Page 1

Case Alumnus The Magazine of the Case Alumni Association

Spring 2017 • vol. 28 • no. 3

Savvy Student Startups

ALSO INSIDE: Winning: student funding competitions Scholarship spotlight Where are they now: Lauren Smith ’13, MS ’15

MAKE YOUR CASE EVEN STRONGER As an alum, you know the level of innovation Case Western Reserve University brings to the world. Help increase your professional effectiveness by earning your master’s degree from your alma mater—100 percent online. Reach out today to learn if you qualify for a scholarship by calling 216-672-4614.

FIVE DEGREES OF EXCELLENCE · Master of Engineering · MS in Biomedical Engineering · MS in Civil Engineering · MS in Mechanical Engineering · MS in Systems and Control Engineering

Start This Fall! Apply by July 21 to begin September 5. case alumnus magazine

A Message from the Case School of Engineering Dear Alumni and Friends of the Case School of Engineering, Spring is one of my favorite times of year on campus. We’ll celebrate commencement and graduate a whole class of newly minted Case engineers. It’s a proud day for me as dean—watching new graduates prepare to take the skills and talents they’ve honed out into the world. I feel particularly confident that our students will thrive beyond campus because we provide ample opportunities to bring their academic lessons to life outside the classroom as students. For many, the “real world” is no different from the student world—they’ve been engineering in it for years. Often, this valuable experience comes via the numerous design competitions open to student participants. These contests are unique ways for students to get a feel for how engineering is really applied. Out here, you’re always in competition: it’s your innovation against a competitive product, your company vs. an industry rival, your eureka idea facing a room full of naysayers. Design competitions give students a chance to work within that framework safely. Business plan pitch contests teach students how the market works, what it means to truly understand consumer needs, evaluate costs and determine the best strategy to market—all in a low-risk environment. Practice, after all, makes perfect. Popular theory holds that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to develop expertise. When it comes to launching businesses or building a career, it can be tough to take risks, as failure comes with serious consequences. In a design contest, students can experiment, take new approaches and safely learn from failures as well as successes. Their pride might be on the line, but they stand to win real opportunities in terms of valuable lessons, mentoring and, in many cases, actual funding. We had a stellar year for outstanding showings at national competitions this year, with students taking home prizes from business pitch contests at South by Southwest, the Clean Energy Challenge and the Autonomous Snowplow Contest, as well as great success stories in our campus contests. I can’t wait to see what next academic year has in store. Sincerely,

Jeffrey L. Duerk PhD ’87 Dean and Leonard Case Professor of Engineering SPRING 2017

p. 1

A message from the

Case Alumni Association Dear Case Alumni, This is my last letter as president of the Case Alumni Association. I have enjoyed working with the Case Alumni Association staff and getting to know many of you personally through meetings and events. I especially want to thank those of you that were able to attend the Oil and Gas Industry Energy Forum held on April 6. We had an incredible turnout of students, alumni and guests. I am thrilled to have been a part of such a well-run and insightful event. The event evoked some great feedback from students and attendees and sparked additional conversation about energy in general, which could lead to future forms and events on the topic. We spent time earlier on the day of the event touring campus with our panelists, many of whom were back at Case for the first time since they graduated. A special thank you to the folks at Weatherhead School of Management, Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box], the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, the Great Lakes Energy Institute and the office of President Barbara Snyder for taking time out of their day to meet with us. All of the alumni panelists expressed to me what a thrill it was to be back on campus to see it thriving and alive with energy. Of course, a huge shout-out to the staff of the Case Alumni Association for all their hard work in planning and executing the forum and the entire day. I encourage any of our alumni with a similar idea for an event to bring your thoughts forward. Connecting industry professionals, especially alumni, to our students is such a wonderful learning experience! Our alma mater is on the upswing and the excitement is real and deserved. You can read about our incredible students and their startup companies and funding competitions in this issue, along with how alumni such as you are having an impact on our students by getting involved. Please take advantage of opportunities to participate in the social, mentoring and learning events sponsored by the Case School of Engineering and the Case Alumni Association. Again, it has been a pleasure to serve as your president these past two years. Sincerely,

The Case Alumni Association serves the interests of more than 20,000 alumni of the Case School of Applied Science, Case Institute of Technology and the Case School of Engineering. Its mission is to serve and advance the interests of the Case School of Engineering, the math and applied sciences of Case Western Reserve University, its alumni and its students, through a strategic focus on fundraising, institutional leadership, responsive services, public relations and student programs. Established in 1885 by the first five graduates of the Case School of Applied Science, the Case Alumni Association is the oldest independent alumni association of engineering and applied science graduates in the nation. The Case Alumnus is a publication of the Case Alumni Association, Inc., a 501(c)3 public charity under the IRS code. CASE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, INC. Tomlinson Hall, Room 109 10900 Euclid Avenue Cleveland, OH 44106-1712 Phone: 216-231-4567 Fax: 216-231-5715 Web: Email: OFFICERS Jeffrey O. Herzog ’79, WSM ‘86, President James R. Sadowski ’63, MS ’67, 1st Vice President Marvin Schwartz ’68, PhD ’73, 2nd Vice President Joe Fakult ’90, Secretary Ronald J. Cass ’84, Treasurer Nick Barendt ’95, MS ’98, Assistant Treasurer STAFF Stephen J. Zinram, Executive Director Thomas J. Conlon, Chief Financial Officer Terri Mrosko, Senior Director of Communications Racheal Seibert, Senior Director of Development Kellie Mayle, Director of Alumni Relations Ryan Strine, Manager of Annual Giving Janna W. Greer, Manager of Donor Relations and Grants Pamela A. Burtonshaw, Coordinator of Database Operations Melissa Slager, Administrative Assistant Corey Wright ’11, MEM ’13, Webmaster CASE ALUMNUS Terri Mrosko, Editor Steve Toth, J. Toth Graphic, Design and Layout PHOTO CREDITS Hilary Bovay Photography Wetzler’s Photography

Jeffrey O. Herzog ‘79, WSM ‘86 Case Alumni Association, President p. 2

case alumnus magazine

Case Alumnus

To serve and advance the interests of the Case School of Engineering, the math and applied sciences of Case Western Reserve


University and its alumni and students.

SPRING 2017 • vol. 28 • no. 3


ON THE COVER: Savvy Student Startups

Student startups utilize campus resources such as Sears think[box] and the IP Venture Clinic to achieve early success

12 The thrill – and rewards – of design competition Valuable experience, and

sometimes monetary rewards, comes from the numerous design competitions open to student participants


Celebrating our scholarship recipients

A longstanding tradition at the Case Alumni Association, the Junior-Senior Scholarship process delivers top-notch awardees


Alumni Volunteers: Have an impact on our students

Our alumni are valuable resources to our students, whether volunteering for a classroom panel discussion or connecting via our virtual mentoring network


Where are they now? A young alumna profile

Meet Lauren M. Smith ’13, MS ’15, this year’s keynote speaker at the annual Society of Women Engineers luncheon during Engineers Week 2017




DEPARTMENTS 1 2 4 20 24 27 28

Dean’s Message President’s Message Case Connections – STEM Education and Campus News Alumni Engagement Update Class Notes In Memoriam The Last Word: Spirit




ON THE COVER: Student startup superstars, from left to right: Pavel Galchenko ’19 of RVS Rubber Solutions; Matt Campagna ’19 of Reflexion Interactive Technologies; Iulia Barbur ’19 of Autoimmune Citizen Science; and Chioma Onukwuire ’17 of CHIMU.


