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 Spring / Summer semester is off to an exciting start for those of us in the Padnos College! I want to take a moment to recognize our student award recipients from the Winter 2022 semester and to highlight some of the ways that our employees and student organizations are active in the community during the summer. 

We have established a new pathway for engineering students to a M.Arch. degree with Kendall College of Art and Design, hosted 7th graders at our STEPS Camp, and heard from some alumni on their current activities. I hope you enjoy reading these updates as much as I enjoy sharing them.

If you have questions or comments, follow this link to Connect with the Dean.

Sam Menzie
Sam Menzie

Padnos College Students Recognized for Academic Excellence & Outstanding Contributions

Several Padnos College of Engineering & Computing students were recognized by Grand Valley State University with awards for academic excellence and outstanding contributions. Please join us in recognizing and celebrating their achievements!
Glenn A. Niemeyer Award
Sam Menzie is an occupational safety and health management major and one of five recipients of the Niemeyer Award, presented to undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate excellence in the classroom and on campus.

Menzie will return to Grand Valley next fall to begin the master's degree program in biomedical engineering. He said he eventually would like to develop equipment that prevents musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace. 

The OSHM program offered Menzie a blend of engineering and working directly with people. "It also let me flex my love of writing more than a traditional engineering role would," he said. Menzie has volunteered at area high schools as a member of Young Life, and has worked as a consultant at the Fred Meijer Center for Writing and as a lab assistant for OSHM. 

"As a lab assistant, I had the amazing responsibility of helping support students who are doing project work to serve workers in the greater Grand Rapids area as a part of their curriculum," he said. "I don't know if I made the biggest splash during my time at GVSU, but I am proud of the impact that I have had."
Thomas M. Seykora Award
The Seykora Award recognizes a number of seniors who, through their involvement, have made significant and outstanding contributions to the campus community.
  • Nicole Seiler, Occupational Safety and Health Management
  • Aziz Sarhan Jr., Mechanical Engineering
Excellence-in-a-Discipline Award
The Excellence-in-a-Discipline Award honors one student from each undergraduate and graduate discipline. Faculty from each department select the recipient based upon an earned minimum number of credit hours at an exceptional grade point average.
  • Dominic Smith, Computer Engineering
  • Nathan Funckes, Computer Science
  • Mary Benton, Cybersecurity
  • Karmyn VonEhr, Electrical Engineering
  • Nicole Nelson, Interdisciplinary Engineering
  • Kara Byers, Information Systems
  • Isaac Beasley, Information Technology
  • Camryn Lozon, Mechanical Engineering
  • Nicole Seiler, Occupational Safety and Health Management
  • Elizabeth Mitchell, Applied Computer Science (M.S.)
  • Jacob Coddaire, Cybersecurity (M.S.)
  • Alyssa Hawker, Data Science and Analytics (M.S.)
  • North Yates, Engineering (M.S.E.)
  • Sierra Strutz, Health Informatics and Bioinformatics (M.S.)
A vehicle from Rivian.
A vehicle from Rivian

The Road Ahead

Two recent Grand Valley graduates have roles in shaping the future of transportation through their work on electric vehicles.

Daniel Heibel ’20 and Adam Duke ’21 are employed by Rivian, an automotive technology and manufacturing company founded in 2009. The company specializes in off-road electric vehicles, creating products meant to appeal to a more adventure-minded market.

These two Lakers found themselves working on the next generation of vehicles fresh out of college, and credit their experiences at Grand Valley with getting them positions in a highly competitive, quickly expanding company. 
STEPS Campers
STEPS campers


The GVSU Science, Technology, and Engineering Preview Summer (STEPS) Camp returned for its 21st year! We were thrilled to have a full roster of incoming 7th grade campers and excited to once again be operating fully in-person. The aviation-themed camp involved students in learning STEM concepts through creation of a remote-controlled airplane, which students then got to pilot and demonstrate to their families on the last day of camp.

