Stay informed on the latest happenings in PCEC!
Stay informed on the latest happenings in PCEC!
Grand Valley State University
Padnos College of Engineering & Computing Newsletter
Dr. Paul Plotkowski, Dean
Padnos College of Engineering
and Computing

Dean's Message:

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The Padnos College and our programs were created at the request of, and in partnership with, local industry. Our mission has always been to provide an outstanding and practical education and career opportunities for our students while supporting the ever expanding talent needs of the West Michigan community and employers.   

While the scope of the college has grown tremendously in both the breadth of programs offered and in enrollment, we have always maintained this mission.

In this newsletter, you will see articles that speak to broadening our student population, providing outstanding student support (both financially as well as through mentorship and advising), service to our community, and more. And all this forward momentum happened as the College, the University, and the world has been dealing with Covid.

There are many great things happening in the Padnos College. We hope you enjoy the update. 

As always, I enjoy hearing from you. If you have questions or comments, follow this link to

Student and Faculty looking at Autocam Medical equipment
Dr. Lindsay Corneal and an engineering student discuss equipment at Autocam Medical

Autocam Medical Engineering Scholarship Opportunity

Are you a student interested in working in the biomedical engineering field? Do you have a 3.2 GPA or higher? Do you plan to start your industry co-op in Spring/Summer 2022? If you answered yes to these questions, the Autocam Medical Engineering Scholarship may be the perfect opportunity for you!
  • The Autocam Medical Engineering Scholarship opportunity offers up to a full-tuition scholarship for the sophomore, junior, and senior years.
  • Guaranteed co-op placement at Autocam Medical, which is located in Grand Rapids.
  • Founded by John Kennedy, Autocam Medical is a a global contract manufacturer of orthopedic implants, spinal implants, precision instruments and orthopedic cutting tools.
Apply now for the Autocam Scholarship. The application deadline is Friday, July 9, 2021.
FVSU students and staff tour the GVSU Innovation Design Center
FVSU students and staff tour the GVSU Innovation Design Center

FVSU Students Visit GVSU Campuses, West Michigan Businesses

One month after Grand Valley State University and Fort Valley State University announced an agreement to help diversify West Michigan's engineering and computing talent pool, 12 students from the Georgia university visited Grand Rapids to learn more.
Leaders from the two universities signed an agreement April 8 that creates a pathway for FVSU students to earn a bachelor’s degree from FVSU combined with a master's degree in engineering or computer science at GVSU in as little as five years. FVSU is a Historically Black College/University (HBCU). 
Paul Plotkowski, dean of GVSU's Padnos College of Engineering and Computing (PCEC), said the students had a packed two-day schedule in Grand Rapids that included meeting faculty members, current graduate students and PCEC partners, and touring engineering and computing labs and facilities, along with visiting popular spots in Grand Rapids.
Plotkowski said scheduling time with the college's corporate partners was key. Omar Hall, vice president of sales at NN Inc., for example, started college at a HBCU before transferring to the University of Michigan for its engineering program. Hall shared his career path with FVSU students and discussed how finding support and using resources aids success.
"The interest from the community in this program is very important as it relates to talent recruitment and diversifying the talent pool in West Michigan," Plotkowski said. "Our partners can explain to the students how they will be supported by the university and area businesses if they participate in the program."
B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said that the agreement with FVSU serves as a blueprint for Grand Valley's future recruitment efforts with HBCUs. "Grand Valley will not compete with these amazing institutions but will collaborate in order to further promote their mission of increasing the educational attainment of African American students," explained Truss.
GVSU's Confined Space, Lockout/Tagout, and Fall Protection Training Equipment
The new confined space, lockout/tagout, and fall protection training equipment in the GVSU Innovation Design Center.

GVSU to Host Industry Confined Space, Lockout/Tagout, and Fall Protection Training

We are feeling a bit like a child with a new toy -- only we'd like to share our new "toy" with you! During the past year, GVSU Occupational Safety and Health faculty have been creating an opportunity for industry professionals to experience Confined Space, Lockout/Tagout, and Fall Protection training on our new, state-of-the-art equipment funded through a Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) grant.
This upcoming opportunity is open to construction and manufacturing professionals seeking to practice and enhance their safety skills in a controlled environment. Since this training is not virtual, there will be no Zoom connection to worry about. We will meet in-person (safely distanced) at the GVSU Padnos College of Engineering and Computing's new Innovation Design Center on the Pew Grand Rapids campus to learn on our new equipment. 
Details: The program is free, but does require pre-registration. It will be led by GVSU OSH faculty, Dr. Dave Huizen. Complete program information, dates/times, and registration can be found online at
The trainings will be offered in June 2021. There are three options to choose from; one section for construction employees and two sections for manufacturing employees.
Want to know more or need to speak with someone? Contact us at (616) 331-7180 or
Engineering Combined Degree Scholarship Program Inaugural Cohort
The inaugural student cohort of the NSF funded engineering combined degree scholarship program with supporting GVSU faculty and staff

Engineering Students are First Cohort to Begin Path to Combined Degrees through NSF Funded Program

Engineering faculty members and administrators received a five-year, $967,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to recruit and support students from low-income backgrounds in the combined BSE/MSE program. The inaugural cohort of students met May 14 at the Innovation Design Center, on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.
Sanjivan Manoharan, assistant professor of engineering, said the grant will provide scholarships and the program's supporting infrastructure. Manoharan and Shabbir Choudhuri, professor and director of the School of Engineering's Graduate Program, will oversee the grant program.
Zakary Smith, a junior from Bedford who is majoring in mechanical engineering, said he was interested in joining the cohort after learning about the opportunity from Manoharan. "We talked about the different projects that I would be working on along with the other students in the cohort and the opportunities to network with different companies and universities along the way," Smith said. "The benefits of an accelerated program seemed like a good opportunity to advance my engineering knowledge and grow as a leader."
Choudhuri said over the course of the grant, 30 students will receive one-on-one faculty mentoring and engage in networking and job shadowing opportunities.

