Alumnus and Students Receive Alumni Association Awards

2015 Alumni Association Award Winners
Drexel University Alumni Association award winners from left to right: Katie Van Aken, Ziyin Huang, Dr. Ron Smith, and Drexel Materials faculty member Dr. Rick Knight at the Alumni Association Awards Ceremony.

A PhD alumnus and former Drexel Materials faculty member, a graduate student, and a BS/MS student were all recognized by the Drexel University Alumni Association for their achievements and service. The Alumni Association Awards Ceremony was held during Alumni Weekend on Saturday, May 2, 2015.

Dr. Ronald (Ron) W. Smith, PhD materials ’85 received the Service to the Community Award for his work with Rotary International and, in particular, the collaboration he orchestrated between Drexel University’s College of Medicine, College of Nursing and Health Professions, and College of Computing & Informatics and Makerere University/Mulago Hospital and Kampala North Rotarians to help improve maternal and child healthcare in Uganda. Ron joined Rotary International in 1989 and is a charter and founding member of the Blue Bell Rotary.

As an engineer, Ron is founder and President of Materials Resources, Inc. and S-Bond Technologies, LLC.  He served as a research professor and founder of the former Center for the Plasma Processing of Materials at Drexel.  He is a Fellow of ASM International and founding President of its Thermal Spray Society.  He currently serves as Chair of the AWS-C3 Committee on Brazing and Soldering. He has completed over 120 publications in thermal spray, powder metallurgy, gas turbine materials, coatings, and joining. In 2013, Ron was named the Delaware Valley Materials Person of the Year by the Philadelphia “Liberty Bell” Chapter of ASM International.

PhD student Katie Van Aken (advisor: Yury Gogotsi) was awarded the Outstanding Student Award. Katie was acknowledged, not only for her research and academic achievement, but also for her dedication to outreach. She has served as Treasurer of MAGNET, the Materials Graduate Network, the department’s graduate association, for the past two years. She has concurrently been serving as Drexel’s Materials Research Society (MRS) chapter president for the past year. Katie has taken the lead on numerous outreach projects, including co-running Science Saturdays, a program funded by MRS for high school students to come to campus to participate in demonstrations and hands-on activities about science topics the students are studying in school.

BS/MS student Ziyin Huang received a Drexel University Alumni Association Leadership Scholarship in the amount of $4000 for the 2015-16 academic year. Ziyin excels in his academic and research work and is a leader among his peers at all levels of University life. Among his many roles, Ziyin currently serves as the President of Material Advantage, the materials student professional society. Most recently, Ziyin coordinated Material Advantage’s participation in the 2015 TMS Conference Bladesmithing Competition. He was recently Secretary of the Pi Nu Epsilon Honorary Music Fraternity, participates in the University Chorus and the Drexel Percussion Ensemble (with a performing arts scholarship) and is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Kappa Theta Epsilon, the co-op honor society. Ziyin was appointed to the Student Global Advisory Board where he helps to plan events that foster a multi-cultural environment on campus and helps the board provide feedback to the President on the Strategic Plan.

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