College of Engineering and Science Dean John Harris presented faculty and staff awards at a ceremony March 19 at Gleason Performing Arts Center that also featured a performance from the college’s faculty band and karaoke singing.
The two-hour event began with the 2003 COES Excellence Awards presented for faculty teaching, faculty research, faculty service and staff, each for achievements in calendar year 2022.
“There were many incredible candidates in each category and the selection of one winner for each category was very difficult,” Harris said. “Thankfully we had an esteemed panel of anonymous judges that was up to the task.”
2023 COES Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching: Jessica Smeltz. Smeltz is an assistant professor in biomedical and chemical engineering and sciences and program chair for chemistry. She taught three sections of Chemistry 1 and a Chemistry 2 course in 2022, involving a combined 355 students, with excellent teaching evaluation scores. Another reason for congratulations: in the Fall, Smeltz will be promoted to associate professor.
“Jessica teaches chemistry to mostly freshman who are majoring in something else,” Harris said. “As a result, many of them don’t want to be there. But she works magic with them, and they love her.”
2023 COES Faculty Excellence Award for Research: Toufiq Reza. Reza is an assistant professor in the chemical engineering program. He leads the Biofuels Research Lab at Florida Tech. In 2022 he had over $500,000 in research expenditures and advised seven Ph.D. students. Even with lots of funding in place, he still submitted 12 proposals and three white papers for the year. He also published 15 journal papers. Another reason for congratulations: in the Fall, Reza will be promoted to associate professor with tenure.
“Quite a year,” Harris said, mentioning that Reza also was recognized in 2022 as among the top 2% of scientists worldwide based on citations.
2023 COES Faculty Excellence Award for Service: Tom Marcinkowski. Marcinkowski is a professor in the mathematics department and chair for the STEM education program. As such, he handles the duties associated with being a program chair, including teaching schedules, admissions, advising, accreditation and administering Ph.D. exams. He is a tireless advocate for this program. He is currently advising 13 Ph.D. students. Additionally, he chairs the COES teaching-track promotion committee, is Florida Tech’s Faculty Athletic Representative, is assisting the offices of the president and the provost in the development of a summer institute initiative to train high school teachers – and he’s served in the faculty senate for 22 years.
“In summary, Tom has given selfless service to the university and is one of the most dedicated faculty members you will ever find,” Harris said. “He volunteers for too many things and puts in so many hours to make sure that everything is done correctly. Dr. Tom Marcinkowski has been part of the fabric of this university for CY 2022 and for decades.”
2023 COES Staff Excellence Award: Dee Dee van Horn. Van Horn is administrative assistant
in the Department of Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences and was nominated for the award by department head Rich Aronson.
Aronson wrote, ““For the last 15 years, Dee Dee has been the heart and soul of the Department of Biological Sciences and, more recently, of the Department of Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences. I can think of no member of staff with whom I have worked at Florida Tech who has done more, day- to-day and year-to-year, to promote departmental success, and who is more deserving of the award. Her high-level performance during 2022 was consistent with, emblematic of, and a continuation of her efforts in previous years.”
Aronson quoted another faculty member who said that van Horn is “first to arrive, last to leave; the go-to person to solve any problem, get things done, provide both solace and cheer, and make our world a better place; a remarkable person.”
Each of the four recipients will receive a $1,000 bonus and the honor of having their names added to a special plaque in the dean’s conference room in Olin Engineering.
With the awards presented, it was time to jam.
The COES faculty band “DisBand” – Dave Fleming (lead guitar), Rob Van Woesik (lead vocals/guitar and guest faculty Ted Handel (guitar/harmonica) – started the musical portion of the gathering with renditions of “Walking Down the Road” by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, “Can’t You See” by the Marshal Tucker Band and “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones.
Then Harris led faculty and staff, including President Bob King, into some karaoke.
Harris sang “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in a duet with and Senior Vice President for Development Gary Grant. For King, it was Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” with the addition of some novel aerospace-themed lyrics. The songs performed ran the gamut, from “Michelle” to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” “Macarena” to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Wagon Wheel” to “Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara,” “Danger Zone” to “El Rey,” “Eight Days a Week” to “Rocket Man.”