2019 Engineering Awards Banquet Award Winners

Donald Beall Student Award for Engineering Accomplishment

Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson Eric Anderson is known as an individual who takes chances and jumps in head first. He declared his Chemistry major before ever taking a chemistry class. He joined a computational physical chemistry laboratory before finishing his first semester of Organic Chemistry. And he joined Dr. Keles' lab after only a month of his graduate program. Some may view this as reckless, but Eric believes that tenacity and an open mind will help him find enjoyment and fulfillment in many different paths.

The chemist Frank Westheimer said "A month in the laboratory can save you an hour in the library," but at the same time Edison famously went through more than a thousand lightbulb designs before finding success. Eric and his fellow lab members found success, but it wasn't without adversity. Many failed hypotheses could have discouraged them but they stayed flexible, yet tenacious. The lesson, Eric says, is: being prepared is always beneficial as long as it doesn't lead to inaction. You may never feel ready, you may never feel confident, but when life gives you an opportunity, jump in head first and get your hands dirty. Eric will always keep this in mind in his career, schooling and favorite past time: rock climbing.

 


 

Dean's Service Award

Quyen Chu, Director of Engineering Services at Jabil

Quyen ChuQuyen graduated from San Jose State in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Materials Engineering. Most recently in his 25-year career with Jabil, Quyen has worked in Jabil's Manufacturing Technology and Innovation group. It is a research and development organization – with focus on assessing new technologies and developing new processes. Quyen has also provided support with the Jabil Scholars program (an internship program dating back to 1992).

One mentee, San Jose State Biomedical Engineering student, Meha Gupta, said: "Once I was introduced to Jabil at the start of senior project, my new source of guidance really came from Quyen Chu, director of engineering services. He helped me believe in my abilities, that a successful engineer did not come out of textbook intelligence but from characteristics of being a team player, seeking knowledge in all areas and leveraging resources. He encouraged me to pursue experience in subjects I am not familiar with while still allowing me the opportunity to dive deep into what I am passionate about."

 


 

Newnan Brothers Award for Faculty Excellence

Magdalini Eirinaki

Magdalini Eirinaki Magdalini is a professor at the Computer Engineering Department. She joined the College in 2007, shortly after receiving her PhD in Computer Science from the Athens University of Economics and Business in Greece. She has established a research agenda and teaching curriculum related to her interests in data mining, machine learning, and recommender systems, and has been actively involved in various initiatives and committees in her department, the college, and the university, including establishing Data Science as a specialization in the graduate programs of the Computer Engineering department.

When not working, she spends time with her family and friends, binge-watches quirky comedies and cooking competitions, tries to catch up with her reading, and loves to travel around California and abroad. Fun fact: she can also work a piano teacher, as she got her music diploma the same year as her PhD! She's passionate about inspiring and encouraging more women to join STEM fields, especially computer science and engineering, and finds that the most fulfilling part of her job is to see her past students thrive after graduation.

 


 

The Faculty Award for Excellence in Scholarship

Francesca Favaro

Francesca FavaroFrancesca Favaro joined San Jose State in 2016 an an assistant professor in the department of Aviation and Technology. She holds a PhD and MS in Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and an MS and BS in Space Engineering from Politecnico di Milano, Italy. Francesca directs the Risk and Safety Assessment of Autonomous Systems lab, a multi-disciplinary research center that investigates system safety issues related to regulation and certification of autonomous systems such as drones and self-driving cars. In 2017 she became a research associate of the Mineta Transportation Institute and started collaborating as an expert in autonomous vehicles. Her work there focuses on bridging the gap between the technology world and the current regulatory panorama.

Francesca has authored several journal publications and conference proceedings on a variety of topics. She has been interviewed by multiple media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine, and the Verge Tech forum as a leading expert in automation safety. Francesca is an FAA Aviation certified Advanced Instructor, a certified Remote Pilot for drone commercial operations, and a solo-endorsed pilot. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and two children.

 


 

Staff Excellence in Service Award

Audrey Leong

Audrey LeongAudrey Leong is a Systems Analyst who works with students, faculty and staff to solve their technical issues. After working five years in the College of Engineering as the only technical staff for the Electrical Engineering department, Audrey knows what truly helps improve student lab experience. Improvement is not just about updated equipment and computers, knowledgeable teaching associates and accessible staff members. It is also about teamwork. One woman's success is not always through her own hard work, but also from the work of others around her.

