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Case Alumnus The Magazine of the Case Alumni Association

Summer 2018 • vol. 31 • no. 1

The New Case You might not recognize the place

Homecoming 2018

New dean on the scene

Homecoming and Reunion Weekend Oct. 11-14, 2018 Experience the new Case

Highlights Coffee and Chat with the Dean

Friday, Oct. 12, 10 a.m., Tomlinson Hall lobby Join new Dean Venkataramanan “Ragu” Balakrishnan, as he shares his vision and takes questions.

133rd Annual All-Classes Celebration: Innovation ShowCASE and Case Alumni Association Awards Friday, Oct. 12, 5 to 8 p.m., Sears think[box]

Open to all engineering, math and applied science graduates, family and friends, our signature event includes student innovations, cool demonstrations—vote for your favorite! Plus food and beverage stations and a tribute to our alumni award honorees. $50 per person.

Brunch and Parade Watch with the Deans Saturday, Oct. 13, 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., Cleveland Botanical Garden, Woodland Hall

Enjoy brunch and live music with deans Cyrus Taylor of the College of Arts and Sciences and Venkataramanan “Ragu” Balakrishnan of the Case School of Engineering. Afterward, we’ll gather outside to watch the Homecoming Parade pass by. Complimentary valet parking.

1968 50th Reunion and Grand Classes Lunch

Additional events Friday, Oct. 12 • Lolly the Trolley campus tours, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., 2 to 4 p.m. • Student-led walking tours, 2 to 4:15 p.m. • Class observations: 2:15 p.m. Intro to computer programming, 4:25 p.m. Senior capstone • Mixer at The Jolly Scholar for CSE and CIT alumni, 3 to 5 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 13 • Sears think[box] tours, 1 to 3 p.m. • Case Amateur Radio Club tribute to Michelson Morley Experiment, all day on Case Quad, Glennan • CWRU Spartans v. St. Vincent Bearcats, 1 p.m., DiSanto Field • Real Genius at Strosacker Auditorium, 7 p.m., 9:30, midnight

Sunday, Oct. 14 • Homecoming Concert, 3 p.m., Maltz Performing Arts Center

Saturday, Oct. 13, Noon to 1:30 p.m., Tomlinson Hall lobby

Join alumni who graduated from the Case Institute of Technology in 1968 or earlier for a special reception and luncheon. $20 per person.

To register, and to find additional information, go to

Dean’s Message

Yes, the changes are outstanding, but so are the students Dear alumni and friends of the Case School of Engineering: Change is powerful. The transformation I have witnessed since my first visit to campus in 1979 has been profound. It is most gratifying to watch both the campus and the city it calls home evolve. It’s hard to imagine our campus While much has changed in terms without the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick of our physical space, the Case spirit Sears think[box], but only a few short remains the same years ago, one of the world’s largest university-based innovation centers was merely an idea, and what is now the Richey Mixon Building was seven floors of storage space. It has been an incredible journey watching one of our most iconic campus facilities grow from a 2,500-square-foot experiment to the very epicenter of our ecosystem of innovation. Our current students cite Sears think[box] as a top reason they chose Case Western Reserve, and I can only heartily agree when alumni tell me they wish it had been here when they were. As impressive as it’s been watching Sears think[box] come to life and thrive floor by floor, it’s not the only new addition. The Tinkham Veale University Center opened in 2014, providing a refreshingly modern bridge between the east and west sides of campus, as well as new dining options and state-of-the-art meeting and study spaces. The historic Temple-Tifereth Israel has been transformed into a stunning performing arts facility recently joined to campus by the breathtaking Nord Family Greenway, and the Uptown District is teeming with retail, restaurants and other attractions. While much has changed in terms of our physical space, the Case spirit remains the same. This is still a place that attracts the driven—the kind of students, faculty and research staff who combine technical mastery and innovative spark to advance their respective fields and help solve societal problems. I am consistently impressed by the caliber and character of the students and researchers we attract at Case Western Reserve. And it has been my privilege to serve this outstanding scholarly community this past year as the interim dean of the Case School of Engineering. As I return to the faculty, I look forward to all that we will continue to accomplish as the school embarks on a new era with the leadership of our new dean, Ragu Balakrishnan. Homecoming is a few short weeks away. Now is an exciting time to return to Case Western Reserve—to celebrate the Case legacy, explore today’s campus and help usher in a new chapter. Sincerely, James McGuffin-Cawley Interim Dean, Case School of Engineering Arthur S. Holden Professor of Engineering

Summer 2018


We hope to see you at Homecoming, because there’s so much new to see

Hello, and thanks to all of you who have welcomed me as your new director of alumni relations. There are so many of you whom I have not yet had an opportunity to meet. I’m hoping that will change soon—maybe at Homecoming? When was the last time you visited campus? Have you dined in Uptown, toured think[box], or walked the new Greenway to the Maltz Performing Arts Center? Homecoming 2018 is an easy way to experience campus and reconnect with former classmates and faculty. Homecoming this year also offers an opportunity to meet our new dean, Venkataramanan “Ragu” Balakrishnan. He’ll be at the 133rd All-Classes Celebration Friday, October 12, at Sears think[box]. You can meet the dean, tour the innovation center and interact with students as they share their cutting-edge projects. There’s a lot to see and do at Homecoming, but I hope you make it to these highlights, all sponsored by the Case Alumni Association: • FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12 o 10 a.m., Coffee and Chat with Dean Balakrishnan in the Tomlinson Hall lobby

o 3 to 5 p.m., Mixer at The Jolly Scholar for CIT and CSE alums

o 5 to 8 p.m., 133rd Annual All-Classes Celebration at Sears think[box] • SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13 o 9:30 a.m., Brunch and Parade Watch with CAS and CSE deans at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens’ Woodland Hall o Noon to 1:30 p.m., 1968 50th Reunion and CIT Grand Classes Lunch in the Tomlinson Hall lobby Registration is open and details can be found on our website at If you have questions leading up to Homecoming, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 216-368-0635 or I hope to personally connect with you soon,

The Case Alumnus is published quarterly for members and friends of the Case Alumni Association, which 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. 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 216-231-4567

OFFICERS Marvin Schwartz ’68, PhD ’73, President Ronald Cass ’84, 1st Vice President Sunniva Collins, MS ‘91, PhD ‘95, 2nd Vice President Joe Fakult ’90, Secretary Nick Barendt ’95, MS ’98, Treasurer Brian Casselberry ‘95, Assistant Treasurer

STAFF Stephen Zinram, Executive Director Thomas Conlon, Chief Financial Officer Emily Speer, Director of Gift Planning and Grants Compliance Robert Smith, Director of Communications Kelly Hendricks, Director of Alumni Relations Ryan Strine, Director of Annual Fund Janna Greer, Manager of Donor Relations and Grants Pamela Burtonshaw, Database Administrator Melissa Slager, Executive Assistant

CASE ALUMNUS Robert L. Smith, Editor Steve Toth, Toth Creative Group, Layout and Design The Watkins Printing Co., Printing

Kelly Hendricks Director of Alumni Relations


PHOTO CREDITS Wetzler’s Photography Hilary Bovay Photography Roadell Hickman Photography, Icons

THE MAGAZINE OF THE CASE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION 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.

SUMMER 2018 • vol. 31 • no. 1


Case Champions

Nine outstanding alumni, including a Silver Bowl winner, will be honored at Homecoming 2018.


Cover Story The New Case. You might not recognize the place

Billions in investments have added sparkling additions to campus and University Circle in recent years. Why now is the time to see it.



Features 18 Q&A with Cleveland’s data-driven entrepreneur

Explorys cofounder Doug Meil ’98 is taking questions.

20 All That Jazz Between lectures and labs,

Case students create the soundtrack of their college years.

22 Welcome Dean Ragu A nationwide search nets

the leader of a top-ranked engineering program at Purdue.


DEPARTMENTS 1 2 4 6 23 30 32

Dean’s Message Homecoming Message Letters, posts and emails Around the Quad— news from campus Class Notes In Memoriam Long We’ll Remember Keeper of the keepsakes

20 18


On the cover: The $65 million Uptown development transformed a once-desolate stretch of Euclid Avenue at the east edge of campus. (Photo by Hilary Bovay)

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.

Summer 2018


Letters, posts and emails

Engineering new energy Readers responded to our cover story in the spring issue on the Great Lakes Energy Institute and its efforts to lead the region into advanced energy industries: I was in Holland 2 years ago and it was explained to us that the next big wind farm there was going to be: 1. 12 miles off shore 2. on towers 200 feet above sea level 3. use an underwater transformer to aid transmission An aside, Rice was on the front page of the Houston Chronicle today with a story about their next year’s cost, $63,000!!! Not too many years ago Rice did not charge tuition!!! Glen W. Dorow ’60

Has anyone thought of building a large breakwall or island offshore from Cleveland to put windmills on? Christopher Neubecker ’81

I have been experimenting with a couple of solar panels, primarily to power 12 Vdc products in my house. To me, it is an eye opener because of the great variability of the daily watthours provided by two 100 W solar panels. On an optimum day, I get over 1000 watt hours. On a bad day, (e.g. snow covered panels), I get 0 Whr. At this time, I am powering three products for a total of 30 W or 720 Whr/ day. The average load watthours per month varies between 100 to about 450 Whr. So it very rare that I can provide the daily 720 Whr even though the solar panels have the potential to provide 1000 Whr. I presently have a 125 Ahr battery. I would expect that by having a much larger battery, I would be able to coast much longer at the 30 W maximum during rainy and heavy cloud days. I am also curious about the efficacy of wind turbines. I live in Wickliffe, OH, and there are four wind turbines within about three miles of my house. I think one is even co-sponsored by CWRU. Do you know if any of the operating records for these turbines (and for the one by the Veale Athletic Center) are made public? It would be interesting to see how close the energy output is to the predicted output. Also, how much “unexpected” downtime there is because of mechanical and electrical failures. Thanks again for the article. Rich Masek ’68


I like hearing about research that will improve solar and wind energy production through improved hardware and storage methods. As long as you realize that these renewable energy sources cannot provide all the energy that society wants. With land availability and NIMBY, replacement just can’t happen. We are going to have to include some sort of nuclear energy production. Personally I am in favor of fast neutron nuclear reactors, because they are so much better than the thermal reactors that are being used now. Please continue the research to make renewables more effective with the realization that society needs to speak of “low or zero carbon” instead of “renewable.” Tim Elder ’61

Our story on the 1957 MGA roadster that Larry Sears ’69 bought as a Case student and recently restored, “The College Car Reborn,” brought this response from one of his classmates:

When I started at Case in 1965 I was driving an MGA with side curtains that made winter less than fun. The next year, I traded it for a Triumph Spitfire with real windows. A friend introduced me to driving in an autocross. I purchased a $200 Bugeye Sprite in 1966. Several parts were made for it in Case’s workshops and a friend did his senior ME project on the suspension. When I graduated, I took the Sprite SCCA racing and had a great time until 1975 when another driver’s mistake destroyed my race car. I bought a

slightly newer Austin Healey Sprite in Shaker Heights and rebuilt it with the undamaged parts from my first car. Except for the minor detail of the body shell, it is the same car. In the ’80s I met my lovely wife at a race at Nelsons Ledges and did well enough to be invited to the national championships at Road Atlanta, four times. I’ve continued to run and win with the race car up to the present day, sometimes competing against drivers 50 years my junior. It is still the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do and the most satisfying. Gary David ’69

Godspeed Joe Prahl Our story on the passing of Professor Joe Prahl, posted to our website in April, elicited dozens of responses from former colleagues and students. Here’s a sample: He was an amazing guy! Kathleen Mulligan

Enclosed is my memorial gift for the Joe Prahl Scholarship Fund. Professor Prahl was a big reason that I went to Case… He was a great teacher who really cared about his students. He knew everyone in our class, their interests, friends, he knew them personally….I was on the football team and I remember him coming to our games each season...It was clear he loved his work and it came through in his teaching.