In addition to creating R/C airplanes, students gained experience in coding, tried out a flight simulator, and participated in field trips to Arconic Power & Propulsion Plant, West Michigan Aviation Academy, Amway hangar, GVSU's Allendale campus, and the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Our sincere gratitude to our STEPS Camp sponsors and volunteers for encouraging the next generation of STEM professionals! This opportunity is made possible through the generosity of Michigan Space Grant Consortium, Bosch Community Fund, Cascade Engineering, Howmet Aerospace Foundation, Parker Hannifin, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and West Michigan Aviation Academy. Multiple R/C plane clubs assisted campers with building the airplanes and served as pilots and pit crew during Flight Night. Warped Wings hosted the camp for flying of the R/C planes.

A STEPS Camper shows off her R/C airplane Four campers participate in a STEM activity. A STEPS camper works with staff on building the wings for his R/C airplane.
GVSU & KCAD leaders sign the articulation agreement
Leaders from GVSU & KCAD sign the articulation agreement

GVSU Engineering Students Now Have Pathway to Master's Degree in Architecture from KCAD

Leaders at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) and Grand Valley have signed an articulation agreement that establishes a pathway to degree completion for GVSU interdisciplinary engineering students interested in pursuing a master's degree in architecture from KCAD.

The articulated curriculum will allow students to develop deep knowledge in the disciplines of architecture and engineering, which is essential for effective collaboration and success in the built environment industry. The agreement also provides students with an accelerated timeline to degree completion and reduced costs.

Beginning in the Fall semester, students who participate in the articulated curriculum will be able to complete KCAD Master of Architecture requirements as electives to fulfill their undergraduate degree requirements at GVSU, allowing them to complete both degrees in six years rather than the typical seven-year timeline.

“By collaborating with KCAD, this agreement will provide uniquely effective preparation,” said Paul Plotkowski, dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing. “This collaboration by two regional institutions is a great example of working together to answer the interests of our students and employers in a high-demand field.”

View the full story.
W8GVU student and faculty volunteers at the Big Sable Point Lighthouse
Members of W8GVU pose in front of the Big Sable Point Lighthouse

GVSU Amateur Radio Group Broadcast from Big Sable Point Lighthouse

Ludington Daily News covered the GVSU W8GVU amateur radio student organization's recent activation of the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Text below is from the original article by David Bossick.
A wire stretched from the railing near the top of the Big Sable Point Lighthouse down some 40 to 50 feet where it fed into a transmitter this weekend.

Inside the lighthouse, a group were sending out signals while receiving their own, making contact with the world from Australia, Mexico, Canada and all sorts of places in the United States.

It was all part of a project of the Grand Valley State University Amateur Radio Council student group, W8GVU. The students, who range from mechanical and electrical engineers to those who are going into becoming first responders in life, not only were refining their skills in amateur radio, but earning certifications, too.

View the full story.

W8GVU students and staff prepare to activate the lighthouse. W8GVU members track connections made around the globe.
Photo of a young girl smiling in front of a chalk board
Stock Photo by Julia M. Cameron on Pexels

A Roadmap for Optimism: How Southeast Michigan Schools are Preparing Kids for High-Tech Manufacturing Careers

Grand Valley State University was featured in an article by Dan Stewart with Automation Alley. Text from the original article is below.

Workforce-related issues are paramount in the minds of most, if not all, manufacturers.  Attracting and maintaining talent has led to the discomfort most manufacturers have experienced as volatility grips the pandemic-influenced economy.  

Adding to that discomfort is the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which requires that talent in the education pipeline possess digital skills for jobs that exceed the workforce competency available today, or perhaps don’t even exist yet. How are we positioning the future workforce in preparation for these jobs—particularly in the domain of manufacturing— to address the needs of an Industry 4.0-ready workforce?

Conversations with influential representatives of K-12 and higher education reveal innovative solutions that will help manufacturers meet their needs in the digital era. These examples provide a roadmap for optimism.

Grand Valley State University, for instance, is in pursuit of solutions that engage K-12 students, expanding the college-going population, particularly where it relates to STEM curricula, both through bootcamps that exist at the university, or through university outreach to the community. These programs have, at their heart, manufacturing-related experiences and touch about 25,000 K-12 students in a typical school year.

View the full story.

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