Six ECE staff recognized for their outstanding contributions to the ECE community

Silvia Cardarelli, Gordy Carichner, Michelle Chapman, Julia Falkovitch-Khain, Robert Gordenker, and Linda Scovel are the 2022 recipients of the CoE Staff Incentive Award
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Electrical and Computer Engineering’s culture of innovation, excellence, collaboration, and social equity is expressed in the work of six recipients of the 2022 College of Engineering Staff Incentive Award.

These awards recognize staff who consistently demonstrate the College’s vision, mission and values, and who have demonstrated creativity, innovation and daring in helping the College build its culture of diversity, equity and social impact in engineering.

“I feel very fortunate to work with such a talented group of individuals,” said Lisa Armstrong, ECE Department Administrator. “They inspire me every day and are the backbone of ECE.”

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Silvia Cardarelli, ECE Alumni and Corporate Relations Manager

Silvia lives CoE and ECE values every day, particularly those surrounding Diversity, Equity & Social Impact, and Collegiality & Collaboration. She created the ECE Culture Club, which provides an opportunity for the ECE community to learn about other cultures within our community, and has been instrumental in recruiting speakers from  many different countries around the world. She spearheads ECE’s weekly Kudos giving faculty and staff an opportunity to thank and recognize each other, and she assisted with our Random Acts of Kindness event for our students. Silvia is consistently collegial, always the one with the smile, to be inclusive of everyone, and to say thank you. By bringing these qualities to her efforts as the ECE Alumni and Corporate Relations Manager, Silvia has strengthened ECE’s relations with alumni and industry. And finally, she has been instrumental in ECE’s recruitment efforts, from HS to PhD recruits, working tirelessly to diversify ECE.

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Gordy Carichner, ECE Engineer in Research Senior

Gordy serves the Michigan Integrated Circuits Lab, which includes several high profile and complex projects that are outside the scope for PhD students due to their long duration and broad scope. He takes techniques that have been prototyped by students, matures them, and then applies them in new emerging application spaces. One high-profile project is the world’s first Monarch butterfly tracking system. This project involves complex coordination between students making prototype chips, vendors doing assembly, biologists applying the technology, and more. The work has involved multiple trips to Mexico to do experiments which he has led single-handedly and with excellent success. In addition, he has proposed creative and novel solutions to these systems, which are extremely challenging to manufacture and deploy. For example, he has devised new ways to integrate chips, new coatings to protect the systems, and new testing and characterization methods to ensure their correct operation. He has been absolutely key to the success of the project.

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Michelle Chapman, ECE Research Administration Senior Manager

Michelle truly shined during a recent Research Administrator shortage by assuming the Research Administrator Senior Manager position for another area of the department. This meant managing an additional 23 faculty and research scientists for several months. Michelle worked countless hours to ensure that pre- and post-award needs of all of the faculty were met. No one is quite sure how she managed this feat, especially as she was in the process of hiring a Research Administrator Lead for her own area. During this time, she also trained three staff who were new to the Research Administrator role. Once a new manager for the other area was hired, Michelle took considerable time to train them on ECE/EECS policies and procedures. Faculty that had never worked with Michelle in the past found her to be proactive, results-focused, flexible, very responsive, quick, and efficient.  She has been a consistent and outstanding employee for the last 30+ years and this is one small example of her leadership and her unwavering willingness to help others.

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Julia Falkovitch-Khain, Web Designer and Administrator Senior

Julia provides administrative support for several high-profile, interdisciplinary, and international activities. She has been the face of the university for more than 150 visitors from every field of engineering and the physical sciences in her work serving the Michigan Institute for Plasma Science and Engineering (MIPSE). She makes their arrangements, is their guide and advisor, and advises them on university services and requirements – all while accommodating the unique needs of each visitor. She has organized diversity programs (Women in MIPSE, Mentoring Program aligned with DPP-Pride), multi-university symposia, education programs, and assisted with fellowships for countless students. Julia also supports three DOE Plasma Science Centers, and contributed to successful program reviews in remote locations, workshops, Summer Schools and final reporting. These roles require a gentle mix of diplomacy, creativity, innovation and the highest level of people skills. Julia also supports the International Low Temperature Plasma Community Newsletter, a publication which was the primary mode of keeping 1500 members of that community in communication during the pandemic, and which remains vital in that role today.

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Robert Gordenker, ECE Engineer in Research Lead

Robert contributes in myriad ways to several communities within the CoE. In ECE, he is a strong contributor to the ECE Safety Committee, which is a critical role due to the collocation of the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility. An engineer with a vast array of knowledge, Robert constantly pushes the faculty to do things differently to increase overall safety, and is never satisfied with the status quo. Though not officially part of his position, Robert works with faculty to resolve issues identified by EHS or the ECE Safety Committee. During the pandemic, Robert was instrumental in shutting down research laboratories and reopening them safely, working tirelessly to ensure that faculty could continue their critical research. During the recent flood in the EECS Building, he gave up his holiday and season days working with DPSS to ensure the safety and security of the building. And that’s not all. In addition to his work in ECE, he has been working for NAME, covering for a fellow staff member.

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Linda Scovel, ECE Faculty Affairs Coordinator

Linda is ECE’s Ambassador through her leadership in helping to recruit ECE faculty. She goes above and beyond to ensure that the prospective faculty have the best possible experience interacting with ECE. She looks for ways to improve the recruitment process, and creatively presents ECE, the College, the University, and the state of Michigan in the best light. For example, she will prepare special gift baskets after finding out candidate preferences that may include classic State of Michigan products, and of course U-M swag. Special attention is also given to any children on the visit. ECE always has an active search process, and Linda may handle as many as 3-4 visits in a single week for many weeks on end. ECE faculty have mentioned how much they appreciate her unique and positive contributions to recruiting, and prospective faculty often comment to the Chair how Linda’s interactions and visit preparations were better than any other school they visited. She also lends her creative flair and welcome assistance to countless activities and events held in the department.