIT experience. I quickly realized that many share this perspective as I read the comments of other admiring lab members, Comments include, "I couldn't have asked for a better mentor," another indicates "she has been one of my greatest inspirations in graduate school," yet another declares, "her selfless commitment to research excellence, education, and support of the many students and trainees that learn and grow in our laboratory is beyond compare," and yet another, "she is our lab manager, one of our best scientists, our own personal human resources coordinator, and our loving friend." These are heartfelt comments.There is no doubt that the lab revolves around Krisha. We learn that she provides guidance to all lab members, including training in basic lab techniques and help with the development of experimental procedures and teaching important lifelong lessons, like that there are no shortcuts in science. Krisha's emphasis on precision has set high standards for the lab techniques used by all. Her attention to detail and her thorough efficient ability to juggle several ongoing projects provides a positive influence.Managing the lab includes establishing systems for maintaining materials input, ordering all the supplies, maintaining all the equipment, and enforcing all safety rules and regulations with appropriate counsel and training. Sounds like a full time job to me! But we are informed that Krisha "is no average research technician." On top of managing the lab she completes more independent research than many of her colleagues. Her contributions do not end with managing the lab, mentoring all participants and carrying out her own research, for Krisha also takes responsibility for the social environment of the lab. She is the one who ensures that all personal celebrations take place, as she remembers all birthdays and organizes birthday lunches.

Krisha, you are characterized as genuine, sincere, determined, intelligent, creative, and caring, and you have earned a special place in the hearts of all who live in and visit the Lab. You have demonstrated your commitment to making MIT the extraordinary community it is by continuously going the extra mile. For this we sincerely "thank you". On behalf of the Lab, BE, the School and MIT, it is our pleasure to present you with this SoE Infinite Mile Award as a small token of our appreciation.

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Erminia Piccinonno, Administrative Services Organization Intranet


Erminia Piccinonno is Personnel Administrator for the Administrative Services Organization, commonly identified as the ASO, which serves as the headquarters for Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Archaeology, and the Center for Biomedical Engineering including over 360 faculty and staff. Her role requires interacting daily with faculty and support staff as well as with a large population of academic staff and visitors. Interacting with such a diverse population in so many diverse ways is demanding and emotionally draining. But Erminia has the remarkable ability to maintain a positive disposition never failing to offer her beautiful warm smile. She is always there to extend a helping hand to any of her colleagues in time of need.Erminia demonstrates incredible compassion, understanding and composure while working through the many sensitive and delicate situations she encounters. An admiring colleague writes, "I have witnessed Erminia play the role of advisor, coach, supervisor, and enforcer with four different people in four successive meetings without taking a break. This reveals a toughness and grace that even the most seasoned administrators will admire."One letter writer conveys that Erminia is motivated by a genuine desire to help make MIT one of the very best places to work and that she deserves this award not for any single accomplishment but for an ongoing commitment to the Institute that has positively touched many people in many parts of the MIT campus.We know that Erminia has assumed a leadership role among her peers and is often invited to participate in Institute-wide efforts.An example of going above and beyond was demonstrated recently during the support staff classification project. The ASO had planned to cluster types of jobs and not meet with each individual staff member. However, Erminia determined that the integrity of the process would be strengthened by her first-hand knowledge of each position, and so she made time within her daily non-routine schedule to review the job level guide individually with each of 59 support staff members. She then elected to meet with each individual to share directly the outcome of the review. Her supervisor proudly comments, "This extra level of dedication is witnessed in all that Erminia does, and reflects her desire to do the best job she possibly can. The standard that Erminia has set for herself is to go above and beyond every day in every way."This standard has quickly and easily earned the admiration of all current and prior School HROs including, of course, Jim Dezieck, our current HRO. Erminia is truly an example of the unsung hero. Her modesty combined with the confidentiality surrounding most of the issues she effectively deals with minimizes the opportunity to acknowledge her selfless contributions.

Erminia, today we take this opportunity to recognize you and your consistent commitment to MIT's goals by presenting you with this SoE Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence.

