Every year, the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University recognizes alumni who have demonstrated excellence in industry, academia, governmental service, or other endeavors related to mechanical engineering.  Honorees have shown outstanding character and leadership and have accomplished great things.  Since 1991, 261 alumni have been honored with the prestigious Outstanding Mechanical Engineer Award.

Congratulations to all our 2016 OME recipients for showing us the best that Mechanical Engineering has to offer!

Anil K. Bajaj
William E. and Florence E. Perry Head and
Alpha P. Jamison Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Chris BarmanClay CooperJon DouglasMark GrittonLarry HowellRahul MitalJennifer RumseyJan ShumateDirk SmithSpiridon (Dan) Suciu


Christine Barman
BSME 1994
Head of Electrical & Electronics (NAFTA Region), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Chris Barman was appointed Head of Electrical & Electronics Engineering for FCA North America in February 2016. In this role, she oversees electrical and electronic systems and component engineering for the unit’s entire vehicle lineup. Previously, Barman held the position of Vice President of Systems and Component Engineering for FCA North America.

Barman joined the Company in 1994 as part of the Chrysler Institute of Engineering (CIE) program. A deep background in advance chassis controls and driver assistance system engineering has benefited her throughout her career. 

Barman was honored as one of the “100 Most Influential Women” in Michigan by Crain’s Business in June 2016. She has also been recognized by Automotive News as one of the “100 Leading Women in the North American Automotive Industry” in 2015 and 2010 and was named to Fortune’s “Top 10 Most Powerful Women in the Automotive Industry” in 2013. She is the Executive Sponsor of Purdue University’s College Relations Team, a Life Member of the Purdue University Alumni Association, serves on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Science Center and Inforum Center for Leadership Development.

Barman was born in Crown Point, Indiana.


Clay Cooper
Ph.D. 2000
Executive Engineering Section Manager, GE Aviation

Clay Cooper leads the Combustion Design & Technologies section in the Engineering Division at GE Aviation.  In this role, he manages a global team of combustion-disciplined technologists to support fielded products, introduce the newest commercial technologies including the Passport, LEAP, and GE9X, and design the next-generation military, marine, and industrial combustors. 

Clay joined GE Aviation’s Advanced Combustion group in 2000 after completing his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University.  His early work focused on design and testing of the trapped-vortex combustor (TVC) and the twin-annular premixing swirler (TAPS) combustor.  In 2005 Clay transitioned to the product team leader on the CF34-10 combustion system to complete certification and entry-into-service of that platform.  In 2007, he worked on the team that designed the enhanced TAPS combustion system for the GEnx engine, achieving world-class emissions levels in the aviation industry.

Currently, as the section manager for combustion at GE Aviation, Clay is actively shaping the product portfolio around new technologies and concepts, partnering with universities and government agencies to explore fundamental understanding of the discipline, and ensuring GE is positioned to provide the best products for customers.  Additionally, he serves as the Executive Sponsor for GE Aiken Junior Scholars team, which introduces STEM topics to 7th-9th graders.  

Clay lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife Bethany and three children:  Rebekah, Judah, and Anna. 


Jon Douglas
BSME 1993, MSME 1995
Director of Engineering, Kysor Warren

Jon Douglas was recently named the Director of Engineering at Kysor Warren (a division of Lennox Industries), a manufacturer of supermarket refrigeration display cases and systems.  Jon leads engineering, supporting new product design, manufacturing cost reduction, and sales application engineering.

Prior to joining Kysor Warren, Jon worked in Applied Research at Lennox, leading a variety of new technology programs for residential and light commercial HVAC equipment.  Most recently, his team pioneered the use of “Big Data” to develop a suite of diagnostic features for residential HVAC equipment.  He was also instrumental in the growth of a global engineering team based in Chennai, India.  This team of over 50 engineers provides CFD, FEA, CAD, and value engineering to Lennox HVAC/R business units around the globe.  Throughout his career, Jon has received 15 patents with another 12 in the application process.

Jon contributes to the HVAC/R industry through participation in various technical committees.  He is an active ASHRAE member and most recently chaired ASHRAE TC 6.3.  Jon is also an active voting member of ASHRAE standards 41, 201P, and 207P.  Jon recently joined the Industrial Advisory Committee at Herrick Labs here at Purdue.

He enjoys mentoring young engineers helping them learn the “practical” side of engineering.  He was the video director for International Human Powered Submarine Races, an engineering design competition in which students design and race pedal-powered submarines in a US Navy test facility.

Jon is married to his wonderful wife, Maria.  They have three children; Brielle age 8, Emma age 6, and Parker age 2.  The Douglas’ are enjoying exploring their new home town of Columbus, GA.  In their free time the Douglas’ like to swim, sail, hike, and participate in church activities.


