Maine College of Engineering and Computing presents its top annual awards
Alumnus and president of Dielectric, Keith Pelletier, is among the recipients of the Maine College of Engineering and Computing’s Edward Bryand annual awards honoring alumni, faculty, staff and students.
Pelletier was named the Edward T. Bryand Distinguished Engineer. Civil engineering professor and chair of the department, Shaleen Jain, received the Ashley Campbell Award. Amrit Verma in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Ali Shirazi in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering both received the Early Career Teaching Award.
Onur Apul in the Department of Chemical and Biomdeical Engineering received the Early Career Research Award for his work on PFAS chemicals. Meghan Honnell and Angel Hildreth received the Leila Lowell Award for their outstanding service to their departments. Dean of Maine College of Engineering and Computing Giovanna Guidoboni was inducted into the Francis Crowe Society.
This year’s Bryand Awards Ceremony took place April 14. The annual event was established in 1979, by Engineering Dean Jim Clapp, with the first college recognition banquet held the following yar. Criteria were established for two awards: Ashley S. Campbell Award and the Edward T. Bryand Distinguished Engineering Award. Other awards for individuals and students have been added throughout the years, including the Leila C. Lowell Award for staff members that began in 1983.
More information the alumni award recipients and their citations:
Edward T. Bryand Distinguished Engineering Award
Keith Pelletier ’98, President of Dielectric
Keith Pelletier, who earned a B.S. in electrical engineering technology from UMaine, holds a patent for increased isolation in FM interleaved arrays. Two other patents were filed as “provisional” in 2022: a reconfigurable manifold combiner and broadband pylon antenna. Additionally, he has been a featured technical speaker at a significant number of broadcast events, including, NAB and PBS TechCon. Global presentations at Amitra in Mexico, CCBE and WABE in Canada, SET in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Santiago, Chile, are just a few examples of his global leadership in the field of broadcast technology and antennas. A Maine-based company with national and global footprint is truly a gem in our state. UMaine collaborated in several projects with Dielectric, where Pelletier played a key role in securing $2.2M MTI funding to build Maine Center for Next Generation Wireless Communications at UMaine, equipping four labs for R&D and student training, in 2009. Pelletier’s achievements in engineering, research and public service are extraordinary as demonstrated by examples provided in his nomination letter. As leader of one of the largest antenna companies in the country with recognitions such as Emmy awards for contributions to the broadcast technology industry, Pelletier has been the force behind record-breaking business growth over the past six years. Pelletier’s accomplishments span over his career, with various roles he played at the Dielectric company as engineer, line manager, director of engineering, and, more recently, as president. Pelletier strongly supports creativity, collaboration and innovation to develop new ideas. Pelletier has been a strong supporter of R&D and has invested $2.25 million in new, cutting-edge technologies in the past two years alone. Employment has nearly quintupled under his watch from 35 in 2013 to 200 in 2020.
Ashley S. Campbell Award
Shaleen Jain, Professor of Civil Engineering
“Professor Jain’s expertise in hydrology and the role of changing climate has put him in a timely and relevant position to make research contributions in a number of areas. He was among the early researchers who recognized the importance of climate change in affecting the flood level statistics that engineers and scientists use to assess risk. His courses are extremely popular, and his electives, in particular, are among the highest enrolled in our undergraduate program. He has single handedly maintained an extremely productive graduate program in hydrology while teaching a very broad array of courses ranging from first-year seminar and computing to junior/senior electives in both surface water and groundwater hydrology to graduate courses in water resources sustainability.”
— Eric Landis, Civil Engineering Professor
Early Career Research Award
Onur Apul, Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering
“Dr. Apul is an environmental chemist who has developed expertise in nanomaterials applications. In the three years he has been at UMaine, he has parlayed that expertise into a very diverse array of research projects, ranging from health impacts of microplastics in the environment to nanobubbles in water and their role in space exploration. In less than three years, he has amassed a portfolio of 15 funded research projects totaling $1.8 million (PI share, $2.8 million total). He has done this without the benefit of a formal research center appointment. He is a prodigious author, having published a total of 67 journal papers, 30 of which have been published since his arrival at UMaine. Most of his papers are in top journals, and he has in his short time acquired over 2,600 citations, an h-index of 26, and a ‘Top Cited Article 2021–2022’ from Wiley.”
