The ESWP 128th Annual Banquet Recap

More than 500 guests enjoyed an evening of networking, education and fraternity at ESWP’s 128th Annual Engineering Awards Banquet, held February 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The event is held annually to celebrate National Engineers Week.

The event began with an extended social hour allowing guests to network around the Silent Auction tables which were filled with many contributed items from ESWP supporters. The Auction featured items such as sporting event tickets, university alumni baskets, jewelry and gift certificates. Proceeds from the auction provide financial support to ESWP’s student outreach activities.

Master of Ceremonies Rick Sebak (WQED Multi-Media) called the gathering to dinner, then introduced vocalist Jeff Jimmerson who flawlessly performed the National Anthem. ESWP’s 1st Vice-President Charles Toran (Sci-Tek Consultants, Inc.) then provided an inspirational invocation for the event. Following the introduction of the many dignitaries who filled the room, guests enjoyed a sumptuous dinner of grilled breast of chicken and tilapia.

The evening’s program began with the presentation of the George Washington Prize, awarded by the University of Pittsburgh and presented by Engineering Dean Gerald Holder. Three finalists were identified by Dr. Holder; Robert Kosarowich, Julianne Fatula and Michael Krajcovic, with Mr. Krajcovic selected as the 2012 Prize recipient. His award included a $2500 cash award and a $7500 Dean’s fellowship at Pitt.

ESWP President Tom Donatelli, (Michael Baker Corporation) then presented ESWP’s Annual Awards of Distinction beginning with the recognition of last year’s President Deborah Lange (Steinbrenner Institute at CMU). Dr. Lange provided remarks in support of ESWP’s student outreach initiative, acknowledging a special guest in the audience, Mr. Nick Foley who was introduced as the 2011-12 Youth of the Year1 as chosen by the Boys & Girls Club of America. Mr. Donatelli then presented ESWP’s Project of the Year Award in four different categories, as follows:

  • Transportation Project of the Year, recognizing the PA Turnpike Reconstruction from Irwin to New Stanton. Owner: PA Turnpike Commission, nominated by Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • Industrial Project of the Year, recognizing the Whitely Substation Withstands Mine Subsidence. Owner: West Penn Power/First Energy, nominated by DiGioia, Gray & Associates
  • Commercial Project of the Year, recognizing the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Riverfront Plaza. Owner: Pittsburgh Sports & Exhibition Authority, nominated by Michael Baker Jr., Inc.
  • Sustainable Design Project of the Year, recognizing the Zero Liquid Discharge for FGD Wastewater. Owner: ENEL, nominated by Aquatech International Corporation.

ESWP’s Engineer of the Year was presented to Ray N. Walker, Jr. (Range Resources) for his contributions to the Marcellus Shale industry and the founding Chair of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. Mr. Walker is an Agricultural Engineer and a recognized expert in horizontal drilling for natural gas extraction.

Mr. Donatelli then presented the President’s Engineering Excellence Award to ASSET, Inc., an acronym for “Achieving Student Success through Excellence in Teaching.” Accepting the award was Cynthia Pulkowski and Rebecca Lucore, Executive Director and Board President, respectively.

The final award of the evening was ESWP’s William Metcalf Award to recognize lifetime achievement in the engineering profession. Bernard J. Fedak was honored as the 2012 recipient. “Bernie” spent the majority of his 40 year career in the steel and metals industry, most notably a 20-year span with U.S. Steel Corporation, where he retired from in 2005.Currently, Mr. Fedak is the Vice-President of Operations for Kvaerner, focusing on a $2 billion coal fired power plant in West Virginia. Fedak is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a Past President of ESWP. ESWP has presented this award annually since 1963, making Fedak the 50th recipient of the Metcalf Award.

The highlight of the evening was the keynote presentation by NASA Astronaut Catherine Coleman2. Former NASA Astronaut and 2002 Metcalf Award Recipient Dr. Jay Apt (Carnegie Mellon University) provided introductory remarks of Dr. Coleman.  Dr. Coleman is a veteran of three low orbit space flights and has logged more than 4,300 hours in space including a 159-day stay aboard the International Space Station. Colonel Coleman holds a Bachelors of Science degree from MIT, and a Doctorate in Polymer Science and Engineering from the University of Massachusetts. Her presentation was filled with photographs and video from her space travels including many “behind the scenes” details of her journeys, including the exercise regiment, sleeping quarters and the viewing portal which provided spectacular views of the earth. Coleman commented on the importance of maintaining visual contact with the earth while in extended space flight, despite the additional design required for the portal. Banquet guests were completely thrilled with Ms. Coleman’s presentation, giving her their full attention and then posing a number of questions which were graciously and thoughtfully answered.

At the conclusion of the program, guests then enjoyed a dessert and coffee buffet allowing for additional networking time with the award winners and keynote speaker and celebration of National Engineers Week.