I was fortunate to do Fluids and Thermo a la “Dr. Prahl,” back when. He was just a few years older than we were then. His mathematical fluency with subject matter was inspirational. He would often perk us up with impromptu application side riffs; breath taking.... I remember them today.....he was really good. A devoted and caring teacher. The Case community will sorely miss him. George DeBarros ’70

I had “Groovy Joe” in ’68 and ’69 for Thermo and Fluids. I’ve thought of him often over the years. I’m an EE but I still remember and use his stuff because of him. There are a lot of professors I don’t remember but he’s one I always will. 75 doesn’t seem like enough :-(

Professor Prahl was my academic advisor from my first day of college all the way through to my dissertation. He was the one that convinced me to continue my education and he was the one that connected me with the opportunity that has turned into my career. He was there for me through a lot of tough times. He was tough on me when he had to be and compassionate when he had to be. He was an incredibly intelligent person and incredibly fun to be around. I know that my experience was not unique as I’m sure he had the same effect on hundreds if not thousands of students, friends, family, and colleagues throughout the years. I wish now that I had made more time to enjoy his company. He was a truly amazing person and I will miss him dearly. Maxwell Briggs ’06, MS ’08, PhD ’15

Don Adams ’71, MS ’74

Rob Trefz ’99 Summer 2018


Around the Quad Biomedical engineering major wants to repair the most amazing machine of all A love for tinkering led Jonathan Hicks into engineering. His heart steered him toward the medical end of the field. “The body is the most amazing machine,” says Hicks, a sophomore from Cleveland Heights who is majoring in biomedical engineering. He hopes to design and build a new generation of prosthetics, explaining, “I want to give back to people who lost something.” First, he needs to pay the tuition bill at the Case School of Engineering. The Case Alumni Association is helping him to meet that challenge. Hicks, who hails from a family of modest means, received a 2018 Junior-Senior Scholarship made possible by alumni donations. The scholarship will complement his

work-study income, he said, and help him take advantage of opportunities that still seem boundless. He’s an energetic young man with a happy laugh and a strong sense of obligation. Both of his parents are church pastors. Childhood invention camps sparked his interest in engineering. A campus tour in high school convinced him Case was the place. “Every day I’m here I’m still going, ‘Oh, wow!’” He thinks engineering, and the opportunities offered at CWRU, can put him in a position to better many people’s lives. He’s not waiting for the degree. Last July, when a promising Cleveland high school student was hit by stray bullets in a drive-by shooting and later died, Hicks sprang into action.

With classmate Arik Stewart, he started the Michael Chappman Scholarship fund, then delivered the heartening news to the teen’s distraught mother. The scholarship is intended to help a Cleveland Metropolitan School District student attend college. Both Hicks and Stewart are leaders in the African American Society of CWRU and the fund is sponsored by the student group. Anyone can donate at Meanwhile, Hicks is pursuing his dream of enhancing lives before they are lost, as an engineer who can fix the human body. To learn more about Junior-Senior Scholarships, and the students they help, contact Janna Greer at or call 216-368-3647.

The Jolly Scholar’s new trivia king expands the repertoire Clark Taylor ’17 wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his newly minted degree in computer science. Fortunately, the makings of a gap year loomed. The Jeopardy buff from Kensington, Ohio, had been waiting tables at The Jolly Scholar and co-hosting its popular Tuesday Night Trivia, where teams of students and faculty compete for gift cards and modest acclaim. In May, longtime co-host Erik Miller, PhD, relinquished the microphone to focus on brewing beer and Taylor moved up, becoming the new trivia sage at the campus brewpub. Taylor brings a passion for technology and engineering to the role. He has twice now staged trivia nights designed for engineering majors, including a special edition for the Case Alumni Association’s Senior Send-Off reception. A bearded young man who wears the bill to his ball cap up, he stalks the big room like a lounge singer, wireless microphone in hand, throwing out questions that beg for a little thought and often imagination. 6

“I don’t want people to feel like they’re taking a test,” he explained about his approach. “I want it to be interesting but I want it to be fun.” See how you do with a few queries from his engineering portfolio.

No Googling, but you can consult teammates. 1. In 1844, Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph message, “What hath God wrought?” between which two U.S. cities? 2. Howard Wolowitz is the only one of the four main male characters on The Big Bang Theory lacking a PhD. In what field did he attain his lowly master’s degree? 3. The Three Laws of Robotics were first introduced by this renowned science fiction writer. 4. What does BTU stand for and what does it measure? 5. When the Internet was new, there were only a handful of top-level domain names, including .com. Can you name five more? Answers: 1. Baltimore and Washington, D.C.; 2. aerospace engineering; 3. Isaac Asimov; 4. British Thermal Units measure heat; 5. .org, .net, .edu, .gov., .mil.

Alumnus Myra Dria deemed one of the Most Influential Women in Energy Myra Dria ’76, PhD, was one of only seven women in her graduating class of 700 from the Case Institute of Technology. The odds didn’t change much on her first job, in the Standard Oil Co.’s play in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Still, in a field where women remain a rarity, Dria carved out a spectacular career. She rose through the executive ranks of energy companies before breaking out on her own and becoming one of the busiest drillers in West Texas. This year, she was recognized by Oil and Gas Investor as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Energy.

As founder and CEO of Houston-based Pearl Resources, Dria directs a full-service drilling operation that sells oil and gas directly to pipeline companies. She is also the CEO and co-founder of Ristra Energy, an energy data company, and the former CEO of Opal Resources, which operated in West Texas. Entrepreneurship was her response to an “old boys club” where she never fit in and didn’t care to, she said. She recalls once being denied an equity partner because she wouldn’t join a hunting

trip to Montana. Dria credits her success to her technical training at Case, where she majored in polymer engineering, and at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned her doctorate in petroleum engineering. And she gives some credit to competitive figure skating, which she excelled at as a young woman. Skating taught her how to fall and get back up “and try again until you get it right,” she said, laughing.

A rising star in a risky business Changes are coming to the oldest engineering discipline, civil engineering. As structures grow bigger and nature more powerful, the field needs people like YeongAe Heo, an assistant professor of civil engineering at the Case School of Engineering. She’s a specialist in structural performance evaluation. She’s the person you call to find out what forces your deep-sea production platform can

withstand, or how your community can better protect the harbor from hurricanes. Her ability to assess risks to critical infrastructure in an age of climate change makes her a rising star in civil engineering. Barely three years after joining the faculty, Heo was selected for an early career fellowship by the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. The award will support her research into minimizing risks of natural and man-made disasters on offshore oil and gas systems. More recently, she was selected as a 2018 American Society of Civil Engineers

ExCEEd Fellow. It comes with an invitation to West Point to attend a workshop on new techniques for teaching civil engineering and preparing students for the field’s changing demands. “It was my childhood dream to be a great architect” growing up in Korea, she said. “But then I realized, ‘Oh, there’s more important, more interesting engineering— protecting those beautiful structures.” Heo, who holds three patents for offshore structural systems, was a structure and risk engineer for Samsung Heavy Industries before joining the Case School of Engineering in 2014.

Celebrating 50 years of engineering better health Imagine healthcare without ultrasound, pacemakers, MRIs and artificial hips and knees. Biomedical engineering, the blending of engineering and medicine, gave us those life-changing devices and diagnostic tools and many more. Case Western Reserve University helped to create the biomedical engineer, a fact that will be recalled often this year as the Department of Biomedical Engineering celebrates its 50th anniversary. Upon its launch in 1968, the department was one of the first in the world to combine medical and engineering expertise. BME remains a joint department of the Case School of

Engineering and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “We’re kind of unique,” said Robert Kirsch, the department chair and the Ford Professor of Biomedical Engineering. “There are a couple of other schools that do it this way, but it’s very rare.” From that partnership came many firsts. Case’s Department of Biomedical Engineering developed the first spinal cord stimulation for pain relief and the first respiratory implant. Today, the highly regarded department—ranked 15th best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report—is focused on restoring sensation to people with limb loss and enhancing

precision medicine with big data analytics. Demand for biomedical engineers is expected to continue to grow because the population is aging and people are more aware of what bioengineering can do. “We’re a very robust program,” Kirsch said. “Everyone cares about their health. Our graduates pretty much work in all aspects of the healthcare industry.” Anniversary events begin September 6, when Omar Ishrak, the chairman and CEO of Medtronic, will keynote a day-long forum focused on the department’s neuroengineering expertise as part of the Ford Distinguished Lecture Series. For details on that and other 50th anniversary events, visit the department’s website: Summer 2018


Case champions Alumni of distinction will be honored at Homecoming 2018

Some are leaders in their fields. Some are just getting started. All have exhibited an eagerness to serve and to share. At Homecoming and Reunion Weekend October 11-14, the Case Alumni Association and the Case School of Engineering will honor nine alumni who bring honor to the university as graduates of distinction. The pantheon includes a Silver Bowl recipient, Tom Kicher, who will be recognized for a lifetime commitment to the Case School of Engineering. Here are the 2018 honorees and a summary of why they are worthy of our thanks and admiration.



