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Outstanding Alumni Awards 2021

Distinguished Alumni Award

Visionary leaders in their field, recipients of this honor have reached exceptional levels of professional and personal achievement. This award recognizes distinguished leadership, service, teaching, innovation, and other exemplary accomplishments that positively impact society and the engineering profession.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Emerging leaders in the early stages of their careers, recipients of this honor are no more than ten years out from receiving their UMass Engineering PhD or no more than fifteen years out from receiving their UMass Engineering undergraduate degree. This award recognizes outstanding professional and personal achievements, and highlights the recipient’s ambitions and potential to positively impact UMass, the Commonwealth, the nation and the world.

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

 

Victor BahlVictor Bahl ’97 PhD
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Victor Bahl is a technical fellow and chief technology officer in Microsoft’s cloud & artificial intelligence engineering division. Prior to this, he was technical fellow and founding director of the mobility & networking group and a member of the senior leadership team in Microsoft Research. With over 30 years of industry experience. Dr. Bahl advises Microsoft’s CEO and senior leadership team on long-term strategy related to 5G, edge computing, cloud infrastructures, networked systems, mobile computing & wireless systems. He is the original technical proponent behind Microsoft’s edge computing products, and he is the architect of the strategy that led to the creation of Azure for Operators business where he now serves as CTO. He leads a group that executes on this vision through research, incubations, product development, industry partnerships, and associated engagement with governments and research institutes around the world.

Dr. Bahl has delivered numerous foundational technologies to Azure, XBOX and Windows. A few seminal technologies that he is well known for include edge computing, live video analytics, white space networking, mesh networking, Wi-Fi virtualization, multi-radio systems, Wi-Fi hot-spots, and indoor localization. His technical contribution and advocacy of dynamic spectrum access with opportunistic networking led to the United States FCC opening up 180 MHz of spectrum for unlicensed use. He has published over 125 papers with over 55,000 citations, he is the author/co-author of 175 patents, and for his professional and research leadership has received numerous awards incl. two test-of-time awards, four best paper awards, two U.S. FCC awards, two national transportation awards, three distinguished alumni awards, and four ACM and IEEE lifetime outstanding achievement awards.

He is the founder/co-founder of ACM SIGMOBILE, MobiSys, GetMobile and several other important conferences and journals. Dr. Bahl is a Fellow of ACM, IEEE, and AAAS. He received his PhD degree from UMass Amherst in 1997.

 

Jeffrey ElkinsJeffrey Elkins ’86
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Biomedical Engineering [Awarding department]

Jeff, a Massachusetts native now living in the SF Bay Area of California, has 35 years of experience focused in cutting edge medical devices. Over this time, he’s been able to participate in and lead important innovations in cardiovascular and endovascular technologies with leading physicians and researchers, at start-ups and major healthcare firms.

Jeff has helped to develop and commercialize technology which have impacted millions of patients world-wide, and he has a track record of accomplishments and contribution in roles of increasing responsibility from R&D and manufacturing engineer through executive leader and board member.

He has been instrumental in developing and bringing therapies to market in the cardiovascular, neurovascular, hematology/oncology, and nephrology specialties and has multiple patents in the various fields. During the early periods of his career, he held engineering, manufacturing, and operations management roles developing and scaling novel interventional cardiology devices such as the first generation PTCA balloons used to open coronary artery blockages. He was a member of the founding team for Johnson & Johnson’s Interventional Neurovascular and Endovascular division, where he managed operations for minimally invasive devices and implantable materials used in the treatment of vascular diseases of the brain including stroke and arterial venous malformations. In addition, he managed operations for the rapidly growing (Massachusetts-based) Haemonetics, before and during the company’s IPO.

More recently, Jeff brought to market several life-saving minimally-invasive treatments for aortic aneurysms at World Medical (Chief Technology Officer), Medtronic (VP and BU Manager), and Aptus EndoSystems (CEO/COO/Director). He is recognized by both industry and the medical/physician community as one of the top people in this field, where he has driven a significant and robust pace of innovative product launches resulting in successful acquisitions.

Jeff is currently CEO & Director at InterVene Inc., a venture capital and strategic investor-backed medical start-up focused on the emerging field of chronic venous insufficiency. He recently joined InterVene after having been CEO/Director of a venous-disease start-up, Veniti Endovenous Systems, who developed the first of a new class of dedicated venous stents, which was acquired and commercialized by Massachusetts-based Boston Scientific.

He also serves on the board of Israel-based EndoSpan (technology for treating Aortic Dissections & Aneurysms).

 

Robert W. IvesterRobert W. Ivester ’91, ’93 MS, ’96 PhD
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Robert W. Ivester serves as the Acting MEP Director and the Deputy Director of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The MEP National NetworkTM focuses its expertise and knowledge as well as that of its partners (industry, educational institutions, state governments, NIST and other federal research laboratories and agencies) on providing U.S. manufacturers with information and tools they need to improve productivity, assure consistent quality, accelerate the transfer of manufacturing technology and infuse innovation into production processes and new products.

