Each year the J.B. Speed School of Engineering presents professional awards in engineering in Chemical, Civil, Computer, Electrical, Industrial, and Mechanical Engineering and an outstanding young engineer in Bioengineering.
Professional Award in Engineering
Criteria may include:
Outstanding career performance in engineering such as a major executive, inventor, educator, in government service, medicine or the humanities.
Exceptional efforts by an individual to foster the professional development of young engineering college students.
Exceptional ability in the planning and direction of significant and important projects in technical engineering.
Exceptional contribution by an individual to technical engineering knowledge.
Outstanding Young Engineer Award
Criteria may include:
35 years of age or under at time the award is presented.
Progress achieved in industrial/governmental/educational environment since graduation from Speed School, e.g., Chief Engineer; Plant Manager, etc.
Number of quality of professional publications and presentations.
Leadership in chosen field of engineering such as offices held in professional societies, activities, conference chairmen, etc.
Leadership in community activities and/or university activities.
Physician Uses Engineering Skills to Advance Medicine
For Mickey Ising, MD, his Masters of Engineering degree from Speed School in 2010 became the starting line for a career that has earned kudos at every turn. The physician has been named Outstanding Young Bioengineer for the 2020 Speed School Alumni Awards.
Named Speed School’s Outstanding Graduate Student, Ising decided to combine his love for engineering and medicine. “When I started at University of Louisville, I never imagined I’d become a physician. However, I was fortunate to obtain a co-op where I worked under a group of cardiothoracic surgeons and bioengineers developing cardiac assist devices,” said Ising. “It was inspiring to see the potential of combining the skillsets of physicians and engineers. Ultimately, that led me to medical school and eventually cardiac surgery.”
During Dr. Ising’s 15 years at UofL, he was a member of the Advanced Heart Failure Research Program at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute developing and testing ventricular assist devices. His efforts have resulted in over 40 publications and conference presentations. Both the cardiothoracic surgery and medical communities have recognized his exceptional body of work by awarding him The American Society of Artificial Internal Organ’s Young Innovator Fellowship, Southern Thoracic Surgical Association’s James W. Brooks Medical Student Scholarship and Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ Looking to the Future Award. He was one of 21 graduating medical students honored with the American Medical Association’s Physician of Tomorrow Award.
Ising said he credits Speed School for helping him develop a foundation of leadership skills. “The Department of Bioengineering was new when I started at UofL, and we were actively engaged in the evolution of the department during its infancy. The experience taught me the importance of taking ownership in programs I am involved in. It is imperative to continue to innovate so that it is better for those that follow.”
After completing general surgery training in 2021, Ising will begin a cardiac surgery fellowship at University of Virginia, one of the premier training programs in the country.
“To be chosen as the Young Outstanding Bioengineer is truly an honor,” said Ising. “The award is also a reflection of the opportunities my mentors gave me. My achievements would not have been possible without their mentorship and guidance.”
Master Distiller for Jeptha Creed Honored with Alumni Award
As far back as she can remember, Joyce Nethery has had a passion for chemistry. She earned a Master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Louisville’s Speed School.
After graduating from Speed, Nethery had a varied and rewarding career working in the industrial distillation unit for a chemical manufacturer, then spent a decade teaching high school chemistry and physics before her husband Bruce’s dream of opening a distillery reignited her passion for the distillation process.
At first, Nethery wasn’t so sure, but she attended Moonshine University — a six-day crash course in distilling offered in Louisville — in January 2013. And that’s when she fell back in love with engineering. “I could see this vision for this ground-to-glass distillery, that we had a story from our agricultural roots and, with my engineering, we could distill it into a value-added product. I came out of the class with that vision.”
Owned and operated by dynamic mother-and-daughter Nethery and her daughter Autumn, Jeptha Creed Distillery sits in Shelbyville, Kentucky on 64 acres of farmland, where they grow the Bloody Butcher Corn they use for all of their products. Using that corn, they produce vodka, moonshine, and bourbon.
