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The living legacy of Peter C. Rossin

RCEAS Dean David Wu congratulates new Rossin Professor Tae Sup Yun.

Every person, the late Peter C. Rossin used to say, owes a debt to society and to the institutions in society that were instrumental to the person’s success.

Rossin, who earned a B.S. in metallurgical engineering from Lehigh in 1948, repaid his debt in 1998 when he and his wife, Ada, established a $25-million endowment for Lehigh’s engineering college. The gift was the largest ever made to Lehigh.

Last Friday, April 18, the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science remembered Rossin by honoring some of the faculty, undergraduate students and graduate students who are carrying on his legacy.

At the annual Celebration of Rossin Professors and Fellows, the college initiated 19 Rossin Doctoral Fellows, named 32 undergraduates as new Rossin Junior Fellows and thanked 25 other undergraduates for completing their service as Rossin Junior Fellows.

The college also named Tae Sup Yun, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, as the Rossin Professor for 2008. Yun, a geotechnical engineer, studies the formations of methane hydrates on the ocean floors.

The crowd of 150 people at last week’s celebration included Ada Rossin and her daughter and son in-law, Joan and Peter Stephens. Also in attendance were Alice P. Gast, university president; Mohamed S. El-Aasser, provost; Joseph P. Kender Jr. ’87, vice president for advancement, and Robert M. Holcombe ’58, former associate vice president for advancement.

El-Aasser praised Rossin who served with the U.S. Air Force during World War II and managed several metals companies before founding Dynamet Inc., which became one of the nation’s most successful titanium-alloy companies. He maintained a lifelong interest in all fields of engineering, said El-Aasser.

“Anyone who ever spoke with Peter Rossin knew he was not only a superb engineer but a superb individual,” said El-Aasser. “In the first year of the Rossin Assistant Professor program, when we initiated six professors, he met with all of them over lunch. He read each professor’s one-page research description and held an in-depth discussion with each. The event lasted two hours.”

Supporting present and future educators

Ada Rossin (left) talks with Luigi De Pari, a new Rossin Doctoral Fellow.


The ceremony honoring Rossin was officiated by S. David Wu, dean of the engineering college, with help from John Coulter, associate dean of engineering for research and graduate studies, and Gerard Lennon, associate dean of engineering for undergraduate studies.

The Rossin Assistant Professorships, said Wu, honor junior faculty members who excel in teaching, scholarship and service and who also show the willingness to collaborate with faculty in other departments and colleges.

Yun joins a roster of current Rossin Assistant Professors that includes James Gilchrist of chemical engineering, Clay Naito of civil and environmental engineering, John Spletzer of computer science and engineering, Nelson Tansu and Svetlana Tatic-Lucic of electrical and computer engineering, and Aurelie Thiele of industrial and systems engineering. All of the professors met before the ceremony with Ada Rossin.

The Rossin Doctoral Fellowship program, which is new this year, awards Ph.D. candidates who are interested in pursuing academic careers.

“We think it is very important to prepare the educators who will train the next generation of engineers,” said Wu. “The Rossin fellowships will help these graduate students hone their teaching skills, present research and attend conferences.”

Recognizing students with "generosity, imagination and loyalty"

The Rossin Junior Fellowship program, said Wu, is open to undergraduate students who show academic leadership as well as a dynamic personality and the willingness to serve.

“Rossin Junior Fellows should demonstrate the same spirit of generosity, imagination and loyalty to Lehigh that Pete Rossin engendered,” he said.

The Rossin Junior Fellows have formed committees to improve the recruitment of high school students, to supervise peer mentoring and to plan activities, Wu said.

“The students have come up with some very innovative ideas. They have launched several new behind-the-scenes tours of the engineering college. One, which is called ‘The Large to Small of Engineering,’ shows students nanotechnology and large-scale structural engineering. Another tour, ‘Bits, Bytes, Volts and More,’ examines electrical engineering, computer science and computer engineering.

“These tours are very popular," Wu said. "Some of them attract 200 to 300 people.”

As mentors, said Wu, the Rossin Junior Fellows have developed tutoring sessions in calculus, post-calculus, physics and other subjects. Some of the Fellows took part earlier this year in PBS’s “Design Squad,” a TV program designed to promote the involvement of minorities in science and technology.

Among the activities Rossin Junior Fellows have participated in are ski trips, pasta parties, a trip to a Broadway show and a visit to the United Nations, where the students spoke to engineers who are helping to restore damaged infrastructure.

“The generous support of Peter Rossin makes all of these activities possible,” said Wu.

Nicholas Hinnerschitz ’08, a computer engineering major and outgoing president of the Rossin Junior Fellows, said that in the future the Fellows hope to expand their influence by working with other campus groups, such as the Lehigh chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honorary society, to coordinate events and activities.

The new Rossin Doctoral Fellows (and their majors) are: Xingkai Bao (electrical engineering), Zumbul Bulut (industrial engineering, Luigi De Pari (mechanical engineering), Peerapan Dittanet (polymer science and engineering), Kevin Doura (chemical engineering), Maximilien Gadouleau (computer engineering), Qiaoqiang Gan (electrical engineering), Markus Gnerlich (electrical engineering) and Chad Hogg (computer science).

Also: Israd Jaafar (mechanical engineering), Stephen Lee-Urban (computer science), Nicole Leo (structural engineering), Yongsheng Ou (mechanical engineering), Xiaoguang Qi (computer science), Alper Uygur (industrial engineering), Kai Xie (electrical engineering), Chao Xu (mechanical engineering), Weile Yan (environmental engineering) and Yang Yang (electrical engineering).

The new Rossin Junior Fellows are Ana Alexandrescu ’10 (industrial engineering), Valentina Baio ’09 (mechanical engineering), Dan Bechetti ’10 (mechanical engineering and integrated business and engineering), Alyssa Fritz ’10 (chemical engineering and integrated business and engineering), Josh Goldman ’09 (electrical engineering), Alice Gonzalez ’10 (electrical engineering), Michael Hodsdon ’10 (electrical engineering), Ashley Kamauf ’10 (materials science and engineering), Victoria Katen-Narvell ’10 (chemical engineering), Sean Kelly ’10 (computer engineering), Kristen Klinger ’10 (bioengineering), Peter Landis ’10 (bioengineering), Elisha Lee ’10 (computer science and business) and Sai Lu Mon Aung ’10 (computer engineering).

Also: Andrew Mach ’10 (chemical engineering), Cara McIlnay ’10 (mechanical engineering), Kevin Myers ’09 (environmental engineering), Benjamin Mumma ’10 (information and systems engineering), Happiness Munedzimwe ’09 (electrical engineering), Thomas Nizolek ’10 (materials science and engineering), Devra Noren ’10 (industrial engineering), Joseph Predham ’10 (computer engineering), Kelsey Preston ’09 (environmental engineering), Eric Putnam ’09 (civil engineering), Michael Rapp ’10 (mechanical engineering), Sara Sadek ’09 (civil engineering), Justin Sirrine ’10 (materials science and engineering) and Lu Xu ’10 (computer science and business).

Story by Kurt Pfitzer

Posted on Thursday, April 24, 2008

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