Life was limited in Johnsonburg, a one-mill town in a sleepy corner of Pennsylvania. “Success,” explained Tom Kicher ’59, MS ’62, PhD ’65, “was a pickup truck, a fishing rod and a six-pack on Saturday night.” He wanted more. A bright and curious youth, a math whiz, he wanted to learn about the wonders of the world. “Everyone kept saying, ‘You ought to be an engineer,’” he recalled. “I didn’t even know what that was.” But he had heard of the Case Institute of Technology, even “the Case family,” a fellowship of scientists and engineers a world away in Cleveland. Little did he know, when he arrived a wide-eyed freshman in 1955, he would come to lead that family as a professor, mentor and dean. Today, Kicher, the Armington Professor Emeritus of Engineering, is the elder statesman at the Case School of Engineering. Retired since 2005, he still makes regular visits to campus to lend his insight to committees, to welcome new staff and faculty, to dabble in research. Case Quad is where he soared and where he belongs. Kicher earned three engineering degrees from Case, including a doctorate, then stayed to teach for 40 years. He served as dorm counselor, thesis advisor, department chair, mentor, teacher and colleague to generations of students and faculty. He led the committee that wrote the white paper that created today’s Case School of Engineering, in 1992, then served as the school’s first dean. “I figure I’ve held more and varied positions on this campus than just about anyone,” he observed recently.

This fall, he will be honored at Homecoming with the Silver Bowl, an award given only occasionally to recognize a person whose contributions to Case are deemed to be outstanding and lasting. Jim McGuffin-Cawley, the interim dean of the Case School of Engineering, said Kicher’s impact on the school has been profound. He described him as the “steady hand” who guided the Case Institute of Technology into a new era, under the umbrella of Case Western Reserve University. “He’s a very patient person. He’s very collaborative,” the dean said. “He looks out for the students. He looks out for the young faculty. He certainly was the right leader when the school began.” Kicher says Case gave him more than he could ever repay. “I was introduced to a lot of things I’d never been exposed to,” he said. “Arts, culture, the sciences. I could approach almost anyone and ask questions. It was an ideal place for a young boy from a small town. Case changed my life.” He met his wife, Janet, at Case. All three of his children earned Case degrees. He became a favorite of the international students, who sensed a kindred spirit and sought out his guidance. Lately, he’s been delving into Case history, hoping to fathom and explain the personality of the university, which he says has always attracted bold faculty and uncommonly curious students. Students like him.


Before he invented the technology that changed the way companies worldwide manage their supply chains, Tom Baker ’64, MS ’66, PhD ’68, was a young sailor from Shelby, Ohio, whose dad docked his sailboat at Cedar Point.

He sailed Lake Erie through three degrees at the Case Institute of Technology in the 1960s, including a PhD in systems engineering. He credits Case with putting a new wind at his back. “I felt like there was a lot of freedom to pursue what I wanted to pursue,” said Baker, now retired and living on Vashon Island off Seattle. “I got interested in designing and building an autopilot for my father’s boat. And I got a lot of support at Case.” That project sparked his interest in process control, which led to a career in operations research. He rose to become the global coordinator of operations research at Exxon. In 1982, he decided he was ready to launch his own shop. Chesapeake Decision Sciences changed supply chain management by pioneering interactive modeling software. Many of its concepts are still used today. Baker sold the company in 1998, bought a sailboat and became a world traveler and philanthropist. He sank millions into a foundation that supports education, including scholarships for students of the Case School of Engineering. He also serves on the Silicon Valley Think Tank, which helped design the school’s computer science program. He said he’s repaying a debt. “I had a scholarship,” he said. “If you added up the compound interest, I probably still owe money. I’m paying it back, in a way.” His sailing exploits in the Caribbean inspired his book, “A Sea Story.” But he does not have as much free time as he once did. A few years ago, he helped to launch another startup in the supply chain sector, Atlantic Decision Sciences. Ever the entrepreneur, Baker said, “It’s pretty exciting what you can do today on the web.” He will receive the 2018 Gold Medal Award—the highest honor bestowed annually by the Case Alumni Association.

Summer 2018



Susie Nagorney ’76, a math major from Parma, was one of only a handful of women attending Case Institute of Technology in the early 1970s—and the only female in her Calculus 1 class. The first time she answered a question, she recalled, everyone in the room turned to look at her. She kept mum the rest of the semester. The image of a quiet, timid Susie Nagorney would surprise people who know her today. She’s one of the more active, affable and outspoken leaders in the Case Alumni Association, even if she says so herself. “I’ve grown into myself,” she said. “I’m going to say what I think. And people know it.” They also know she cares. Nagorney is a familiar presence at the JuniorSenior Scholarship receptions, where she greets and engages students, especially the young women. “Sometimes they ask me about raising a family and pursuing a professional career—which it is possible to do,” she said. A career educator—and the longtime coordinator of the math department at Cuyahoga Community College—Nagorney raised three children and has been married to her husband, Frank, for 43 years. Alumni leaders elected her the first female president of the association in 2006. This fall, she will receive the 2018 Samuel H. Givelber ’23 Award, which honors an alumnus who promotes fellowship in the Case tradition.


When the Case School of Engineering


launched its Great Lakes Energy Institute in 2008, Thomas Esselman ’68, PhD ’72, was one of the first alumni to offer his expertise. He had carved out a stellar career in the energy industry as a nuclear engineer, company founder and CEO. He liked the idea of pursing advanced energy research from Case Quad. “Energy really has the ability to reach across the whole university and bridge many different disciplines,” he said. “It’s been effective in attracting research dollars. And it’s really been an effective way to show professors who are interested in energy that there’s an institute that can help.” Esselman, the founder and former president of engineering consultants Altran Corp., has served on the GLEI advisory board since its inception, including three years as chair. When he returns to campus for Homecoming, he’ll celebrate his 50th class reunion— and about as many years of service to his alma mater. “You never really leave that foundation and that training that you got at Case,” he said. “It’s a great time to look back and reflect.” He’ll do that as a recipient of the 2018 Meritorious Service Award.


Joe Fakult ’90 loved science and engineering as a child, so he was thrilled to be accepted to Case Western Reserve University. But with nine brothers and sisters, he would have to pay the tuition bill himself.

Fakult, a senior engineer for Safron Power, did it the old-school way—with a paper route. He delivered more than 200 copies of The Plain Dealer door to door each morning, then rushed off to school. “Those early-morning classes in the winter were the toughest,” he said, adding that he often fell asleep in class. When he decided it was time to give back to his alma mater, Fakult picked a duty that resonated. He joined the selection committee of the Junior-Senior Scholarship Program, which helps promising students to pay their tuition. “There’s really no more direct way to make use of our funds than to help students much like myself,” he said. Before stepping down this spring, Fakult served for 10 years on the scholarship committee, eight as chair, and interviewed an estimated 1,400 students on their aspirations. He will receive the 2018 Meritorious Service Award.


Though he earned two engineering degrees at Case, W. Todd Martin ’96, MS ’98, found his passion in the financial services industry. He’s the managing director at CapitalWorks LLC, a private equity firm in Cleveland. Before that, Martin worked on buyouts, takeovers and reorganizations in the global industrial and healthcare sectors. He has lent his considerable knowledge of company operations and high finance to the Case Alumni Foundation. As chairman of the investment committee, Martin has helped the foundation to achieve steady growth in an endowment that recently surpassed $68 million in valuation. He will be honored at Homecoming with the 2018 Meritorious Service Award.


A few years after graduating from the Case School of Engineering with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, Hillary Emer ’07, MSE ’08, was back on campus, sharing her insight on job searches with undergraduates as part of a Career Mentor Series. Four years ago, she joined the board of the Case Alumni Association, becoming one of its few young professionals. From her home in Cary, North Carolina, where she works for the online training company Relias while pursuing an MBA at Duke, she remains engaged with her alma mater and willing to share her time. “I see it as a way to give back,” Emer said, explaining that a Junior-Senior Scholarship helped her to focus on school and achieve her goal of earning two engineering degrees. Plus, Case introduced her to many great friends and a husband, Jeff Taggart ’06. “I also want to represent my generation and my gender,” she added. “The board’s great. But there’s a lot of older white gentlemen, retired,” she said, laughing. They appreciate her spirit and her willingness to help. At Homecoming this fall, she will be honored with the Young Alumni Leadership Award.


Barry Romich III ’67 grew up on a farm near Creston, Ohio, where his dad built or fixed or welded most everything they needed. He arrived at the Case Institute of

Technology in the mid 1960s with the soul of a maker, and found his calling. On Case Quad, he discovered the “student shop,” where he could tinker with electronics and mechanical devices. On a research project at the old Highland View Hospital, he met Ed Prentke, an engineer and an alumnus three times his age. They shared a concern for the disabled and a knack for innovation. While still a student, Romich partnered with his mentor to launch the Prentke Romich Co., which develops technology for people with disabilities. Today, the Wooster-based company employs about 250 people devising products that allow people with paralysis and other handicaps to more fully participate in life. “It’s been an ongoing blessing in my life,” Romich said. He has shared the good graces. In 2010, Romich donated $1 million to help launch Sears think[box] and create the largest maker space on an American college campus. He has continued to donate his time, talent and money to today’s “student shop,” and to send school groups through on tours. “The successful students will be the ones who get their hands on things,” he said on a recent visit. “This is a place that allows that to happen.” That’s thanks in large part to Barry Romich. He will receive the Lifetime Service Award from the Case School of Engineering.


On a return to campus in May, Jeffrey Duerk, PhD ’87, visited one of his most visible accomplishments, Sears think[box], and greeted the staff like old friends. The acclaimed maker center rose during his tenure as dean of the Case School of Engineering. While Duerk is quick to credit a team effort, and heap

praise on faculty and alumni who contributed ideas and money, someone had to execute the vision. That someone was a dean with a passion for innovation. “I was one of those kids who took everything apart,” Duerk recalled. “I had a record player, I must have rebuilt it a hundred times.” That curiosity and knack for invention followed him into academia, where he earned some 40 patents, mostly for innovations in medical imaging, a science he advanced in campus labs. Duerk spent 30 years at Case as student, professor and dean. He earned his doctorate in biomedical engineering, went on to chair the department and became dean in 2012. When he left in 2017 to become vice president and provost at the University of Miami, Sears think[box] was open in the Richey Mixon Building and a spirit of innovation was in full bloom. “This is a singularly special space,” Duerk said as he looked across the collaboration floor, just starting to stir on a Saturday morning. “It’s not just a physical space. It’s a collaborative and intellectual space. That’s what makes it so special.” Much the same can be said about the Case School of Engineering, thanks in part to Jeffrey Duerk. He will receive the Lifetime Service Award. Awards will be presented Friday, October 12, at the 133rd Annual All-Classes Celebration: Innovation ShowCASE and Case Alumni Association Awards Presentation. It runs from 5 to 8 p.m. at Sears think[box]. Admission is $50. Find registration information at Questions or comments on this story? Email

Summer 2018


Have you seen the new Case? You might not recognize the place Billions in investment have brought big changes to the world around Case Quad. Why now is the time to see it. By Robert L. Smith


ast year, after 25 years away, Aarti Chandna returned to her alma mater on a college visit with her husband, Asheem, and their teenaged son. They drove to the corner of Euclid Avenue and Mayfield Road, where her old apartment building still stood—but bright lights beckoned them further. So they continued on into Uptown, past brightly lit shops and restaurants on a stretch of Euclid Avenue she remembered as bleak and foreboding. Eventually, they circled back to Little Italy—where they waited 45 minutes to be seated at a bustling restaurant. This was not the Case Western Reserve University she remembered. Not at all. “The neighborhood has completely changed, just completely changed!” said Chandna, MS ’88, a technology consultant and venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. “It was fun to see how lively it has become, compared to when we were students. It’s much more cosmopolitan now.” Such observations are heard often from alumni who return to Case after being away for many years or even for just a few. Their memories have not kept pace with the changes. How could they?