The master distiller said lessons learned at Speed School were instrumental to her success in the distillery business. “My engineering career path was influenced by Speed School in the disciplined thought processes we were taught,” said Nethery. “Disciplined, logical thought processes that engineers use have influenced every career position I’ve ever had – like being a distillery owner!”
Nethery said her favorite memories of Speed School start with the walk to class from the dorms. “To get to Speed School from the other side of campus means crossing Eastern Parkway and leaving all the rest of UofL behind and entering our own Engineering world. I always felt really special when crossing the road and entering the Engineering Side,” she said.
The award winner also credited Speed School with giving her the drive to take on an unexpected route. “This award is a real special honor to me,” she said. “Speed School, and the Chemical Engineering department especially, gave me the confidence and skills to make some pretty crazy career moves that led to being uniquely qualified to build and run a distillery from the ground up. The greatest life lesson I learned at Speed School is to keep going and keep working even when you think you are going to fail,” said Nethery. “The things I learned at Speed have touched every part of my career and I am so blessed to be recognized by the school that has given me so much.”
Professor’s Civil Engineering Career in Academia Honored
Dr. Wallace Sanders, a Masters of Engineering graduate from Speed School has led a long and storied career in Civil Engineering. Sanders received his PhD from University of IllinoisUrbana.
He is currently Professor Emeritus at Iowa State after more than three decades teaching and conducting research there in structural engineering with specialties in bridge design and aluminum structures.
Sanders gave a lecture series in Germany,which ledto his participation in a committee that writes criteria for the European Committee for Constructional Steelworks. He has been awarded Outstanding Civil Engineer AwardfromAmerican Society of Civil Engineers -Iowa Section, Superior Service Award at IowaState, and the Lifetime Achievement Award at American Institute of Steel Construction. He and his brother, John, who is also a Speed School alum, have supported the Speed School engineering outreach program, especially those efforts at Central High School.
Sanders said this alumni award means recognition of his work related to his education, and he remembers fondly morning get-togethers at Speed School. “Speed School gave me opportunities in the work place to see what my professional career would be like,”he said. Those work experiences can teach young students how classwork leads to good work experience.”
Facebook Guru Credits Speed School with Foundation for Success
Dr. Aleksey Fadeev said one of his favorite memories of Speed School, where he received his PhD in Computer Science and Engineering, was that he distinctly remembers being pleasantly surprised at the advanced equipment he had the opportunity to use there. “I had never had the chance to work with such powerful hardware before,” he said. “For example, I used a custom hardware card for 3D visualization of MRI scans. I felt like I was in a sci-fi movie.”
For the last six years, Fadeev has had a tangible role to play in moving that sci-fi vision forward by building and leading Data Science teams at Facebook. Since 2018, he has been Director of Data Science and Analytics developing communication products at Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram Apps. His team is contributing to a significant change in the messaging and communication industry landscape by building a common protocol and interoperability across the three largest apps in the world used by more than 2 billion people.
Prior to his current role, Fadeev led a data team that contributed to the scaling of Facebook’s ads to become one of the largest advertising businesses in the world by growing revenue from $8B/year to over $40B/year. In his role, he was also able to promote two former Speed School classmates coming on board at Facebook. “They have worked with me, and I was super happy to recommend them and help in their interview process. I knew they were rock stars from the time we studied together, and later over the years when we kept in touch,” he said.
From the first job after his PhD to today, Fadeev said his Speed School education had a profound influence on his career path, from fundamentals to expertise. “It was there that I had my first exposure to real work on a real project where we had to deliver a system that performed better and on time. It takes an enormous amount of effort, attention, and tries to find something that works. That has not changed since then and is true for every project I have been working on since. I am glad I had this lesson early in my career and had all the support and mentorship to get through it,” he said. “It would be really fair to say that without going through Speed School’s PhD program, my career would have been very different.
The engineer said he is honored and humbled to receive the Alumni Professional Award for Computer Science and Engineering. “I hope it would serve as inspiration to all students of Speed School who are looking forward to starting their career and achieving success in the industry.”
FirstBuild Director Drives Innovation for GE Appliances
For four years, Speed School alumnus Lawrence Portaro has been managing an innovation accelerator that combines a global co-creation community with a state-of-the-art micro-factory to invent next-generation appliance products.
As Executive Director of FirstBuild, a wholly owned subsidiary of GE Appliances, a Haier company, Portaro counts the Opal Nugget Ice Maker, Paragon Cooking System, Open Hearth Oven and the Forge Clear Ice System among the team’s successful product launches.
Thousands of people each year join FirstBuild’s free makerspace on the University of Louisville campus and online community at FirstBuild.com to showcase their creativity, share their passion projects, and see what FirstBuild is working on next.
Portaro received his Master’s Degree in Engineering at Speed School, and has also earned his Master BlackBelt Lean Six Sigma Certification. Before joining FirstBuild, Larry spent nearly 25 years at GE Appliances, where he last served as the technology leader for its cooking business and oversaw industry firsts, such as the French door wall oven and next generation induction controls.
“Through my time at Speed, I found I truly enjoyed solving problems and designing solutions and it led me to my first role at GE Appliances,” said Portaro. “I love creating products that people want to own and use,” he said.
Portaro said he has continued to return to lasting lessons gleaned from Speed School throughout his career, in both professional and personal ways.
I developed a level of self-belief that has helped me throughout my career,” he said. “At first at Speed School, I honestly questioned whether I would able to get through the initial coursework, but with each semester I proved to myself that I belonged, and really began enjoying the challenges that came in the higher level coursework,” he said.
In addition, Portaro said that Speed taught him “the power of perseverance, first through the early STEM coursework and then throughout my master’s degree. I also learned the importance of building relationships. I made lifelong friends in those late night study groups,” he said.
Portaro said being selected for the Alumni Professional Award is a significant honor to him. “It’s very meaningful to be recognized by the people who helped set you on your path.,” he said. “Throughout my time at UofL, I felt supported both academically and personally. My professors’ personal interest in my learning and my success launched me into an exciting career where I could continue to call Louisville home,” he said.
Today, Portaro works directly with Speed School students and faculty through his role at FirstBuild. “I am grateful to be able to give back some of what UofL has given to me and I am humbled by this recognition.”
Award Winner Credits Co-op for Jump Starting his Career
Matt Pulley received his BS in Industrial Engineering and Masters in Engineering from University of Louisville’s Speed School of Engineering. He began his professional career at General Electric (GE) as a graduate of its Operations Management Leadership Program in 2010. This program helped propel him in multiple facets of Supply Chain Management, Leadership Development, and Operational Excellence.
“Speed School was the first stepping stone in my career path. The co-op program was able to help jump-start my career and gave me real world examples of how to apply the classroom lessons,” said Pulley.
While at GE, he continued to not only apply lessons learned from Speed School, but also to refine those skills, as he progressed through various locations and leadership roles with increasing responsibility in Operations and Supply Chain Management.
“Speed School’s rigorous academic push really helped me understand the need for continuous learning,” he said. “No matter what role or what team I’ve worked on, you have to be willing to keep learning, and learning about things outside your current roles.”
During his time at GE, Matt expanded his learning to earn his Green Belt (2009) and Black Belt (2013) in Lean Six Sigma, and an APICS Certification in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM, 2014).
In 2017, Matt returned to the Louisville area, to join the Amazon operations team in Jeffersonville, IN. Currently, he is the General Manager of the Jeffersonville facility which operates as a customer fulfillment center, helping to ship thousands of packages each day.
As a business leader in several communities, Matt has helped serve in multiple capacities to give back and is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Greater Clark County Education Foundation. Since his time at Speed School, he has volunteered numerous times for his national fraternity (Triangle Fraternity) by leading seminars and leadership development sessions to help future leaders in STEM fields.
