Award Winner Recognition

Student Awards

Donald Beall Award for Engineering Accomplishment

Adam Sorich, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Adam chose SJSU because it aligns with his goal to enter the semiconductor industry, and because, as he said, "It is one of the best schools in the heart of Silicon Valley. This has paid off as I am currently in the interview process for a semiconductor equipment company." Outside of school, he loves riding and working on motorcycles, playing bass and guitar, gardening, reading, and anything else that keeps the TV turned off. Adam was in the Air Force for six years and was a Staff Sergeant: "I worked on nuclear warheads in a windowless building and usually saw the sun for around ten minutes a day if I was lucky. I have the experience of seeing things most people don't even know exists and I can't talk about any of it to anyone. I have to just keep them nestled in my mind like little wrapped up gifts." Due to COVID-19, Adam reports that his fixation has changed slightly. "Currently I am fixated on working out and exercising. We have to stay at home all day so I give my extra time to my health."

Arman Toplu, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Arman defines himself as an experienced student who returned to academia after having significant work experience in the technology field. As a tech enthusiast, he applied specifically to SJSU and came to Silicon Valley to be in the heart of technology. While taking such courses as Circular Economy, Operations Research-Optimization, and Supply Chain Logistics, he participated in conferences and seminars on blockchain, autonomous cars and cloud computing.

Arman thinks studying Industrial Engineering equips him with many tools in diverse fields. Along with his studies, he also likes to research and read about marketing, product development, agile project management, customer insights, revenue management, and data analysis with Python and R. Arman enjoys snowboarding in the winter and sailing in the Aegean during summer. He has a dream to cycle around the world in the future.

Scott T. Axline Memorial Student Award for Excellence in Service

Mohammed Salman Khan, Aviation and Technology

Mohammed chose to attend SJSU because of its Aviation program, when he found he could earn his FAA Commercial rating through the program. Mohammed said, "I was interested in Aviation since I was a little kid and SJSU was fairly close to home. This program also stood out to me because of The Precision Flight Team." The Flight Team is a student run organization that travels around the country to compete against other schools. While being a member of the team for more than years, Mohammed worked his way up through the ranks and became Captain. "I flew around the country twice, made amazing friends and made memories that will last a lifetime," he said. Outside of college, Mohammed loves to fly with friends and families to different destinations. He also enjoys volunteering at his local mosque, where he is the current President of the youth team and enjoys working with kids. "Most people are surprised or shocked when they find out I'm a pilot. One area of interest that I'm currently fixated on is teaching. I am working on becoming a FAA Certified Flight Instructor to teach people how to fly."

Faculty Awards

The Newnan Brothers Award for Faculty Excellence

Belle W. Y. Wei, General Engineering

Dr. Belle Wei is the Carolyn Guidry Chair in Engineering Education and Innovative Learning at San José State. Previously, she served as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at California State University, Chico; and as Don Beall Dean of Engineering at the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at San José State for ten years.

Belle is a passionate champion of diversity, inclusiveness and excellence in STEM education and careers. This is exemplified by her leadership of the Silicon Valley Women in Engineering Conference and programs. Since 2015, she has led the groundbreaking efforts of the Technology Pathways Initiative (TPI)—an alliance of university and industry partners who are developing new interdisciplinary computing degree programs. These programs, such as the Applied Computing minor for Behavioral and Social Scientists, and the Bioinformatics minor for Biology majors, are bringing computing education to a more diverse student population, including women and underserved students.

Outside of work, Belle enjoys the arts, including opera and poetry.

Outstanding Lecturer

Syed Sohail Zaidi, Mechanical Engineering

Born and raised in a small town in Pakistan, Dr. Syed Zaidi migrated to the United Kingdom for graduate studies. After completing his Ph.D. at Cranfield University, he worked in the Rolls Royce Technology center in Nottingham University, then served as a research scientist at Princeton University from 1999 to 2012. He followed this by working as a plasma research scientist at Agilent in Santa Clara. Syed started teaching at San José State, attracted to its diversity and multicultural environment. "I see students coming from both ends of the spectrum – from highly rated to poorly equipped schools," he said. "I see students who work very hard at SJSU while working part-time generating funds for their studies. I feel fortunate to help them to complete their studies and successfully enter their professional careers. Teaching is my passion. Nothing is more prestigious than educating our next generation and serving the community where we live our lives." Syed established an academy that educates high school students and prepares them for scientific research. When not teaching and reading, he listens to traditional music and enjoys watching old movies.

Award for Excellence in Scholarship

Kaikai Liu, Computer and Software Engineering

Dr. Kaikai Liu has been an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Engineering since 2015. His research interests include Mobile and Cyber-Physical Systems, Smart and Intelligent Systems, Internet-of-Things, Software-Defined Computing and Networking. He has published a book, more than 20 peer-reviewed papers in journals and conference proceedings, and he holds several patents.

"Being a technology innovator is something I always dreamed of doing," said Kaikai. "I chose to work in one of the world's top technology innovation hubs to become an innovator and coach future innovators. I teach self-driving car technologies, but I love driving. I think making the system easy and safe to control is better than creating something that is out of your control." Kaikai is also an avid reader, lover of new digital gadgets and is attempting to become a maker. "In my spare time," he said, "I like driving around with my family and growing together with my little kid."

Award for Excellence in Service

Minnie Patel, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Dr. Niranjani (Minnie) Patel joined SJSU in 2002. She always wanted to be in California near family members. "When I got an opportunity to join SJSU I did not need much time to make a decision," she said. "First, it was like a dream come true. Second, when I interviewed for a faculty position in the ISE department, I felt at home right away mainly due to collegiality and welcoming attitude of my colleagues-to-be, and I saw an opportunity to grow in the environment. Moreover, I loved the SJSU campus, the city of San José, and its friendly people."

