Seven ECE staff recognized for their outstanding contributions to the ECE community

Devon Degraffenreed, Misha Erementchouk, Jeff Horosko, Elizabeth Oxford, Eva Ruff, Ann Stals, and Punam Vyas received the CoE Staff Incentive Award for their contributions to ECE.

Electrical and Computer Engineering’s culture of innovation, excellence, collaboration, and social equity is expressed in the work of seven recipients of the 2023 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 of diversity, equity and social impact in engineering.

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Devon Degraffenreed, ECE Master’s Program Coordinator

Devon’s commitment and contributions toward fostering an environment of diversity and inclusivity contributes greatly to the positive community experience felt by ECE students. He attends and actively recruits at several NSBE and SHPE fairs across the country promoting ECE and Michigan Engineering.  He is an active member of ECE’s Student Educational Experience Committee, helping to ensure that all of our students have the best experience outside of the classroom and feel part of a community while earning their degree. He volunteers to help out with DEI events such as Diwali and Lunar New Year, and is currently working on an event and accompanying educational information for Black History Month. He shared his experience on mental health for students at a regional conference discussing the importance of building a culture of trust by providing transparency which increases rapport with students, making them comfortable and more inclined to seek out assistance when in need.

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Mikhail Erementchouk, Research Area Specialist Lead

Mikhail demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities when he stepped up to manage a research lab for a faculty member who was on leave from the university. He played an instrumental role in driving initiatives forward, including the creation of a new research laboratory. This lab required coordination with the Dept. of Architecture, Engineering, and Construction, U-M Environment, Health & Safety, the College of Engineering, and the Department. Throughout, he maintained an unwavering commitment to achieving the highest standards in every task, from assisting in reporting to sponsors to developing key work in research proposals. He also showed tremendous leadership in coordinating multiple institutions in the preparation of proposals, including providing detailed information for budgets and budget justifications. He ensured that all materials were completed on deadline. Finally, he has been invaluable in the processing of GSRA appointments so that students were paid on time.

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Jeffrey Horosko,  ECE Purchasing Clerk

Jeff is always on the watch for a more efficient process to trim unnecessary administrative burden while delivering excellent service to his customers. He treats everyone with equal respect and endeavors to help in any situation. “That’s not my job” is never a phrase he uses. He has never been one to shy away from pitching in to help the purchasing team. He is consistently supportive of his team and is the first to offer to cover a vacation, time away for a class, illness, or a family emergency. He approaches his job in a calm and professional manner, even under high pressure situations. He has a knack for constructively managing disagreements between procurement and researchers, remaining civil and professional, working out agreements that are amenable to all. His polished and professional communication style, whether in person, over the phone, or in email, contributes to a positive environment in ECE.

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Elizabeth Oxford, Zeus Outreach Coordinator

Elizabeth has worked hard to build a community environment for the many individuals involved in the ZEUS laser project; ZEUS involves faculty, staff and students in the Optics and Photonics Lab, and the Gérard Mourou Center for Ultrafast Optics. She has involved graduate students in a variety of outreach programs that she developed involving children of all ages, and is currently building a rural outreach program for children. Working with summer undergraduate student interns, she created a student orientation that included a laser safety exam component after working directly with the ZEUS laser safety lead, and also provided mini workshops to assist the undergraduate students with additional support related to safety. She also produced a number of successful events to strengthen the community. These include Friendsgiving, Pi Day, and the creation of the Collaboration Cafe. These events have been well received, and she has been successful at obtaining funding for future programs.

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Eva Ruff, ECE Administrative Assistant Senior

Eva is key to the smooth functioning of Steve Forrest’s research group, which is a large cohort of engineers, postdocs, visitors, and students. Her customer service skills are exemplary. She stays abreast of the myriad events happening in the group, and she will continually reach out to others in the department, college, or university to ensure things are moving forward. She is attentive to the needs of Steve’s many visitors, serving as the point of contact before and on campus, from assisting with obtaining the proper visa to seeking out transportation and housing. Eva consistently finds ways to help her co-workers, and is a true team player, taking it upon herself to provide exceptional support and service to all. She is a thoughtful individual with everyone she encounters. She will reach out to help anyone, from someone lost in the building to assisting with the last building flood.  She quickly discerns individuals’ needs and moves efficiently to provide essential information and assistance.

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Ann Stals, ECE Alumni Engagement and Events Manager

Ann consistently demonstrates a capacity for embracing new ideas while seeking ways to make improvements in everything she does. Her efforts ensure that ECE is always seen in a positive light. Almost everything Ann does is as part of a team, and she excels at collaboration. She strives to understand her colleagues’ communication styles and work preferences to ensure a seamless partnership. She manages the ECE Council and has formed positive relationships with the members. Ann chairs the Student Educational Experience Committee, ensuring that ECE students have a positive experience outside of the classroom and feel part of the ECE community. Under her leadership, the committee has provided corporate and alumni speakers, therapy dogs, various outings, as well as educational opportunities and wellness events to address stress and mental health. She also organizes dozens of events, both small and large, for the ECE community, such as Diwali, Lunar New Year, Nowruz, Korean Thanksgiving, and Family Fun Night.

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Punam Vyas, EECS Course Scheduling Coordinator

Punam is adept at finding ways to streamline her responsibilities and make process improvements in her daily work. To better accommodate the dozens of requests she receives from faculty for large classrooms, and to best serve as many students as possible, she has pushed administration to make decisions on teaching schedules earlier. She goes above and beyond searching for classrooms for courses to accommodate a faculty’s preferred time. Her creative solutions extend beyond EECS. For example, the college had been struggling for years to get CollegeNet to add room capacities to the confirmation emails. When Punam attended the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers conference, she sought out and engaged with CollegeNet and convinced them to add room capacity to the confirmation email. She also volunteers on the ECE Positivity committee and ECE’s M-Healthy Committee to help provide a positive healthy culture and environment for all.