Dr. Ivester served at the Department of Energy for seven years, most recently as Director of the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. FEMP oversees the implementation of policy and actions that result in energy efficiency implementation, renewable energy adoption, and reduction in energy and water use in federal government operations. Ivester also served in the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) for six years. During that time, AMO launched five Manufacturing USA Institutes, the Critical Materials Hub, and hundreds of small R&D and technical assistance projects across the Nation. He also worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology for over 16 years, leading and performing research in advanced manufacturing.

He has been an instructor for the Johns Hopkins University Engineering for Professionals program for graduate-level studies in manufacturing engineering since 2001. He is a SME Fellow and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He received his doctorate in engineering and a BS in Mechanical Engineering and MS in Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

 

Edward KalajianEdward H. Kalajian ’69 MS, ’71 PhD
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Edward H. Kalajian is an emeritus professor at Florida Institute of Technology. He has over 40 years of academic experience. Most recently, he served as the associate dean for the Florida Institute of Technology College of Engineering.

Dr. Kalajian taught every civil engineering student in Florida Tech’s history until his retirement in 2017. Family, friends, and former students honored his 46 years of service by establishing the Edward H. Kalajian Endowed Professorship. He was also honored as Florida Institute of Technology 60th Anniversary Master Teacher in 2019, and serves as chair of their College of Engineering Council.

He started his professional career working as a civil engineer at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. In 1971, he joined Florida Tech to launch the ocean engineering program. Shortly afterward in 1974, he created the civil engineering department. In 1978 and 1979, he worked as civil engineer for the U.S. Army and as ocean engineer for the Harbor Branch Foundation, respectively. In 1979, Kalaijan returned to Florida Tech and worked as associate professor and department head of the Civil Engineering Department to later become the director of the Division of Engineering Sciences (Mechanical, Civil, Chemical, and Aerospace Engineering). He was appointed associate dean for the Florida Institute of Technology College of Engineering in 1999.

He is a registered professional engineer (P.E.) in Florida with expertise in soil mechanics, foundation design, concrete materials, waterfront construction and waste stabilization. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society for Engineering Education, Chi Epsilon and Tau Beta Pi. He also served as an ABET accreditation visitor for the American Society of Civil Engineers and as a member of the advisory board of The Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management. Kalajian received his BS in civil engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1962. He received his MS in 1969 and PhD in 1971 from UMass Amherst.

 

Christine SeymourChristine Seymour ’95 PhD
Chemical Engineering

Christine (Chris) is presently a director in Regulatory Chemistry and Manufacturing Controls at Pfizer Inc., where she leads regulatory strategy and implementation for a portfolio of biological projects across all phases of drug development and commercialization. She has led the regulatory strategy for products such as Xalkori, Xanax, and Viagra. Previously, she led chemical process development research teams at Pharmacia Corporation and at G.D. Searle for products such as Celebrex and Inspra.

Chris previously served on the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Board of Directors and was the 2018 AIChE president. She serves on the Society of Biological Engineering Board of Directors and was the founding chair of the AIChE Pharmaceutical Discovery Development and Manufacturing Forum. She was elected as an AIChE Fellow in 2011 (the youngest member ever elected Fellow) and received the AIChE Epstein Award for Technical Programming in 2012. Recently, she received a 2020 Woman of Innovation award from the Connecticut Technology Council and Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology.

She serves on advisory boards for the chemical engineering departments at the Lehigh University (previously the council chair) and the University of Arizona, and she is the vice chair for the Lehigh University Engineering Dean’s Council. She is an invited lecturer at the Albany School of Pharmacy. She regularly presents on pharmaceutical research and development as well as regulatory strategy and recently edited the book Comprehensive Quality by Design for Pharmaceutical Product Development and Manufacture.

Chris has chemical engineering degrees from Lehigh University (BS) and from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (PhD) as well as a MS in regulatory affairs from Temple University.

Chris lives in East Lyme, CT, with her husband, Regan (of 28 thousand years, as he says), who is also a chemical engineering UMass Amherst graduate (MS ’91). The Seymours keep busy with endless house projects, and for vacations they like to go on epic camping and hiking journeys in national parks. Chris is also a yoga instructor (200 RYT).

 

Outstanding Young Alumni Award Recipients

 

Kokui Francisca AdesokanKokui Francisca Adesokan ’09
Chemical Engineering

Kokui Adesokan is an associate director, an engineering manager providing strategic direction and technical leadership to a multi-disciplinary team of engineers on Geared Turbofan engine programs in the Externals engineering organization, at Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford, CT. Her team designs, analyzes and ensures industrialization of over a hundred Externals hardware to meet performance and safety requirements. She is also responsible for managing a multimillion-dollar yearly budget.

Kokui holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst) and an MBA from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

Kokui attends career fairs at local schools and delivers keynote speeches to inspire underrepresented students to pursue engineering careers. She delivered an inspiring keynote speech at the UMass Amherst Women in Engineering and Computing Day conference attended by over 200 high school girls.