Really, the last 10 years, it’s been transformational. For alums who come back, it’s like a different place.

Summer 2018


In the last decade, developers and institutions have sunk more than $3 billion into projects in and around the university, creating new landmarks, housing and energy. Campus additions include a sparkling new student center, a world-class innovation center and a performing arts center built into a historic Jewish temple. Off campus, the developments range from a new commercial district to a luxury apartment tower to an improbable

fairway threading the landscape. Which is why many alumni say, If you haven’t seen the new Case, you might not recognize the place. “As an alum, you can still see what was there—it’s just that so much has been built around it,” said Fulter Hong ’02, MS ’03. He works for Google in Chicago and returned to campus last year to accept the Young Alumni Leadership Award with his wife, Rebecca (Steiner) Hong ’03. “There’s a grocery store now. Upscale housing,” he observed. “I think we had the

essentials. But it’s so nice to see how everything has expanded. It makes it appealing to come back.” That’s what thousands are expected to do in October for Homecoming weekend. The new amenities and diversions give another reason to come home to an alma mater that never stood still.

Why now is the time The transformation of the Case neighborhood has been underway for years, beginning with strategic planning coordinated by the city, the university and

By and large, peoples’ expression when they come back is, ‘Wow, what happened?’

The Tinkham Veale University Center is the new heart of campus.


The Nord Family Greenway welcomes all to campus with an inviting promenade.

the nonprofit University Circle Inc. in the early 2000s. But the sometimesorchestrated, sometimes-organic development has reached a crescendo. Uptown, a $65 million retail and housing development, is finished. It has transformed a bleak stretch of Euclid Avenue with apartments, fast-casual restaurants and jewels like the new home of the Museum of Contemporary Art—an onyx cube that sparkles at the corner of Euclid and Mayfield Road. The $365 million expansion of the Cleveland Museum of Art is also complete, offering a world-class museum experience. Meanwhile, the Tinkham

Veale University Center has given the campus a new beating heart, and Sears think[box] is captivating engineering students in one of the largest maker spaces in the nation. A park-like path is the green ribbon around the package. This summer, university officials and neighborhood leaders welcomed the opening of the Nord Family Greenway, an undulating lawn that connects the center of campus to the Maltz Performing Arts Center on the emerging west campus and the Cleveland Clinic campus beyond. Planners call it Cleveland’s boldest new park since Daniel Burnham’s downtown malls.

The Maltz Performing Arts Center, fashioned from a historic synagogue, anchors the emerging West Campus.

“This is the big piece,” said Lillian Kuri. “This is the tectonic shift.” She stood at a rise in the greenway west of the art museum, where it overlooks Rockefeller Park. Jungle-like brush had been cleared away, grass planted and steps laid to create a smooth, wide, 20-acre path rolling toward East 105th Street and the golden dome of Temple-Tifereth Israel. Kuri is a designer, planner and top executive at the Cleveland Foundation, which helped to spark the greenway with a $1 million gift. Foundation leaders sought to connect University Circle institutions with each other and with the surrounding neighborhoods to create a shared vibrancy. CWRU played a leading role in the $15 million project. That stewardship will continue. The university will maintain the path and provide security.

The new home of the Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the top attractions in Uptown.

Summer 2018


The old Lincoln Storage building was refashioned into Sears think[box], one of the largest college maker centers in the world.

William “Bud” Baeslack III, who was involved in the planning of many of the recent projects as university provost and executive vice president, sees the greenway as a catalyst for future development. “Really, the last 10 years, it’s been transformational,” he said. “For alums who come back, it’s like a different place. They almost don’t even recognize it. I think what’s more significant is what’s going to happen over the next 10 years.” He predicts the center of campus will move west, toward the Maltz Performing Arts Center and the $515 million Health Education Campus, which will become home to students of medicine, nursing and dentistry when it opens next summer. He expects new apartments, shops and businesses to arise along the greenway. “Over the next five years, it’s going to look different again,” he promised. Baeslack said he hopes future


development includes a new center for science and engineering on Case Quad, the oldest part of campus. The university’s 2015 master plan calls for a state-of-the-art complex that will give the School of Engineering new labs, classrooms and allure. “Most of these investments have focused on student life, the student experience,” Baeslack said. “That’s why it’s important the next investment really focus on research and academics.” In a May interview with The Plain Dealer, University President Barbara Snyder said the university is now seeking donors to make the science center a reality.

Whatever happened to…? For alumni, the changes can mean much was lost as much was gained.

Larry Sears graduated in 1969, when the surrounding neighborhood was sketchy and sparsely developed. Still, it had personality. He saw Judy Collins perform at La Cave, a Euclid Avenue coffeehouse that anchored Cleveland’s progressive rock and roll scene. He bought his college car off the street in Little Italy for $75. “Let’s just say the neighborhood was very picturesque,” he said. Alumni lament the loss of popular CWRU haunts like the Barking Spider, the Boarding House, Club Isabella and Tasty Shop Restaurant. But most agree the changes brought needed upgrades while sparing some treasured icons. Uptown replaced a stretch of Euclid Avenue lined with gravel parking lots and so empty it was known derisively as “the Beach.” Sears think[box] gave fresh purpose to the old Lincoln Storage

One University Circle, the tallest apartment tower built in Cleveland in 40 years, peeks over the shoulder of Tomlinson Hall.

building, thanks in part to a $10 million gift from Larry Sears and his wife, Sally Zlotnick Sears ’72. One University Circle, the largest apartment complex to rise in Cleveland in 40 years, replaced the last remnants of a Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge—those orange, tent-like canopies at MLK Drive and Euclid Avenue. It offers a stunning new backdrop to Tomlinson Hall. Meanwhile, front-porch life survives on Hessler Road, The Thinker still broods over Wade Lagoon and the venerable Euclid Tavern rocks on as Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern. “By and large, peoples’ expression when they come back is, ‘Wow, what happened?’” said Chris Ronayne, the president of University Circle Inc. His nonprofit development corporation played a leading role in the development surge. It fostered collaboration with institutions

and developers to move along long-sought ideas, offering land-banked properties as a motivator. But Ronayne heaps praise on the leadership and fundraising ability of Barbara Snyder, who was able to get most of the university-related projects paid for through donations. “I think her legacy will be her drive to fund improvements that enhanced both campus life and the community,” Ronayne said. “She opened up the campus to the community.” Aarti Chandna, for one, hopes the university is not done yet. She came to Case from India for graduate school, earned a master’s degree in computer science and met her husband. Asheem Chandna ’86, MS ’88, earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and, like his wife, a master’s degree in computer science. Both have enjoyed successful careers in the

technology industry of California and are grateful for their CSE educations. The changes have deepened their pride. Aarti Chandna thinks the university should find a way to bring more West Coast high school students to campus for tours, much as she and her husband did with their son. He opted to stay on the West Coast for college, but Mom says Case made a great impression. “You know, we visited several college towns,” she said. “I rank Case very high. It’s a lively college town, and I don’t think enough people know it.” After Homecoming 2018, maybe more alumni will be spreading the word.

Questions or comments on this story? Email

Summer 2018


Alumni Q&A Doug Meil ‘98, Cleveland’s data-driven entrepreneur He succeeded at startups, meetups and finding campus parking without a permit. The co-founder of Explorys is taking questions.


wenty-six floors above downtown Cleveland, Doug Meil, MS ’98, strolls through the offices of IBM Watson Health in jeans and kung fu slippers, passing panoramic views and pointing out Case Western Reserve graduates who populate the work stations. Meil, 49, a Distinguished Engineer for IBM Watson Health, is a big part of the reason their employer is here. He helped to launch Explorys, a healthcare data analytics company, with Steve McHale, Charlie Lougheed and Dr. Anil Jain in 2009. Six years later, IBM bought the Cleveland startup and made it the cornerstone of its Watson Health division. Today, about 250 people work in IBM’s offices on the top floors of the former Eaton tower. Soon, everyone will move into a newly built headquarters building near Cleveland Clinic. As co-founder of one of Cleveland’s most successful med-tech startups ever, Meil has uncommon insight into entrepreneurship, data science and the value of night school at the Case School of Engineering. He sat down recently with Case Alumnus magazine to answer some questions. You co-founded Explorys when healthcare data analytics was brandnew. What was that like? You’ve heard the phrase, “Flying an airplane and building it at the same time?” Every week seemed to have an existential crisis (laughs). Plus the fact that three of us were brand new to healthcare. We were product software people. So we were fortunate to partner with Cleveland Clinic (where Dr. Jain was on staff). I recruited and built the engineering team in the beginning, and defined the technical architecture and design of the products. 18

your blood pressure. For me, it’s Jiu-Jitsu. At the beginning, everything’s an adrenalin rush. But you have to remember, it takes a lot more than 16-hour days to make it work. You do need other experience to draw from. What was your other experience? After college, I was a software engineer for Key Bank (from 1992 to 1999). Then I worked at Everstream with Steve (McHale) and Charlie (Lougheed). And I had my training at Case.