The best way to stay connected to the Case Alumni Association between magazine issues is to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Please join our sites today for the latest news on alumni, students, faculty and innovative research and projects. Correction: In the last issue, we incorrectly identified Jennie S. Hwang’s title. She is Chief Executive Officer of H-Technologies Group. p. 3

Case Connections 2017 ALL IN Day of Giving The Case Alumni Association and the Case School of Engineering are proud partners in the fifth annual Day of Giving planned at Case Western Reserve University on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. We are asking all alumni, faculty, staff and students to consider making a gift to the Case Fund® that day. Each school is given a participation goal, and if we meet the targeted number of donors (179 for us), we will earn additional dollars from the university! Mark your calendars and watch our social media sites, email and websites to learn more. If you are interested in volunteering that day to help push out the message using #CWRUALLIN, please contact Ryan Strine, the manager of the annual fund at or 216.368.6399.

CWRU students win 2 of top 3 awards at South by Southwest’s ‘Student Startup Madness’ Two Case Western Reserve University student startups won two of the top three awards earlier this spring in the “Student Startup Madness” championship at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. Parihug, co-founded by second-year mechanical and aerospace engineering student Xyla Foxlin, placed second winning a $3,000 award. Reflexion Interactive Technologies, co-founded by Matt Campagna, placed third, winning a $2,000 award. They were among eight finalists competing in a pitch competition that started with a pool of 200 entries.

Continuing Legacy Congratulations to the 2017 recipients of the Richard ’39 and Opal Vanderhoof Scholarship and Prize Fund for undergraduate and graduate civil engineering students. The 2017 recipients are Ben Allan, Nicolas Heim, Jacob Lunn and Lauren Rendos.

The scholarship recipients with staff and Dr. David Zeng (second from left), chair of the Department of Civil Engineering p. 4

Richard Vanderhoof (1917-2015) has given generously to his alma mater in appreciation of the education and help he received while a student at the Case School of Applied Science, including to the Richard ’39 and Opal Vanderhoof Infrastructure Research and Education Facility, also located in the civil engineering department. case alumnus magazine

news from across campus

CWRU selected as one of nation’s top 10 centers for biomedical research The Hartwell Foundation, a Memphis-based philanthropic institution that funds innovative biomedical research to benefit children of the United States, has again selected Case Western Reserve University among its 2017 Top 10 Centers of Biomedical Research. The other 2017 Hartwell Top 10 Research Centers include Cornell University, Duke University, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Johns Hopkins University, University of California, Davis, University of California, San Diego, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, University of Virginia and University of Wisconsin-Madison. “In addition to the honor of being identified with such an elite group of research universities, the national designation allows us to submit three nominees next year instead of two, so we will have a greater chance to obtain funding,” said Lynn Singer, deputy provost and vice president for academic affairs. Additionally, by participating in the 2017 competition Case Western Reserve is positioned to qualify for a Hartwell postdoctoral fellowship. For each CWRU nominee selected for a 2017 Individual Biomedical Research Award, the university will receive funding for one postdoctoral candidate of its choice in biomedical science that exemplifies the values of The Hartwell Foundation.

More accolades for Dean Jeffrey L. Duerk PhD ’87 Jeffrey L. Duerk, dean of the Case School of Engineering, has been elected by his colleagues in the College of Fellows in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering to serve as a member of the organization’s Board of Directors as a director-at-large. AIMBE is a nonprofit organization representing the top 2 percent of researchers and scholars in the field. Founded in 1991, the organization serves as an advocate for public policy issues related to improving lives through medical and biological engineering. As director-at-large, Duerk will help set strategic priorities for AIMBE and direct the course of the organization’s future. Duerk has served in a number of key leadership positions in professional organizations during his career, including as president of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, chair of the 2004 ISMRM Program Committee (Kyoto, Japan), treasurer of the ISMRM, editor-in-chief of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, and member of the ISMRM Board of Trustees and a 2011 recipient of its Silver Medal. He has also served as the chair of the Program Committee for the IEEE-EMBS flagship annual meeting in Chicago, 2014, a member of the EMBS Ad-Com, IEEE-TMI and IEEE-TBME reviewer over many years. He is a fellow of the IEEE, the ISMRM, AIMBE and the NAI, and a member of the inaugural class of Distinguished Researchers of the Academy of Radiology Research.


p. 5

Student startups utilize campus resources to achieve early success By Terri Mrosko from the U.S. Department of Energy. “This money will be used to engineer the factory-scale prototype and is one of the last steps before going into full production,” Pavel said. Pavel utilized extensively the services of the IP Venture Clinic through the law school and housed at Sears think[box]. “CWRU LaunchNet also has been a great help, and we love the collaboration space that think[box] has provided us as well as the office space we have there,” he said.

Pavel Galchenko, founder of RVS Rubber Solutions


he concept is simple. The Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box], the center for innovation and entrepreneurship at Case Western Reserve University, provides a space for anyone to “tinker and creatively invent.” Nobody has taken those words to heart quite like our students. The early success many have achieved as startups is nothing short of remarkable. Second-year biochemistry major Pavel Galchenko is the cofounder of a company that came up with a novel way to recycle the body ply of a tire, which currently accounts for 100 million pounds of landfill waste in the United States annually. RVS Rubber Solutions alleviates this problem by repurposing the piece back into high-quality components of rubber and steel, which it sells back into the consumer market. “As a result, we can remove a waste source from landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Pavel, who came up with the concept in high school with his lifelong best friend, Yohann Samarasinghe. “Yohann’s father’s clients mentioned how widespread the issue was across the globe, and we took that as a challenge to come up with a solution.” RVS received startup funding through MSPIRE by Magnet, enabling the young entrepreneurs to develop a second prototype to gather data and create a commercialization report. More recently, they earned a $50,000 Cleantech University Prize p. 6

Managing a startup company as a student definitely comes with challenges, Pavel said. “Adjusting to this kind of lifestyle has forced me to really plan weeks ahead and makes every hour of the day important. I have seen an increase in focus throughout daily life as well as in my schoolwork. Similarly, I understand the benefit taking time to relax has on one’s mental and physical stamina. It makes me appreciate fully the process of getting to where I want to go.”

A training ground for entrepreneurs “The goal at any great university incubator isn’t necessarily for every company to become a billion dollar company, but for every individual that passes through Sears think[box] to become a billion dollar individual,” said Ian Charnas, manager of the facility. “The idea here is modern workforce development.” Charnas pointed out that Sears think[box] is part of a greater solution that includes such resources as the IP Venture Clinic, LaunchNet and the Technology Transfer office. Together, these resources enable students to take that dream in their heads and build it in real life. Students get the opportunity to focus their motivation and energy and drive it toward a new project or a new product. Students learn how to be entrepreneurs or, more simply, to think like one. “You go through the process of raising money, building a prototype, applying for a patent and developing your business pitch. Along the way, you become someone that is valuable to companies globally for your communication skills and your ‘chutzpah’ for your ability to make things happen,” Charnas said. case alumnus magazine

Within the next year, it is hoped that the final phases of the entrepreneurial ecosystem will be in place at Sears think[box]. Charnas said architecturally the plans are near approval for floors six and seven, which when complete will truly make the space a one-stop shop for budding entrepreneurial needs. “The sixth floor is all about entrepreneurship and housing related resources. Floor 7 is the incubator. We’ve looked at several models across the globe that focus on coaching students to certain startup success.”

Meet more of our startup superstars

When asked what other help, besides the tools and resources already in place, could better contribute to our students’ startup success, Charnas cited “alumni volunteers.” “Alumni with particular technical expertise can act as product mentors. If you are an electrical, mechanical or civil engineer or entrepreneur, there is an opportunity to mentor these young people. I am an alumnus, and I find mentoring exciting,” Charnas said. “Nothing feels better than using your expertise to build off another person, to help him or her along the same path that you traveled. It’s a way of paying it back to all the people that helped you along the way.”