Armed with a business degree and the only female technical staff in the College, Audrey is an inspiration to many students. Despite her non-technical background, she developed the necessary proficiencies with the help of her peers. This let her succeed in helping members of her department and also members across the college. Audrey's willingness to learn and help others allowed her to gain relevant knowledge and skills that she uses every day to teach and solve challenges for students. When she's not at work, you can find her building with Legos, playing video games or planning the next event.

 


 

Award for Outstanding Lecturer

Daniel Neal

Daniel NealDaniel Neal originally joined the San Jose State faculty in 1990. He taught Aviation courses for 10 years, then took a break to work in industry. He has worked at BAE Systems, Microsoft and at a small engineering consulting firm. He came back to San Jose State part time in 2007 and has been teaching aircraft systems and avionics courses. He also serves as the coach for the SJSU Precision Flight team. The flight competitions are hosted by the National Intercollegiate Flying Association, and this year the Precision Flight team will compete at the national event in Wisconsin.

Outside of work, Daniel enjoys restoring classic cars and flying general aviation airplanes. Daniel's current fixation is a restoration project on a 1959 Cessna. The airplane is a project that Daniel found as a classic "barn find" at a private airport in California's Central Valley. He hopes to fly the project airplane to its new home airport in San Martin sometime this spring.

 


 

Award for Excellence in Faculty Service

David Parent

David ParentDavid Parent has been with the Electrical Engineering department since the fall of 1999, where he has developed curriculum that taught students how to fabricate transistors and solar cells, design digital and analog circuits for data science applications, integrate social and global studies into senior projects, design PCBs, and use Python coding to acquire data. He also developed several class projects that students can use to showcase their skills when applying for jobs.

His research areas are low-power analog design for silicon neurons for robotic applications, hafnium oxide deposition for neural interfacing, and improving student performance in introductory circuits classes. David's current projects are to optimize OPAMPS for low power and high yield, and work on an MIS solar cell for workforce development. In his role as the undergraduate coordinator for the EE department, he has piloted online graduation for the college, he advises students on technical electives and careers, and he manages curriculum changes in the department.

When he is not at school, he likes to practice Taekwondo and is a 4th degree black belt. He was an officer in the army national guard and was awarded the U.S. Army Parachutist Badge. He relaxes by watching mysteries from ACORN or the BBC. Weekends are for spending time with the family, baking bread, hiking, and teaching his children to drive.

 


 

Staff Excellence in Service Award

Blanca Sanchez-Cruz

Blanca Sanchez-CruzOn her first visit to San Jose State thirteen-year old Blanca thought, "What an ugly place." Perhaps the cold and dreary Saturday morning did not help her first impression. Little did she know she was well on her way to becoming a lifelong Spartan. After four years of Saturday Academy at San Jose State throughout high school, a Bachelor's degree, first job (yup, at San Jose State), a second Bachelor's (still at San Jose State), a Masters from another institution, and second job (back at San Jose State), Blanca joined the College of Engineering in 2012 as the Assistant Director for Student Support Programs. In this role she has served as Director for the MESA Engineering Program, advisor to diversity student organizations and, more recently, liaison to ALL engineering clubs as well as conference manager for the annual Silicon Valley Women in Engineering Conference and the annual student-run Conference for Engineering Diversity.

While she never dreamed of working in education, she is glad she volunteered as a tutor her freshman year and found her career as a result. Beyond San Jose State, she has worked weekends for eight years supporting high-need families through the Sunday Friends Foundation, an organization for which she now volunteers. She also rejoined, six years ago, the Aztlan Academy, where she teaches Mexican folk dance and is a member of the performing dance troupe.

Among her many interests, Blanca reads too much fiction, takes every opportunity to travel, enjoys sewing and experimental cooking, and absolutely loves furniture that is delivered in a flat box.

 


 

Scott T. Axline Memorial Student Award for Excellence in Service

Danielle Li-Wen Shen

Danielle Li-Wen Shen Danielle Shen is a second year Computer Engineering major at San Jose State. She moved here from Folsom in the fall of 2017 and lived in the dorms for her first year of college. During this first year, she made new friends in her classes and the dorms, joined the SJSU Dancesport team, a competitive ballroom dancing team, attended and succeeded in her classes, and started working for the Mechanical Engineering department. After that first year, Danielle and a few of her friends rented an apartment near the college. She is now the treasurer of the SJSU Dancesport team.