Photo by Roadell Hickman

What do you do as a distinguished engineer for IBM Watson Health? I provide technical guidance to the Value-based Care engineering team. Explorys was heavily into population analytics for healthcare. Now we’re connecting to the next phase of the care continuum, like care management. It’s the “And then what?” part of the process. So I found people with care gaps, now what? It’s great to identify areas that need improvement, but you do want to take action. Do you recommend entrepreneurship? You need to know what you’re getting into. It’s not for the faint-hearted. Startups are a lifestyle. They are a tremendous learning experience. The upside is you get exposure to more responsibility than you typically get in a big company. But they can be wild rides. You need to find an outlet to lower

Yes, Case. Tell us what brought you to Case Western Reserve. I was an applied statistics major at Miami of Ohio—what they called decision sciences. I wasn’t a computer science undergrad. So one of things I did with my master’s was to take a lot of CS classes. I was trying to backfill a lot of things I didn’t catch. (Laughs). One of the things I really liked about Case was that most of the people in my program made things. They were engineers for Bridgestone, chemical engineers for GE. I wanted to get myself into an area where I was uncomfortable. I was working for Key Corp, writing software by day. My classmates were from completely different professions. I remember one time, the instructor was trying to cite a simple example, and he said something like, “Let’s say you’re making tires.” And someone from the back of the room yells out, ‘You have no idea how complicated that is!” I loved it. Were there any advantages to being a night student? I took one class a semester for three and a half years. So I figured out where I could

park and not pay for a permit. I knew where to get the fastest food on campus. Because I went right from work, I had to figure out all that stuff. It was a three-hour class and I had to eat. I had to be much more logistically savvy.

yeah…” But they helped us. They gave us the nod when we needed it. “They’re good guys. Consider working with them.” That’s important. Everybody at Case was 100 percent supportive and an integral part of making Explorys a success.

Becoming involved with the Apache HBase open-source community was a huge influence on me. I first met the open-source community in Silicon Valley, after we launched Explorys. I thought, “I want that here. I want that spirit here.”

How has Case shaped you? Actually, the more formative experience has been working with Case the last 10 years, through Explorys and Watson Health. That’s made a huge impression on me. I’ve been active in recruiting Case students. The year-over-year experience of coming to career fairs, attending hackathons and having Cleveland Big Data Meetups at Case has been both educational and personally rewarding. Back in early 2010, we met with the career center and co-op directors. We were a four-person company. We were talking about all the great things we were going to do. They could have been like, “Yeah, yeah,

Do you hire Case graduates because they’re good or because you are loyal? Both.

How do you run a good meetup in Cleveland? Rule number one, you have to offer good content. We get good speakers. Number two, it has to be well-organized. My shtick is, I have a kitchen timer for each speaker. When it beeps, you’re done. When people have limits, they speak better. Rule number three is, everyone gets fed. There’s always pizza. We average 120 people at our meetups.

You founded the Cleveland Big Data Meetup nearly eight years ago, and you’re still running it. Why is that important to you? One of the lessons for students—and I know this sounds cliché—is that you never stop learning and you need to keep networking. Networking is great. It’s the opportunity to meet, to exchange ideas with multiple ages, with multiple professions. Software people have the advantage of crossing industries.

Questions or comments on this story? Email

About two dozen Case graduates work in the Cleveland offices of IBM Watson Health, mostly as data scientists, software developers and computer engineers. Here are the alumni we were able to muster on a recent work day.

Clockwise, from the bottom: Olivier Izad, Nicholas Hudek, Shelley Murphy, Joe Fennimore, Matt Sargent, Michael Kechisen, Aishwarya Ravindran, Andy Johnson, Curtis O’Neal and Paul Whitten. (back row) Devyn Spillane, Zach Scott, Ricky Patel, Joe Peter, (front row) Darian Pazgan-Lorenzo, Doug Meil, Austin Hacker, Abby Walker. Photo by Roadell Hickman Summer 2018


Engineering, physics and all that jazz Members of Blue Theory blend jazz and labs to create the soundtrack of their college years.


hen Ari Howard came to the Case School of Engineering from Jacksonville, Florida, he brought his guitar—hoping. Ryan Buechele, who had registered for a full course load in math and physics, arrived from Dayton with a trumpet. Little did the two young men know, their choice of college placed them at the center of a music scene as eclectic and high-performing as their university. Both found outlets for their artistic ability as members of Blue Theory, a science-savvy jazz band made up of students from CWRU and the nearby Cleveland Institute of Music. As they acclimated to freshman year, the bandmates squeezed in rehearsals between lectures and labs, performed at area music clubs and


restaurants, and finished an album. Case has been a little more fascinating than they imagined. “I really like the environment here,” said Buechele, a double major in math-physics and music. “There’s a nice music scene around campus. It’s amazing being by the orchestra.” Both Buechele and Howard hold season passes to the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall. But they get around. By the end of the school year, they had performed three times at Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, one of Cleveland’s most historic live music clubs. The array of stages within minutes of campus both amazes and energizes the pair. Proximity to a cultural scene is, they came to realize, one of the perks of a Case education.

Ari Howard (left) and Ryan Buechele.

Blue Theory at Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern. (From left) Ryan Jung on keyboards, Ryan Buechele on trumpet, Angelo Antinori on drums, Max Ventura (guest artist) on saxophone, Eli Weiskirch on tenor saxophone, Ben Friedland (not visible) on bass and Ari Howard on guitar.

The university shares music courses and music lessons with CIM, one of the nation’s leading conservatories. The Joint Music Program helps students like Buechele to major in math and physics in the College of Arts and Sciences while pursuing a second major in music. Howard, an aficionado of classical guitar, had auditioned to attend CIM but found its tuition out of reach. He accepted a scholarship to study mechanical and aerospace engineering at Case, a little worried the jam sessions were over. “Then I get here and it’s like all jazz, 24-7,” he said, smiling. In his application packet, he sent along a video of his guitar playing. It made its way to the Department of Music, which he said helped to sweeten his scholarship. He’s minoring in music. Both Howard and Buechele play with the Case Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Paul Ferguson, the renowned director of jazz studies at CWRU. That’s where they met Ryan Jung, a pianist and composer studying at CIM. The school year had barely begun when Jung approached the freshmen with enticing news: “We’re starting a band,” he said. Buechele first picked up the trumpet in the fifth grade, inspired by the sounds of bugles from a nearby Air Force base. Howard was six, he says, when he found a guitar in the garage and soon couldn’t put it down. Like Buechele, he played with jazz combos in high school. Here was a chance to get back into performing, at a higher level. In addition to Jung, Blue Theory includes CWRU student Eli Weiskirch on tenor saxophone and CIM students Angelo Antinori on drums and Ben Friedland on bass. The jazz fusion band plays a variety of genres, including the blues, rock, swing and funk. Jung said Howard brings nice technical expertise to the group, while

Buechele adds jazzy spontaneity. “He just comes up with these short motifs,” Jung said. “We all feed off of each other. I think that’s what makes good jazz—being able to compose while you’re improvising.” It’s not high school anymore, Howard and Buechele said. “Everyone in this is really serious about the music,” Howard said. “There’s more integrity to the music. People take it a lot more seriously,” Buechele agreed. Ryan Jung and Eli Weiskirch both compose, and a band that started with jazz standards now plays original compositions. Its first album, “Bad Blues,” was released online as the gigs multiplied. The rehearsals and performances competed with class work and study, of course, and the bandmates say the skill they really polished is time management. Many a Tuesday night, Howard said, “I’m doing my labs at midnight,” after rehearsing for both Blue Theory and the Case Jazz Ensemble. But the band has added a dimension to college they did not expect, lessons they expect to be lasting. “I’m happy that I can say I don’t just do engineering,” Howard said.

“Engineering’s important. It’s going to be the main focus of my life. For me, the arts are another way I can express myself.” Want to listen to the band? You’ll find tracks from “Bad Blues” on its website:

Band members recently recorded their first album, “Bad Blues.”

Summer 2018


Welcome Dean Ragu National search nets leader of a top-ranked engineering program at Purdue By Robert L. Smith


he new dean of the Case School of Engineering brings an international perspective, three Stanford degrees and an outgoing personality to the Case campus this fall. Venkataramanan “Ragu” Balakrishnan, previously the head of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University, will chart the future course of science and engineering on Case Quad beginning September 1. He emerged as the top choice after a national search that drew a large pool of outstanding candidates, according to Case Western Reserve University President Barbara Snyder and Provost and Executive Vice President William “Bud” Baeslack III. “He’s a great scholar, researcher and teacher,” Baeslack said, adding that he’s equally impressed by another key quality of the new dean. “He’s just really liked and very much enjoyed by everyone I talked to at Purdue.” Snyder described Balakrishnan as a dedicated teacher and a leader who grew enrollment, attracted new research dollars and diversified the faculty ranks at one of the nation’s top programs for electrical and computer engineering. “All of these accomplishments and more have prepared him so well to assume the deanship of the Case School of Engineering,” she said. Balakrishnan was first introduced to staff and faculty at a reception in Nord Hall June 28. He told his new colleagues he was honored to accept the title of dean of the Case School of Engineering. During the lengthy selection process, he said, he became familiar with the “collaborative spirit” on Case Quad and the impactful research that resulted. 22

“We don’t do anything great in this world alone,” he said. “All these values came shining through. I really enjoyed learning about Case. I’m really delighted to be joining the institution. It’s my honor and my gain.” His former employer expressed sadness and good wishes. “All of us in the College of Engineering are very thankful for his dedication and service,” said Mung Chiang, dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue. “While Ragu will be sorely missed by ECE and the Purdue community, we wish him the very best as he starts this next chapter in his remarkable career.” Balakrishnan led the largest academic unit at Purdue, overseeing more than 100 faculty, a staff almost as large as the Case School of Engineering, Baeslack observed. “There’s a tremendous alignment between the excellence at Purdue and a university like ours,” he said in an interview with Case Alumnus. “I think it’s going to be a good fit.” Steve Zinram, executive director of the Case Alumni Association, said he’s anxious to work with the new dean and to introduce him to the alumni community. “I’m sure that in the months ahead we will be developing many opportunities for alumni to have a chance to meet Dean Ragu and welcome him into the Case family,” he said. A native of India, Balakrishnan earned his bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering from The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in 1985, where he graduated at the top of his class. He came to Stanford University as an international student and earned two master’s degrees and a PhD. He has taught at Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana, for 24 years and

Steve Zinram, executive director of the Case Alumni Association, welcomes the new dean at Nord Hall as Kelly Hendricks, director of alumni relations, waits to say hello.

for the past nine years led the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, which is ranked ninth nationally for its computer and electrical graduate programs by U.S. News and World Report. An accomplished researcher in system and control theory, Balakrishnan received awards for his teaching and the prestigious designation of Fellow of the IEEE, the world’s largest technical and professional organization committed to improving technology to benefit humanity. At the Nord Hall reception, Snyder thanked the search committee, co-chaired by Distinguished University Professor Hunter Peckham from the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Dean Pamela Davis of the School of Medicine, and gave a special shout-out to the interim dean. “The person we really have to thank is Jim McGuffin-Cawley,” she said to applause. “Jim, you stepped up when we needed you to.” McGuffin-Cawley assumed the role of interim dean July 1, 2017, when former dean Jeffrey Duerk left for a leadership role at the University of Miami. He remains a professor of engineering and said he looks forward to working with the new dean and serving the school in a different capacity.

