2022 Making a Difference Award Recipients

2022 MAD award winners

Above and Beyond Award

Brittany Buschell, Geological Mining Engineering and Sciences

Brittany’s nominator says: Brittany goes above and beyond her duties as Coordinator. She is incredibly creative, and very skilled in artistic endeavors. She quietly applies these skills to her work at MTU as the unofficial department photographer and as a media creator. Any time that a picture of someone is needed, Brittany is there with her camera and the perfect flash for the event time and place. The pictures that are presented always look great (many of the faculty photos on our faculty webpage were taken by her!).

With her love of rocks, Brittany fits right in at the geological and mining department. She even puts together little baggies to give out to donors, visitors, or prospective students. The baggie contains a Yooperlite and a card (that she designed of course) explaining Yooperlites. She doesn’t order these rocks. She grabs a bucket and her UV flashlight and goes out hunting for Yooperlites at night to collect them and then distribute them. It can take a few hours to collect just a couple Yooperlites, so you can imagine the time Brittany spends looking for these during the months without snow.

Behind the Scenes

Karen Patterson, Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success

Karen’s nominator says: A lot of the work she does isn’t glamorous or even understood by those outside of the departments she serves. She is the logistical backbone for many critical processes related to (but not limited to): orientation programs, midterm outreach to first-year students, academic appeal and reinstatement requests, and documenting information related to student disability services. Karen creates an environment where things get accomplished efficiently and effectively, but also very quietly. There are no complaints about workload or constant remarks about how busy she is. Things happen without anyone having to ask or follow up. Often improvements to systems are accomplished without recognition. She does things quietly, quickly, and without fanfare. She asks the necessary questions, collects information and simply gets to work.

During move-in weekend Karen can be found in the library printing off orientation materials for students who have made major changes, helping people find their housing assignments and buildings, all while monitoring email and the phone for those experiencing an emergency. This past year for example, a student’s father had a heart attack while they were driving to Tech; over the phone Karen talked them through what to do, then helped the desperate young man who actually arrived the same day and wanted to hand back his key in case his father didn’t recover. Karen continued to follow up. Dad lived, the student re-arrived, and one more family has an amazing story about Karen Patterson they can tell.

The Legacy Award

Peter Larsen, Associate Vice President for Research Development

Pete’s nominator says: As the letters of nomination attest, the essence of Pete's job is teamwork and collaboration and he is very good at it. His job entails supervising the Research Development group, onboarding new staff, working closely with the Research Development Network that he created of center and department staff across campus who assist with proposal development, working with new researchers on their first research grant proposals and assisting established researchers on particularly large proposals. He is also responsible for many of the communications from the VPR office designed to assist with safe, successful research. Whether working closely with an early career researcher or with a team of two to thirty people on a large proposal, Pete exemplifies innovation, efficiency, a can-do attitude, and dedication. As a researcher and, now, his supervisor, I've expressed gratitude and concern many times for Pete's 24/7 availability to researchers. It has been my experience that, despite my supervisory requests that he truly take time off, Pete cares so much about helping researchers that he often responds to emails or requests for help at night and on weekends.

Outstanding Leader

Michelle Meneguzzo, Sponsored Programs Accounting

Michelle’s nominator says: Sponsored Programs Accounting has gone through significant staffing changes in the last year and a half, including a complete leadership change and filling four position vacancies. Michelle has taken on many new duties and responsibilities and is responsible for training and supervising three of the new employees. She has proven to be a dedicated partner who genuinely strives to make improvements for both the department and the university.

She is a natural leader and regularly took the lead on activities within Sponsored Programs Accounting when her job title and duties did not reflect leadership responsibilities. Without prompting, she has always taken the initiative to look into questions and issues that are submitted to the SPA team and she makes sure she provides the answers to the entire team so others can learn also. She leads by example and with a positive attitude.

Rookie Award

Amanda Stump, College of Computing

Amanda’s nominator says: Amanda’s impact on campus in the short time she has been working at Michigan Tech is exceptional. She has single-handedly had an enormous impact on the success of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC), which encompasses researchers all across campus, and the College of Computing (CC). Since she joined the ICC, the institute has seen record growth in its research programs, both in total and in the types of research projects faculty are being funded. The support she provides to ICC researchers (and beyond) has revolutionized both the pre- award (proposal stage) and post-award (project management stage), significantly improving the research landscape across campus. She has planned, organized, and executed two successful Computing [MTU] Showcase events, the first of which was a major undertaking involving coordination of on-campus and external visitors, numerous workshops, receptions, ceremonies, and other events. These events brought visibility to MTU Computing, of which is shown in sky-rocketing enrollment, college visibility, and research successes.

Amanda’s science background and project management skills have made her a valuable and highly sought member of the ICC team and Computing [MTU]. Her ICC job is challenging because of the inherent complexity and scale of interdisciplinary research and grants processes, larger teams (75 ICC faculty in 8 different ICC centers), and busy faculty. She approaches these challenges with tenacity and grace, skills she no doubt used to move her family across the country during a pandemic.

Serving Others

Jonathan Lund, Mechanical Engineering, Engineering Mechanics

Jon's nominator says: Jon is a highly effective – and entertaining – trainer. Students seek him out because he is very friendly and motivated to help them succeed. While it is his job to teach students how to safely operate milling machines, lathes, and other tools, he does it in a way that is engaging and even fun. I can tell you that it is fun to watch him in action. The students appreciate the attention and the care that he provides while explaining the complex procedures for machine operation. Machine shops are full of intimidating equipment, so he tries to make them feel welcome and at ease through encouragement and conversation about their projects.

Unsung Hero

Darlene Saari, Engineering Fundamentals

Darlene’s nominator says: While managing the many responsibilities she routinely handles with care and enthusiasm, Darlene is a constant and welcoming presence for our team and our students. She serves as the safety officer for our department, handles the extensive payroll, supplies and other purchases required to keep things running smoothly, course scheduling, TPR processes, and the numerous reports required for budgeting and other purposes. With the addition of research active faculty, she now also helps to manage large research related expenditures. Darlene is always on call and ready to drop everything and run to a classroom to deliver supplies, batteries, assignment copies...whatever the team needs. She is our active-learning emergency classroom support. The tasks are endless and yet are always met with a passion to excel in everything she does. She takes great pride in her invaluable role in the Engineering Fundamentals department, and we are all very thankful to have her on our team.