Visit the School of Engineering website.

2021 Pineapple Award Recipients
Clockwise from Top Left: Choudhuri, Gurrala, Kandalaft, Scripps, Rhodes, Nuznov

PCEC Faculty, Staff, and Student Honored with Pineapple Awards

We are thrilled to announce that six faculty, staff, and students in the Padnos College of Engineering & Computing were selected to receive the GVSU Padnos International Center’s Pineapple Awards, which recognize Grand Valley faculty, staff, community members, and students who advocate for international students and enrich their experience while they are in West Michigan. 
Please join us in congratulating the following individuals on receiving this honor:
  • Dr. Shabbir Choudhuri, Professor, School of Engineering
  • Jeevan Reddy Gurrala, Student
  • Dr. Nabeeh Kandalaft, Professor, School of Engineering
  • Mary Nuznov, PCEC Academic Advisor
  • Dr. Samhita Rhodes, Professor, School of Engineering
  • Dr. Jerry Scripps, Professor, School of Computing
Aaron Trudeau
Aaron Trudeau

Computer Science Student Receives Outstanding Civic Engagement Project Award

Computer Science student, Aaron Trudeau, was selected by the GVSU Honors College as the co-winner of the Outstanding Civic Engagement Project Award for his Easy Accessibility Package project, which focused on video game accessibility. The award recognizes student projects that make a contribution to society; either locally, regionally, or globally.
The Easy Accessibility Package project was inspired by a conversation with Professor Ira Woodring, who suggested that Aaron look into the field of video game accessibility. This led Aaron to wonder, "what if making video games accessible was as easy as downloading a package?" The resulting project is a program for Unity, a game engine bundled with game development software, that is meant to help video game developers easily make their games accessible to disabled gamers. The main features of his project are remappable control and screen reader support. The remappable controls allow users to change which button performs in-game actions, and the screen reader support has on-screen text or game statues read aloud. 
Eric VanMiddendorp and John Farris
Left to Right: Eric VanMiddendorp & Dr. John Farris

Engineering Alum & Faculty Win 2021 Biomedical Innovation Cup Crowd Favorite Award

The 'Water Removal Device to Prevent Ventilator-Associated Illness' project by Dr. John Farris (engineering faculty) and Eric VanMiddendorp, MSE (GVSU School of Engineering alum now employed by Spectrum Health Innovations) was selected as the Crowd Favorite at this year's Biomedical Innovation Cup for it's potential to help patients on ventilators and protect respiratory therapists.
The Water Management System (WMS) reduces the occurrences of Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia by automatically removing the water and sputum from the ventilator tubes without opening or moving the tubes. “The WMS does not change the current workflow,” says VanMiddendorp. “Once it is installed, the system only requires quick draining during routine patient care intervals, so hospital staff have more time to focus on patient care and comfort issues.”
Diane LaFreniere
Diane LaFreniere

Engineering Sebastian Chair Interviewed by Zippia on Current Job Market Trends

Diane LaFreniere, James R. Sebastian Chair for Assessment, Accreditation, and Cooperative Education, provided industry insight on current job market trends to Zippia as part of their panel of experts. 
"The pandemic has created an enormous opportunity for students to understand the need for adaptability, positivity, and team work. For engineering students, this translates to a broader skillset with the depth and breadth of exposure to transition to interdisciplinary engineering roles that require a strong initiative and willingness to contribute in an individual and group capacity," said LaFreniere. "For employers, this translates toward revised position descriptions and career paths and recruitment strategies to seek candidates who are equipped to navigate new directions and pivot into a variety of roles within the organization."
"At Grand Valley State University, we emphasize the need for a strong engineering core with greater specialization for students approaching graduation," LaFreniere explained. "The mandatory co-op program and senior capstone experience equips the students with the technical skillset necessary for interdisciplinary engineering teamwork, along with the essential skills necessary to conduct themselves professionally and become future engineering leaders."

PCEC Faculty & Student Awarded Michigan Space Grant Consortium Grants

Multiple PCEC faculty and one student received grant awards from the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) through the Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) at the University of Michigan.
Please join us in congratulating them on this exciting achievement!
  • School of Computing student, Benjamin Jenkins, received an undergraduate fellowship to work with Dr. Christian Trefftz and Dr. Byron DeVries on ‘Revisiting the Facility Location Problem with Densities.’
  • School of Computing professor, Dr. Erik Fredericks, received funding for his ‘Minimizing Power Consumption of Run-Time Software Testing Strategies in Cyber-Physical Systems’ project.
  • School of Engineering professor, Dr. Sanjivan Manoharan, received funding in support of the ‘GV Moon Miners: Lunar Coring Device for Microgravity Challenge’ project.
  • PCEC Outreach Coordinator, Sara Maas, received funding for the 2021 Science, Technology, and Engineering Preview Summer (STEPS) Camp.

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