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Engineering honors alums, awards scholarships

December 2, 2013

Bold Futures banner: College of Engineering and Engineering TechnologyNIU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology honored seven prestigious alumni and several scholarship recipients for the 2013-14 school year at the Scholarship and Award Banquet

The banquet took place Thursday, Nov. 7, and featured a jazz band, appetizers and dinner, followed by speeches, presentations of the winners and dessert. Each department awarded a winner, while two departments honored the achievements of young alumni.

Brian Strong received the evening’s highest honor: Outstanding Alumnus for the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.

Strong serves as manufacturing engineering superintendent for the Product Development and Global Technology Division of Caterpillar Inc. Strong, who has been in this role since the beginning of the year, provides advanced manufacturing engineering support for enterprise NPI programs, R&D test/lab activity and global process validation.

He graduated from NIU with a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering in 2009 as a non-traditional student and sponsored multiple Senior Design and Engineer in Residence projects for the college. He also completed a “mini”-MBA sponsored by Bradley University and Caterpillar focused on leadership development.

“NIU provided me with the education and experience and paved the way for many of my successes,” Strong said. “It’s important to recognize and take advantage of opportunities as they reveal themselves. Identify what you want of your future but, more importantly, deliver on the present to enable those future aspirations.”

#WHYENGINEERINGThe award-winning alumnus for the Department of Electrical Engineering was Tim Collins.

Collins joined Motorola’s components products sector after graduating from NIU’s electrical engineering program in 1983. He later earned his master’s in electrical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology.

As part of Collins’ activities in the components sector, he led multiple design teams in creation of several new products and factory processes that resulted in more than $100 million in annual gross sales of TCXOs (Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillators) with applications in cell phones, pagers and public safety handheld radios.

He currently is helping to develop a new public safety solution which will enable police and firefighters to become safer and communicate in an intuitive, uncomplicated method. Collins is working on a new communication system for the City of Boston to allow citizens and visitors to interact with city government in new ways. Collins also is creating new technologies to assist retailers and police in the fight against organized retail crime.

The Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering recognized Daniel Bailey as its alumnus of the year.

Bailey graduated summa cum laude with his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. In 2006, he received his master’s in industrial engineering from NIU, achieving a 4.0 GPA.

Engineering BuildingWhile at NIU, Bailey was awarded the Industrial Engineering Undergraduate of the Year Award in 2005 and the Industrial Engineering Graduate Student of the Year in 2006. He also served as president of the Institute of Industrial Engineering Student Group and president of Alpha Pi Mu, the Industrial Engineering Honor Society.

Since graduation, he has worked for Nestle in a variety of roles.

Starting as an industrial engineer, he moved his way up to industrial engineer/process specialist in 2009 and, in January of 2012, became a LGO business analyst. He specializes in warehouse process improvement, specializing in warehouse standards and implementing projects. Bailey currently is helping to develop the new warehouse management systems.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering presented its award to alumnus Jim Parejko, an executive leader in the fields of new product development and performance excellence with experience in industrial, automotive and distribution industries.

Parejko attended the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, received his master’s in mechanical engineering from NIU in 1998 and is a graduate of the Chicago Management Institute at the Booth Business School from the University of Chicago.

Michael Wayman received the alumni award from the Department of Technology.

Wayman graduated manga cum laude from NIU in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in numerical control technology. He later returned to the Huskie family in 1994 to earn his master’s in industrial management.

He is an active supporter via involvement in activities of the Industrial Advisory Board to the department. His involvement began in 1982 as a member of the Industrial Advisory Board in support of the NAIT certification that was being pursued at that time for the Design and Drafting program. He has participated and supported the Department of Technology for the past 30 years by participating in Industrial Advisory Board meetings and activities.

President Doug Baker sits in a SAE car.A trio of young alumni was honored as well.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering presented its award to Drake Devore, engineering manager and lead applications engineer at MoTeC Systems East.

He received his bachelor’s degree in 2005 and earned an applications engineering position with MoTeC. His first several years with the company were focused on engine calibration for various different racing series, military applications and special projects. Series include NASCAR, Grand American Road racing, NHRA drag racing, American LeMans and others.

Since leaving NIU, he has been remained a member of SAE. Devore and a group of friends and classmates designed and built the first NIU formula SAE racecar and one each year following. The last three years, he has served as a design judge at several of the formula SAE events.

The Department of Technology honored two siblings, Aaron and Erica Wiegel, with its Young Alumnus of the Year awards.

Erica Wiegel started working at Wiegel Tool Works, Inc. in elementary school; she packaged and sorted parts during summer vacations. She learned the company business from her father, Martin Wiegel, and the managers and employees of the various departments where she worked. Spending time in each department allowed her to experience the functions and roles each area has in relation each other and to the company.

Graduating from Elk Grove High School in 1998, she continued her education in DeKalb, obtaining a bachelor’s in industrial manufacturing in 2002.

She continued in the family business after college, working in production, tooling and engineering. After gaining the necessary experience, she became prototype manager at Wiegel Tool Works, and still holds this title today. In 2010, she also became co-owner and treasurer of the company.

“I prototype for the automobile industry, and I’m in the front of new and leading technology. What my hands create today will be in a car in less than two years. What a great feeling it is,” she said.

Promod Vohra

Dean Promod Vohra

Aaron Wiegel also started working during elementary school to package parts at his father’s company.

Throughout his high school career, he continued to work in the family business while learning many different aspects through different departments. After graduating from high school in 1996, he attended Purdue University to study mechanical engineering.

In the spring of 1997, he transferred to NIU. After realizing that mechanical engineering was not the path to take for the family business, he switched to manufacturing engineering. He received his bachelor’s in manufacturing technology in the fall of 2000.

Wiegel offered advice for all future engineers.

“To be the best at what you do, you have to be motivated and driven. Set achievable goals and go after them. Learn in and out of class. What you learn in college gets you a job, and how you learn and adapt maintains your job and career,” he said. “I love creating wealth, not trading wealth. Engineering allowed me to create products relevant to the world. Learning the business side of engineering helps me grow the business we currently own.”