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Outstanding Mechanical Engineer Awards 2018

Outstanding Mechanical Engineer Awards

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, 278 alumni have been honored with the prestigious Outstanding Mechanical Engineer Award.

Congratulations to all our 2018 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

John Biasi  |  Alan Carlson  |  Jack Day  |  Mark Fitzpatrick  |  Stephen Mader  |  Melanie Petsch  |  Manahar Shah


John J. Biasi
MSME 1987
General Manager, DEKA Research & Development

John has had a range of operational and product leadership roles in a variety of high tech industries, from LED lighting to semiconductor factory automation.

John has a BSME from University of Buffalo and an MSME from Purdue University, where he was Prof. Galen King’s second graduate student.  His first job out of Purdue involved programming robots to paint cars for Ford, which led to several roles in controls software for manufacturing, and eventually into marketing, strategy, and mergers & acquisitions.  John was a co-founder of FASTech Integration, a developer of mission-critical manufacturing software for semiconductor and electronics companies. He served as COO for Millennial Net, an early pioneer in mesh networking.  Then he joined a company called Color Kinetics (soon acquired by Philips), which produced large solid-state lighting for venues like Disney theme parks and the Empire State Building.

John found himself recruited by Dean Kamen, the mind behind the Segway human transporter, and FIRST Robotics.  John’s first project was the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, a touchscreen soda dispenser which DEKA was attempting to roll out in time for the 2012 London Olympics.  There are now more than 50,000 Coca-Cola Freestyle machines all over the world, pouring 14 million drinks every day.

In addition to the well-known Segway,  DEKA focuses on health and mobility technologies, including the iBOT wheelchair (which can raise up and balance on two wheels), and the Luke Arm, a nerve-controlled robotic prosthetic arm.


Alan G. Carlson
BSME 1967
President, Carlson Caspers Intellectual Property Law

Alan graduated from Purdue in 1967, a member of Pi Tau Sigma, the Mechanical Engineering honorary, and Phi Delta Theta social fraternity.  He attended The Ohio State University Law School, and completed his legal education at the University of Minnesota and William Mitchell Law School, graduating in 1971.  He then joined the firm now known as Merchant and Gould in Minneapolis, focusing on intellectual property law. He became a partner in 1975 and served on every management team until he became the Chairman and CEO in 1995.  During his tenure, they went from six lawyers to 80 lawyers.

He formed the Carlson Caspers law firm in 2003.  The firm has 30 lawyers and specializes exclusively in intellectual property litigation.  He has tried copyright, contract interference, libel, patent, trademark, trade dress and trade secret cases, and won multimillion dollar jury verdicts in diverse technologies.   He has represented Honeywell, 3M, General Mills, Pillsbury, Medtronic, St. Jude Medical and every other large Minnesota company.

In 1991 he was named one of “Minnesota’s Winningest Trial lawyers,” and he has been listed in Best Lawyers in American every year from 1991 to the present.  In 2003 he became the first patent attorney in Minnesota to be inducted as a Fellow into the American College of Trial Lawyers.  In 2009, he was named the Minnesota Lawyer Magazine “Attorney of the Year,” and in 2010 Best Lawyers publication named him “Lawyer of the year 2010, Intellectual Property Law-Minneapolis.”

Mr. Carlson and his wife, Susan, have two sons.  They live in Wayzata, Minnesota, outside of Minneapolis, and spend their winters on a horse farm in the Palm Beach, Florida area. Mr. Carlson still maintains a legal practice at his firm where he continues as Chairman and CEO. 


Captain (Ret.) John E. Day
BSME 1941
Senior Captain, USNR (Retired)

After receiving his BSME in 1941, Jack Day became a mechanical engineer with Commonwealth Edison until his retirement.  He served in many roles throughout his career, from power plant engineer to sales and marketing.

He enlisted in the US Navy in 1944, where he went to Officer Candidate School.  He served in the occupation force in Japan in 1945 aboard a Navy destroyer, and was recalled to active service during the Korean War as an engineering officer aboard a war zone destroyer.  He served actively in the Naval Reserve, rising to the rank of Captain, and continued as a Blue & Gold recruiter in the Chicago area.  He also captained various tour boats in Chicago, becoming Senior Master Captain of the Odyssey.

Jack became President of the Marine Navigation and Training Association in 1975.  This organization operated a former Coast Guard Cutter that was used to train Explorer Scouts, Sea Scouts, and Sea Cadets.  As the President of this organization, Jack could be Captain one minute, chief cook the next, and join the engineers in the engine room to solve complex problems. 

“Captain Jack” is a true leader, and a shaper of young people.  He’s also a dedicated alumnus and supporter of Purdue, especially of Purdue Musical Organizations, having attended more than 50 Purdue Christmas Shows.  He has served as a role model to multiple generations of people as an engineer, an officer, a mentor, and a friend. Retired Vice Admiral Philip Cullom said, “I frankly cannot think of a more deserving individual who so represents a ‘life of profound difference’ as Captain Jack Day.”


Mark S. Fitzpatrick
BSME 1972, MSME 1973
Executive Director, Aldwych International Ltd.

