Six ECE faculty and staff recognized for their outstanding contributions

Six ECE faculty and staff have been recognized by the College of Engineering for their creativity, innovation, and daring approaches to their work.

Electrical and Computer Engineering’s culture of innovation, excellence, collaboration, and social equity is expressed in the work of six recipients of this year’s College of Engineering Staff Incentive Award.

These awards recognize staff who consistently demonstrate the College’s vision, mission and values, and who have demonstrated creativity, innovation and daring in helping the College build its culture.

“The culture pillar is crucial to our success as a College. It is a recognition that our core values aren’t something we think about only on special occasions,” said Debbie Mero, Senior Executive Director of Resource Planning and Management. “They are instrumental to achieving our vision. We need to live our values every day, and recognize and reward those who exemplify them.”

In a year marked by the additional stress of a pandemic, this year’s recipients went above and beyond to ensure a positive environment for all.

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Shelly Feldkamp, ECE Research Administrator

Shelly Feldkamp has supported ECE since 2006, and the breadth of her knowledge, combined with her positive nature, is a tremendous asset to the department. Feldkamp is highly regarded by the faculty as their post-award administrator, consistently providing precise financial reports to many faculty on a monthly basis. She is especially caring for students, whom she recognizes may be living in Ann Arbor without any family support whatsoever. During the pandemic, her positive interactions – whether in person, on zoom, or in email – with students has been especially important, and has helped them feel like they are more connected. She is truly a thoughtful individual with everyone. Her exemplary citizenship and collegiality contributes to a great working environment within ECE.

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Robert Giles, EECS Senior Computing Consultant

Rob Giles is key to keeping the EECS labs up and running, a challenging task at the best of times, but one that’s particularly daunting during the pandemic. He is a wizard at knowing how to find, prepare, and repair any and all tools and equipment the faculty and students need. During the pandemic, Rob made significant contributions to teaching instructional labs remotely, which was not part of his job description, and the students greatly appreciated his patient assistance to their occasional problems working with the hardware and software. He also assisted in assembling, testing, refurbishing, and retesting over 500 kits distributed to students in four different courses so they could work remotely. These kits were such a success that once classes resumed in person, the kits continued. Giles has demonstrated selfless contributions to our faculty, courses, and especially our students over the course of his long career in ECE.

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Catherine Lawrence, ECE Undergraduate Advising Office Coordinator

Catie Lawrence places a priority in ensuring that our students are having the best educational experience possible by establishing transparent policies, providing accurate information, and empowering our students to be the best they can be. She strives to make students feel like they have a home in ECE and are not just a number. As just one example, she co-organized ECE’s Mental Health Awareness and Self Care day during the peak of the pandemic, providing critical resources to our students and helping reduce the stigma of mental health. Lawrence consistently seeks new and improved ways of recruiting students, and collaborates with our student recruiter on a number of initiatives such as Declare ECE, Meet Michigan ECE, and Connect with ECE. She is also an active member of the ECE Student Educational Experience (SEE) Committee, whose charge it is to empower our students with the critical skills & beyond-the-degree experiences required of the engineers who will invent our future. Lawrence is highly regarded by her peers and consistently solicited for advice.

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Kim Novak, ECE Administrative Assistant

Kim Novak is an insatiable learner always willing to take on new tasks and learn new skills for professional development and growth. She then applies her new skills to the betterment of ECE. Her first goal in ECE was getting the new Engineering Education Research (EER) program off the ground, and she initiated numerous projects to ensure the success of the program. She created an EER procedures manual, which has been a lifesaver with training the new Program Coordinator, and she played a critical role in creating a U-M EER presence at the ASEE conference. She also worked with the EER social coordinator to create and promote a variety of community events. In addition, and on her own initiative, Kim formed a collaboration with ECE’s student services team to ease their administrative burden by creating the defense flyers and web announcements for PhD dissertations. This is greatly appreciated by the students since it eases their burden in what is a normally an extremely stressful defense planning process, while also assisting the graduate staff so they have more time to connect with the students in other ways.

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Paula Pernia, ECE Facilities Manager

Paula Pernia has provided outstanding service to faculty, staff, and students by keeping the EECS Building safe and adaptive to changing needs. There are always several renovation projects going on at the same time as new faculty come in with their unique requirements for experimental research, and spaces are renovated to better suit the evolving needs of students and staff. Pernia is attentive to all requests while providing this service year in and year out. As a proponent of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, she served on the college’s Creativity Initiative and Daring Committee, and helped organize the CoE Innovation Day. Within ECE, she is a steady and vocal proponent for diversity. During the pandemic, Pernia was the staff member who was consistently in the office during the “work at home” times.  She would drop what she was doing to assist any staff member that needed something, and in a department the size of ECE, there were numerous requests. Pernia was instrumental in assisting with the return to lab operations, and her leadership through the pandemic continues today as she keeps ECE running as safely as possible.

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Amy Wicklund, ECE Senior Administrative Assistant

Amy Wicklund has contributed to the smooth operation of the ECE division for more than decade. She is the voice of ECE, answering the main phone line for years, while providing administrative assistance to many staff. This has included assistance with events, classroom reservations, faculty casebooks, and specific aspects of HR. She has continually grown her position thanks to her ambition and persistence; she is always looking for ways to provide critical
assistance. Recently, Amy has become an expert in fellowship funding, and has shown initiative in improving the quality of life for our student body by proactively assisting students with unique funding questions and concerns. Wicklund is now expanding her role in human resources, and has stepped up to take on new responsibilities, such as hiring graders. This is in addition to all the timekeeping, reporting and communicating that she has been doing. Her assistance during an HR transition in ECE has been invaluable.

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David Neuhoff; Division News; Honors and Awards; Michael Flynn; Staff