College of Engineering Honors ECE Staff for Above and Beyond Service

Posted: April 13, 2016

From left: Vincent Juodvalkis, Tricia Toothman, Sherry Vogt, Ryan Horns and Mark Brenner
The Ohio State University College of Engineering (COE) held its annual Above and Beyond Staff Awards banquet at the Ohio Union Wednesday afternoon, honoring several from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).

The awards are presented each year to exemplary COE staff who reach out beyond their typical duties, further making a positive impact on students and research initiatives, while bridging the gap between other departments.

Among those singled out from ECE, Sherry Vogt of the ElectroScience Lab (ESL) won the Outstanding Service Award. Vogt is a 9-year veteran of the lab's administrative team, serving as its Fiscal Administrator since 2007. Her efforts support more than 30 researchers, faculty and postdocs (along with over 90 graduate students) with their sponsored research program administration during pre- and post-award stages, overseeing fiscal health of ESL funds and programs.

According to ESL, "(Vogt) spends countless hours, oftentimes beyond her normal business hours, to support ESL’s faculty and researchers, preparing financial reports, formulating budgets and coordinating activities with the Office of Sponsored Programs, making sure the proposals are submitted on time. In FY2015 she coordinated and involved in the preparation and submission of over 100 research proposals, 44 of which came back with successful award notifications."

Several ECE staff were also among those nominated for different awards, beating out dozens who applied. 

Senior Research Associate Engineer Mark Brenner was nominated for the Advancement of Research Activities Award, recognizing his proactive management of the Semiconductor Epitaxy and Analysis Lab (SEAL), which houses the molecular beam epitaxy and thin film characterization systems. He oversees regular maintenance of the instrumentation, trains users, consults with researchers on their project goals and scope, works to liaison with industry and academic customers, and regularly conducts one-time experiments for clients.

According to his nomination letter, "Without Mark here, we would not have been successful at recruiting the quality of faculty members that we have been able to, nor would those faculty members have been able to grow their programs so succesfully. Mark’s commitment to student learning and student research also sets him apart. He will always drop what he’s doing to answer a student’s question or assist them if they are having difficulty. He is a great mentor."

ECE Academic Program Coordinator, Tricia Toothman was among six nominated for the Exemplary Service to Students Award. In her nomination letter, Toothman was praised for her professionalism, performance and empathy for the students she helps. Toothman serves as advisor for all ECE PhD students.

Aside from noting her excellent work ethic, her nomination letter highlights an ability to always go above and beyond for the students. 

"She is universally well-liked and respected by students, staff and faculty. Her kindness to students is one of the things that sets her apart. She is always willing to help them navigate the confusing process of the university," the letter continues.

ECE Public Relations Coordinator Ryan Horns was among those nominated for the Outstanding Service Award. Since joining the ECE staff in 2015, Horns increased PR outputs by 85 percent and social media engagement by 900 percent over 2014 numbers. His further efforts to help support student organizations, as well as other departments and initiatives in the College of Engineering were also noted. His creative contributions include writing, editing, video, design content and photography, which combine to create a stronger focus on people and stories within the department. 

In his nomination letter, one alumnus wrote, "His deft use of several social media platforms available and his ability to highlight the excellent work and achievements being accomplished by faculty, staff and students have never been witnessed in my 30-year association with the department."

A familiar problem solver around the ECE hallways, ECE Senior Systems Manager Vincent Juodvalkis and his team were nominated for the Exemplary Team Performance or Service Award. He has been site manager of the ECE computing facilities since December of 1997, and previously worked for ECE in various capacities since 1991. He manages the site staff, maintains the computing budgets, does strategic planning and is the technical lead for networking and security. His efforts to maintain seamless operations know no bounds and his work ethic and focus have saved many staff, faculty and students countless times.