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School of Engineering
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School of Engineering
Medal of Excellence Award

2024 Medal of Excellence Honorees

The Medal of Excellence event celebrates alumni achievement from among diverse engineering fields 

The School of Engineering has presented the Medal of Excellence Awards since 20026. Honorees are nominated by school faculty, Industry Advisory Board members and alumni. Awards include the Medal of Excellence, Distinguished Achievement in Industry, Distinguished Achievement in Research, Dean's Award for Service, Distinguished Young Alumnus, and Corporate Sponsor of the Year. In addition, Rutgers Engineering Alumni, the school's alumni networking group, presents the Distinguished Engineer Award which recognizes technical achievement and has been awarded since 1960.

Medal of Excellence Award

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Michael Haberman ENG’90 (Electrical Engineering)
Senior Vice President, Strategy and Transformation
Verizon Global Networks and Technology

Mike Haberman serves as senior vice president, strategy and transformation, for Verizon’s Global Networks and Technology (GN&T) organization, responsible for the GN&T Transformation Office and the Technology Ambassador Office. He also plays a critical role as liaison between Network and Verizon’s Business and Consumer Groups. 

As leader of the Transformation Office, Mr. Haberman is responsible for re-imagining how work is accomplished and ensuring that roles, processes, systems and culture are put into place to support their evolution to the Verizon network architecture of the future. In this role, he works with business leaders, industry partners and consortiums, nonprofits, and universities to ensure Verizon is at the forefront of technology and innovation now and into the future.  

Prior to his current roles, Mr. Haberman was responsible for the national deployment of 5G technology, and oversaw Network performance, support, and implementation for the nation’s largest 4G LTE network in the United States.   

Over the past 30 years with Verizon and its predecessor companies, Mr. Haberman has played a pivotal role in developing the digital standards that revolutionized wireless services in the US. Since joining the company in 1990, he has held positions in engineering, technology development, system performance, and voice and data operations.   

Distinguished Engineer Award

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Vasant Padmanabhan, Ph.D. GSNB'93 (Biomedical Engineering)
President, ENT BU and R&D

Vasant Padmanabhan is a medical technology executive with over 25 years of global leadership experience delivering business results and innovation pipelines in several medical technology segments. Since joining Smith+Nephew in 2016, his responsibilities have encompassed the prioritization and delivery of a multi-generational innovation pipeline in areas including orthopaedics, robotics, sports medicine, ENT, biologics and wound management. In 2023, Dr. Padmanabhan assumed additional responsibility now serving as president for the company’s ENT global business unit, focussed on driving growth platforms like Tula, an innovative and transformative solution to place ear tubes in children without general anaesthesia. He is also a member of the executive committee and is president of R&D.  

Prior to Smith+Nephew, Dr. Padmanabhan was senior vice president of technical operations at Thoratec Corporation, a leader in mechanical circulatory support solutions for the treatment of heart failure. Additional experience included an 18-year career at Medtronic where he held R&D and product development positions for the company’s implantable defibrillator business. 

Dr. Padmanabhan earned master’s and doctoral degrees in biomedical engineering from Rutgers and an MBA from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. 

Distinguished Achievement in Research

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Bruce Dunn ENG'70 (Materials Science and Engineering)
Distinguished Professor, Materials Science and Engineering       
University of California, Los Angeles

Bruce Dunn is a distinguished professor of materials science and engineering at UCLA and holds the Nippon Sheet Glass endowed professorship; he also served as interim dean of the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering from 2022-2023. Prior to joining UCLA in 1981, he was a staff scientist at the General Electric R&D labs in Schenectady, New York.  

Dr. Dunn is widely known for his research related to the synthesis of inorganic and organic/inorganic hybrid materials and the characterization of their electrical, optical, biological, and electrochemical properties. His recent work on electrochemical energy storage includes such accomplishments as the development of three-dimensional batteries and creating a new generation of energy storage materials known as pseudo-capacitors. He has led research programs at UCLA for DARPA, the Office of Naval Research, and the Department of Energy, published over 300 papers in scientific literature, been awarded 24 patents, and serves on the editorial boards of several renowned publications. His list of honors includes a Fulbright research fellowship, the Orton Lectureship from the American Ceramic Society, the Web of Science list of Highly Cited Researchers, and awards from the Department of Energy for outstanding research in materials science. 