— Eric Landis, Civil Engineering Professor
Early Career Teaching Award
Ali Shirazi, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
“Dr. Shirazi came to Maine for fall semester 2019 and taught the graduate course CIE 521: Civil Engineering Systems and Optimization that semester. He got great feedback the first time he taught it. He has since taught this course three more times and perfected it so that his average teaching evaluations in fall 2021 and 2022 was 5.0 out of 5.0 on 10 out of 10 Instructor Questions. In spring semester 2022, he taught another graduate class, Advanced Transportation Planning, and again got excellent evaluations. This semester, he is teaching a third graduate course, Advanced Transportation Safety.”
— Per Gårder, Civil Engineering Professor
Amrit Verma, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
“Since joining the Department, Dr. Verma has taught MEE 270 Dynamics on multiple occasions, as well as one instance of MEE 251 Strength of Materials and a new co-listed undergraduate/graduate technical elective he created, MEE 491/591 Offshore Wind Farm Engineering. Dr. Verma has taken his teaching assignments seriously, and strives to provide the best student experience possible while ensuring that student learning outcomes are achieved. Dr. Verma emphasizes clear course organization and provides detailed grading rubrics on the first day of his courses; these efforts increase the quality of his courses and has created a strong feeling of fairness in the grading procedures among his students. As a result of Dr. Verma’s care, attention to detail, and sincere desire to improve his teaching ability, he has received numerous positive signed comments praising his courses and his numeric evaluations are already near the top of those received in the Mechanical Engineering Department.”
— Andrew J. Goupee, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Leila C. Lowell Award
Angel Hildreth, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Department
“Angel often goes far beyond the call of duty to support the whole department on many challenges through her proactive actions with the help of her vast network both on and off campus. She has earned the respect of faculty and students alike. She is very deserving of the COE Leila Lowell Award.”
— Hemant Pendse, Chair Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Department
Meghan Honnell, Mechanical Engineering Department
“Meghan is the go-to person and problem solver for students and faculty. She always finds solutions to advising and curricular questions and manages to successfully place the seemingly endless capstone orders. When in doubt, Meghan will have an answer (or will know how to find the answer). Meghan is the friendly face of the department. She makes everyone feel welcome and sweetens everybody’s day by maintaining a constant supply of chocolates on her desk. Meghan truly is instrumental in everything that the MEE Department does.”
— Masoud Rais-Rahani, Mechanical Engineering Chair
Graduate Assistant Research Award
Min Wang, Mechanical Engineering
“Min joined my research group in summer 2018. She has been focusing on design and fabrication of advanced protonic ceramic electrochemical cells (PCECs) for carbon dioxide reduction and ethylene production to echo the need in addressing climate change. Min has been carrying out intern research at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) since summer 2020. Min has well-bridged the collaboration between Dr. Dong Ding at INL and Dr. Yang at UMaine through the projects funded by the Department of Energy (DOE). Min is expected to graduate by the end of 2023.
To date, Min, as a leading and coauthor, has published nine papers. In 2022, Min performed converting ethane to ethylene by initiating the use of aligned carbon nanotube forests as a novel anode material for an ethane-fueled PCEC to co-produce ethylene and electricity. She established a protocol for massive production of electrolyte powder by introducing an improved solid-state reaction method to produce electrolyte material, where the optimal ball milling profile and calcination temperature are quantified for efficient and reliable production based on the powder crystallization behavior. Min also supported other students in on fabricating biomass derived electrode for supercapacitor and developing binder free porous electrode for water desalination.”
— Yingchao Yang, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Graduate Assistant Teaching Award
Joshua Hamilton, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering
“Josh’s relaxed personality and calm mentality is greatly appreciated by the students. When Murphy’s Law plays havoc with their prototypes, Josh was there to help identify and rectify the issues. He is a favorite TA for many students. Students comment on Josh’s openness to countless questions. Also of note is the high frequency with which the students made use of his office hours. Outside of his formal TA responsibilities, Josh actively mentors several biomedical engineering undergraduate students. He recently became president of the graduate Biomedical Engineering Society and one of his first acts as president was to host mentoring meetings between the undergraduate and graduate student chapters. He is truly invested in the growth of our undergraduate students as they progress as biomedical engineers. Students find him relatable, approachable, and knowledgeable all critical skills of an effective TA.”
— Karissa Tilbury, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering