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.
A member of the inaugural class of the bioengineering department, Dr. Timothy Horrell was the first student to graduate from its Masters of Engineering program. After earning kudos as the Outstanding Bioengineering Graduate Student, Dr. Horrell continued his education by pursuing his dream of becoming a physician.
Horrell felt compelled to serve in the armed forces and was chosen as a recipient of the Health Professionals Scholarship Program through the United States Army. Upon graduation from medical school, he completed surgical training at the University of Kentucky and upon completion of his residency, Dr. Horrell began active duty as a general surgeon with the United States Army. Over the last three years, Dr. Horrell has served as a staff surgeon at Fort Campbell and deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“My goal was always to become a doctor, but engineering gave me a much different perspective on the field of medicine,” said Horrell. “It gave me a structure from which to frame problems, find solutions, execute them and then keep improving those solutions as situations adapt,” he said. “Surgery was the natural extension of that thought process I learned at Speed School, and put me in a unique position to work towards improving surgical care.
After completion of his active duty commitment, Horrell hopes to complete a fellowship in minimally invasive surgery, and to contribute to the training of residents as an academic surgeon.
“Being chosen for this award is an honor, and I cannot thank those who trained me here enough for all they did to guide me along my path.”
Horrell was presented the award during Speed School’s annual awards dinner at the Brown Hotel on Oct. 21, 2022.
This year’s award winner for Chemical Engineering, Steve Lutes, serves as Vice President, Global QA and Food Safety, for Domino’s, the world’s largest pizza company with over 19,200 retail stores in approximately 90 markets.
Prior to Domino’s, Lutes spent 17 years in the Spirits industry in various manufacturing and corporate QA roles, and 12 years with Sonoco, a global packaging company, that supplies packaging for popular brands such as Pringles, Pillsbury, Nestle and many other top CPG brands.
Lutes received a BS in Chemical Engineering from Speed School of Engineering and an MBA from Bellarmine University. Lutes credits Speed School for providing an outstanding technical foundation and giving him his first business opportunity through the Co-op program. “While at Speed School, I learned perseverance, to never give up and see things through to completion,” said Lutes. “I also learned the power of collaboration, setting lofty goals and perhaps most importantly, how to problem solve, which has served me well over the years.”
A horse racing enthusiast, Lutes enjoys spending time with family, and an occasional round of golf. He and his wife, Teresa, raised 5 kids, plus a number of foster children, and recently welcomed their first grandchild, Mia Teresa, to the family.
“Receiving this award leaves me with a warm sense of accomplishment that I will treasure for years to come. I can’t believe how fast the years pass by and am a proud alumni who wants to give back, especially to the younger generation.”
Benjamin W. Taylor is a Principal with Terracon and Regional Manager for their operations in Kentucky. He obtained his Masters in Civil & Environmental Engineering and Environmental Certificate in 2006 from J.B. Speed School of Engineering. He began his career in design-build geotechnical construction and joined Terracon’s Myrtle Beach, SC office in 2007 as a staff engineer. He moved with his family back to Kentucky where he served in various roles before being promoted to current role of Regional Manager.
Taylor is passionate about leadership development and service to his team, clients, and community. In his role as board member on the Terracon Foundation he enjoys the opportunity to help guide philanthropic giving of community grants, university grants, and scholarships. “We must be willing to “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better,” said Taylor, quoting Maya Angelou.
The engineer said that Speed School’s lessons in resiliency, and learning to analytically break a larger problem into components that can be assessed and solved, have been valuable to his career trajectory. “This has served me well in business, innovating engineering solutions, and seeing the big picture in my personal life with relationships and working through hardships,” he said.
“To me, this award means a recognition of my achievements, regardless of the perfectionism or self-critic,” he said. “I am proud to be an engineer and very proud of my Speed School, it is an honor to be recognized.”
Dr. Esin Saka
Dr. Esin Saka earned her PhD degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Louisville, and received the BS (with a double major in mathematics) and MS degrees in Computer Engineering from the Middle East Technical University (METU), Turkey.
Currently, Saka is a Senior Applied Science Technical Leader at Microsoft, working on improving Power Apps, a low code/no code development tool. Previously, she worked on AI Builder, an automated machine learning solution as well as personalized content selection and recommender systems as an applied scientist, distributed machine learning algorithms as a software developer, and on-display advertising as an applied researcher/scientist. She was the founding Vice Chair of ACM SIGKDD Seattle Chapter.