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Lourenco Pires, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


As a Technical Instructor in EECS, Lourenco Pires maintains and operates the classroom demonstrations for all EECS subjects, a seemingly overwhelming load that Lourenco bears, and I quote: "with remarkable energy, ability, efficiency, resourcefulness, dedication and infectious enthusiasm." According to one faculty member, at the beginning of each term, Lourenco will ask for a syllabus. From the syllabus, he will figure out what demonstrations the faculty member is likely to require and will have them all working and ready by class time. If something is broken, he fixes it. In short, whatever the faculty member needs magically appears in time for him to review it and prepare for class. Lourenco demonstrates the same impressive efficiency even when a faculty member decides (often at the last minute) to modify a demonstration. And despite the fact that we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of technology, not all of these demos are, shall we say, new. One letter writer says, "Most people would be daunted by the task of maintaining experiments designed in the early sixties, especially since many of these ancient relics survive without clear documentation to explain their design, purpose or operation," but not Lourenco. Over and over, letter writers describe how Lourenco has gone out of his way to obtain parts and build new demonstrations or repair an old one in an emergency.Lourenco makes them work every time. But his demos don't just work. As one letter writer says, Lourenco is a perfectionist. Recently he tore down a perfectly acceptable demo and rebuilt it with improved features. Lourenco is always excited about his work and enjoys discussing the demos with students, TAs and faculty members. He is always eager to learn more about the theory of the devices he works on. When he is not repairing, assembling or setting up the demos or training others how to, he researches the topics for demonstrations and offers suggestions for improving them. We are told that he has an eye for the dramatic and will offer and implement suggestions for modifications to demos that will enhance their impact. Currently in his spare time, Lourenco is writing demonstration instructions including equipment lists, assembly instructions, digital pictures of the assembled demonstrations and sample data for a booklet to be produced in collaboration with a faculty member on series of EECS core subjects.Lourenco's warm and engaging personality, his sincere interest in his work, and his concern for the students combined with his technical skill, in the words of one faculty member, "make teaching at MIT a joyous experience."

And it is a joyous experience for us, Lourenco, to present you with this well-deserved School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence.

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Cynthia Skier, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


Cynthia Skier is the Director of the Women's Technology Program, the Industrial Connection Program and Alumni relations, all based in EECS. Cynthia joined EECS when the department was completing its first summer of The Women's Technology Program, which was initiated by a graduate student. The program objective is to bring high school girls to MIT for a four-week residential program focused on exposing them to electrical engineering and computer science. The courses are taught by women graduate students and tutored by undergraduate or graduate women. The program flourished under Cynthia's first year of direction as she expanded the program from 27 students in the experimental year to a planned steady state of 40 junior and senior high students. Program applications increased from 150 to over 700. In conjunction with the Department Head she raised half of the program's budget from individual donors and industrial sponsors. She developed publicity materials, presented the program tirelessly and enthusiastically within MIT and at many local women's organizations, honed the budget, and developed assessment tools. We learn that 15 of the 40 women from last year's cohort have been accepted at MIT.As noted, Cynthia also manages the Industrial Connection Program. This program connects the Department with industries interested in recruiting EECS students. In addition to maintaining relationships with company contacts, Cynthia recruits new organizations, plans recruiting events, and provides feedback on the success of these events. Recruiting events are of all types and at all hours, most occurring in the evenings. Cynthia advises member companies on how best to present themselves to our students and works closely with the students to match them appropriately to meet their goals of a job offer or a summer internship. Cynthia accomplishes all of this with minimal support. Yet, she doesn't stop here.She also manages the EECS annual donor campaign and the gift acknowledgement process, and fields alumni queries. As an alumna of two MIT programs herself, she easily communicates with EECS alums. The faculty director of the ICP program indicates that he supervises Cynthia only in theory, for in practice she manages the Program independently. He goes on to say that Cynthia has brought a level of professionalism to the Program that has elevated the Program's interactions with member companies toward greater success.A long-term MIT administrator, also an SoE Infinite Mile Award winner, describes Cynthia as "by far the most competent and capable person I've worked with in a departmental setting at MIT." I had my first opportunity to meet Cynthia very recently at the Lemelson Prize Student award celebration. Cynthia's interest in and enthusiasm for MIT students and MIT partnerships extends way beyond EECS.Cynthia, you have demonstrated exemplary commitment and extraordinary contributions to the students, the department, and the School, in a very short period of time,

On behalf of EECS and the School we are pleased to present you with this SoE Infinite Mile Award for Excellence.