Register to be a student advisor through the Alumni Career Network Sears think[box] is looking to create an active team of skilled volunteers to mentor, advise and inspire our student entrepreneurs and innovators. If you have a background in engineering, science, manufacturing, product development or business, please register as an adviser through the Alumni Career Network and notify Tiffany McNamara of your interest. She will ensure students connect to you through the networking system. Contact Tiffany at 216-368-6357 or via email at The need is great; please consider volunteering! Lean more at Alumni/Volunteer/thinkbox


The Reflexion Interactive Technologies system rapid-screens for concussions Every year 50 million young amateur athletes may compete or practice with a concussion, mainly because their schools and athletic organizations do not have access to an inexpensive and fast way to detect traumatic brain injuries. A high school friend’s sports injury ultimately deemed a concussion that sidelined him for a couple of months prompted Matt Campagna to seek a solution. The computer engineering major started his company with two high school friends from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who now attend other universities. Using the Reflexion Edge, in only 30 seconds a return-to-play decision can be made.

Matt Campagna, cofounder Reflexion Interactive Technologies p. 7

Student startups utilize campus resources to achieve early success

“When my friend slid head first into the boards during an ice hockey game his junior year in high school, his coach put him on the bench and asked where he was, what year it was and who was president of the United States,” Matt recalled. “While he answered correctly and passed the protocol in place, the coach had no way of knowing he had indeed suffered a severe concussion.” Reflexion Edge is a portable, fast and affordable concussion monitoring system. Athletes stand in front of the two-by-six-foot touchscreen and interact with light patterns that allow the operator to monitor depth perception, peripheral awareness, complex reaction time, balance and memory simultaneously. The product easily collapses into a duffle bag and is ready to deploy in minutes. The company has a provisional patent, Matt said. They have raised almost $200,000 from grants and four active angel investors in sports technology and neurology for product development and clinical validation. “Our story has been picked up by more than 180 media outlets including Forbes, Engadget and IB Times,” Matt said. “This spring, phase one of our clinical study will be complete, and we will begin to transition the Reflexion Edge into the market.” Reflexion amazingly placed third in the national student startup competition at South by Southwest® earlier this year, where fellow classmate Xyla Foxlin and her company Parihug enjoyed a second-place finish. Making the “Entrepreneurial Eight” from universities across the country, from more than 200 applications, was an incredible feat for both of these fledgling companies. Matt said the toughest thing about being a student startup is trying to maintain the balance between class and running the company. “Professors are not understanding at times and it forces you to make decisions,” he said. “Time management becomes paramount. It teaches you how to manage your resources.” And like his student-startup counterparts across campus, Matt relies heavily on the countless resources available at Case. The network of support is unparalleled, he said. --Terri Mrosko p. 8

CHIMU brings African clothes to Cleveland

Chioma Onumwuire, founder of CHIMU

“There was something in me that said, ‘Go for it!’” That’s when Chioma Onukwuire, a senior macromolecular science and engineering student at Case Western Reserve University, started CHIMU, a business that brings African fashion to Cleveland. “When I was growing up, getting African clothing was a nightmare. My mom would have to contact my cousin in Nigeria, who would then find a tailor there to make the clothing. I had no say in the style or even the color. I just had to trust the tailor to make me look good,” Chioma said. “I wanted to make the process more accessible and convenient.” She began by making clothing for herself with the assistance of the machines at the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box]. When an intern working in the Master of Engineering and Management program complimented her style in May 2016 and requested clothes, Chioma found her first customer. Though at first, she did not feel confident making items for other people, eventually Chioma warmed up to the idea. And thanks to the MEM program, CHIMU grew quickly. “Ever since then, CHIMU has skyrocketed,” she said. Chioma will be continuing her studies in the engineering-meets-management program where she hopes to learn how to grow her brand, among other business topics. For Chioma, one of the biggest obstacles to growing CHIMU is finding places to showcase her creations. A majority of her day-to-day operations are sending case alumnus magazine

out emails to places where she can display her wares. Chioma has already used on-campus events, such as the Thwing Study Over, to reach students and has gone off-campus to Little Italy and even an Ankara Bazaar. “At this stage,” she said, “it’s more getting my name out there.” Being a full-time student taking 19 credit hours at one of the top engineering schools in the country is hard enough. When one adds owning a business on top of that, there seem to be not enough hours in the day. Chioma handles the time crunch well by planning her days in a thorough schedule. “There’s no way I can do something last minute,” she said, adding that she does projects and assignments early on, so she is not rushing at the last minute. Chioma says one of her biggest challenges is self-doubt, a common thought among young entrepreneurs. She has only been sewing for one to two years and sometimes her inexperience shows. She said “it’s really, really frustrating” when the machine or thread breaks or, even worse, she does a pattern completely wrong and has to start over, adding, “I’m afraid I won’t get to the end.” Despite these challenges, Chioma will continue with her business as well as her studies. “I want it to be CHIMU 24/7,” she said. However, Chioma added that she is okay with using CHIMU as a way of earning supplemental income. CHIMU already has an Instagram (@chimu_fashion) where Chioma posts her latest items and inspirations. She hopes to expand her brand by creating a website and selling her items on Etsy, an online retailer. --Edward Kerekes

Autoimmune Citizen Science is a data-driven platform to combat autoimmune disease More than 50 million individuals suffer from an autoimmune disease, which can severely affect their quality of life. The Autoimmune Citizen Science, or AICS, offers an organized tool to track and visualize symptoms and metrics including diet, sleep and medication patterns, allowing individuals to manage their chronic illness more effectively. SPRING 2017

Iulia Barbur is a biomedical engineering student on the computing and analysis track who is also pre-med and planning to graduate in 2019. She is the health informaticist for this young startup. Iulia is passionate about medically responsive software applications, she said, and her ultimate career goal is to apply technology to address Iulia Barbur, cofounder Autoimmune Citizen Science health needs. She joined a team of other young people including Vivek Mandan, who has suffered from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis since the age of 12. “Our team began experimenting with various factors that could influence Vivek’s disease, including his diet, supplements, sleep, etc. to see what effect each had,” Iulia said. “However, this approach will only succeed if the person can incorporate research and information from the community into experiments while keeping detailed records of all metrics and results involved, both of which can be overwhelming tasks to do alone.” The group decided to apply their individual skills – computer science, data analysis and an understanding of the autoimmune community – to help people navigate the process. The app is already functional and has several users. Currently, the plan is to roll out awareness of the app to the autoimmune community as well as add physician features in the near future. One of the cool things about the AICS app, Iulia added, is that it serves people with a variety of autoimmune diseases. No matter how many different manifestations autoimmune diseases can have, the common need to track metrics and symptoms is still there. The app was originally intended for use by anyone working to keep tabs on their autoimmune disease and path to wellness; however, some of AICS users like the metric tracking feature so much, they use the app for tracking sleep, hydration and other things unrelated to a specific autoimmune disease. --Terri Mrosko p. 9

More startup success stories Many successful alumni startups began while they were still students at Case. These companies include EveryKey by 2013 computer science graduate Chris Wentz and Apollo Medical Devices, cofounded by Punkaj Ahuja ’09, MS ’11, among so many others too numerous to name! Case Alumnus caught up with a couple of our more recent graduates to learn more about their companies. Nick VanDillen of LYGENT and Nathan Swift of Hedgemon both graduated last May.

“I can’t take credit for coming up with the invention, as it was invented by Dr. Jeffrey Bloom in 2011,” VanDillen said. “While I was a student, my mentor, Dr. Colin Drummond, brought to my attention a promising project that had been taking place between Case and University Hospitals. A student team working with Dr. Bloom at University Hospitals had invented the technology that would eventually become the iStrab in 2011.” Unfortunately, Dr. Bloom passed away in 2012 leaving the project without a leader. VanDillen got in contact with the remaining team members and started up the project again. LYGENT is currently raising funding for the iStrab and preparing clinical trials for Food and Drug Administration notification.

