Alumni Awards Presented
Michigan Technological University capped off Alumni Reunion Aug. 5 with the presentation of the annual Alumni Awards. This year’s winners were:
Outstanding Young Alumnus: Awarded to Alumni who have distinguished themselves in their careers, or achieved a position or noteworthy distinction before the age of 35:
Benjamin D. Almquist ’04. Almquist examines life at nano-scale, but thinks big. Currently a Lecturer at Imperial College in London where he leads his own research team. At Michigan Tech the award-winning researcher developed and refined an admirable life philosophy: “Leave the world a better place than when you arrived and find a way to enjoy making it happen."
After earning a PhD from Standford, Almquist eventually moved on to MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Department of Chemical Engineering and Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies where he was awarded an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellowship. “My research at MIT focused on new self-assembled biomaterials for treating non-healing diabetic foot ulcers, one of the most devastating complications of diabetes that actually carry a lower 5-year survival rate than breast and prostate cancer,” he explains.
Dr. Johnathon M. Aho ‘08—Aho puts his life philosophy into practice as he continues to make remarkable strides in a medical career that is just beginning. His ability to excel might not surprise those who remember the accomplishments of the Michigan Tech President’s Award for Leadership winner and his service to others on the Michigan Tech campus and in the community.
A double major in mathematics and biological sciences, with an international minor in German, didn’t stop Aho from taking on leadership roles. As 2008 Blue Key Honor Society president he helped spearhead a 33 percent spike in winter carnival funding. The 2007 Portage Health System Volunteer of the Year progressed from Michigan Tech to studies at Chicago Medical School where he was recipient of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Looking to the Future Scholarship and a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society Class of 2012 Delta Chapter. He earned his Doctor of Medicine with Distinguished Research degree before entering Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education as a general surgery resident and a PHD student in biomedical engineering and physiology in Rochester, Minnesota.
Outstanding Service Award: Award to the Alumni who have made significant contributions to the University or the Alumni Association:
Joshua T. Fogarty ‘03 Jana M. (Young) Fogarty ‘05—The Fogarty’s love story is Pure Michigan Tech. They met during Resident Assistant orientation in McNair Hall. In addition to the same college major, materials science, they found common ground in their passion for the outdoors. Josh graduated in spring 2003 and proposed to Jana at the 2004 Winter Carnival All Nighter.
In Winter 2007, they decided it would be fun to gather a few Michigan Tech alumni together for broomball, a tradition that continues. By 2013 more than 100 Michigan Tech Huskies and friends were arriving from seven states to enjoy broomball, chili and each other’s company.
Distinguished Alumni Award: Awarded to the alumni who have made outstanding contributions in both their careers and to Michigan Tech:
William J. Bernard, Jr. ‘69—Bernard is tenacity personified. A local boy without resources to afford schooling and living expenses elsewhere, he stayed close to home and worked nearly 40 hours a week while completing his studies. He’s been with the same company for more than 40 years, ascending to sole owner and CEO of Surface Combustions, Inc in 1997.
His first job after graduation was field engineer in the Surface Combustion division of Midland and he progressed into engineering design, contract engineering, marketing, chief engineer and business unit manager roles.
When his division was threatened with closure, Bernard spearheaded a successful buyout, creating Surface Combustion, Inc. and in 1997 became the sole owner.
The 2000 Michigan Tech Academy of Material Science and Engineering Inductee and 2011 ASM International Fellow has earned numerous honors, including the 2009 Center for Heat Treating Excellence Distinguished Service Award and the 2013 ASM International Distinguished Life Membership Award.
Humanitarian Award: Awarded to alumni for volunteer leadership or service that has improved or enriched the lives of others and the welfare of humanity, and whose accomplishments reflect admirably on or bring honor to their alma mater:
James I. ’57, ‘58 and Janet Tanis—Their 2007 honeymoon in East Africa was a life-changer for Jim and Jan. It’s also been a life-changer for hundreds of vulnerable children helped through the Bwindi Community Program they founded to bring hope to vulnerable children through the power of education.
A chat with 13-year-old Brian, who sold them a gorilla carving, led him to the Tanises helping him attend secondary school.
Eventually, he asked the Tanises if they could help these young people in the same way they’d helped him. The non-profit program sent the first 21 kids to school in 2010. BCP continues to grow—to 140 students in 2015—thanks to donors in six countries who sponsor individual students. In 2016 a sister charity was formed to focus on primary-grade students, while BCP focuses on secondary school and beyond. Jim serves as board president, Jan as treasurer.
Honorary Alumni Award: Awarded to the strongest non-alumni supporters of Michigan Tech. Those who have provided service and support of the University characteristic of dedicated alumni. (This award will be presented in the Fall):
John T. Patton—The Fort Worth, Texas native, earned his bachelor’s, masters and PhD in Chemical Engineering from Oklahoma State University. He joined Exxon USA as a section head responsible for research on enhanced petroleum operations in 1959. In 1968 he brought his extensive process design and operations experience to Michigan Tech as professor of Chemical Engineering plant design and economics. Within three years his design students started receiving national recognition from AIChE. During his tenure at Michigan Tech his students twice won the national AIChE Design Contest for undergraduates. He also initiated a viable graduate program and elevated the quality of the undergraduate curriculum to the point of its receiving full national accreditation.