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Sharon Trohon, Mechanical Engineering


The Administrative Officer is critical to the smooth functioning of a department and consequently to the Dean's Office. Thus it is always a pleasure for the Dean's Office to learn that an administrative officer is making a positive difference. Sharon Trohon is making such a difference in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The department head reports that countless faculty and staff inform him of this regularly. Sharon has earned this notoriety from a background position where she develops and implements systems that avoid crisis situations. She demonstrates again and again that enviable ability to perfectly balance kindness and assertiveness. Sharon believes firmly that the sole objective of department administration is to support the faculty and students and she constantly reminds the staff of this goal by her personal example. Inheriting a serious financial situation, Sharon demonstrated natural leadership as she built teams that continue to work together effectively toward a debt free department. She led the effort to streamline administration by capitalizing on staff strengths and maximizing resources effectively. Also a great teacher, Sharon methodically ensures that all who support faculty and students have the tools and the training they need, to do so in the best way possible.Characterized by a colleague as positive, patient and hard working, Sharon is quick to identify the issues, thoughtful enough to seek and listen to input from all and then take appropriate action towards resolution ensuring that all perspectives are considered.Sharon will soon complete 30 full years of MIT employment. In 1989 she moved to the School of Engineering where she served the Department of Ocean Engineering before joining Mechanical Engineering administration 2.5 years ago. Sharon's past contributions are also much appreciated. The Lab for Architecture and Planning where Sharon worked through 1989, reports that managing day to day activities for 10-15 faculty members and over 40 students required Sharon to be a cheerleader, problem solver, tough keeper of the sanctity of the budget and, yes, more than a bit of a "camp counselor," and she remained friendly and supportive throughout! Admirers in Ocean Engineering remember her as a great resource and a terrific partner whose kindness and patience abounded. They tell us that Sharon often shared quotes that actually described her demonstrated management style, i.e. "You catch more flies with honey." And I have to share this story about Sharon's patient persona. An Ocean Engineering colleague remembers a day when Sharon's son, at the time a very little boy, was in the office. After observing Sharon patiently interact with a professor, he said, "Hey Mom. Being a mother gives you good practice for this job!"Sharon, your department head characterizes you as "the crown jewel in MechE's department administration." What an honor!

On behalf of the department, the School, and the Institute, it is my personal pleasure to see the Dean present you with an SoE Infinite Mile Award for Sustained Excellence.

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Peter W. Young, Aeronautics and Astronautics


Peter Young is a senior lecturer in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, who is described as having been a "tireless promoter and a sparkplug" for a multitude of student projects and activities from the day he joined the Department. Examples include class projects, internal and external student design/build competitions, and student professional organizations. He is considered a superb model builder himself who helps students "craft" projects, not just put them together. Pete demands excellence and a professional attitude from all the students he works with and can instill these qualities with just the right combination of enthusiasm and firmness ? a true mark of a leader and mentor. Pete has also played a key role in creating a can-do atmosphere in the Aero/Astro student labs, where much of the student project activity takes place. In his "free" time, on Saturday mornings, Pete works with the Girls in Science Outreach Program instructing girls from Cambridge Rindge and Latin in building rockets. He also leads trips for students to the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, to NASA sites and to student competitions. He is a great ambassador for the department, generating excitement among young people for both the department and the field. Pete's nominators tell us that his devotion and dedication to the students is unquestionable. He is a marvelous teacher and a wonderful example of caring and unselfishness. He is dedicated to improving the quality of life for the students and to making the learning experience enjoyable. He is always available to lend a hand, often coming in early, staying late and doing the things that must be done that no one else wants to do. His enthusiasm for all that he does is infectious and it's obvious that he values the time he spends with students as much as the students do. He has made the Aero/Astro Department a far richer place for students.

Pete, it is with great pleasure and gratitude that we present you with this School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Excellence.

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