Developing low-cost vision care access for millions of children Nicholas VanDillen, MS ’16 is the founder and chief executive officer of LYGENT, which is currently developing a novel, easy-to-use vision tool called the iStrabTM. VanDillen, of St. Louis, Missouri, completed his master’s degree in biomedical engineering and translational health technology at Case Western Reserve University last year. With his time here at Case Western Reserve, VanDillen was eager to find a dynamic project that he could take on, one that would provide him with real world experience. p. 10

“Once cleared by the FDA, the iStrab will afford providers with a quick, automated assessment of common vision disorders such as eye misalignment and refractive error,” he said. “Its simplicity and low costs should increase access to appropriate vision care for millions of children across the globe.” VanDillen’s advice for those trying to spearhead startups while also being a student is keeping a tight schedule and staying in a routine. “Planning out your weeks and writing down action items is extremely important. It really helps to note which items you didn’t complete at the end of the day so you can tackle them the next day.” --Julia Pilla case alumnus magazine

entrepreneur, Swift received help from his graduate adviser, Ed Caner, who helped guide the company by discussing priorities, strategizing business funds and suggesting directions for growth. The main focus for Hedgemon is on designing a sports helmet liner to better reduce, or even eliminate, incidents of concussions. The design, of course, is based on the spines of a hedgehog. Right now Swift says Hedgemon is in “full-on prototyping mode,” after collecting data on various samples.

Finding inspiration in the strangest places When you think of animals that have the best cushioning for falls, chances are the hedgehog is not your first thought. The animal known for being covered in sharp, spiny quills couldn’t survive a fall from any great distance, you might think. However, the opposite is true. When hedgehogs, who are great tree climbers, fall, they curl into a ball and use their spines, better known as quills, as a shock absorber. Two students in the University of Akron’s biomimicry fellowship program wanted to model shock-absorbing technology of an animal. After looking at many natural models including big-horned sheep and woodpeckers, they found their perfect candidate in the tiny mammal. “Upon high-speed impact with the ground, the curled-up hedgehog walks away uninjured because the spines on their backs elastically absorb the shock,” said Nathan Swift, a 2016 physics entrepreneurship graduate from the Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Program. He along with three other students from Case joined Hedgemon when it was founded in early 2015. As part of STEP, each student writes their thesis on work done at a company for their entire second year. Most students intern at local businesses; Swift worked at Hedgemon as their Chief Operating Officer. “I made my company my thesis,” Swift explained, adapting grant applications the company had already published and incorporating them into his paper. As a student SPRING 2017

He said, “We are trying to optimize design and continue collecting data that proves our technology is superior to what is out there right now.” In six to nine months, Swift expects the company to have produced a full-scale model that can be implemented in helmets. It is important for Hedgemon to achieve that step because, according to Swift, helmet manufacturers will only notice the product if they have comparable data to other helmet liners. And the only way to get that data is to build a complete model. The company is also applying for grants with the National Science Foundation and publishing papers on the technology. They continue to raise money, as well as conduct testing in Akron. In the future, Hedgemon is looking beyond football helmet lining. Though the team has not picked its next focus yet for the technology, Swift listed many applications, including packaging, flooring and use in seats or cars. So if, at some point in the future, you see what looks like hedgehog spines in your next Amazon box, do not be alarmed. That packaging will better protect your order. --Edward Kerekes p. 11

The thrill – and rewards – of design competition Valuable experience and, at times, monetary rewards await students who enter design competitions


aint-Gobain, EEC IdeaLabs, DigitalC Impact Pitch, eFest, Startup Battlefield, LaunchTown – these are just some of the design competitions open to students with a viable product, design or innovation. Every competition is different but all come with a hard deadline and some with the possibility of thousands of dollars in prize money.

“The university also gains national accolades by our students finishing high in these competitions, as has been the case over the last couple of years. Oftentimes the national spotlight leads to attention from potential investors,” Sopko said.

“Students learn to manage a deadline, which is important real-life learning,” said Bob Sopko, director of LaunchNet, Case Western Reserve University’s on-campus resource for student and alumni entrepreneurs. “It’s kind of like putting a man on the moon, with a scheduled take-off date that you have to meet. It’s a good motivator.”

Whether or not a student comes home with prize money or even makes it to the finals, the experience of competing is just as valuable. Recently, a group of 30+ engineering and other undergraduate students came together to compete in Spacex’s Hyperloop project. In 2013, Spacex CEO Elon Musk envisioned a new high-speed mode of transportation using trains accelerated by magnetic levitation that travel in semi-

LaunchNet publishes an ever-increasing list of competitions and deadlines, while helping students prepare for the specifics of each competition. How should the PowerPoint look? What things should they key in on? How do they get resources to build the prototype? Sopko said LaunchNet also provides emotional support and sometimes even financial support. The payoff at times can be huge. Some students have won tens of thousands of dollars, nice seed money for a startup.

p. 12

North Coast Hyperloop

case alumnus magazine

pressurized tubes, which caught the attention of sophomore mechanical and aerospace engineering student Prince Ghosh at the end of August last year. Recent mechanical and aerospace engineering graduate Luke Fakult, a senior while on the team, was the most experienced member. The team realized they were going up against graduate students and entering the competition a year and a half late, but decided to pursue the project anyway. The North Coast Hyperloop team passed the preliminary briefing stage but did not pass the final design briefing. One of 100 teams out of 300 to make it through the first round, the team did not advance as one of the 30 moving forward to build a pod. The team’s biggest problem was funding for the project. “It’s hard to raise $40,000 to $60,000 needed to build the pod,” Luke said. “The lesson we learned was not waiting until we had a really good product before asking for funding. We definitely should have reached out sooner. The two biggest things I learned was the importance of communication, or lack of it, and having a plan or structure in place.”

ASAP Innovation Solutions A team of four undergraduate students entered for the first time the St. Gobain Design Competition held in April with their idea SPRING 2017

of developing disposable liners to make hydrotherapy more sterile for patients. Their design concept garnered a second place finish and inspired them to take the next step – creating a prototype. They also walked away with $5,000 in prize money. The team, ASAP Innovation Solutions, is working with the IP Venture Clinic at Case Western Reserve University and is seeking potential mentoring relationships, perhaps with alumni in the industry, to help them with their prototype. Competing in the competition, especially at St. Gobain was a great experience, said team member Sarah Mortimer, a second-year chemical engineering major. “The good thing about this particular competition is that you get feedback from industry professionals in the semi-final round, where no team is eliminated. You have nothing to lose by presenting your idea,” she said. Junior polymer engineering major Paul Advincula, Jr. agreed that this was the perfect competition for them. “Each of us are different majors. We accomplished a lot by all of us coming together to work on the same idea with different perspectives. St. Gobain was a powerful tool for bringing it all together.” p. 13

Celebrating our scholarship recipients


ne of the longstanding traditions held annually by the Case Alumni Association is the Junior-Senior Scholarship Program. The generous donations of our alumni – many of whom received this very same scholarship as students at Case – make these awards possible. Every year, the Case Alumni Association solicits academic advisors and department chairs in engineering, math and applied sciences to nominate sophomores and juniors with a 3.0 grade point average or higher, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree, among other requirements. This year we received 139 applications from rising sophomores and juniors. All applicants interviewed with the scholarship committee during the week of Feb. 27 in Tomlinson Hall. We also conducted eight separate Skype interviews for students away on study-abroad or on co-op. Interview week introduced the scholarship committee panel to a wide variety of personalities from the Case p. 14

student body. Nerves were evident in some, but it was a joy to spend time getting to know our amazing students a little bit better – from learning about their favorite hobbies and extracurricular activities to what they would change about Case if they could “wave a magic wand!” In total, the Case Alumni Association awarded $525,900 of new scholarships ranging from $1,400 to $9,000. The students received details of their award notification during spring break. Afterward, we invited all of our new scholars to Tomlinson Hall on March 23 for a celebratory reception with faculty, advisors, alumni and staff. Dean Duerk, Scholarship Committee Chair Joe Fakult and two current Junior-Senior scholars, Tyler Eston and Khailing Neoh, offered words of encouragement and congratulations to the students. -- Janna W. Greer, Manager of Donor Relations and Grants

