Past Award Winners

Gian-Gabriel Garcia
2015 Intern Student of the Year
University of Pittsburgh
Gian-Gagriel Gracia photo

Gian-Gabriel Garcia moved to the United States from the Philippines when he was four years old. His parents told Gian and his three siblings that all were expected to study hard and earn a good education. From early on, Gian appreciated learning and a close family life.

During high school, Gian participated in a project that was funded by NASA and that is where he developed an interest in engineering. At Pitt, Gian chose industrial engineering due to the breadth of interests the field held for him.

At the University of Pittsburgh, Gian participated in both the co-op and intern programs. Gian was our first co-op with Universal Electric and since that time the company has hired several other students due to his outstanding work contributions.

After completing the co-op, Gian was accepted as an intern with Eaton in Horseheads, NY. As an intern, Gian excelled beyond the expectations and goals that Eaton set for him. In fact, he was able to create a visual basic tool that streamlined the analysis process; his contributions left “a lasting impression on the company location” as his employer, Stephen Mayo, wrote in his nomination.

Outside of class, Gian has been a consistent leader and contributor. He is involved in SHPE, NSBE and Excel, which is a program dedicated to the success of engineering students who face various challenges. Gian has served as a peer advisor and an undergrad teaching assistant.

Gian was the lone recipient of the UPS Minority Scholarship, awarded through the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), and was also awarded the Eaton Multicultural Scholarship. Recently, Gian was awarded the Pitt Chapter IIE Outstanding Senior. Gian has been thoroughly involved in research while a student at Pitt. He is involved in a vaccine modeling initiative that aids in combating the high wastage rates within vaccine supply chain in third world countries due to issues like chronic refrigeration difficulties.


Joseph Gibson
2015 Co-op Student of the Year
Grand Valley State University
Joseph Gibson photo

Joseph Gibson is a senior in the Computer Engineering program at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is an exceptional student, carrying a 3.97 (on a 4.00 scale) grade point average, ranking as the top student in his class. As part of the mandatory co-op program at GVSU, Joseph has completed three full-time work semesters of progressively impressive assignments. For his first co-op semester, he worked in software testing for L-3 Communications in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he designed software to configure, test, and qualify avionics instruments. From there, he joined NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland for his second co-op semester. At NASA, he worked closely with the team developing the Balloon Experimental Twin Telescope Infrared Interferometry (BETTII), focusing on developing the StarTracker software for Star Cameras onboard BETTII that capture stellar images. From there, Joseph applied for and obtained a co-op position on a highly selective team of four undergraduate and graduate students from across the country, chosen to conduct research at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. At CERN, he researched quantum chromodynamics and proton-proton collisions, writing software to plot experimental data and conduct theory predictions. Joseph is fluent in Spanish, and while at CERN served as a Spanish Tour Guide. He has been president of the GVSU Spanish Club, Vice President of Hardware for the GVSU Computer Science Club, and is a member of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. In his spare time, he enjoys brewing beer, and is the President and Co-Founder of the GVSU Brewing Science and Technology Club, and was a member of the NASA Zymernauts Brewing Club.

Paul Plotkowski
2015 Alvah K. Borman Award
Grand Valley State University
Padnos College of Engineering & Computing
Paul Plotkowski photo

Paul Plotkowski is the founding Dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley State University. The Padnos College enrolls over 2,000 students in a variety B.S. and M.S. degree programs in engineering, computer science, information systems, occupational safety and health management, and medical & bio-informatics. All of the undergraduate programs in the Padnos College require either internships (CS, IS and OSH programs) or co-operative education (Engineering programs). His duties include nearly daily interaction with a wide variety of industries.

Within ASEE, Dr. Plotkowski has served on the Engineering Dean’s Council and co-founded the Undergraduate Experience Committee, held several positions on the CEED Board, and on the North Central Section Board. He has served as the national vice president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). His other activities include serving as an accreditation visitor for mechanical and manufacturing engineering degree programs for the Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology (ABET). He is very active in the FIRST Robotics competition and many other K-12 STEM education enrichment programs.

Dr. Plotkowski is a Fellow of ASME and has received numerous awards including the Dedicated Service Award from ASME, the Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer of the Year award from SME and the Outstanding Educator award from Pi Tau Sigma. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from Oakland University.


Gary Pennell
2013 Lou Takacs Award
Nucor-Yamato Steel Company
Gary Pennell photo

Gary Pennell is Chief Metallurgist at Nucor-Yamato Steel Company in Blytheville, AR. He is an alumnus of Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T), receiving his B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering in 1997. Gary, himself being the first student to ever co-op with Nucor in 1996, has helped organize Nucor’s corporate recruiting task force to increase Nucor’s presence on the university’s campus.  This resulted in Nucor becoming one of Missouri S&T’s top recruiters regularly, and in the 2011-2012 academic year, Nucor was the number one cooperative education employer of Missouri S&T students.  Gary has led recruiting efforts in a number of ways.  He has attended every career fair as well as going the extra mile to reach out to additional students on campus.  He was a lead orchestrator in the organization of “Nucor Week” on the campus in September, 2011.


Gary has also been influential in providing important gifts to the university both individually and through Nucor.  Through his efforts and support, Nucor Steel provided a $2 million gift in 2006 to Missouri S&T’s Materials Science and Engineering department to endow the F. Kenneth Iverson Chair of Steelmaking Technologies.  This was the largest corporate cash gift in the school’s history.


“In our collective 40 years in academia, we have never witnessed an alumnus who has collectively achieved so much in all areas of what a meaningful relationship with industry represents.”

Gayle Elliott
Associate Professor
2013 Alvah K. Borman Award
University of Cincinnati
Division of Professional Practice
Gayle Elliott photo

Gayle Elliott earned BS and MS degrees from the University of Cincinnati, and is currently Associate Professor in the Division of Professional Practice.  She is responsible for the University's International Co-op Program, and for placing mechanical engineering students in co-op jobs in the US. Initially part of the College of Engineering, Gayle has worked with the International Engineering Co-op Program since 1993. In 1998 she created and began working with similar programs in the Colleges of Applied Sciences, Business and the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.  She has extensive experience developing international exchange programs and is an active member in several international engineering education organizations and projects. 


Gayle is General Conference Chair for the 2013 CIEC.  She served as Assistant Conference Chair for the 2012 CIEC and CEED Program Chair for the 2010 and 2011 conferences.  She is also a member of the ASEE International Division and will serve as Program Chair for the International Division at the ASEE annual conference in 2014.  She is also a founding member of the Organizing Committee for the International Engineering Education annual colloquium. 


“Gayle has dedicated her efforts to cooperative education, and her approach to expand the coop experience into a global environment is not only unique, but she was clearly a trailblazer when she started this work 20 years ago; she has changed the way many of us look at cooperative education. Gayle has contributed strong service and leadership to CEED and also to the cooperative education and international engineering education community as a whole.  Her list of presentations and accomplishments is substantial and includes local, regional, national, and international in the fields of engineering education and work integrated learning.”

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