Ballroom dancing and cosplay are Danielle's creative outlets. She is often described as adaptive, perceptive, diligent, and most certainly a dog person. Her housemates describe her as very approachable and friendly. People feel helped from her work and problem solving, and they also feel her empathy and down-to-earth nature. Danielle is currently interested in cooking more of her own meals. Her favorite meal is, after all, breakfast.

 


 

Engineering Award of Distinction

David Sykes, City Manager, City of San Jose

David SykesDave's previous San Jose State claim to fame was being featured in the Spartan Daily on April 27, 1989, for his participation as an engineering student in the mid-Pacific conference for the student chapters of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Dave, and fellow engineering student, Kevin Maple, provided the paddle-power for SJSU's entry in the endurance leg of the concrete canoe races. To the astonishment of onlookers, Dave and Kevin managed to manipulate their listing craft – named Paddle This! – through two-thirds of the 600-meter course before a fidget in the wrong direction at the wrong time dumped them into the water. Even as a student, Dave exhibited the same persistence that day that he has demonstrated throughout the decades of his City career. He and Kevin did not give up; they swam to shore with the boat in tow, emptied the water out of it and finished the course.

Today, Dave and his engineering work continue to stand tall – at first place as City Manager, or chief executive officer, of the City of San Jose. Dave joined the City organization in 1987 as a part-time engineering trainee and has served in several leadership roles including Director of Public Works, City Engineer, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement and Chief Operating Officer of the City. During his tenure, he has led regional transportation projects, development review and capital project delivery and was responsible for the oversight and delivery of over $700 million of public improvements in the "Decade of Investment" funded by voter-approved bonds. He has worked on several significant projects such as the new City Hall and the San Jose Police Department Training Center & Substation, but one project in particular, has meant the most of all.

This was a relatively small, $1.5 million construction project known as Towers Lane - located in the West Evergreen neighborhood west of Highway 101 - with nine homes and a church, which, in 2005, remained the last unpaved, dirt road in San Jose. For years, local residents asked the City for street and utility improvements since the area was annexed into San Jose in the 1960s. Difficulties in securing neighborhood consensus, project funding and physical impediments had blocked progress. Property owners asked the City to convert the private street to a public street, and the Towers Lane improvement project transformed the dirt road to a standard, two-lane residential street with streetlights, sidewalks, storm and sanitary sewers. When asked why this project meant so much, Dave replied, "This was a small, relatively underdeveloped neighborhood and it made such a difference to the quality of life of these residents for them to finally have a safe environment to live in, with paved streets and sidewalks.

Dave and his wife, Elizabeth Sykes, have a daughter, Courtney, attending San Jose State University and a son, Nick, who is a senior in high school.

 


 

Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching

Vimal Viswanathan

Vimal Viswanathan Vimal Viswanathan got his PhD from Texas A&M University, and is an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering. His research interests include engineering design, new product development, design creativity and innovation, and mechatronics systems design. While at San Jose State Vimal is usually busy with meetings, classes, class preparation, and research. He spends a lot of time with students – advising them on projects, answering questions and sometimes giving career guidance. Outside the college (when not stuck in traffic), he prefers to spend most of his time with his wife and two and a half-year-old son, who loves running around outside. Vimal enjoys long drives and has taken many long road trips. Currently, he and his wife are remodeling their condo and learning new skills by doing a lot of the work themselves. He is a great fan of mystery thriller books and movies, and also follows cricket matches.

 


 

Keynote Speaker

Maria Zhang

Maria ZhangMaria is Vice President of Engineering for LinkedIn Talent Solutions (LTS) and Careers, which helps recruiters connect with quality talent and connects job-seekers with opportunity.

Prior to her role at LinkedIn, Maria served as CTO at Tinder, where she built a world-class team of engineers and scaled the app to serve a rapidly growing global user base. Maria also worked as Vice President of Engineering for Yahoo Mobile, and managed teams at Microsoft, Zillow.com and NetIQ Corp. She also founded Alike, a mobile local recommendation app, which was later acquired by Yahoo.

Maria studied Computer Science at Tsinghua University and graduated from Eastern Michigan University with Bachelor and Master's degrees.