case alumnus magazine

Case Alumni Association sat down with two of our scholarship recipients to learn more about their passions and motivations. Michelle Chin – Junior Biomedical Engineering Major with Minors in Electrical Engineering and Spanish Michelle Chin loves music and finds Case Western Reserve University to be one of the best places to harmonize both her academic pursuits and passions. “I came to Case to study biomedical engineering, but I have been playing violin since I was four years old,” Michelle said. “A big determining factor for why I chose Case is the on-campus partnership with the Cleveland Institute of Music. I am currently in a chamber class at CIM. My favorite part about being here is the ability to balance engineering and creativity; both of which I’m very passionate about.” Without the resources provided by Case Western Reserve, Michelle never would have been able to create the CWRU Music Therapy Club, which provides music therapy to patients and their families at various clinical facilities in the University Circle area. “I volunteered with a similar group in my high school where we went every week after school to our local hospitals. After a year at Case, I really missed that experience. I spoke about it with my friends and decided to start the club. It is a great opportunity not only to help patients and their families, but for students to share their music as well,” Michelle said. Michelle found the scholarship process rewarding, even helping her feel better as she plans for her future. “My financial situation changed recently. Having this scholarship will not only help me now, but also the rest of my family in the future. I have a younger sister who is currently looking at colleges, so every little bit of money helps. I am studying biomedical engineering, but going into law. That is another three years of schooling that I need to pay for and this scholarship will definitely help me with that.” --Julia Pilla

Seth Grable, Junior Physics and Math Major This is Seth Grable’s third year in college, but his first at Case. A non-traditional student who transferred from the University of Akron, Seth said there were fewer higher-level courses he could take there. “When I came to Case, there were so many options. I wanted to take SPRING 2017

everything all at once. I realized though that I needed to ease myself into these classes by taking them in order, making sure I was knowledgeable and prepared for each.” Though his path may not be typical, Seth has shown academic excellence and currently holds a 4.0 GPA. Seth’s focus in high school was playing drums for a band but there was always an underlying interest in the sciences. Some of the other musicians he met inspired him to learn more about science. “When I was 15, I read a book called “Just Six Numbers” by Martin Rees. Then I read books by Stephen Hawking and other physicists and scientists,” Seth said. After his group disbanded, Seth enrolled at the University of Akron at age 25. “I did so well my first year that I doubled up on everything my second. After that, I came to Case,” he said. On why he chose Case, Seth added, “Case historically has been known for physics, and I wanted to go to a school with a sense of community. My favorite part about Case is going to my professors’ office hours and talking with them one on one.” Pleasantly surprised and grateful on his nomination for a scholarship, Seth said the process was great. “It was cool to be interviewed by alumni - it was engaging and I could visibly see them really wanting to share their experiences with me,” he said. “Receiving this scholarship makes you feel like you’re on the right track; it’s rewarding and validating. It creates a tangible feeling for me that everything will pay off in the end.” --Julia Pilla p. 15

Alumni Volunteers/Student Impact


n the last issue of the Case Alumnus magazine, and via several other avenues, we introduced the Alumni Career Network mentoring program, powered by Wisr, a networking platform developed by alumnus John Knific ’09 and used across campus. Since that time, some 400 engineering, mathematics and applied science alumni signed up and are available for students to reach out to for a virtual mentoring session. We asked two of those alumni volunteers to share some about their experience using the system to connect with a student. Kyle Napierkowski ’09, MS ’09 heard about the program through the Weatherhead School of Management newsletter. He said two students reached out to him within a couple weeks of signing up and feels he had a meaningful connection with them.

Her motivation for volunteering her time to be a virtual mentor stems from her own experience as a student. “When I was applying to Ph.D. programs, I didn’t know any other students who had already been through the process. I definitely would have made use of a system like the Alumni Career Network to reach out to alumni who had taken that path,” DeWitt Cotter said. “I talked with the student about the process of applying to grad school and how to contact professors, as well as specific research applications in my field that were interesting to him.”

“I think I was able to provide some career guidance in a field relative to one of the student’s interests in data science,” Napierkowski said. Emma DeWitt Cotter ’14 is a recent graduate of the mechanical engineering program. She signed up after receiving an email about the program. p. 16

case alumnus magazine

DeWitt Cotter acknowledged that the system is quite easy and straightforward to use. To other alumni, she said it is not obtrusive or overwhelming – she has had only the one student reach out thus far – and encouraged alumni to sign up. “You can always turn down a request for a meeting if it is not convenient. No doubt you have gained some valuable insight in your post-graduate career that current students could benefit from,” she said. To sign up, visit

A panel of alumni volunteers gave up an evening during February to spend with students in the professional development lab offered at Case School of Engineering. Each described their background and career path, as well as how their Case education had an impact on their career. Students were able to ask questions like, “What has been your greatest reward or success?” and “What inspires you to be your best?” A special “thank you” to all of our alumni panelists! If you would like to take part in a future panel or other volunteer effort that puts you in front of students, contact Kellie Mayle, alumni relations director at the Case Alumni Association. She can be reached at or 216-368-0635. Kevin Bracy ’93, MS ’94 Director, Centric Consulting Michael Diamant ’68 Attorney, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP Olivia Vick ’14 Systems Engineer, Phosphors at Current, powered by GE Lisa Ward ’96, MSE ’00 PFS Business Leader, General Electric


p. 17

Where Are They Now?

Lauren M. Smith ’13, MS ’15 Program Manager – NG Next Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

Photo courtesy Northrop Grumman p. 18

case alumnus magazine

What were your majors at Case? I received a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering and Bachelor of Science degrees in aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering, with a minor in political science. People often ask about the political science minor – “What does that have to do with engineering?” I always knew I wanted to be in aerospace and defense and saw value in having a foundational understanding of the U.S. government. Where else did you work prior to you current position? I recently relocated to Redondo Beach, California, with Northrop Grumman, but I began with the company in San Diego. Most recently, I was the program manager of Quad Cup – the company’s 2016 Innovation Challenge. Quad Cup united employees from across the country to compete in a first-of-its-kind quadcopter sporting event. Teams took risks, had fun, and demonstrated critical new technologies. You can find more information about the final event online! Before Quad Cup, I was a concept development engineer inventing disruptive autonomous systems. Prior to Northrop, I worked at NASA Glenn Research Center in the Simulated Lunar Operations (SLOPE) Lab. I also conducted my thesis work at Glenn and developed a novel locomotion mechanism called the Tri-Wheel that increases robot mobility on search and rescue vehicles. Describe your current position: I am a program manager within NG Next, an organization within Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems tasked with solving the customer’s hardest problems and pursuing technologies that are often riskier, less well defined or nonexistent. I love being in the front end of the business – meaning that I get to think about the future of the company and the industry many years out. Program management stretches all your muscles – technical, management, business, strategic ... I have incredible mentors and colleagues here at Northrop to help me grow in all these areas. You recently gave a keynote presentation at the Society of Women Engineers annual Engineers Week luncheon. How did this opportunity resonate with you? It was incredibly humbling to be this year’s E-Week keynote speaker. Not long ago, I was a student sitting in the audience at that event, so to have made a full transition to industry and be back in Cleveland sharing my experience was surreal.


