In “An Evening of Celebration and Recognition” the Fourth Annual College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Awards Dinner was held on Thursday, February 23, 2020, at Youngstown State University (YSU).
The event began as a way to provide … “an opportunity to recognize alumni who demonstrate the success that can be achieved after receiving a degree from the College, and friends who have been instrumental in promoting the success of our students” said Martin Abraham, dean of STEM.
This year, seven awardees were honored. In the Outstanding Alumni categories were Harry Bircher, professor of geological and environmental sciences at YSU; Dr. Peyman Givi, mechanical engineering and petroleum engineering professor at the University of Pittsburgh; Matt Ragan, Senior Controls Engineer at Lockheed Martin, in Akron, Ohio; and Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Babcock & Wilcox Co., Mary Pat Salomone.
For the past seven years, Harry Bircher has been the co -owner of Buckeye Civil Design LLC, a civil engineering design firm, in North Lima, Ohio, and a YSU professor for ten years. Upon hearing of his award, Bircher said it was a “total surprise.” Bircher received his Bachelor of Science from YSU in 1988 in geology, and a Master of Science of Geology from Wright State University with attention to geophysics. Bircher returned to YSU to obtain a Master of Science in Engineering, concentrating on civil and environmental engineering in 1995.
Deemed a “modern rocket scientist” Dr. Peymen Givi said YSU is “100 percent responsible” in contributing to his career. Dr. Givi, who received his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in 1984, is internationally recognized for his research, and has over 200 publications. In 1992, Dr. Givi was amongst one of 15 engineering faculty nationwide who were honored at the White House to receive the Presidential Faculty Fellowship from President George H. W. Bush.
Outstanding Young Alumnus, Matt Ragan, has advanced substantially in his career since leaving YSU in 2005 with a BE in electrical engineering and BS in physics with a minor in mathematics. Ragan was recommended to the Lockheed Martin Engineering Leadership and Development Program (ELDP) shortly after joining the company. Ragan graduated from the two-year program, which only takes the top one percent of entry-level engineers, in order to prepare them to be future leaders with the company.
Mary Pat Salomone, resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, and graduated in 1982 with her bachelors’ degree in civil engineering, She had not been back in the area for five years and said that that her education at YSU gave her a “good foundation” to where she is today. Salomone has been in various management positions since joining B&W in 1982. Some of Salomone’s current roles include directing the operations of the company’s five business units, holding responsibility for commercial and government contracts, health and safety, in addition to day-to-day operations.
Roger and Gloria Jones of Youngstown, Ohio, based Fireline Inc., and the OH, Wow! Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology, in downtown Youngstown, were presented with the Outstanding Community Partners award for their dedication to the Mahoning Valley and YSU. Roger Jones conveyed how Fireline has been “enriched” by a “42 year partnership” with YSU, and many employees at Fireline are YSU alumni.
In the Outstanding Community Leader category was Dr. Connie Hathorn, superintendent of the Youngstown City Schools District (YCSD). Under Dr. Hathorn’s leadership, the YCSD was able to provide visual arts and STEM programs; a first for YCSD. With a generous grant by the AT&T Foundation, the YCSD is collaborating with YSU’s STEM in order to gain outreach with high school students in pursuing STEM disciplines. Dean Abraham also shared how the YCSD will have a high school internship program. The purpose, Dean Abraham said is so the students are “engaged in work because that’s how you learn.”
The STEM awards dinner has grown tremendously since its inception. Over 200 guests were in attendance, and Dean Abraham shared “We (STEM) are truly grateful for the support shown to us by the community, who continues to turn out each year, in increasing number, to recognize the achievements of our alumni and friends. “