Mark Gritton
BSME 1980, MSME 1981
Chief of Research and Technology, Rolls-Royce

Mark Gritton began his career at Rolls-Royce Corporation in 1980 where he has acquired over 35 years of experience in developing advanced turbomachinery technology. His initial interest was aerodynamics, where he was instrumental in the successful development of many fans and compressors. Subsequently he spent 10 years leading the future application engineering team, developing advanced gas turbine engine concepts to meet future customer requirements. 

As Capability Owner, Mr. Gritton is accountable for developing and executing the fan and compressor technology strategy at Rolls-Royce Corporation in Indianapolis.  Compressor research led by Professor Nicole Key at the Zucrow Labs is an important element of the Rolls-Royce strategy.


Larry Howell
Ph.D. 1993
Associate Dean, College of Engineering, Brigham Young University

As a young man, Larry Howell enjoyed hiking in the remote mountains near his home town of Portage, Utah, where he discovered a thrill when he realized he may be stepping where no human had ever been before.  This love of going where no one had ever been led him to a career in engineering where he could create new technologies that hadn’t existed before. After graduating in mechanical engineering from Brigham Young University he continued to pursue this drive to design new things as an engineer on the YF-22, the first prototype of the US Air Force F-22 Raptor. Realizing that graduate education would open up more doors to do new things, he continued his education at Purdue University, where he received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees and also worked as a consulting engineer for Engineering Methods, Inc.

Professor Howell joined the BYU faculty in 1994 where he and his students’ research has focused on compliant mechanisms, including origami-inspired mechanisms, space mechanisms, microelectromechanical systems, and medical devices. He is the author of the book Compliant Mechanisms, which is the most cited work in the field and has been translated into Chinese.

Dr. Howell is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Past Chair of the ASME Mechanisms and Robotics Committee, is an associate editor for the Journal of Mechanisms & Robotics and past associate editor of the Journal of Mechanical Design.  His work has been recognized by the ASME Machine Design Award, ASME Mechanisms & Robotics Award, Theodore von Kármán Fellowship, BYU Technology Transfer Award, National Science Foundation Career Award, and Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Lecturer Award, BYU’s highest academic award.

Larry and his wife, Peggy, live in Orem, Utah and have four children and two grandchildren. 


Rahul Mital
MSME 1993, Ph.D. 1996
Technical Specialist, General Motors

After graduating from Purdue, Dr. Mital first worked for AMPS (a small energy conversion firm) and then for Cummins.  He joined General Motors in 2004 as Design Release Engineer for Diesel Aftertreatment.

In 2007, Dr. Mital was promoted as Global Technical Specialist at General Motors, where he is responsible for aftertreatment design, development and release for all GM’s diesel vehicles globally.  Dr. Mital works cross-functionally within the global powertrain organizations to introduce novel diesel aftertreatment designs and system architectures. 

With 28 patents, Dr. Mital has demonstrated outstanding innovation in the field of emission control.  Five of his inventions are already in production and at least two more will be in use in the near future.

In 2015 Dr. Mital was a Finalist for the Environmental Excellence in Transportation (E2T) Award, nominated for the Franz F. Pischinger Powertrain Award, and panelist and invited speaker at the Integer DEF Conference.  In 2014 Dr. Mital was the winner of SAE John Connor Environmental Award, and in 2013 he was the recipient of SAE Forest R. McFarland Award.

Dr. Mital has more than 35 publications in conferences, reviewed journals and international symposiums.  Dr. Mital is a DFSS Black Belt, he is on advisory boards, on SAE committees, a member of USCAR and a long- term SAE World Congress session organizer.  His achievements have been recognized by the National Academy of Engineering via Frontiers of Engineering nomination, and by GM with two Boss Kettering awards.


Jennifer Rumsey
BSME 1996
VP/Chief Technical Officer, Cummins, Inc.

Jennifer was born and raised in Columbus, Indiana, home of Cummins, Inc., and interned at Cummins during her time at Purdue.  She now leads the global technical organization responsible for research and engineering across Cummins’ four business units.

Her early career focused on control systems and system engineering; initially at a fuel processing and fuel cell start-up company in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  In 2000 she moved back to Indiana to rejoin Cummins, and has worked in a variety of engineering roles across Cummins’ Engine and Components business units, including advanced technology development, new product development, and current product engineering.

She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, the Society of Automotive Engineers, and Women in Trucking.  She is a Six Sigma Green Belt, and winner of Cummins’ Six Sigma Chairman’s Award.  She also received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and the AEM Outstanding Young Engineer Award.