Minnie enjoys spending a lot of time in self-development and trying to understand the ultimate reality of this world. "I engage myself in activities that promote this understanding such as attending retreats expounding Indian Philosophical scriptures in quiet places. I coordinate two South San José Philosophical Study Groups to study Vedanta. I regularly do yoga, meditation and lightweight cardio exercises. I like to travel and explore places. I firmly believe that by serving others selflessly, purity of mind can be gained and this will help me understand who I really am and my relation to the world." Minnie is also currently developing her skills and knowledge in the area of data analytics.

Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching

Saeid Bashash, Mechanical Engineering

Saeid Bashash is an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering department. He received his Ph.D. from Clemson University in 2008 and completed four years of postdoctoral research at the University of Michigan and Pennsylvania State. Saeid worked as a senior engineer at HGST, a Western Digital Company for two years, and then joined SJSU in 2015 to pursue his ideal career in higher education and research in the field of dynamic systems and control.

While at SJSU, Saeid has taught seven courses, including three lab-based courses and a new course on nonlinear and adaptive control. He has supervised more than 40 graduate students, and published thirteen conference and journal papers and a patent.

Outside the campus, Saeid enjoys watching movies, listening to podcasts, playing recreational soccer, and travelling to new places with his family. He also spends a good amount of his spare time learning and playing folk music.

Staff Awards

Staff Excellence in Service Award

Nima Abrishamkar, Aviation and Technology

Nima joined SJSU in 2016 as an emergency hire with years of experience as a software engineer, project manager, and patent paralegal. She said, "For the first time in my life, I found a job that gave me purpose, and that purpose is to help the students at SJSU. How we respond to their concerns, frustrations, anxious behaviors, happiness, and successes, has a direct effect on these young people's lives. This fact was convincing enough to stay, and has made me more motivated and enthusiastic about my job."

As a wife and mother of three children whose ages range from 32 to 17, Nima's first priority has always been family. A very social person, she spends her free time with family, and friends in gatherings related to her hobbies such as meditation, discussing books, hiking, dancing, and shopping. "I also love to travel to new places around the world to learn about different cultures," she said. "I start my day with 30-45 minutes of meditation. That helps me to stay calm with a smile on my face, and I have a daily plan to prioritize and stay on top of the multiple tasks I have at home and work." 

Dean's Service Award

Lee Andersen, Engineering Computing Systems

Lee was born and raised here in San José. He completed both his undergraduate classes and his MBA at SJSU. Lee chose to work at SJSU in 2013 because he values working somewhere that provides a service capable of impacting and changing the society we all live in. As the Director of Engineering Computing Services (ECS), he has led numerous changes over the years to improve the level of service his amazing team can offer the College of Engineering. He launched a Helpdesk to increase customer support, redesigned the entire Engineering server room to improve our core infrastructure and reliability of systems, and deployed standard and enhanced multimedia solutions to many critical learning spaces in the building. His most recent project was leading the efforts to deploy a campus-wide Desktop-as-a-Service solution that allowed Engineering to make its most common software and computer labs available online for everyone to use, anywhere, at any time.

Outside of work, Lee is actively engaged with his three kids and loves to travel with his family. He has coached little league for his boys for the past five seasons, and where he can fit it in, he plays softball for a league as well. He also has a passion for cars and his 1968 Camaro. As a kid he enjoyed riding in this car with his parents and his two younger sisters, and now he shares that same joy with his own family.

Eileen Chen, Engineering Extended Studies

Eileen Chen graduated from SJSU in 2006 with a B.A. in Design and an Art Education minor. She received a M.S. degree in Educational Technology Leadership from CSU East Bay. She has been an Instructional Designer in the College of Engineering since January 2013. For her, joining SJSU was like returning home. In the past few years, she has enjoyed exploring trends in educational technology, mindset change, multimedia, art, design, and religion. One of her professional and personal interests is video production - nearly 250,000 viewers have watched the CoE Instructional Design YouTube channel!

Eileen is a pet lover. She owned a pet shop for several years when she lived in Taipei. At the time, she had more than ten dogs of various breeds and one Persian cat living with her. Eileen was born in Taiwan, a semi-tropical island. She loves the oceans and could watch the ocean waves for an entire afternoon. However, she doesn"t know how to swim! Outside of work, she enjoys having quiet time, which has been a long-established practice of hers since she was in second grade. She also enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and Mocha, her dog.

Neil Peters, Engineering Central Shop

Neil started working at San José State as a student assistant working in what used to be called the Integrated Circuits lab. This lab was built with the "new" building in 1988. While the lab offered the students an opportunity to be exposed to semiconductor manufacturing, the space was underutilized. Neil connected with a faculty member in the CME department who was updating the lab, and began to work with her and a newly formed committee to update the lab. The initial renovation of the lab was completed in 2001, and since then it has become known as the Microelectronic Process Engineering Lab (MPEL). "The lab still remains dear to me," said Neil, "and I am grateful that Dean Ehrman sees the value of this lab and that I am now, nearly 20 years later, able to work on MPEL 2.0, where we are welcoming Cell Culture and Microfluidics research into our lab. We are increasing the capability of the space as well as improving the overall safety. It is a really exciting time in the MPEL and in the College! I enjoy the diversity of work that I am able to complete in my job. It makes my days so interesting."

Outside of SJSU, Neil listens to music and plays guitar, socializes with friends, hikes, makes models, and he recently started running again. "In the early summer, I plan to start riding my bike again. I love to enjoy the beautiful state that we live in!"