I think there is a common misconception associated with keynote speakers – that they have things ‘figured out’ and as such should share their ‘figured-out-ness’ with everyone else. Let me pull back the curtain: nobody has it all together. Everyone faces challenges, self-doubt, and uncertainty; the interesting part is how you walk through the fire and come out the other side. So, when asked to speak, I shared lessons learned from my own challenges – moving across the country to California where I had no existing support system, taking on a huge stretch assignment with high visibility and risk in a new company, and making the choice to move again from San Diego to Redondo just when I felt comfortable. I hope that my experiences provided inspiration to others to take risks and be bold. One quote is always a good reminder for me: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – A. A. Milne “The coolest thing I did during my time at Case was …” … being a teaching assistant! I taught four different courses in my time at Case and actually wanted to be a professor for some time because I loved it so much. Seeing that lightbulb of understanding go off for someone was tremendously rewarding, and I learned the material better myself for having to teach it. “My Case education …” … has shaped who I am in so many ways. It is crazy to consider what life might look like today if I had not attended Case. From courses that challenged me to friends who will be in my life forever, a piece of my heart will always be in Cleveland, Ohio. My Case education also would not have been possible without the tremendous generosity of others. I was the recipient of the Milton A. and Roslyn Z. Wolf Scholarship (CIT ’54, GRS ’73, CWR’80, GRS’93) as well as the Ohio Space Grant Consortium Fellowship. “My advice for today’s Case Junior/Senior Scholarship students …” Be intentional: consider carefully how you spend your time, who you spend it with and whether that aligns with what you want out of life. If current behavior does not support your goals, be brave enough to make a change. Don’t sit back and wait for opportunity to find you – hunt it with tenacity. Your GPA is only one facet of what you offer a future employer, and you cannot underestimate the importance of building relationships with people to go places in your career. Lastly, results are considered in context; how you treat others to achieve results matters.

p. 19

Alumni Engagement Update

2017 Engineer’s Week Reception – Feb. 23, 2017 This year’s Engineers Week reception at the InterContinental Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 23 was a resounding success and enjoyed by all who attended. The Case Alumni Association worked with students, who developed the theme, “Ideate, Create, Innovate.” The celebration included a new reception-style format with food stations, student and corporate displays and more networking time than ever before. The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, chaired by Dr. Robert Gao, was this year’s featured department. Students and faculty demonstrated and shared posters and research projects. The highlight of the evening was our keynote speaker, Dr. Janet Kavandi, former astronaut and current director of NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center. She gave an inspiring presentation to the nearly 600 students, faculty, alumni and industry representatives in attendance. Dr. Kavandi provided the audience a glimpse into her unique and exciting career path and offered valuable advice to guests. Thank you to all who attended and, of course, to our sponsors. We look forward to seeing even more of you at the 2018 E-Week Reception next February! p. 20

case alumnus magazine


p. 21

Alumni Engagement Update Case on Location: San Francisco, CA – March 16, 2017 The Case Alumni Association, in conjunction with Weatherhead School of Management and the Alumni Association of Case Western Reserve University, hosted an “Insights into Pitching Startups” panel discussion and networking event at The Battery in San Francisco. Weatherhead School of Management Professor Scott Shane shared findings from recent experiments he conducted training founders how to pitch to accredited investors. Following his talk, a panel of Case Western Reserve alumni shared their experience evaluating start-up pitches and discussed what works, and what does not work, when pitching investors. Engineering alumnus, Eric Ver Ploeg ’88 was among the expert panelists that evening. He is an individual venture investor with Ver Ploeg Venture Syndicate.

Oil and Gas Industry Energy Forum – April 6, 2017 We had a full-capacity crowd of 300 students, alumni and guests at our April 6 event. Thank you again to the Case Alumni Association President Jeffrey Herzog ‘79, WSM ’86 for bringing the idea to our attention. Thank you to our wonderful alumni panelists, who gave a great overview of the industry and the role their Case education played in their career success. And thank you to all who offered feedback on this important industry event. It has sparked a request for another event in the future.

p. 22

case alumnus magazine


from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering

From left to right: Diana Essock ’75 First female undergraduate Jennie S. Hwang PhD ’76 First female Ph.D. graduate Jennifer Carter, PhD First female faculty member


p. 23

class notes 1940s

1960s George N. Havens ’49 Cleveland, Ohio

George Havens wrote an inspiring new book proclaiming the critical values of heroes. The thrust of the book is that life can be richer, and more upbeat, with the benefit of heroes who expand our lives by giving us examples to emulate and idealize. This is the seventh book that George has written since retiring as the head of the Jayme Organization, an advertising and marketing firm. He now heads Strategic Consulting, a firm focused on leadership, planning and marketing. George is a member of the Cleveland Advertising Hall of Fame.

1950s Howard E. Conlon ’52, MS ’63 Ann Arbor, Michigan Howard recently retired as an emeritus faculty member at Oklahoma State University, where he was the editor of the campus newsletter and recently chaired the campus-wide United Way drive.

James C. Wyant ’65 Tucson, Arizona Jim was selected as the Special Category inductee for the Spartan Club Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Jim received eight varsity letters during his collegiate career at the Case Institute of Technology, four for cross country and four for track. Since his graduation from Case, Jim has become one of the world’s most renowned optical scientists. His affection for Coach Bill Sudeck and his collegiate athletic experience brought Jim back to campus, where he serves as chair of the Case Western Reserve University board of trustees and as a member of the Forward Thinking Campaign Committee and the Athletic Visiting Committee. Jim’s generosity can be seen across campus, including support for the Sudeck Track, the Wyant Athletic and Wellness Center and in the Larry Sears and Sally Zotnick Sears think[box]. [SEE GROUP PHOTO]

John R. Berry III ’67 Joppa, Maryland John fully retired this year, and now lives near the Gunpowder River, two miles from the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. He and his wife left for South Africa at the end of March to visit kids and grandkids. John is looking forward to the 50th class reunion!

John A. Shields ’68, MS ’71, PhD ’75 Cleveland, Ohio

Emil L. Bereczky ’57 Placentia, California Emil was the Heritage selection for the Spartan Club Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Emil played for the Case Institute of Technology men’s tennis team from 1955 through 1957 and was the squad’s top singles player, along with being a member of the top doubles pairing on the team. Emil has continued to play tennis competitively throughout his life, and ranked as high as 17th, along with his son William, in the United States Tennis Assocation’s Super Senior Father-Son Doubles Division. [SEE GROUP PHOTO]

Henry C. Haller ’57 Avon Lake, Ohio Hank has just released a Jubilee Polka Album entitled “Through the Years Volume 2 - Polkas Haller-Style.” He is also in the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame.

Joseph F. Denk, Sr. ’59 Mentor, Ohio This year marks the 50th anniversary of Denk Associates, Inc., which was started in 1967 by Joe Denk, Sr. Joe, who celebrates his 80th birthday this year, is retired and the company is now run by his two sons, Michael Denk ‘87 and Joseph Denk, Jr. ‘84. p. 24

John received the 2017 American Powder Metallurgy Institute International’s Fellow Award, its most prestigious award. Shields worked with NASA to develop materials for space shuttles, refined sintered tungsten ingots to increase tungsten sheet yields, and led a team to bring a novel thermal management system for galvanic corrosion resistance to market. He is author/co-author of two U.S. patents, three books and over 30 technical papers. He received the Fellow Award from ASM International, Distinguished Service Award and was voted Engineer of the Year in 2002 by Cleveland Engineering Week.

1970s Peter S. Gilmour ’70 Friendswood, Texas Peter retired last August from SMART Modular Technology, where he was program manager for its High Reliability Solutions group in Phoenix, Arizona. He moved back to Texas to be near family. case alumnus magazine

class notes Jennie S. Hwang PhD ’76 Bedford, New York Jennie was reappointed the chairperson of the board on Assessment of U.S. Army Research Laboratories for the U.S. Department of Defense, whose primary focus is on operational efficiency including planning, facilities, equipment, human resources and the merits of the technological programs in near-, medium- and far-term. Jennie is chief executive officer and principal of H-Technologies Group.

James A. Ford ’88 Laguna Hills, California James received a senior radio frequency engineer II position at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems starting in January. He previously worked at Broadcom Limited for over 10 years.