She is married with two daughters, ages 11 and 14.


Jan Shumate
BSME 1993
Director of Plant Engineering, Eastman Chemical Company

A native of Kingsport, Tennessee, Jan has been with Eastman for 25 years, and led the Plant Engineering Division for the last five years.  Plant Engineering is an organization of over 150 engineers and support personnel responsible for building, improving, and maintaining Eastman facilities around the world.  She has served in multiple leadership roles within Engineering, Reliability, Worldwide Maintenance, Operations, Information Technology, Capital Procurement, and Business Development functions.

Jan is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Tennessee, and a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.  She has held numerous local and state level leadership positions in both ASME and the Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers.  She has previously led the Future Leader Program Planning Committee and Strategic Visioning Committee for the Engineering Construction Contracting Association. Jan is also an ardent supporter of STEM programs at both the high school and collegiate level.  In 2016, she was honored with the Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead award, presented by the Manufacturing Institute to honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory floor to the C Suite.  She has also been a featured speaker at Year In Infrastructure London, Mainstream Conference, and Petrochemical and Refining Summit regarding her philosophy and contributions advancing emerging technologies and productivity improvements in the engineering and construction industry.

Within the community, Jan has served on the Industrial Committee of the United Way of Greater Kingsport and is currently serving as Vice Chair of Eastman’s United Way Campaign.  She has previously supported key efforts for the Arthritis Foundation, the Junior Chamber of Commerce Special Olympics Committee, and the East Tennessee Engineering Associations Council Scholarship Program.


Dirk Smith
BSME 1986, Ph.D. 1993
Senior VP, Forensic Division, Rimkus Consulting Group

Dr. Smith completed his Ph.D. in 1993 at Purdue University, where his research area was vehicle dynamics and control.  Dr. Smith has taught courses in machine design, vibrations, and vehicle dynamics.  Prior to returning to Purdue in 1989, he worked for Hughes Aircraft Company designing satellite structures.  While at Louisiana State University, Dr. Smith was the faculty advisor for the SAE Mini-Baja Team; he supervised the design, fabrication, and testing of their off-road vehicles. 

Dr. Smith’s research, engineering, and consulting backgrounds have provided him with experience in machine design, vibration analysis, vehicle dynamics, accident reconstruction (including cars, trucks, commercial vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, and construction vehicles), and event data recorders.  Dr. Smith is an avid motorcycle rider giving him special insight regarding motorcycle accidents and rider actions. 

Dr. Smith has reconstructed accidents involving commercial tractor-trailers, high-speed fatality collisions, daytime and nighttime pedestrian accidents, car-bicycle and car-motorcycle collisions, vehicle rollovers, low-speed collisions for biomechanical analysis, and construction vehicles and machines.  Dr. Smith evaluates traffic signal timing relating to intersection collisions.  He has also worked on product liability cases involving: vehicle systems, motorcycles, scaffolds, ladders, forklifts, aerial lifts and machine components.  Dr. Smith has testified in state and federal courts.


Spiridon (Dan) Suciu
BSME 1944, MSME 1949, Ph.D. 1951
General Manager of Neutron Devices, General Electric (retired)

Dr. Suciu was born in Flint, Michigan in 1921.  He received his BSME from Purdue University in 1944, and after completing his military service as Torpedo and Assistant Gunnery Officer aboard a Naval Destroyer, he returned to Purdue to receive his MS and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering.

He joined General Electric in 1951 as a research and development engineer for the Aircraft Gas Turbine division, working on rocket engines for launch vehicles, ion and plasma engines for space propulsion, as well as military aircraft engines and their commercial and marine propulsion derivatives.  Beginning in 1967 he was responsible for the design, technology, and component development of all products of the Aircraft Engine business group.  In 1971 he moved to the Heavy Duty Gas Turbine Division to introduce aircraft technology into an advanced gas turbine for electrical power generation.  In 1976 he took the responsibility for establishing a corporate level Energy Technology operation that evaluated promising technologies such as nuclear fusion, pebble bed nuclear reactors, and coal gasification, as well as their environmental effects.  In 1978 he was appointed General Manager of the Neutron Devices department, overseeing the design, development, and manufacture of components for nuclear weapons.  He retired from this position in 1987.

Dr. Suciu has served extensively as an advisor to industry and government.  He was a member of the NASA Committee on Aeronautics, the NASA Committee on Airbreathing Propulsion (three years as chairman), and the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.

Dan and his wife, Jean, currently reside in Naples, Florida.  They have five children.  Their son Jim (a 2013 OME recipient) currently serves as President of Global Sales and Marketing for GE Power.