Celebration of Excellence Highlights Accomplishments of Faculty, Staff

Awards lined up on a table in front of a projection screen.

Because of your collective work, your belief in what we do here at Kettering University and our education model, and your commitment to our students, to our alumni and to our community truly makes a difference every day. It truly does.”

Dr. Robert K. McMahan, Kettering University President

Faculty and staff members gathered in person and virtually to celebrate their colleagues’ accomplishments during the annual Celebration of Excellence event Thursday.

The event featured a mix of live presentations from University President Dr. Robert K. McMahan, Provost Dr. James Zhang and Director of Human Resources Camilla Kemp in addition to recorded videos.

“We are in our second year of successfully and safely operating in the midst of what is still a global pandemic. We have gone above and beyond simply shifting gears to accommodate the changes that were mandated during COVID-19,” McMahan said. “We have collectively exemplified our True Kettering Values of respect, integrity, creativity, collaboration and excellence. It has not been just one person or one department — it is all of us.”

Service, teaching, research and fellowship honors were awarded, as well as the highly anticipated True Kettering Staff Awards and the Bulldog Award.

McMahan selects the Bulldog Award to recognize a staff member who brings excellence to their work, goes beyond what is asked of them, volunteers their time and talents and takes on extra projects to ensure the University achieves its goals.

Chelsea Herlein
Chelsea Herlein

Chelsea Herlein, Director of University Events and Ceremonies, is this year’s Bulldog Award recipient. Herlein has been at the University for nearly three years.

“This person is creative and a creative problem-solver who never says ‘I can’t.’ I’ve never heard this person say those words,” McMahan said. “This person figures out a way to make it happen.”

Herlein couldn’t believe she was selected.

“I am honored to receive recognition for doing something I am passionate about. As an event planner at Kettering, my role is to create exceptional experiences that bring people together for a common purpose,” she said. “Planning these moments for students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Flint community is incredibly rewarding. It is an even bigger honor to work alongside so many of my colleagues who work tirelessly to bring our plans and events to life. These individuals jump in no matter what is asked of them, and it is a pleasure to work with them.”

Colleagues nominate their peers for the True Kettering Staff Awards, and a committee of previous winners selects the current year’s recipients. To be considered for the award, staff members go above and beyond their typical job responsibilities and exemplify the University’s mission, vision and the True Kettering Values of respect, integrity, creativity, collaboration and excellence.

This year’s True Kettering winners are:

  • Doug Streeter, Lab Technician in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Doug Richardson, Lab Technician in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Shaeanne Riedel, Desktop Technician in IT Operations

A Research Council Steering Committee selects the recipient of the Rodes Professorship, which recognizes a faculty member for distinguished attributes that include knowledge, diligence, innovation, leadership and respect in the larger community. The award is named after former General Motors Institute President Dr. Harold P. “Dusty” Rodes.

Dr. Javad Baqersad, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, is this year’s recipient of the Rodes Professorship for his proposal, “Microstructure Modeling of Materials to Optimize Their NVH Performance for Electric Vehicle Applications.” 

Baqersad has been with the University since 2015. His proposal aims to develop new materials with improved noise and vibration behavior for electric vehicles because lightweight materials typically used in electric vehicles often vibrate more and produce high-frequency noises.

“As automakers race toward electric vehicles, we are excited to develop new materials and modeling technologies that help the auto industry make electric vehicles with improved noise performance,” said Baqersad.

Dr. Yunsheng Wang, Associate Professor of Computer Engineering, and Dr. Yaomin Dong, Mechanical Engineering Professor, each received an Outstanding Researcher Award. Wang for his work in the areas of “Wireless Networking and Mobile Computing, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle and Edge Computing,” and Dong for his work in the areas of “Engineering Analysis on Automotive, Military and Construction Vehicles”

Two Faculty Fellowship Awards were distributed. These $6,000 awards will promote specific research activities. The following faculty members received fellowship awards:

  • Dr. Abishek Balsamy Kamaraj, Assistant Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, for his proposal, “Electrochemical Surface Modification of Shape Memory Alloys for Biomedical Applications”
  • Dr. Chaitanya G. Mahajan, Lecturer in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, for his proposal, “Fabrication of Novel Metallic Micro-structures to Enhance Electrical, Thermal and Mechanical Properties”

In addition, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning received 29 nominations for 16 faculty members, with the following receiving awards: 

  • Faculty Distinguished Citizenship Award: Dr. Stacy Seeley, Professor of Natural Science
  • Outstanding Teaching Award: 
    • Dr. Abishek Balsamy Kamaraj, Assistant Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
    • Dr. Susan Farhat, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering
    • Dr. Montserrat Rabago-Smith, Associate Professor of Natural Sciences

This year’s event featured the presentation of the inaugural Kettering University Online Instructor of the Year Award. Vice President for Kettering Global Dr. Christine Wallace presented the award to Professor Randall Slikkers.

Students, mentors and staff members of Kettering University Online submitted nominations for the new award.

“What makes this professor stand out is his superior communication skills and his propensity for encouraging students to give it a shot without fear of judgment or failure,” one student noted. “He was definitely not the easiest professor, but helped me grow the most of any other professor I have had. Having him be my reintroduction to education was the best foundation I could have asked for.”

Faculty and staff members also were recognized for their years of service with the University. 

When faculty members receive their fourth award, a plaque featuring their photos is added to the faculty honor wall in the Great Court of the Campus Center. This year, plaques will be added of Dong, Seeley and Farhat.

McMahan closed the event by once again thanking the faculty and staff for their efforts throughout the year.

“Because of your collective work, your belief in what we do here at Kettering University and our education model, and your commitment to our students, to our alumni and to our community truly makes a difference every day,” he said. “It truly does.”