Ceremony includes presentation of inaugural Richard P. Vinci Award for Educational Excellence

On April 25, members of the Lehigh Engineering community gathered at Building C for the second annual Rossin College Awards Ceremony. 

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“This is a great chance to recognize what our faculty, staff, and students do for the college and for the university,” said Steve DeWeerth, professor and dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. “It’s wonderful to be doing this for a second year.”

Awards were presented to 15 individuals in honor of their contributions in areas including student advising, citizenship, peer mentoring, student support, interdisciplinary research, and experiential learning. 

View complete list of award winners

New this year was the Richard P. Vinci Award for Educational Excellence, the college’s teaching award, which was renamed in honor of the professor of materials science and engineering who died in March following a struggle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Materials science and engineering professor and chair Wojciech Misiolek described Vinci as a “renaissance man on our campus.”

“He was an excellent scientist. He was a very effective administrator. But on top of that, he was a very dedicated teacher,” Misiolek said.

“As an instructor, he inspired his students, because he had patience to explain everything and then keep his door open to his office so they could come and ask for extra time,” Misiolek continued. “He constantly changed the way he was teaching some courses because he wanted to challenge the students.”

In addition to many the many accolades Vinci received from outside the university, Misiolek said, Vinci was frequently recognized by the students in his own department. Misiolek shared some of their words of praise: “The atmosphere around him is vibrant and open to foster questions, learning, and experience,” wrote one student. “Professor Vinci’s mentoring and teaching have changed my life,” said another.

Martin Takáč, an assistant professor of industrial systems and engineering, received the inaugural Vinci Award. Misiolek said nominators praised Takáč as being “very helpful and approachable, supportive of students’ lives and academic activities, and valuing exams while placing emphasis on projects and group work.”

The event began with DeWeerth recognizing “three great examples of the quality of our junior faculty” who have been named Rossin Assistant Professors: Ganesh Balasubramanian, mechanical engineering and mechanics; Siddha Pimputkar, materials science and engineering; and Ting Wang, computer science and engineering.

The endowed assistant professorships are part of the legacy of the college’s namesake, metallurgy alum Peter C. Rossin '48, who founded Dynamet Inc., a successful titanium-alloy company. In 1998, Rossin and his wife, Ada, established a $25 million endowment for Lehigh's engineering college.

Rossin’s legacy also includes the Rossin Junior Fellows, undergraduates who serve as ambassadors and help with recruiting efforts and peer mentoring, and Rossin Doctoral Fellows, a group that welcomed 25 new members to their ranks this year.  

John Coulter, senior associate dean for research, said the Rossin Doctoral Fellows program has “evolved into a wonderful thing that builds a sense of community and a cohort-based program amongst our doctoral students, mainly those ones that are considering some form of potential academic career or academic-related career sometime in their future, or at least intrigued enough to learn about the options.”

Representatives of both groups were applauded at the ceremony.

Story by Katie Kackenmeister, assistant director of communications for the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Photos by Kate Duffy/Kate Duffy Photography.

Photo Gallery: 2019 Rossin College Awards Ceremony

2019 Rossin Awards

Dean Steve DeWeerth opens the 2019 Rossin College Awards Ceremony on April 25 at Building C.

2019 Rossin Awards

Materials science and engineering professor and chair Wojciech Misiolek presents Martin Takáč, an assistant professor of industrial systems and engineering, with the Richard P. Vinci Award for Educational Excellence.