Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Outstanding Engineering Alumni Awards


Congratulations are in order for Ellen Arruda and Saundra Johnson Austin. Both of these amazing women have been distinguished with Outstanding Alumni Awards as of April 14th, 2015.


Ellen Arruda
Ellen Arruda began her career at Penn State studying Engineering Science, and gaining her degree in 1985. She continued on to secure her Master’s Degree in Engineering Mechanics in 1988. Ellen credits her Penn State adviser, Richard Queeny, for giving her the confidence to continue her education. “He looked at my grades and GRE scores and told me I could go anywhere and should look at his alma mater, MIT. He was a great mentor.” She enrolled at MIT and finished her Ph.D in mechanical engineering in 1992.
That fall, Ellen began her career at the University of Michigan as an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. Throughout the following 22 years, she held several faculty appointments in Macromolecular Science and Engineering and the Bone & Joint Injury Prevention & Rehabilitation Center. Currently, Ellen is a professor of mechanical engineering with courtesy appointments in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Macromolecular Science and Engineering program, and the Center for Organogenesis.
Ellen developed a highly successful model for ACL repair that restores native anatomy and function within 6-9 months of implantation. She received the 2012 Excellence in Research Award by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine for her efforts. Ellen’s work also involves the design of nanoscale building blocks and molecular network nanostructures for high toughness materials and the use of these well characterized nanostructural components to inform physically based analytical and computational models. In January, she was elected president of the American Academy of Mechanics (AAM). Ellen is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the AAM, and the Society of Engineering Science.

Saundra Johnson Austin
Saundra Johnson Austin graduated from Penn State in 1986 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering. She began her career at Bechtel Power Corporation I Gaithersburg, MD, where she worked in project controls, estimating, and business development. In 1994 Saundra returned to Penn State as director of the Minority Engineering Program, now called the Multicultural Engineering Program, in the College of Engineering. In 1998, she was recognized with the National Society of Black Engineers’ Minority Engineering Program Director of the Year Award and the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates Outstanding Contribution by a Minority Engineering Program Administrator Award.
Saundra made the difficult decision to leave her alma mater again in 2000 to become head of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science at the University of Notre Dame. While working full time, Saundra completed the university’s executive MBA program, crediting the value of education her mother instilled in her sisters and herself. In 2005, Saundra became the executive vice president of the Community Partnership for Lifelong Learning (CPLL) in Benton Harbor, MI, charged with working collaboratively to improve community systems that have an impact on literacy, education, and workforce competitiveness
Saundra served as the first president and CEO of St. Michael’s High School, a 150-year-old private Catholic institution in Santa Fe, NM, from 2008-2010. She designed and built the school’s infrastructure for institutional advancement, student recruitment and retention, curricular enhancement, and facilities management. Today, Saundra is senior vice president for operations at the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, the largest private provider of scholarships for underrepresented minority engineering students. She supports the president and CEO on key organizational and strategic direction and manages programs, research, communications, and public policy.

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