Dean presents annual engineering faculty, staff awards

Top, L-R: Koutsoukos, LeBoeuf
Bottom, L-R: Luo, Webster

The School of Engineering recognized faculty and staff members for their exemplary research, teaching, and professional service during the 2013-2014 academic year. At the final faculty meeting of the year Dean Philippe Fauchet announced faculty promotions, recognized emeritus professors, and he presented four annual awards during a reception following the May 6 meeting.

Xenofon Koutsoukos has been promoted to professor of computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering. Eugene LeBoeuf has been promoted to professor of civil and environmental engineering. Robert Webster and Haoxiang Luo have been promoted to associate professor with tenure in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The Vanderbilt Board of Trust has named Professor Lawrence Dowdy a professor of computer science and computer engineering, emeritus. Professor Kazuhiko Kawamura has been named professor of electrical engineering, computer engineering and engineering management, emeritus.

The Edward J. White Engineering Faculty Award for Excellence in Service was presented to Tom Withrow, assistant professor of the practice of mechanical engineering.

L-R, Dowdy, Kawamura

Fauchet cited Withrow’s outstanding dedication to undergraduate life both inside and outside the classroom, his contributions to school infrastructure improvements, and to his dedication to school-wide interdisciplinary programs “that bring great prestige to the university.”

“Tom’s has been an integral part of the DARPA Advanced Vehicle Make program, and the primary person responsible for the overwhelming success of the student competition nationally, which resulted in very positive visibility for the School and for Vanderbilt,” Fauchet said.

“Tom’s colleagues consistently note his positive attitude and enthusiasm, which are contagious to both students and faculty, and the fact that he never seeks recognition for his many and varied contributions. Therefore, it is a pleasure to recognize Tom with the School’s White Award for his service,” Fauchet said.

The School of Engineering Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Robert Webster, newly promoted associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Top, L-R: Withrow, Webster Bottom, L-R: Jordan, Ramsey

“Bob is an exemplary teacher in undergraduate and graduate engineering education. He has led modernization of the mechanical engineering curriculum, improved senior design processes, redesigned laboratories, mentored an impressive number of undergraduates to publish research, and contributed to K-12 outreach,” Fauchet said.

Fauchet noted that Webster has mentored six graduate students who have received NSF Graduate Fellowships, five of whom are currently working in his lab. Webster’s publishing record is outstanding, the dean added. “Bob is a rigorous and extremely well-liked professor, and certainly deserving of the Excellence in Teaching Award.”

Brenda Jordan, the School of Engineering’s Registrar, received the Judith A Pachtman Endowed Staff Service Award. The dean honored Jordan for her contributions far beyond the norm to the School and in particular, to its students, parents, staff and faculty.

“Brenda has navigated extremely complex student records and registration systems while serving large and diverse constituencies. Somehow, she finds time for everyone and presents a great face for the school,” Fauchet said.

Fauchet presented the “2013 Best Student Research Paper” Award to Marc Ramsey, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering. Ramsey’s paper, “Energetic Cavitation Collapse Generates 3.2 Mbar Plasma with a 1.4 J Driver,” was published in the April 2013 edition of Physical Review Letters, a prestigious international physics journal. His faculty adviser is Robert Pitz, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

“Marc came to Vanderbilt from Sandia National Labs, where he developed an interest in high-energy density plasma. But, he was more interested in the experiments than the mechanical design. And, Marc credits Bob Pitz’s combustion research for leading him to graduate school at Vanderbilt. We expect to see even more great achievements from our new engineering Ph.D.,” Fauchet said.