2023 CEAA Awards honor outstanding achievement, community development

By: Patrick Gillespie

At the 40th annual Cornell Engineering Alumni Association held awards banquet, held on April 28 in the Upson Lounge, members of the Cornell Engineering were recognized for their work in electrochemical CO2 reduction research, autonomous sailboat design and teaching excellence, among other areas.

The event is held by the CEAA each year to celebrate the outstanding achievements and contributions of Cornell Engineering students, staff and faculty.

In her introductory remarks, CEAA President Lisa More ’87 explained that the CEAA “works to keep alumni connected to the college and to each other long after graduation.” The CEAA provides financial sponsorship to project teams, gives alumni opportunities to mentor current students and supports current students, faculty and staff through their annual awards.

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Alan Zehnder emceed the awards portion of the banquet. Zehnder stressed that the five awards given acknowledge excellence outside of the classroom and represent the high value Cornell Engineering places on service, mentoring and experiential learning.

For 2022-23 the five CEAA award categories and winners are:

Academic Achievement Award: Orlay Santa, Coordinator, McCormick Family Teaching Excellence Institute

The Academic Achievement Award recognizes non-tenure staff and lecturers who go well beyond their job duties for advising, teaching and giving general help to students and who enhance undergraduate education outside of the classroom. Santa was recognized for his congenial nature and fair-minded approach in handling a stressful position. Working in conjunction with the registrar’s office, he relieved much of the anxiety and scheduling burden by virtue of his clear-minded and effective pre-booking strategy. Santa has shown his ability to work with a variety of stakeholders, including staff, TAs and faculty.

Student Organization Award: Lattice

This award is given to a standout student organization on the basis of their outstanding service to the college or community. Lattice is the graduate student social organization for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. In the wake of the COVID-19 disruption, Lattice has played a key role in developing community among the MSE grad students. It hosts panels, coffee hours, paint and sip, tutoring and opportunities to practice talks and engage in other professional development activities. Lattice’s outstanding tutoring led to a record high pass rate on the MSE Q-exam.

Undergraduate Research Award: Laila Remainis ’24

The Undergraduate Research Award recognizes an undergraduate student who has made outstanding research accomplishments. With an insatiable desire to learn, teach and discover, Remainis, a student in the School of Applied and Engineering Physics, took intellectual ownership of her project and made several important contributions toward advancing fundamental understanding and control over pulsed electrochemical CO2 reduction. Her work has contributed to two journal articles in which she is a co-author, one accepted to ACS Catalysis and another under review.

Albert R. George Student Team Award: CUSail

Named in honor of Professor Al George, the John F. Carr Professor of Mechanical Engineering, this award recognizes student project teams that have exhibited the highest level of professional skills, attitude, and growth during the current academic year. CUSail is an engineering project team that designs and manufactures an autonomous sailboat to compete in the SailBot International Robotic Sailboat Regatta. In addition to their technical work, the team undertook outreach and collaboration opportunities with the Ithaca and Cornell communities, including hosting resume workshops and presenting to the Ithaca Yacht Club.

Tau Beta Pi Professor of the Year: Michael Clarkson, Senior Lecturer, Department of Computer Science

Tau Beta Pi Professor of the Year is awarded each year through the CEAA but elected by engineering students in recognition of exemplary teaching. Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, oversees the selection process. In 2022, Clarkson was appointed as a Steven H. Weiss Provost’s Teaching Fellow, the university’s highest annual teaching award for teaching-track faculty. He was also named the Tau Beta Pi Professor of the Year in 2021. Clarkson also serves as the associate director of the McCormick Family Teaching Excellence Institute and is the faculty advisor to the Dungeons and Dragons Club at Cornell.

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