Class Notes 1940s

Ted Stirgwolt ’43 Marblehead, MA Ted was jetting off to Washington, D.C., April 21 with 75 other veterans on a tour organized by the National Honor Flight Network, which flies veterans free of charge to the nation’s capital to visit memorials built in their honor. Ted, who served on a Navy destroyer in the Pacific during World War II, planned to take the whirlwind tour with his wife, Frances, who is also a Navy veteran. After the war, Ted designed aircraft engines for General Electric for 38 years. He was working with Airbus in Toulouse, France, when he retired in 1985.

vibration technology. He and his wife, Lois, plan to enjoy some well-deserved time off. “We built a media platform to present the outstanding work of thousands of authors and dozens of editors to a well-defined audience,” Jack wrote in a farewell column. “I think we all deserve a heartfelt pat on the back. It has been a great ride!” S&V reported a circulation of 19,000 at its zenith in 1985; 4,700 at its end. If you wish to obtain back issues, or wish Jack well, email him at


Richard Garwin ’47 Scarsdale, NY Dick, who has served as a high-level national security advisor since the Eisenhower administration, recently co-authored an article in Physics Today on the dangers of nuclear weapons and the need to reduce their threat. Find the story at Dick was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2016 and inspired the book True Genius: The Life and Work of Richard Garwin, the Most Influential Scientist You’ve Never Heard of.

Rudolph O. Karsch ’66 Vesuvius, VA Rudy organized and led a medical team to Nepal in February and March 2017, bringing relief to survivors of the April 2015 earthquake. The team set up three clinics and treated more than 1,000 patients.

David Neff ’64, MS ’68, PhD ’71 Willoughby, Ohio David, the retired technical manager and director of management for Metaullics Systems of Cleveland, was awarded the John A. Penton Gold Medal by the American Foundry Society at the 122nd Metalcasting Congress, April 3-5 in Fort Worth, Texas. David was honored for his “technical contributions to the metalcasting industry, especially in the areas of research, publications, presentations and technical education.”

Michael R. Smith, PhD ’66 Pasadena, CA Michael has written a book about his experience as a member of the engineering design staff for 17 years at LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, at the California Institute of Technology. To Catch a Black Hole from the Bottom of the Pond, a Memoir is available at Amazon. com and via the author’s Facebook page.

Siegfried Hecker ’65, MS ’67, PhD ’68 Santa Fe, NM Sig, a nuclear scientist, has been in high demand since President Trump

James J. Genova, PhD ’68 Whitsett, NC Since retiring from the Naval Research Laboratory in 2012, Jim has kept busy teaching at a local university, doing astro-photography and authoring two books: If Jesus is the Answer, What is the Question? and Electronic Warfare Signal Processing.


Jack Mowry ’54 Bay Village, Ohio Jack, the founder and publisher of Sound & Vibration, ceased publication with the December 2017 issue, ending a remarkable 51-year run for the magazine that covered noise and

and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to meet to discuss peace and denuclearization on the Korean peninsula. He’s a former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, which designs American nuclear weapons, and has personally inspected North Korea’s nuclear bomb-making facilities. The New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS News and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists all tapped his insight in recent times. He was a big part of this riveting June 10 story on 60 Minutes:

Summer 2018


Class Notes 1970s

Michael Lubin ’68 New York, NY Michael was invited to speak at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Rome on whether connectivity should be a human right. An executive in the telecommunications and semiconductor industries for some 40 years, he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics at Case Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in physics at Yale University. During the 1980s, he was a leader in the development of Ku-band VSATs, a satellite communications system for home and business users. A company he founded patented a cellphone with an Internet Protocol (IP) address—a device some regard as the first smartphone. Since 2005, Lubin has been vice president–corporate development and senior advisor at ViaSat, where he is involved with emerging uses of broadband connectivity.

Jim Treleaven ’69, PhD ’90 Glen Ellyn, IL Jim, the President and CEO of Via Strategy Group, has many years’ experience advising boards of directors and top executives on growth and turnaround strategies, especially when the CEO must be replaced. Now he’s sharing his uncommon insight in a new book, X-Formation: Transforming Business through Interim Executive Leadership. It’s on sale via 24

Gurmukh Bhatia ’72 Hudson, Ohio Bhatia recently retired from The Sherwin-Williams Company and established RPSC LLC/ Risk & Process Safety Consulting, where he is doing part-time consulting. He can be reached via Marc E. Milstein ’72 Austin, TX Marc joined the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center as vice president of information resources and chief information officer.

William D. Gropp ’77 Urbana, IL Bill is Director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Rebecca S. Williams (Strosser) ’79, MBA ’93 Cary, NC Rebecca is president of Lord Corp.’s Aerospace & Defense Industry Group. The company develops and manufactures high-performance adhesive products.


Myra Dria ’76, PhD Houston, TX Myra was named one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Energy by Oil and Gas Investor. She is the CEO and founder of Pearl Resources, an oil exploration and production company in West Texas. It is the third oil and gas producing company she has founded since earning her degree in polymer engineering from the Case Institute of Technology. Myra, who serves on the visiting committee of the Case School of Engineering, received the Meritorious Service Award from the Case Alumni Association in 2016. Dominique M. Durand, MS ’76 Shaker Heights, Ohio Dominique, the Elmer Lincoln Lindseth Professor of Biomedical Engineering, was featured on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering website for his article, “Carbon Yarn Taps Nerves for Electroceutical Treatments and Diagnostics.”

Daniel A. Singleton ’80 College Station, TX Daniel, the Davidson Professor of Science and professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University, received a 2018 Distinguished Achievement in Research Award from the university’s alumni association. Robert C. Locker ’81, MS ’86 Fenton, MI Bob was named Director of Engineering at Acme Manufacturing Company in Auburn Hills, Michigan. He will be providing leadership for all mechanical design and electrical controls engineering activity and oversee research and new technology programs. Bob earned a master of science in systems and biomedical engineering and a bachelor of science in electrical and biomedical engineering from the Case School of Engineering. John P. Vourlis ’84 Wickliffe, Ohio John is the director of Breaking Balls, a documentary about the game of bocce ball and its place in Italian American culture. The film premiered at the 2017 Cleveland International Film Festival and is now available on DVD and from digital streaming outlets.


Teresa Sabol Spezio ’86, PhD Pomona, CA Teresa has written a book about a 1969 environmental disaster in California that helped to shape federal pollution safeguards. Slick Policy: Environmental and Science Policy in the Aftermath of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press and is available at Teresa, a licensed engineer, is a visiting assistant professor at Pitzer College in the Environmental Analysis Program. She earned a BS in chemical engineering from Case Institute of Technology and received her PhD in history from the University of California, Davis.

Gina K. Beim P.E., MS ’87, MSM ’04 Shaker Heights, Ohio Gina received the 2017 Outstanding Civil Engineering Award from the Cleveland section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. She is the founder and president of MCDA Consulting, LLC, a marketing and decision-support consultancy for companies in the engineering and manufacturing industries. Scott Hotes ’87 Freeport, ME Scott was named chief technology officer at TeenSafe, a software firm whose products enable parents to monitor their children’s smartphone use.

Patricia Hubbard ’89 Olmsted Township, Ohio Patricia has been appointed senior vice president and chief technology officer at Cabot Corporation in Boston. Michael Jirousek, PhD ’89 Boston MA Michael, the Chief Operating Officer of Frequency Therapeutics, was recently named the Department of Chemistry’s Outstanding Alumnus. Prior to Frequency, he co-founded Catabasis Pharmaceuticals and served as Chief Scientific Officer, where his contributions helped create several potential new therapeutics and guide the company to an IPO in 2015. During his almost 30-year career, Michael has overseen hundreds of R&D programs and has brought more than 15 new therapeutics from discovery into clinical study to address muscular dystrophy, dyslipidemia, cancer and a variety of metabolic diseases.

Amrou Salahieh ’89 Palo Alto, CA Amrou is the founder and CEO of Shifamed LLC, a privately held medical device incubator in Silicon Valley. Shifamed announced that Boston Scientific had purchased one of its portfolio companies, Apama Medical, for $175 million in cash up-front and a maximum of $125 million in contingent payments based on achievements of clinical and regulatory milestones.

Sunniva R. Collins, MS ’91, PhD ’95 Cleveland Heights, Ohio Professor Sunniva Collins is the 2019 recipient of the Albert Sauveur Award from the ASM Philadelphia (Liberty Bell) Chapter. The Sauveur Award recognizes “outstanding achievement in the Science of Materials” and service to the field. In November, Sunniva will deliver the annual Sauveur Lecture, based on her research, to the annual Sauveur Night meeting of the chapter.

Christian A. Zorman, MS ’91 Cleveland, Ohio Christian, a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Case School of Engineering, has been named a fellow of the American Vacuum Society. The society recognized him for pioneering work in the development of CVD deposition techniques and mechanical characterization of silicon carbide thin films. He will be inducted at the AVS Awards Ceremony during the AVS International Symposium in Tampa, Florida, on November 1, 2018.

Rich Pancost ’92 Bristol, England Rich, who earned his BS in geology from Case Western Reserve, was recently named head of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. Since 2013, he has been Director of the interdisciplinary University of Bristol Cabot Institute, which explores how we depend on and shape our planet. Summer 2018


Class Notes David A. Jarus ’93, MS ’95, PhD ’02 Shaker Heights, Ohio David has been named vice president, research and development, of PolyOne Corp. He joined the Avon Lake-based specialty polymer company in 2000 as an advanced R&D scientist and has held roles ranging from M&A technology integration lead to program director of lean innovation to global technology director for Specialty Engineered Materials. A three-degree alum, he earned a BS in chemical engineering, an MS in macromolecular science and a PhD in polymers from the Case School of Engineering. He also earned an MBA from John Carroll University and is a certified Lean Six Sigma black belt.

Nicholas Barendt ’95, MS ’97 Cleveland, Ohio Nick, the treasurer of the Case Alumni Association, has been named executive director of CWRU’s Institute for Smart, Secure and Connected Systems, or ISSACS. He’ll lead efforts to leverage the university’s strengths in sensors and electronics to excel in the Internet of Things, which many see as the next powerful phase of the Internet. An adjunct senior instructor in the Case School of Engineering, Nick has been the lead consultant for the new Internet of Things Collaborative (IOTC), in which CWRU is working with Cleveland State University to make Cleveland a national leader in IoT technology.