Kokui was featured in the WPI Winter 2018 and the UMass Amherst October 2018 newsletters. She earned the Women of Color Professional Achievement in Industry award; the Black Engineer of the Year Trailblazer Spectrum Award; and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Production (STEP) award. Kokui also serves on the UMass Amherst College of Engineering Dean's Advisory Council.

Kokui also owns and operates an online boutique featuring bags and headwraps handmade by women in Africa. Her goal is to help provide better opportunities for African women by offering their products to a broader audience. You can learn more about Kokui's mission at www.kokuisatelier.com.

Kokui enjoys spending time with her husband and her 1.5-year old daughter, exploring various cuisines, and traveling internationally.

 

Jacob LauzierJacob Lauzier ’07
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Jacob Lauzier has been widely recognized for his innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship. In 2020, he was honored as a rising star in the region by BusinessWest as a 40 Under Forty recipient.

As a co-founder of a technology company, Jacob has helped build a successful startup in Western Massachusetts that now employs more than 50 people. MachineMetrics has received multiple awards, from Forbes and other publications. Its Boston office was named a top-100 place to work in Boston. Lauzier has led and grown the largest team in the company and built an award-winning product that has been recognized globally as Smart Manufacturing’s Industrial IoT Product of the Year.

Jacob began his college career at UMass in the fall of 2002 as part of the Electrical and Computer Engineering program. It wasn’t until his Junior year that he discovered his true calling in software and decided to pursue a second major in computer science, extending graduation an additional year. During his time at UMass, he designed and built web applications for college departments and nearby municipalities that are still in use today.

After receiving his degree, he joined Atalasoft where he rose in the ranks and eventually led a project that spun out into a separate company. Later, with the help of two other co-founders, he started MachineMetrics.

 

Christine RoyChristine Roy ’04, ’05 MS
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Christine Roy received her BS in civil and environmental engineering in 2004 and MS with a focus on structural engineering in 2005 from UMass Amherst. Since graduating she has practiced structural engineering at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SGH) in Waltham, MA where her work primarily supports the nuclear industry. Her focus is on finite element analysis including seismic fluid-structure and soil-structure interaction analyses, and design, evaluation and upgrade of reinforced concrete and steel structures.

Christine loves working with teams to help others achieve their goals. Christine served as the Student Night and SGH Scholarship coordinator for the Boston Society of Civil Engineers and was part of the SGH CANstruction team for the alleviation of poverty for many years. She currently serves as secretary for the American Nuclear Society Northeast Section and is a member of the U.S. Women in Nuclear to network with others and learn more about the nuclear industry. She also leads a book club at SGH focused on professional development and leadership which helps build connections within SGH. Outside of engineering,

Christine enjoys spending time with her husband Nathan Roy, also a UMass structural engineering graduate with LeMessurier, and their two children as well as teaching kids’ ministry. Christine loves connecting with UMass students at the Civil & Environmental Engineering Career Fair each year.

 

Banafsheh Seyed-AghazadehBanafsheh Seyed-Aghazadeh ’15 PhD
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Banafsheh Seyed-Aghazadeh is an assistant professor at the mechanical engineering department and the director of “Laboratory for Fluid-Structure Interactions Studies” at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth (UMassD). Before joining UMassD, she was the James R. Myers Endowed Assistant Professor at Miami University. Dr. Seyed-Aghazadeh was a postdoctoral research associate and a lecturer in the UMass Amherst Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. She is a proud UMass alumna.

She received her PhD from University of Massachusetts Amherst, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from University of Tabriz, Iran, all in mechanical engineering. Her research focuses on experimental Fluid-Structure Interactions (FSI), which combines fluid dynamics research with ideas from advanced nonlinear dynamics. Her teams research activities are directed towards advancing the role UMass plays in building the blue economy through innovative and collaborative research at SouthCoast of Massachusetts. Seyed-Aghazadeh is currently the faculty advisor and mentor for undergraduate and graduate mechanical engineering students at UMassD. She is also serving as a steering committee member and STEM mentor for Million Women Mentor (MWM) in Massachusetts, and the faculty advisor for Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM) student club at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

 

Akshaya ShanmugamAkshaya Shanmugam ’12 MS, ’15 PhD
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Biomedical Engineering [Awarding department]

Akshaya Shanmugam is a healthcare enthusiast recognized by Forbes 30 Under 30 Healthcare list and MedTech Boston 40 under 40 Healthcare innovators list. She is currently a part of a dynamic team at Intuitive surgical that is pushing the boundaries of robotic-assisted endoluminal platform for minimally invasive peripheral lung biopsy. Prior to joining Intuitive, she co-founded and served as the Chief Executive Officer of Lumme Incorporated. Shanmugam earned her PhD and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research was focused on developing point-of-care disease screening and health monitoring systems. During her time at UMass, she was the recipient of the Hluchyj fellowship, Special Tang award, David Wolf prize, Glass family demonstration award, and the Eugene M. Isenberg scholar award for two consecutive years.