Distinguished Achievement in Industry

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Whitney Muse ENG’08 (Applied Sciences in Engineering)
Senior Policy Advisor
Office of Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation
The White House

Whitney Muse is a Biden-Harris Administration appointee, currently serving as the senior policy advisor in the White House Office of Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation (OCEII), where she works on implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy and climate provisions. Ms. Muse joined the White House in September 2023 from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 

As the inaugural chief of staff and senior advisor of DOE’s Grid Deployment Office (GDO), she worked across operations, program development, and policy implementation of GDO’s $26 billion portfolio addressing power generation, transmission, and grid resilience topics. She began at DOE as chief of staff in the Office of Electricity. Prior to joining DOE, Ms. Muse provided policy and regulatory analysis of international power sector projects at Deloitte and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. 

Ms. Muse earned a bachelor's degree in applied science and engineering from Rutgers School of Engineering and her M.A. in international energy and environment policy from Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). 

Dean’s Award for Service

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Kenneth Johnson ENG’66 (Mechanical Engineering)
Vice President/General Manager (retired)
Lockheed Martin Space Systems

In a career spanning 35 years with Lockheed Martin Corporation, Ken Johnson held a variety of senior positions in aerospace engineering and technical management in the development of space-systems, and leading large, multi-disciplined organizations. Johnson retired as vice president serving as the general manager of the Communications & Power Center located in Newtown, PA, and as the general manager of the East Windsor, NJ spacecraft design and manufacturing facility known as AstroSpace.

Among the awards and honors he has garnered during his career are Lockheed Martin Exceptional Service Award; finalist in “Global Excellence in Operations” – Fortune Magazine; selected by Smithsonian as one of four RCA “Pioneers in Space”; Tau Beta Pi “Eminent Engineer;” AIAA Associate Fellow; ASME Associate Fellow; GE 1-in-1,000 award; two RCA Technical Excellence awards; and the NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center Public Service Award. He has also been recognized by Rutgers University, including Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni; Rutgers Distinguished Engineer Award; Loyal Son of Rutgers.

Mr. Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rutgers in 1966 and a master’s in engineering management from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1971. He is a member of the Rutgers Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board of Directors, has been very active with the Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering, a leader and board member of the Rutgers University Alumni Association, and president of several chartered alumni associations.

Distinguished Young Alumnus

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Parth Oza ENG’12 (Civil and Environmental Engineering), GSNB’21
Assistant Commissioner and Deputy State Transportation Engineer
Capital Program Management
New Jersey Department of Transportation

Parth Oza has served as assistant commissioner, capital program management (CPM), since 2022. As a key member of the New Jersey Department of Transportation's senior leadership team, he is charged with delivering the bulk of the department’s capital program of over $1 billion annually in state and federal construction projects, in addition to over $350 million in consultant engineering awards. Mr. Oza oversees a work force of over 1,300 employees in several divisions within CPM and is responsible for leading an active construction program valued at approximately $4 billion with 200 plus active highway and bridge construction projects. He also serves as a deputy state transportation engineer for the department, and previously served in various roles in the Division of Transportation Operations Systems and Support. 

Mr. Oza is a registered professional engineer (PE) in the State of New Jersey and serves as the president of the Rutgers Engineering Alumni (REA) group. 

Corporate Partner of the Year

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Turner Construction Company

A North America-based, international construction services company, Turner is a leading builder completing $17 billion of construction on 1,500+ projects annually. The company has earned recognition for fostering innovation, embracing emerging technologies, and exemplifying a dedication to success that not only encourages, but prioritizes, a healthy and equitable platform for its people and the environments in which they work, live, and learn.

From aviation, commercial, life sciences, healthcare, and sports to renewable energy, critical facilities, biotech, aerospace, and technology, Turner offers an array of services, such as preconstruction and construction management, design-build, procurement, estimating, site feasibility/resiliency studies, market labor assessments, equipment selection, and supply chain management.

Among their 10,000+ person workforce are several Rutgers alumni, many playing roles to enhance a nearly 14-year partnership between Turner and the university through student-facing volunteerism; internships and career opportunities; and participation in school initiatives bringing together industry, government, and academic leaders to create healthier and more resilient communities.