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Jon Goldsby, PhD ’96 Avon, Ohio Jon was honored as Senior Technology Fellow of the Year during the annual BEYA STEM Conference this spring, becoming one of the few NASA employees to be a two-time Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) winner. In 2012, he received the Outstanding Technical Contribution Award at BEYA for research on jet and turbine engine ceramic and metals. Since he joined NASA in 1990, Jon has served as a role model for minorities and women and worked with mentoring and educational programs that promote STEM careers, including the United Negro College Fund. In 1996 he earned his doctorate in materials science and engineering from the Case School of Engineering.

Victor Ryzhov, MS ’96, PhD ’98 Dekalb, IL Victor, an associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Northern Illinois University, received a 2017 Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award.

Ed Cordiano ’97 Cleveland, Ohio

Ed recently opened a CMIT Solutions office providing IT services to small and medium-sized businesses in the Cleveland area. ( Cleveland-east-southwest/) Ed, who earned his mechanical engineering degree from the Case School of Engineering, volunteers with the Case Alumni Association as a member of the Scholarship Committee. Colin K. Drummond, PhD, MBA ’97 Lakewood, Ohio Colin, a professor and assistant chair in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at CWRU, is the author of Financial Decision-Making for Engineers. Published by Yale University Press, the book aims to provide scientists and engineers with the financial decision-making skills needed to succeed in management. Andrew M. Rollins, MS ’97, PhD ’00 Cleveland, Ohio Andrew, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at CWRU, has been selected for entrepreneurial training through I-Corps@Ohio, an Ohio Department of Higher Education initiative created to advance research from the lab to market. He is the principal investigator on a research team that has developed a new method, based on optical coherence tomography, to detect and map corneal mechanical properties that requires no contact or disturbance of the cornea.


John Sankovic, MSE ’03, PhD ’06 Brecksville, Ohio John, the chief technologist at the NASA Glenn Research Center, recently sat down with Crain’s Cleveland Business to discuss

the role of innovation and tech transfer in creating jobs in the new economy. He earned both a master’s and a doctorate degree in biomedical engineering from the Case School of Engineering. Read his interview at Micah A. Litow ’04, MEM ’05 Evanston, IL Micah is chief marketing and business development officer of Preora Diagnostics, Inc., a medical technology company developing cancer-screening tests.


Emily Hoffman ’11 Brooklyn, NY Emily received the Society of Women Engineers’ (SWE) Outstanding Collegiate Member award. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to SWE, the engineering community and a college campus. She helped found the graduate SWE group at Northwestern University and serves as programming coordinator for GradSWE. She was also active in SWE at CWRU.

Mark Lorkowski ’12 Reno, NV Mark, the co-founder and CEO of sensor developer SimpleSense, left in March on a lengthy visit to Dubai to pursue business ties with the United Arab Emirates. He said the opportunity sprang from CES 2017 in Las Vegas, where he met an advisor to a UEA prince on “Case Row” and was later invited to pitch his services to UEA’s government. The Case Alumni Association and CWRU LaunchNet that year helped to send 10 CWRU teams to the consumer electronics show, including Mark’s e-paper startup, BluBoard.

Luis Solorio, PhD ’12 University Heights, Ohio Luis helped create a lifelike cancer environment out of polymer to better predict how drugs might stop its course. He worked in Agata Exner’s lab in the Department of Radiology of the School of Medicine.

Junliang “Julian” Tao, PhD ’13 Akron, Ohio Junliang, an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Akron, received a National Science Foundation CAREER award, which recognizes and supports young faculty deemed likely to become academic leaders of the 21st century. He leads a research team awarded $500,000 for a five-year study of the burrowing mechanisms of animals to guide design for underground construction technologies.

Ye “Sara” Sun, PhD ’14 Houghton, MI Ye, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Technological University, received a National Science Foundation CAREER award, which supports young faculty deemed likely to become academic leaders of the 21st century. She leads a team awarded $330,500 to study strategies to enhance the reliability and precision of wearable electronics with healthcare applications.

Olga V. Eliseeva ’16 Houston, TX Olga is one of three graduate students on the board of trustees for ASM International, a professional organization for materials scientists and engineers.

Shivank Dokania, MEM ’17 Bay Village, Ohio Shivank is a Technical Consultant in the Global Healthcare Division of Hyland Software, which hired him out of graduate school. He’s customizing the company’s software products for hospital systems. He said it’s the kind of job he was hoping for when he came from Mumbai, India, to earn his master’s of engineering and management degree, so he is very thankful for his CWRU education.

Chioma J. Onukwuire ’17 Sugar Land, TX Chioma, the founder of the Africaninspired fashion line Chimu, was selected by RAW Artists Cleveland to showcase her clothing at their ENVISION artist showcase in March at The House of Blues in downtown Cleveland. In May, Chioma won the inaugural “Pop-Up Competition” at the Cleveland Asian Festival. She started her fashion line as a student by making clothing using machines at Sears think[box]. Michaela B. Cooley ’17 Canton, Ohio Michaela, a Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) candidate, won the Student Research Award from the Society for Biomaterials Drug Delivery Special Interest Group. Summer 2018


Goodbye to a renaissance man For 50 years, Joe Prahl guided Case students toward science, adventure and success By Robert L. Smith


im McGuffin-Cawley looked out over the crowd gathered at Amasa Stone Chapel on the afternoon of April 26 and observed what its size and make-up said about Professor Joe Prahl. Friends and admirers had come from across the country and from several generations to attend his memorial service. Prahl, one of the most recognizable figures at the Case School of Engineering, died April 19 at his home in Cleveland Heights at the age of 75. “I think all of us are richer for having been exposed to his kindness, his thoughtfulness,” said McGuffin-Cawley, the interim dean of the Case School of Engineering. “Joe was a force of nature.” To that, the crowd murmured its assent, like a collective amen. Smiles flashed and memories flowed. Educator, researcher, sailor and adventurer, Prahl taught at Case Western 28

Reserve for more than 50 years. Upon his passing, former students and colleagues recalled a charming, challenging, hard-charging professor with a sharp mind and a big heart. “He was a bright shining light of a person,” said Bryony DuPont ’08, who flew in from Portland, Oregon, for the memorial service. She said Prahl, her undergraduate advisor, introduced her to her husband and inspired her to pursue a doctorate, in his inimitable style. “Always smiling. Always happy. Always ready to tell a joke,” she said. “When he came into a room, everyone looked up. When you think of Case engineering, you think of Joe Prahl.” Along with expertise in fluid dynamics, Prahl added zest and derring-do to the faculty ranks. DuPont still sees him racing across the front of a classroom, dressed in three-piece suit with a pocket watch,

slapping equations on a whiteboard. “So dapper when he was teaching,” she said, laughing. “He had a presentation style.” Tom Robertson ’86, MS ’96, sees him standing on the deck of his 30-foot sailboat, Seabird, giving science lessons to student deckhands as he sailed out of a downtown yacht club. “Sailing is a very fluid dynamic thing,” Robertson said. “I started racing in his class.”

He said Prahl was a demanding instructor—sometimes too demanding. “He had such deep knowledge of the subject, he could go off in any direction,” and often did. Still, he never left anyone adrift. Robertson is forever thankful for the summer internship he said Prahl secured for him at NASA Glenn, allowing him to join his research into lubrication theory and paving his career path into physics. He sees his former professor as a renaissance man in a long line of adventuresome Case scientists. “He was brilliant, but he was so casual in person,” said Robertson, a combustion physicist for Fives North American Combustion in Cleveland. “Seeing him barefoot in shorts on the boat, you thought, this might be the most interesting man in the world. He might be that guy. He’s kind of a role model, a life model for me.” Prahl devoted his career to Case, with one notable leave of absence. From 1990 to 1992, he reported to NASA’s Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to train as a payload specialist for the space shuttle Columbia. He was a backup payload specialist for the mission and did not fly into space. Instead, he served as the communication liaison between NASA and the astronauts during 13 days of experimentation, including research into fluids and combustion in a microgravity environment. “He was a natural for that,” said Paul Barnhart ’83, MS ’85, PhD ’95, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. Barnhart met Prahl as student and eventually became a friend and finally a colleague. “One of his deepest regrets was not being on that flight,” he said. “But he trained diligently.” Eighteen years later, Prahl actually sailed into the wild blue yonder. He

climbed into the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet at Burke Lakefront Airport to fly with the Blue Angels in a demonstration flight before the 2010 Cleveland National Air Show. The 67-year-old professor cut a dashing figure, as a writer for The Plain Dealer observed:

“Prahl hardly looked the part of the feeble, elder statesmen when he marched into the training room several hours before his flight. With a wink at the ladies and a firm grip for the Navy training team, the tanned, confident and military-fit professor immediately fit in.”


A native of Beverly, Massachusetts, Prahl attended Phillips Academy on his way to Harvard, where he was the starting midfielder for the varsity lacrosse team. He earned three engineering degrees at Harvard, including a doctorate. He arrived on Case Quad at age 25 in 1968 and began teaching fluid dynamics, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics at the undergraduate and graduate levels. His research attracted support from federal agencies as diverse as the EPA— for the flow of thermal plumes into rivers and lakes—and the National Bureau of Standards Center, for the modeling of flow from fire sprinklers. Known to students as J.P., Prahl attained the rank of professor in 1985 and served as chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from 1992 to 2007. All the while, he was a familiar face on the sidelines, in fraternity houses, wherever students gathered. “Joe thought his purpose was to educate students,” said Barnhart, who took classes with Prahl in the early 1980s. “There was not one of us who could not walk in and ask for help.” In fact, the professor lived for those moments.