While at Purdue, Mark’s major area of emphasis was power engineering, with an secondary focus in pollution control technologies.  The course work to support this consisted of the standard fare of math and science as well as large measures of heat and mass transfer, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, and combustion studies.  His senior project was a computerized optimization of the Rankine Cycle and his master’s project studied the fluid dynamic properties of gas and particulates flowing into and through electrostatic precipitators.

Mark went into industry after graduation, spending time in design, construction, commissioning, field research and prototype testing for both conventional power systems and air pollution control equipment.  Not one to sit still very long, in the first 11 years of his career he worked for four different companies, in five different states and two countries.

Mark joined The AES Corporation (now one of the largest independent power companies in the world) in 1984, in its infancy. From then until 2003 he led early greenfield and acquisition efforts in the US, followed by expansion into the UK, the rest of Europe, central Asia and Africa, growing the London-based organization from 2 people in 1990 to over 5000 in 2002.

In 2004, Mark co-founded and was the first Managing Director of Aldwych International, an independent power company focused on the developing electricity market of Sub-Saharan Africa. In that role, Mark co-led the arrangement of the original financing for the company, several refinancings subsequent and recruited the original staff.  The company currently has assets in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya with developments underway in Tanzania, Chad, Guinea, Malawi and The Gambia.


Stephen P. Mader
BSME 1969
Vice Chairman, MD Board Practice, Korn/Ferry International

Stephen is an independent consultant for executive leadership and corporate governance. In 2017 he retired from Korn/Ferry International as Vice Chairman and Managing Director for Board Services. At $3 billion value, Korn/Ferry is the largest executive talent and leadership development organization worldwide.

His deep interest in how executive leadership affects enterprise success grew from his own early experiences as an operating executive. Following his Purdue graduation, he accepted a marketing assignment in the industrial automation business, at a time when robotics and distributed computing were new concepts, and international manufacturing competitiveness was a major U.S. economic pressure. He also completed his Executive MBA program at Northeastern University.

In 1986 he joined Fenwick Partners, a boutique executive talent consulting firm, as a Partner. The firm went on to establish a national reputation in technology markets. That experience confirmed his new career direction and grounded him in his transference to professional services.  In 1995 Mr. Mader teamed up with a very small early stage firm, Christian & Timbers.  He became CEO and in six years the firm self-funded a thirty times growth with international offices and eight domestic operations, becoming the tenth largest in the field. In 2004 he was succeeded as CEO in order for him to focus solely on the roles of corporate CEOs and their boards of directors. The failures of Worldcom, Enron, and Arthur Anderson had put a spotlight on corporate governance that had made the board of directors and its intersection with the CEO the epicenter for business leadership development. Mr. Mader’s work over the following three years began to shape his national reputation at the CEO and Board level and in 2007 Korn/Ferry International engaged him as Vice Chairman Board Services, an opportunity to contribute at the highest levels of business leadership for a decade.


Melanie L. Petsch
BSME 1988
Lead Data Scientist, Regulation, New York Stock Exchange

Prior to joining the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Melanie founded and ran Petsch Analytics, LLC, a research consultancy, for nine years.  Other prestigious firms Melanie has worked for include Goldman, Sachs & Co., AllianceBernstein, TIAA-CREF, Columbia’s School of International and Political Affairs, and Columbia Business School.

Her areas of expertise include quantitative financial research, big data, analytics, data visualization, active equity portfolio management, alpha generation, portfolio construction, performance attribution, and optimization.

Melanie is widely published on financial topics, including “Beating Benchmarks,” which won an award for “Outstanding Article” in the Journal of Portfolio Management, and “Creating Shareholder Value,” the lead article in the inaugural issue of The Journal of Risk Finance. Melanie has also written a book, Commodities as an Asset Class.

Melanie studied in the finance Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago and holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University.  Melanie is a member of the Research Committee of the Q Group and is a Trustee of the Society of Quantitative Analysts.


Manahar R. Shah
MSME 1968
Co-Founder and CEO, M S International Inc.

“Manu” Shah completed Mechanical Engineering at VJTI-Bombay University, and came to the USA in 1967 to complete a Master’s degree at Purdue.  While working as a project engineer at International Trucks, he and his wife began a small export-import business in the basement of their Fort Wayne, Indiana home.

That business, MSI, is now the largest distributor of natural stone in the world, offering countertops, wall tiles, flooring, and landscaping material. Now based in Orange County, California, MSI employs over 1,350 people in North America, and directly supports over 120,000 jobs worldwide including about 20,000 jobs in India, mostly in stone-producing rural areas. MSI imports material from 38 different countries, and has 30 sales centers in North America.

Manu was named national Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young in 2007.  Despite the brutal recession in housing-construction from 2009 until 2012, MSI continually grew at double digit growth and was able to hire employees.

Manu has a passion about his experiment in entrepreneurship, and he and his wife have an equal passion for philanthropy.  As a founder of the Sarva Mangal Family Trust (SMFT), he has continually sponsored and donated many philanthropic causes: SAHARA (South Asian Help to abused Women), Pratham (Every Child in school and learning well), AIF (America India Foundation), and 30 other charities based in the US and India.