Her research interests include recommender systems, distributed machine learning, predictive modeling, Web mining, swarm intelligence, multi-agent systems, and genetic programming. Esin is also active in conferences/workshops as a speaker, program committee member, and organizer.
Saka said her Speed School experience got her interested in applied research, influencing her path to her current career. “I learned how to work on real-life problems to improve lives,” she said. Saka also said she believes the most important thing Speed School offers today’s generation of young people is “how to be a self-sufficient and independent tech visionary.”
“I am honored by this award,” said Saka. “Moreover, I am very excited for the opportunity to re-connect with the UofL family and to remember the beautiful memories.”
When John Aker was 12 years old, his father gave me a kit for building a DC motor, and he was immediately fascinated. As a teenager, he hung around a local TV repair shop and they let him sort boxes full of resistors and capacitors, and later help the repairman on service calls. In high school and college, he made an income fixing TV sets. All this set the stage for an Electrical Engineering degree at Speed School.
In his senior year, he and a classmate submitted a technical paper in a student conference that changed his life. “I saw an ad where Boeing was hiring experienced engineers, and I took the paper we had written with me to the interview, and because of that they decided to hire me,” said Aker.
He worked for Boeing in Wichita, Kansas and later worked for King Radio Corporation. In 1970, he changed jobs to become a Vice President of Engineering with Kustom Electronics and worked with audio systems, test equipment, communication terminals and police radar equipment. In 1978, Aker decided he preferred design over supervision, and became an engineering consultant in the Kansas City, Missouri area. He continued on that path until he retired at age 77. In his career, Aker generated 32 patents, including patents in audio, railroad, DME, vending machines and police radar.
“Speed School taught me the determination to finish a project, and I found the learning exciting; in fact, it still is,” said Aker. What does this alumni award mean to him? “This is a celebration of my many years as a problem-solving consultant.”
Jim Shaw is the President and Co-Founder of Zion Solutions Group. He has more than 20 years of experience as a senior executive with areas of expertise including organizational strategy and development, new business development, solution design engineering, industrial engineering, network design, operations improvement and warehouse facility design. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Industrial Engineering from Speed School of Engineering, and stays involved with the Industrial Engineering department as an external advisory board member of Logistics and Distribution Institute (LoDI).
To Shaw, Speed School offered multiple opportunities for growth. “I met teachers that influenced my future leadership style, I met individuals that have become life-long friends and the experience gave me the technical + soft skills to have a meaningful engineering career,” said Shaw. “In addition, the opportunity to meet individuals from different walks of life and experience the diversity of classes that were available,” he said.
The engineer, who lives in Hodgenville, KY with his wife and four children, has a passion for travel and recently completed a cross country 10,000 mile RV trip with his family where they visited 20 states and 18 national parks.
Shaw said he is honored to be recognized for this award by the professors and the school that were instrumental in helping him mold and develop the skills to achieve professional success. “This award, in some ways, is validation that hard work, giving back, serving and building up others goes noticed and is appreciated,” said Shaw. “I have always believed that you put honesty, integrity and hard work into whatever you choose to do and to go about it humbly.
Doug Schieber has been awarded the 2022 Professional Alumni Award for Mechanical Engineering. An Ohio native, Doug graduated from Speed School in 1993 with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering, and is the CEO of Louisville-based Carrier Process Equipment Group. Schieber worked his way up in the company while earning an MBA. Today, Carrier is a 100% employee-owned enterprise with six businesses manufacturing custom engineered processing machinery in five States, Belgium and China.
Doug said the exposure that Speed School’s co-op program gave him to real world engineering problems and the wide range of job roles filled by engineers in corporate America was invaluable to setting him on the path to success. “Speed School taught me to be curious about everything,” Schieber said.
Some of his favorite memories of Speed School were “solving the world’s problems and the fierce ping pong matches in the basement of the ME building, while mixing in studying now and then.” A passionate advocate for the manufacturing industry, Schieber has held leadership positions in various industry associations. He lives in Oldham County with wife Tina and remains active in the Louisville community, helping to raise four children, including a class of 2021 Speed School graduate. “Speed School offers a great place for young people to figure out how each of them can best make a difference in their family and community,” he said.
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