“There’s a sense of fulfillment when you see young people’s minds expand because of what you’ve done or said,” Prahl said in a 1993 interview with Case Alumnus magazine. He was the thesis advisor to more than 40 master’s and doctoral students, and a mentor to undergraduates like Bryony DuPont. She described one memorable encounter, during her senior year, when she told him she was despondent because she had broken up with her boyfriend. He sat her down, she said, listened to her lament, then offered advice. “He said, ‘Do you know Kyle Niemeyer? You should date him.’” She did. Prahl attended their wedding. Today, Dupont and Neimeyer ’09, MSE ’10, PhD ’16, are both professors of engineering at Oregon State University. If former students remember Joe Prahl fondly, the professor was equally endeared, according to his daughter. Meagan Prahl ’03, lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches acting and voice at Pomona College, but Case is vivid in her memories. She recalls roller skating on the fourth floor of Glennan Hall as a little girl and setting sail from Cleveland with her dad at night and waking up the next morning in Canada, on a boat manned by college students. “The adventures are a big part of who he was,” she said. “But I think for him it was all about the students. He really felt like he was in a place and a position where he could make a difference.” Prahl is also survived by daughter Erika and his wife, Judy Hayes. The Joe Prahl Scholarship Fund has been established at the Case Alumni Foundation to assure that Professor Prahl’s legacy lives on. To contribute, or for more information, go to Summer 2018


In Memoriam Joseph M. Prahl; Cleveland, OH; 4-19-18 – Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, 50-year employee of Case Western Reserve University

Tom Litzler 1932-2018

Philip Borkat ’34; La Mesa, CA; 3-20-18 Robert H. Gedney ’37; Issaquah, WA; 1-22-18 James J. Hunt ’39; Cleveland Hts., OH; 1-14-18

Thomas C. Litzler ’53, MS ’62, an accomplished engineer and an alumni leader honored for his service to the Case School of Engineering, passed away April 19 at the age of 86. Tom volunteered his time and organizational skills to the board of the Case Alumni Association for many years and served as board president from 2008 to 2009. He was a driving force behind the 2008 strategic plan and was a champion of Case Clubs and the fellowship they promoted. He served for a time as president of the Case Clubs of Cleveland. During Homecoming weekend of 2014, he was honored with the fellowship-related Samuel H. Givelber Award. In 2000, Tom received the Meritorious Service Award for his service to his classmates and the Case School of Engineering. Tom graduated in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and followed that with a master’s degree in 1962. As a professional engineer, he was responsible for major machinery design projects for such companies as Dravo-Wellman, Hall Systems and C.A. Litzler Co. He shared his expertise with students as an instructor for the Case Institute of Technology. An accomplished photographer who exhibited his work, Tom also enjoyed ice skating, tennis, hiking and spending time with his family. He was remembered at a funeral service April 23 at St. Christopher Church in Rocky River, Ohio. Tom is survived by Carol, his wife of 59 years, as well as sons Tom, Mark and Carl and daughter Frances. The family suggests memorial contributions be made to Poor Clare Monastery, 3501 Rocky River Drive, Cleveland, OH 44111, or to Hospice of the Western Reserve, 17876 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44110.

Myron Miller ’41; Fort Myers, FL; 1-19-18 Paul L. Stone ’41; Meadowbrook, PA; 1-18-18 Kenneth Deuring ’42; Greer, SC; 6-5-18 Edmund S. Goulder ’43; Sarasota, FL; 12-21-17 Allen T. Koster ’43; Ventura, CA; 12-25-17 John C. Bowman ’44, MS ’50; Cleveland, OH; 6-4-18 Louis F. Jagucki ’44; Kettering, OH; 5-28-18 Donald A. Pecsok ’44, MS ’49; Ballwin, MO; 3-21-18 Rudolph W. Kugler ’45; Bondville, VT; 1-1-18 James F. Nejedlik ’45; Aurora, OH; 5-7-18 Howard E. Roth ’45; Houston, TX; 12-21-17 Alan Kennedy ’46; Edmonds, WA; 4-11-18 Gerald L. Woodling ’46; Fairlawn, OH; 2-18-18 Fred Nevar ’48; Euclid, OH; 3-27-18 Frank G. Likly ’49; Naples, FL; 3-11-18 Kenneth J. Novak ’49; Cleveland, OH; 1-20-18 William B. Read ’49; Covington, LA; 4-2-18 David J. Cook ’50; Olmsted Twp., OH; 3-13-18 William J. Kerr ’50; Yankton, SD; 3-2-18 Alan C. Peterson ’50; Mount Airy, GA; 11-17 John R. Yeager ’50; Cleveland, OH; 1-10-18 Roger N. Hickerson ’51; Lake Charles, LA; 1-5-18 Joseph D. Steigerwald ’51; Lakewood, OH; 2-9-18 Fred G. Carrick ’52; Parma Hts., OH; 2-22-18 Carl N. Chou ’52; Katy, TX; 2-17-18 Albert Marrer ’52; Mahomet, IL; 5-19-18 Richard P. Mott ’52; Willowick, OH; 4-13-18 Richard K. Patton ’52; N. Fort Myers, FL; 3-9-18 James C. Redman ’52; Lebanon, OH; 3-24-18 Coulson M. Scheuerman ’52; Berea, OH; 12-24-17 Herbert C. Field ’53; Washington, DC; 2-14-18 Thomas C. Litzler ’53, MS ’62; Rocky River, OH; 4-19-18 Thomas “Tom” Osters ’53, Willoughby, OH; 1-6-18 E. Dwight Trout ’53; Sebastian, FL; 2-10-18 Charles A. Barrett ’54; Ashland, OH; 2-27-18 Albert H. Khoury ’54; New York, NY; 5-11-18 Ernest J. Troike ’54; Akron, OH; 4-26-18


James D. Schoeffler ’55, MS ‘57; Cleveland, OH; 5-12-18 John C. Banter MS ’56, PhD ’57; Boca Raton, FL; 4-19-18 Stephan E. Biro ’56; Cleveland, OH; 1-1-18 Joseph B. Balazs, Jr. ‘57; Cleveland, OH; 1-18-18 William H. Balhorn ’57, MS ’86; Cleveland, OH; 1-1-18 Joseph “Michael” Hlavin ’57, MS ’62; Erie, PA; 3-3-18


Robert J. Morse ’57; Madison, AL; 12-26-17 Dale R. Winder PhD ’57; Fort Collins, CO; 1-22-18 Wendell E. Kohl ’58, MS ’65; Rockport, TX; 4-2-18 Virgil L. Enoch ’59; Anaheim, CA; 11-11-17 James N. Hanson ’59; Chagrin Falls, OH; 12-17-17 William J. Orndorff ’59; Aurora, OH; 1-3-18 Jerome B. Brewster ’60; Raleigh, NC; 4-6-18 John C. Watta ’60; Port St. Lucie, FL; 5-14-18 William G. Corkins ’61; Ventura, CA; 4-1-18 David C. Gribsby ’61; West Grove, PA; 2-12-18 James J. Hyncik ’62; San Diego, CA; 6-21-18 Raymond S. Biliski ’63; Overland Park, KS; 11-17-15 Frank B. Molls MS ’63; Middleburg Hts., OH; 10-16-17 Arthur W. Reschke ’63; Wenatchee, WA; 9-17-17 John H. Zawada ’63; Macedonia, OH; 10-18-17 Edward J. Breznyak MS ’64, PhD ’68; Ocala, FL; 5-12-18 Norman Freed PhD ’64; State College, PA; 2-13-14 Thomas R. Long MS ’64; Jacksonville, FL; 2-10-18 Peter H. Geddes ’65; Forty Fort, PA; 4-6-18 Andrew S. Green ’65; Bedford, OH; 10-20-17 Daniel L. Whipple ’65; Pittsburgh, PA; 5-6-18 James R. Diefenthal ’66; Folsom, LA; 6-12-18 David B. Dayton ’67; Cleveland, OH; 10-20-17 Robert L. Greenbaum ’67; South Euclid, OH; 1-16-18 Jan Chlebowski PhD ’69; N. Chesterfield, VA; 3-10-18 Joseph D. Knox MS ’70, PhD ’70; Stafford Springs, CT; 2-23-18

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 Lunch – Class of 1968 50th Reunion

Y.S. Huang PhD ’71; Potomac, MD; 3-18-18 Marlo M. Termini ’71; Cleveland, OH; 3-18-18 Keith H. Vetter PhD ’71; Crozier, VA; 4-4-18 Craig Downs MS ’72; Springfield, MO; 2-5-18 Thomas D. Kohan ’74, MS ’79; Cleveland, OH; 5-18 James S. Holton PhD ’77; West Chester, PA; 4-11-18 Kenneth R. Gates ’82; Pittsburgh, PA; 4-20-18 David E. Nikles MS ’82; Tuscaloosa, AL; 3-19-18 Arthur L. Pescosolido MS ’92; Lima, OH; 12-25-17 Yibo Mo PhD ’02; Naperville, IL; 4-7-18

To register, and to find additional information, go to

Summer 2018



Photos by Roadell Hickman


In Case memorabilia, professor finds the trappings of a great university By Robert L. Smith


he first souvenir Frank Merat bought was the 1926 yearbook of the Case School of Applied Science. There it was, for sale on eBay. He paid $34. That was 10 years ago. Today his collection of Case memorabilia includes about 90 percent of the Case yearbooks published between 1896 and 1972. That’s in addition to fraternity pins, paperweights, belt buckles, and buttons, as well as blankets, cups and caps emblazoned with Case colors and images. On a Quad imbued with history, Merat, an emeritus professor of electrical engineering, is the keeper of the keepsakes. His growing collection traces the 130-year evolution of the Case School of Engineering. “I just started collecting the stuff for the heck of it,” he shruggs, adding, “It got interesting.” Very. Merat is chronicling his life and times, too. A three-degree alum, he arrived on Case Quad in 1968, earned a bachelor’s, a master’s and a doctorate degree, and stayed to teach for 40 years, sort of 32

retiring last year. A student favorite, he still teaches an introduction to circuits course. In a cluttered and adventuresome office on the fifth floor of Glennan Hall, memorabilia compete for space with circuity, light meters and machine parts—with Merat the happy tour guide. He recalls he has, somewhere, a football autographed by Frank Ryan— the quarterback who led the Cleveland Browns to the 1964 NFL championship. Quickly, he’s up and rooting through boxes behind his desk. Voila, out comes a white pigskin signed by the Case mathematician. “How many times do you have a math professor who’s an NFL quarterback?” Merat asks. “He still comes to reunions. You should see all the alumni who bring their math books for him to sign.” He’s a vigorous, white-haired man with the resonant voice of a broadcaster, lending his observations gravitas. Paging through a Case Songbook from 1923, Merat declares, in a bit of a baritone, “Men’s glee clubs were big!” Delicately, he flips through a handmade calendar from 1918. The

slender cardboard pages bound with string bear black-and-white images of campus buildings and landmarks—some lost to time, some in view out of his window. Each keepsake is a tangible memory, a star in the galaxy of Case history and something to ponder. “It meant an awful lot to a lot of people,” Merat says, turning reflective. “And it raises some good questions. Where have we been? How have we influenced things? And where do we want to go?” As a Case alumnus, he finds, he’s often walking in the footsteps of giants. His building is named for T. Keith Glennan, the former president of the Case Institute of Technology, who left campus in 1958 to lead a new space agency, NASA. Merat notes that a former student, Paul Buchheit ’98, was one of the early employees of Google, where he created Gmail and helped ignite Web 2.0. That’s worth remembering and worth chronicling, Merat believes. Somewhere, maybe, there’s a souvenir. If you think you have something to add to Frank Merat’s collection, email him at

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