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Congratulations to the following faculty, staff and students honored at the 15th Annual College and Alumni Awards Banquet.
4.0 Freshmen Haijira Ahmad, Kristin Ahrens, Scott Albrecht, Tiffany Clark, Michael Haley, James Huguenin-Love, Brian Kaiser, Brian Kell, Karrie Martin, Landon Matz, Wesley McClure, Kristin Moore, Lindsey Pritchard, Sarah Roemer, Jason Stark, Kathryn Stenberg, Tara Tonniges, Daniel Tucker, Nathan Wood, Rose Yao
Blueprint Awards Melissa Andersen, Adam Holmberg, Tonia Kinish, Jairus Gonzales, Ginger Wingate, Michelle Yarmer
Outstanding Seniors Kelly Kinnison (AgE), Jamie J. Van Roy (ArchE), Deepak Keshwani and Kourtney Mueller (BSE), Anthony Moses (ChemE), Lora Suppencheck and Audra Hansen (CivE), Justin Lyons (CEEN), Jay Schroeder (CSE), Joshua Cowen (CM), Bradley J. Pohlmeir (CST), Jeff Pankonin (EE), Matthew Mack and Katherine Schmatz (IMSE), Staci Jacobsen (IST), Eric Lilla (ME)
Staff Service Awards Jim McManis, Jennifer Garrett
Faculty Service Awards Rodney Soukup, Bruce Dvorak, Stephanie Adams
Faculty Research Awards N.J. Ianno, Robert Throne, Joseph Turner
Holling Distinguished Teaching Awards Ram Narayanan, Barry Rosson
Henry Y. Kleinkauf Teaching Awards Kevin Houser, Joseph Turner
Holling Distinguished Advisor/Mentor/Teacher Award David Jones
Tau Beta Pi Outstanding Teaching Award Bob Williams
O.J. Ferguson Outstanding Sophomore Maria Sitzman
O.J. Ferguson Outstanding Senior Kourtney Mueller
Al and Dorothy Schewe Engineering Leadership Award: Randi Coakley
Tau Beta Pi Initiates Paul Bauman, Jeremy Befort, Jason McIntosh, Zachary Schlegel, Adam Shaver, Lori Simpson, Nolan Van Foeken, Michael Waid
Fundamentals of Engineering Exam Awards Mark Otte, Tricia Varvel
J.E. Lagerstrom Outstanding Department Civil Engineering
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Shes picked her way through junkyards in Nebraska and slogged through swamps in Texas.
Janet Brelin-Fornari (ME 85) has testified in courts in the U.S. and Canada. Her detective work has taken her to places in the middle of nowhere.
Ill never forget one place where there was a car in a junkyard, she says, and I had to squeeze underneath the car to look at something. The frame was infested with fire ants. I had them all over myself.
As an expert witness for product liability lawsuits for General Motors, Fornari traveled around the country to sleuth clues to automobile accidents. It was fun, she says, definitely not a sit-at-your-desk job.
I covered an area called accident reconstruction. Id calculate the speed the vehicle was traveling and the angle of impact, look at the terrain, and so on. I also did occupant kinematics. That means studying the occupants and the motions they went through in the accident.
With that data, as well as information provided by law enforcement, Fornari was able to reconstruct each accident and form an opinion as to how it occurred.
Her Sherlock Holmes days are long past, much to the chagrin of her students at Kettering University in Michigan, where she is assistant professor of mechanical engineering. Originally from a town near Detroit, she jokes about coming to Nebraska for the football team. (She did play in the Husker Marching Band.) In fact, her oldest sister, Elizabeth Berlin, also is an alumna (77).
I used to travel back and forth with my father taking her to college, Fornari says. I liked Lincoln. UNL was ranked high in mechanical engineering, and it was smaller and less expensive than Michigan and Michigan State.
She enrolled at UNL in 1980, completing two eight-month co-op terms at GM. She also worked with longtime ME faculty member Bill Weins. He had a big influence on my career, even to the point of becoming a professor, she says. I would often come back to see him and talk to his classes.
Fornari still has Nebraska connections. Shes a charter member of the Cather Circle, a mentoring group for students organized by the NU Alumni Association. And shes a loyal Husker fan.
Ive got a Nebraska flag on the wall in my home office, next to my husbands green-and-white Michigan State flag. She laughs. Tom roots for Nebraska except when theyre playing Michigan State. There was a real uproar in our house when we played them! The kids get involved, too. I dress them, so they wear red on football Saturdays.
After the expert witness stint, Fornari transferred to another GM group and worked on side airbag designs. She obtained her MSME from the University of Michigan while working full-time at GM.
In 1991, Fornari enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the University of Arizona. She completed her coursework in 1994, returned to work at GM and finished up her degree program in 1998.
Her biggest challenge now is challenging her students. Kettering (formerly General Motors Institute) requires all students to do eight terms of co-op experience. They come into Fornaris classes with substantial real-world knowledge. It makes for lively discussions, she says. They are so much like the people I went to school with! I can see my friends in so many people.
I like interacting with the students. And when prospective students ask me, I always suggest mechanical engineering as an undergraduate degree because you can do anything with it.
Why isnt it attracting more women? Thats a question we ask a lot. If girls arent mentored, they wont try engineering in college. And theres still a perception that engineers are gearheads, especially MEs. I dont think the word is out that the field is as broad as it is.
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