On Oct. 10, Cornell Engineering held its second annual EPICC Awards ceremony, celebrating both staff and faculty whose work exemplifies the college’s core values: excellence, purpose, innovation, community and collaboration.
“As part of our strategic planning process, the five core values of excellence, purpose, innovation, community and collaboration were identified with community input and with the work of a committee of faculty and staff,” said Lynden Archer, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering. “This is our second annual EPICC Awards, and we celebrate not only those who are receiving these awards, but also to acknowledge all who were nominated, and all who engaged to submit nominations. In 2023, we received 76 nominations — nearly a 20% increase from last year.”
Over the summer, Cornell Engineering community members had the opportunity to nominate their colleagues to be recognized — as individuals or as teams — for embodying one or more of the core values. A committee made up of the 2022 EPICC Award recipients evaluated all the submissions and determined the winners in each category.
In addition to being recognized at the event, EPICC award winners received both a physical and monetary award in honor of their contributions to Cornell Engineering.
Here are the 2023 EPICC Award winners in each category:
Scott Coldren, the assistant director of M.Eng./Ph.D. Programs in Electrical and Computer Engineering, was recognized for often juggling multiple tasks associated with large enrollments in both the ECE M.Eng. and Ph.D. programs while also managing the work of the ECE undergraduate coordinator.
Henry Lam, the assistant to the directors in Operations Research and Information Engineering, was awarded in recognition for consistently demonstrating outstanding leadership skills. He leads by example, inspiring colleagues to strive for excellence and continuously improve.
Jan Lammerding, professor in the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, was selected for exemplifying the definition of excellence in academia and service. Prof. Lammerding has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles, has been recognized by several prestigious awards and honors, has been elected as a Fellow of three societies.
Megan Covey, college lead finance specialist, was recognized for being instrumental in keeping the college’s budget office running smoothly, especially when the director of the office needed unexpected time away in the midst of budget season. Covey often seeks to improve processes that impact all doing financial work throughout the college.
Syl Kacapyr, the associate director with the Office of Marketing and Communications, was awarded in recognition for consistently being the epitome of collaborative excellence. Under Kacapyr’s leadership, the college has maintained an average pace of a Cornell Chronicle story per day. The office has also significantly amped up multimedia production and social media management, both of which are in his portfolio.
Nozomi Nishimura, an associate professor in the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, and Chris Schaffer, a professor in the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, won for the development of the Learning Where You Live course. The LWYL program offers small, pass/fail courses that are taught in the evenings in residence halls.
Liane Fitzgerald, Ryan DeLany, Mary Glick, Benjamin Martin, and Allie Peechatka of the Engineering Advising Team for making a meaningful impact by empowering Cornell Engineering undergraduates to make informed decisions about their academic goals. Their singular purpose to empower Cornell Engineering students to be their best engineer results in their positive impact on the entire community.
Su Ghosh, associate director in the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Development, received special recognition for leading the College’s Pre-Award Research Operations (PRO) team. Ghosh has shown dedication and purpose in ensuring that proposals get out and on time — stepping in on occasions when some of her staff may be overwhelmed or unfamiliar with a particular submission process.
Christa Downey, Melissa Bazley, Traci Nathans-Kelly and Julie Wright, of the Career Center Conversations Podcast Team, for launching a podcast this past year that brings the stories of alumni to our students. The podcast is intended to celebrate excellence and innovation among engineers whose impact contributes to a healthier, more equitable, and more sustainable world.
Lois Pollack, associate dean for research and graduate studies and the John Edson Sweet Professor of Engineering in Applied and Engineering Physics, won for recognizing a need for clearer systems within research groups for communications, establishing expectations, tracking progress, and identifying and addressing potential problems. This ground-breaking effort positively impacts the educational experiences and professional development, as well as the quality of community and belonging, for graduate and undergraduate students across the college.
Chris Lastovicka, digital platform and strategy manager in the Office of Marketing and Communications, won for recognizing individuals with visual, cognitive or motor impairments require the assistance of screen readers and other technologies to access websites and emails. Lastovicka goes above and beyond what is necessary to satisfy accessibility requirements, and they maintain close ties to the university’s accessibility experts and others out in the world to ensure that Cornell Engineering is not only following current policies but anticipating future needs and standards.
Jamol Pender, an associate professor and associate director of graduate studies in Operations Research and Information Engineering, was honored for the way in which he builds and supports the community of ORIE. One of the things that alumni point to when they return to campus is the sense of community they experienced while here. And that’s where Pender comes in. He has become ORIE’s de facto social chair.
Amber Alpizar, director of human resources, won for being a “poster child” for our Cornell Engineering core value of Community. It is in her DNA to foster diversity, caring, respect, growth and development. Her open demeanor, acceptance of difference, inherent curiosity, and authentically expressed joy all combine to make her a safe harbor for members of our community who struggle with acceptance and belonging.
Trisica Munroe, Ashley Blank, Ashton Danko, Lataya Fann, Rose Howard, Lyn Park, Laurie Patten, Lisa Rogers, Leon Stoll, Kae-Lyn Wilson, and Chen Xin of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Administration Team, won for transforming the work culture that had been “not my job” into “let’s work together to do the best job possible”. Thorough the use of inclusive teamwork, coaching, and people being receptive to collaborating, MAE completed the financial year with order instead of chaos, becoming greater than the sum of its parts.
Greg Fuchs, professor in Applied and Engineering Physics, was nominated by all of the staff of AEP, who extolled the virtues of his research, teaching, demonstrating a commitment to his department, university and the greater community through numerous meaningful service activities and collegial partnerships.
Jennifer Mimno, the program accreditation and recruitment coordinator for M.Eng. Programs, and Matt Ulinski, director of M.Eng. Programs in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, were recognized for working together, in partnership with faculty and staff groups within Engineering, as well as entities across the University continues to benefit all M.Eng. programs in the College.
Miranda Swanson, associate dean for student services, was honored for being the first person to step forward and volunteer to do the hard work it takes to make change when there is an opportunity to have meaningful impact on students' health and wellbeing, as well as their positive sense of belonging on campus. She approaches every grand challenge with a dedicated effort, a keen sense of awareness, an approach that brings key colleagues and partners together for insight, and a calm and collected demeanor that powerfully brings about progress.