School’s Annual Medal of Excellence Award Event Recognizes Innovation in Industry, Education, Research, and Service
The School of Engineering honored six distinguished alumni at a gala event on Thursday, October 15, on the Rutgers Livingston campus. More than 300 alumni, industry partners, faculty, and students celebrated the achievements of Tracy Espiritu ENG’96; Benjamin Fasano, Ph.D. ENG’75, GSNB’80, GSNB’82; Raymond Iezzi, Jr., M.D. LC’87, GSNB’96; Eric Jayjock, Ph.D. GSNB’04, GSNB’11; Subhasish Roychoudhury, Ph.D. GSNB’92, GSNB’95; and Richard N. Weeks ENG’50, recognized leaders in infrastructure, pharmaceutical research and development, and medicine, biomedical, and materials innovation. The event, which supports engineering scholarships, generated more than $175,000 in sponsorships and ticket sales.
“Our school continues to be steeped in academic excellence, creativity, integrity, and service,” said Thomas N. Farris, dean of the School of Engineering, during the evening’s proceedings. “We’re here tonight to honor the best of Rutgers Engineering’s alumni: the honorees who demonstrate the impact that our graduates have on every aspect of our lives – growing our cities, improving our health and quality of life, educating our children, and advancing our nation’s innovation leadership.”
Farris also thanked presenting sponsor Raytheon Company, along with platinum sponsors AECOM, Gibbons, and PSEG, and gold sponsors Chubb Surety, Constellation Energy, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, and Weeks Marine, for their support and commitment to the school's students.
Richard N. Weeks was the recipient of the Medal of Excellence, the school’s highest honor awarded to an alumnus for superior, lifetime achievements that honorably reflect the school. Under his leadership as chairman of Weeks Marine, Inc., one of the largest marine and tunneling contractors in the U.S. and Canada, Weeks has grown the company into a national marine contracting business fielding a fleet of over 400 vessels. Earlier this year Weeks contributed $6 million toward the construction of a new School of Engineering building. This donation, along with a $4 million anonymous gift, was combined to name the new building in honor of Weeks and his family.
Raymond Iezzi, associate professor of ophthalmology at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, received the Distinguished Alumnus in Education and Research award from Rutgers biomedical engineering and psychology Professor Thomas Papathomas, who recognized his contributions in the development of a “bionic eye” that allows patients with retinal degeneration to see again using EEG signals, saying, “his work in the field of retinal prosthetics is contributing to scientific discovery and innovation.”
Subhasish Roychoudhury, global IT manager of plant floor systems application management at Ford Motor Company, was honored for his distinction in industry and recognized by School of Engineering Board of Governors and Distinguished Professor Yogesh Jaluria, who cited his achievements implementing product development systems, and remembered him as a bright and engaging student, “driven by scientific curiosity and desire for excellence, qualities that have led him to extraordinary achievements.”
Eric Jayjock, director of continuous manufacturing for Patheon, received the Young Alumnus award for his contributions in the development of scalable manufacturing processes for pharmaceutical products. Benjamin Fasano, advanced silicon packaging development engineer for Globalfounderies and a significant contributor to the understanding and advancement of semiconductor interconnect packaging materials and processing, received the Rutgers Engineering Society’s Distinguished Engineer Award.
Tracy Espiritu was the recipient of the Dean’s Award for Service in recognition of her contributions as a technology instructional coach and teacher in Elizabeth. In presenting this award, Farris noted, “Tracy’s expertise in supporting and training fellow teachers to be effective STEM educators.”
The 2015 Medal of Excellence honorees include:
Medal of Excellence Award
Distinguished Alumnus in Industry and Commerce
Distinguished Alumnus in Education and Research
Raymond Iezzi, Jr., M.D. conducts preclinical and clinical translational trials in several ophthalmology-related areas. He is noted for his research introducing new methods of slowing retinal degeneration in patients with retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration, retinal detachment and complex trauma. His work in the field of retinal prosthesis includes methods for restoring vision to patients with advanced retinal degeneration. Dr. Iezzi holds a master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers and a medical degree from New York Medical College. He currently holds faculty positions at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Wayne State University and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Iezzi holds both a bachelor of biology degree and a master’s of biomedical engineering from Rutgers.
Distinguished Young Alumnus
As a graduate student at Rutgers University pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering, Eric Jayjock was a member of the National Science Foundation Center for Structured Organic Particulate Systems (C-SOPS) team, contributing to the development of scalable manufacturing processes for oral solids dosages. A culmination of this work included designing and coordinating the construction of the C-SOPS continuous direct compression line in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson. Since the successful completion of that project in 2013, Jayjock joined Janssen as staff engineer, bringing continuous manufacturing into the Janssen manufacturing and development portfolio. Jayjock was most recently named the director of continuous manufacturing for Patheon, a provider of drug substance and drug product services for the biopharmaceutical industry.
The Dean’s Award for Service
Tracy Espiritu left a career as a product engineer to become a science and STEAM teacher (science, technology, engineering, architecture, math) in the Elizabeth school district. Motivated by her passion for science and a desire to train the next generation of innovators, she supports and trains other teachers to be effective STEAM educators. She serves as a mentor to colleagues, providing ongoing professional development and evaluating curriculum and its implementation so that students can develop higher-level thinking skills. Espiritu has forged partnerships with universities and serves as the NASA Explorer School Team Leader. During summers, she has taken fellow educators to JPL and Houston and Kennedy Space Centers. In 2014, she was awarded a Milken National Educator Award. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
Distinguished Engineer Award (Rutgers Engineering Society Honor)
Benjamin Fasano joined IBM in 1982, most recently working within IBM’s Semiconductor and Research Development Center. With the recent acquisition of IBM's microelectronics business by GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Fasano has joined that company as an engineer in advanced silicon packaging development. His significant contributions to the understanding and advancement of ceramic based dielectrics as semiconductor interconnect-packaging materials and processing provided leading-edge competitive advantages to IBM’s mainframe and server systems for decades. He holds 60 U.S. patents, with many more pending, and served as chair of IBM’s invention disclosure evaluation team for nine years, leading a select group of experienced professionals who provide technical and business assessments of semiconductor device packaging related ideas. He is also involved in setting technical direction for future high performance electronic packaging for the company. In addition, Fasano has a lifetime of community service achievements from founding the Rutgers Ceramics Olympics as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society to his current involvement with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Fasano studied ceramic engineering (now materials science and engineering) as a student at Rutgers, earning his bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.