1980s Joseph F. Denk, Jr. ’84 Cleveland, Ohio This year marks the 50th anniversary of Denk Associates, Inc., a company started in 1967 by Joe Denk, Sr. ’59. His two sons, Michael Denk ’87 and Joseph Denk, Jr. ’84, now run the company. To celebrate this milestone, Denk Associates donated to the Class of 1959 50th Reunion Scholarship Fund.

John P. Vourlis ’84 Wickliffe, Ohio John produced and directed the documentary feature film “Breaking Balls,” the story of three colorful local figures associated with the game of bocce, as seen through the lens of the 30th anniversary of the Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce Tournament, held annually in Wickliffe, Ohio. The film recently appeared at the 41st annual Cleveland International Film Festival.

Michael T. Denk ’87 Kirtland, Ohio This year marks the 50th anniversary of Denk Associates, Inc., a company started in 1967 by Joe Denk, Sr. ’59. His two sons, Michael Denk ’87 and Joseph Denk, Jr. ’84, now run the company. To celebrate this milestone, Denk Associates donated to the Class of 1959 50th Reunion Scholarship Fund.

Jeffrey L. Duerk PhD ’87 Avon Lake, Ohio Jeff was elected by his colleagues in the College of Fellows in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering to serve as a member of the organization’s board of directors as a director-at-large. AIMBE is a nonprofit organization representing the top 2 percent of researchers and scholars in the field. Founded in 1991, the organization serves as an


advocate for public policy issues related to improving lives through medical and biological engineering. As director-at-large, Jeff will help set strategic priorities for AIMBE and direct the course of the organization’s future. Jeff is dean and the Leonard Case Professor of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University.

1990s Mark S. Haberbusch ’90, MS ’93 Amherst, Ohio Mark started a company called NEOEx Systems, a platform to collect relevant data from unmanned aerial vehicles that will use lightweight hydrogen fuel and energy-efficient fuel cells to effectively power the UAVs for up to 50 hours without the need to refuel. NEOEx is reaching the prototype stage and the goal is for commercial application to take place within the next two years, in parallel with the Federal Aviation Administration as it continues to release regulations for commercial unmanned drone operations in the national airspace.

Srikantan S. Nagarajan MS ’91, PhD ’95 San Francisco, California Srikantan was named an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Fellow for his contributions to neural engineering and biomagnetic brain imaging. The honor is the highest grade of membership and recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement.

Kenneth A. Holloway ’92 Pudong, Shanghai Ken was one of seven inductees to the Spartan Club Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Ken was a three-time All-University Athletic Association First Team honoree, claiming the award each year from 1989-91, while also earning an All-North Coast Athletic Conference Honorable Mention each year during the time period. During his career, he received the Bill Grice Award as the team’s Most Valuable Player in 1990, and the John Anderson Award in 1989 as the team’s Most Valuable Underclassman. On the baseball field, Ken was an all-NCAC third baseman, leading the league in batting average with a .421 mark during his junior season. [SEE GROUP PHOTO] p. 25

class notes Mary J. Lobo ’99 Cleveland, Ohio Mary was featured in a story by Cleveland’s Plain Dealer newspaper in February. Mary is the space simulation facility manager at NASA Glenn’s Lewis Field campus responsible for coordinating internal and external tests in over two dozen vacuum chambers and the strategic planning to enable the chambers to be ready to support NASA future missions.

2000s Andres M. Molina ’01 West Chester, Ohio Desi is one of the seven inductees to the Spartan Club Hall of Fame Class of 2016. He was a three-time University Athletic Association Champion earning a spot on the conference’s 25th Anniversary Team. During his four years on the wrestling team, he went 11-1 at the UAA championships, notching six pins. During his senior season, Desi placed second at the 2001 NCAA Division III Midwest Regional. He was the 2001 Philip K. “Nip” Heim Award winner, for his leadership and overall contributions to the program. [SEE GROUP PHOTO]

Elizabeth A. Gieseker ’03 Cincinnati, Ohio

2010s Bo Li PhD ’11 Cleveland, Ohio Bo, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, received $500,000 of National Science Foundation grant money to develop computational tools to enable manufacturers to run thousands of simulations at one time to predict quantitatively what combinations of metals, manufacturing parameters and more will lead to the optimal product.

Christopher J. Krimball ’16 Scottsdale, Arizona C.J., a former men’s tennis player, received the NCAA Today’s Top 10 Award recognizing former student-athletes for their successes on the field, in the classroom and in the community, at the Honors Celebration during the NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. C.J. is the first athlete in Case Western Reserve University history to win the honor, one of the most prestigious awards that can be presented to an NCAA athlete. Since his graduation in May, C.J. has worked as a project engineer at Avery-Dennison in Cleveland.

Lisa was inducted to the Spartan Club Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Lisa is one of the most decorated distance swimmers in the history of the Case Western Reserve program, earning two All-America certificates, four All-America honorable mentions and seven all-University Athletic Association honors during her career. She made an immediate impact with the Spartans during her freshman season ranking high in all of her events at the NCAA Championships. Lisa went on to finish in the top-16 at the NCAA Championships and added All-UAA honors in the 1,650-yard freestyle in each of her four years on the team. [SEE GROUP PHOTO]

Christopher R. Kerr ’07 Medina, Ohio Chris started a new job at Riverside Partners, a private equity company in Downtown Cleveland. Chris also had his first child, a daughter named Kennedy, with his wife Jessica.

Jaeyeon Kim PhD ’08 Lexington, Massachusetts Jaeyeon recently became associate director of pharmacometrics at Novartis. Novartis is a global healthcare company based in Switzerland that provides solutions to address the evolving needs of patients worldwide. p. 26

Bottom row, left to right: Andres Molina ’01 (wrestling), Lisa Gieseker ’03 (swimming), Eli Grant ’03 (football) Top row, left to right: Ken Holloway ’92 (baseball & football), James Drougas ’84 (men’s tennis), Dr. James Wyant CIT ’65 (Special Category inductee), tennis and soccer player Emil Bereczky CIT ’57 (Heritage selection) Photo credit: Tony Morrison case alumnus magazine