Among other professional honors, two of Pulley’s most cherished awards are his 2008 JB Speed School of Engineering Young Alumnus Award and 2006 Kentucky Association of Colleges and Employers Most Outstanding Co-op of the Year. He said both honors bring back great memories of his time at U of L and the opportunities that were given to him thanks to the rigors of Speed School.
“I always enjoyed how the Engineering School felt like its own little ‘village’ of the University,” said Pulley. “Between engaging in the Speed School Student Council, and other various campus activities, it always felt like a home away from home.”
Pulley said he is very thankful for this Alumni Professional Award, and proud to represent the Industrial Engineering program at Speed School. “This is a special time for me,” he said. “It helps to validate the hard work that I and my family have put into my career since graduation. Often, the importance of having supportive family and friends in order to be successful, can be overlooked. My wife and family have moved numerous times to help me gain different experiences and lessons to continue my career growth,” said Pulley. “This is as much an award for them as it is for me.”
Alum Started Global Company with Two UofL Graduates
Speed School alum Greg Judge said he remembers thinking that once he had completed his first year of Speed School, that maybe he had a chance to finish. “I remember being a little intimidated by the level of intellect, and thinking that maybe I should have paid a little more attention to high school calculus and physics,” he said. But Judge persevered and went on to earn degrees in engineering, business and an MBA from University of Louisville.
He eventually co-founded a material handling company, MHS (Material Handling Systems), with two other UofL graduates, Tony Mouser and Scott McReynolds. “For me, Speed School put together some of the building blocks of knowledge, discipline, work ethic and instilled the confidence that led to the founding of MHS,” said Judge. “We had the great fortune of having one of the best engineering schools in the country in our back yard, and being surrounded by fantastic UofL alumni as we built MHS from a one-room office to a global powerhouse in our industry,” said Judge.
Today as the President and Co-Founder of MHS, Judge has more than 35 years of experience in the material handling and conveyor industry. Under his leadership, MHS has grown to become the leading provider of material handling solutions in Global Automation and E-Commerce markets. Based in Louisville, the company now employs over 2,000 worldwide. Prior to co-founding MHS in 1999, Greg worked for companies including Northrop Grumman and Sandvik Sorting Systems.
“Engineering (all disciplines) is front and center in so many of the most important endeavors going on in the world today,” said Judge. The MHS president said he often has the opportunity to talk with young engineers and co-op students. “I tell them that individual professors and fellow students can make a lifelong impact on where you end up. I hope that I can inspire them, a little bit, to let their talent and work ethic take them wherever they want.”
What does this Alumni Professional Award in Mechanical Engineering mean to Judge? “I was inspired by my Aunt to pursue a degree in Engineering, and although I literally had no way to pay for it at the time, I found a way,” said Judge. “It allowed for incredible experiences, and the ability to help others in ways I could never have imagined.”
Outstanding Corporate Award
Nominees considered for this award should meet one or more of the following criteria:
Supports educational mission of the school by providing:
academic scholarships for Speed students
cooperative education assignments for Speed students
participation in e-expo and career fairs
in-class presentations or educational materials
classroom or educational lab upgrades
access to expertise, equipment, factory tours, etc.
Supports the research mission of the school by providing:
collaboration on research contracts/grants
financial support of research labs/centers
participation in lab/center activities
Extends employment opportunities for Speed graduates
Provides significant financial contributions to Speed School
Speed School Leadership Through Inclusion Alumni Award bestowed annually upon a Speed School alum who actively promotes inclusive excellence. The recipient contributes to and enhances the field of engineering while demonstrating an exceptional understanding of diversity and inclusiveness beyond his/her regular duties.
Nominees considered for this award should meet one or more of the following:
Supports educational mission of the school by providing:
Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion in the field of Engineering
Positive interactions within the Engineering field
Contributions to the Speed School diversity programming
Mentorship to Speed students and/or student organizations
Contributions to enhance diversity and inclusiveness within Engineering
Extends mentorship/career opportunities for underrepresented Speed School students (underrepresented minorities, females, LGBT community)