In Memoriam Adelbert O. Tischler ’40, Bethesda, MD, January 12, 2017

Donald E. Sill ’57, Chesterland, OH, January 23, 2017

James M. Bailey ’43, Hudson, OH, March 2017

Edward B. Hanf ’58, Fort Myers, FL, January 18, 2017

John D. Hopperton ’43, Long Beach, CA, August 26, 2011

Edward L Raymond ’59, Lebanon, OH, February 4, 2017

Robert A. Mattoon ’43, MS ’56, Cleveland, OH, December 18, 2016

Frederick Sener MS ’59, Sarasota, FL, December 12, 2016

Richard A. Thomas ’44, Rockingham, VA, January 15, 2017

James M. Kirkstadt ’60, Johnstown, PA, October 1, 2015

Thomas A. Cleary ’46, Tequesta, FL, February 6, 2015

Luke J. Sparvero, Jr. ’60, Arlington, TX, December 18, 2016

Robert E. Spear ’46, MS ’48, Hendersonville, NC, January 4, 2017

Kenneth A. Tyrpak ’61, Akron, OH, December 31, 2016

Kenneth L. Walko ’47, Portland, OR, date unknown

Arthur R. Upgren PhD ’61, Middleton, CT, January 21, 2016

Robert W. Graham, PhD ’48, Berea, OH, January 30, 2017

William L. Buck ’62, Seattle, WA, September 4, 2011

Rudolph R. Patrick ’48, Bend, OR, October 19, 2016

Alan R. Kovar ’62, Sagamore Hills, OH, January 30, 2017

William E. Barnett ’49, Grass Valley, CA, date unknown

Larry H. Gordon ’63, North Ridgeville, OH, March 4, 2017

David R. Butler ’49, Brecksville, OH, January 2017

John N. McCarthy ’63, Westlake, OH, March 24, 2017

William M Palmer ’49, Worthington, OH, December 23, 2016

Robert I. Gross ’64, Cleveland, OH, February 20, 2017

Martin F. Drlik ’50, Seven Hills, OH, January 18, 2017

Glenn M. Heestand ’64, Pleasanton, CA, December 18, 2016

Ralph Lysyk ’50, Parma, OH, March 6, 2017

James A. Shook ’64, Akron, OH, May 1, 2016

Richard A. Marks ’50, Melbourne, FL, November 5, 2016

Christopher G. Jeans ’65, Goodyear, AZ, January 22, 2017

Chauncey G. Myers ’50, Oxon Hill, MD, May 5, 2014

Sanford Sleeter ’65, MS ’66, PhD ’70, Lafayette, IN, July 7, 2016

Robert D. Tompkins ’50, Damariscotta, ME, March 8, 2017

Richard F. Sigal ’65, Las Vegas, NV, December 2016

David G. Walton ’50, Indianapolis, IN, December 19, 2016

Robert M. Eisenstein ’67, Columbus, OH, January 5, 2017

George T. Braidich ’51, Severna Park, MD, February 25, 2017

Dennis S. Mindeck ’68, Cleveland, OH, November 23, 2015

Seymour C. Himmel ’51, PhD ’58, New York, NY, March19, 2016

Eugene Schmelzer ’68, Baltimore, MD, December 26, 2016

Edwin P. Homburg ’51, Valencia, PA, November 10, 2016

Joseph D. Williams, Jr. ’68, Cincinnati, OH, November 6, 2016

Donald W. Moyer ’51, Westerville, OH, January 27, 2016

Roland R. Graham ’69, MS ’74, PhD ’78,

John A. Palmer ’51, Englewood, OH, January 19, 2017

Chagrin Falls, OH, December 27, 2015

Marvin Wilson ’51, Gresham, OR, date unknown

James E. Driver ’70, Lima, OH, May 7, 2014

Charles W. Fetheroff ’52, Willowick, OH, January 21, 2017

George L. Webb MS ’70, PhD ’73, Locust Grove, VA,

James L. McNerney ’52, Seal Beach, CA, July 13, 2015

December 8, 2016

Leonard Skolnik MS ’52, Beachwood, OH, January 10, 2017

Angus F. Bond IV ’76, Peoria, IL, March 2, 2017

Richard J. Rowan (Rozanc) ’53, Galloway, OH, August 31, 2014

Yitzhak Zemelman ’79, Cleveland, OH, March 20, 2017

James F. Ingram ’55, Cinnaminson, NJ, April 4, 2016

Richard C. Erickson MS ’80, Cleveland, OH, January 30, 2017

George P. Richter ’55, Richmond Hts., OH, March 14, 2017

Constance G. Clark ’82, Sunnyvale, CA, December 23, 2015

John H. Ferguson, MD ’56, Sarasota, FL, October 2016

Michael E. Cairns ’85, Noblesville, IN, December 11, 2016

Richard T. Halishak ’56, Seven Hills, OH, February 1, 2017

Forrest A. Olmstead ’96, Rocky River, OH, January 25, 2017

Jack W. Hausser ’56, New Wilmington, PA, April 17, 2016 Paul A. Niemi ’56, Fredericksburg, VA, December 27, 2016 Edwin J. Schneider, Jr. ’56, Beavercreek, OH, January 31, 2017


John D. Steadman ’56, Portland, OR, January 11, 2017

In the last issue of Case Alumnus, we reported the passing of Larry E. Thomas of Titusville, Florida on August 7, 2016. The correct name is Larry E. Thompson ’61. We sincerely regret the error.

Melvin B. Spira ’56, Monterey Park, CA, January 29, 2016 Thomas E. Butz ’57, Montgomery, TX, February 5, 2017


p. 27

The Last Word:


By Edward Kerekes A junior chemical engineering student, who also serves as the sports editor for the campus newspaper


f you were to ask a random Case Western Reserve University student about the school’s athletics programs, they would probably be confused. “We have varsity sports?” they might ask, giving you the facial expression of anyone trying to take an organic chemistry exam. Yes, Case Western Reserve does have varsity teams, 17 in fact. Almost 500 student-athletes are on rosters for those teams, around 10 percent of the undergraduate population. Another student response might be to question how good the teams really are. A relatively small university known for making geek chic cannot possibly have good sports teams. Can it? Yet the opposite is true. Did you know the football team started the 2016 season with nine straight victories? Or both the men’s and women’s tennis teams are consistently ranked in the top 20 in the country? Or the baseball team earned a trip to the National Collegiate Athletic Association championship at the end of the 2016 season? Or that cross-country runner Sam Merriman (CWRU ’18) finished 21st at the NCAA championships, earning All-American status? Or even that thrower Cassandra Laios (CWRU ’18) and sprinter Nathaniel Wahner (CWRU ’17) both won multiple University Athletic Association titles this year? Probably not. Small home crowds are the reason behind the ignorance. For the eight sports that tabulate attendance, the average number of people at a Spartans’ home game is 352. Excluding football (1,706 spectators per home game), that average plummets to 159. It is also safe to assume that a sizeable percentage of those home crowds are parents or alumni. And, since many of the universities the Spartans face are located close to Cleveland, parents of opponents attend as well. Thus, the average number of Case Western Reserve students at games is probably in the low double digits.

The sports that do not count attendance are more than likely the least popular among students. Those include tennis, swimming and diving, track and field, cross-country and wrestling. However, it is in those sports, particularly tennis and track, that Spartans shine the most. A lack of school spirit has been a problem for Case Western Reserve for a while now. I don’t blame students for not attending games that last multiple hours when, they have other, more important commitments like research, jobs or exams. However, I do blame them for not being aware of what is going on. Case Western Reserve sports teams actually do really well. Every year since 1998, the school has produced at least one All-American. Since the federation, the school has claimed 18 national champions as well. And when Spartan athletes do well, the whole university does well, even alumni. There is a reason “CWRU” is on all of the team’s jerseys: the athletes are competing for the school. One of these days, Case Western Reserve is going to win another national championship. Perhaps then, the student body will begin to recognize that the university teams do indeed exist and are good at what they do. And maybe, just maybe, more students will respond with pride instead of confusion. What say you, Spartans fans?

p. 28

case alumnus magazine

It’s not too late to support the Case Fund®! Want to make a larger gift but can’t pay all at once? Choose the online monthly giving option!

“Case Alumni Association’s monthly giving program allows me to include donations as part of my recurring household budget. It provides convenience for my family, and it provides a predictable, recurrent funding stream to the organization. Whenever I see a monthly donation hit my account, it serves as a reminder of my small part in the larger effort to positively impact Case students, faculty and alumni.” - Matt Crowley ‘08

“I support the Case Fund because I like the impact that it has. I appreciate that the money I donate goes toward scholarships for engineering students like I was. Knowing that the money also goes toward upgrading labs and other facilities means that my donation has a direct impact on students on a daily basis.” - Hillary Emer ‘07

Make your gift to the Case Fund®, the annual fund for the Case School of Engineering and math and applied sciences at Case Western Reserve University, before June 30, 2017. Invest today in the next generation of makers, innovators and entrepreneurs. Visit CASE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION Tomlinson Hall, Room 109 • 10900 Euclid Avenue • Cleveland, Ohio 44106-1712 • SPRING 2017

Ryan Strine 216-368-6399 •

CASE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION Tomlinson Hall, Room 109 10900 Euclid Avenue Cleveland, Ohio 44106-1712



OCT. 5-8, 2017 Join us for a whole weekend of recreation, reminiscing and reconnecting Dean’s Coffee & Chat – Innovation ShowCASE – Case Alumni Awards Presentation Deans’ Brunch & Parade Watch – Sears think[box] tours Grand Classes Luncheon – Class of 1967 50th Reunion

Registration opens in July 2017

Profile for casealum

Case Alumnus Spring 2017  

Case Alumnus Spring 2017  

Profile for casealum