Awards and More

Issue Date: 
March 24, 2008

The University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and its departments honored seven alumni at its 2008 Distinguished Alumni Banquet March 20. The honorees are widely regarded as the top experts in their respective fields and hail from across the nation and the world.

Mahmoud K. Dabbous, who received the Distinguished Alumni Award, is an international authority on techniques to maximize extraction from oil fields. The Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, the International Energy Agency, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and other organizations routinely call upon Dabbous to speak about improved oil recovery technology. Dabbous is president and CEO of the Dallas-based Improved Petroleum Recovery Group of Companies. He earned his master’s degree in petroleum engineering and his doctoral degree in chemical engineering at Pitt in 1969 and 1971, respectively.

Alka Patel received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award. Patel, of the Intellectual Property Counsel for Allegheny Technologies, Inc., in Pittsburgh, is regarded as an accomplished woman in a field dominated by men. After completing her bachelor’s degree in materials science at Pitt in 1996, Patel worked as a metallurgical engineer at Timken Latrobe Steel Company and was one of two women at the plant at the time. She was responsible for quality assurance, process reliability, and managing 20 employees. In 2001, she earned her master’s degree in business administration and her law degree at Duquesne University. Combining these with her Pitt engineering education, Patel focused on patents in the areas of materials science, chemicals, nanotechnology, medical devices, software, and business methods.

The following were named Distinguished Alumni within their respective departments in the Swanson School:

  • Marlin H. Mickle, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Mickle is Pitt’s Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of electrical and computer engineering and telecommunications. He earned all of his degrees at Pitt: bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering in 1961 and 1963, respectively, and a PhD degree in 1967.
  • Raymond P. Niro, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. Niro is founder and senior partner of Niro, Scavone, Haller and Niro, a nationally recognized intellectual property law firm based in Chicago. He graduated from Pitt with his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1964 and from George Washington University Law School in 1969.
  • James J. Lombardi, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Lombardi is executive vice president of SAI Consulting Engineers Inc., a Pittsburgh-based, employee-owned transportation design and construction management firm with more than 150 employees. Lombardi earned his bachelor’s degree at Pitt in civil engineering in 1972.
  • Barbara Shelton, Department of Industrial Engineering. Shelton is the principal representative of the U.S. General Services Administration for the Mid-Atlantic Region. Shelton earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering at Pitt in 1979 and a master’s degree in business administration at Columbia University.
  • Edward F. Sobota, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. Sobota is founder of Derry, Pa.-based Tech Spec, Inc., a nationally acclaimed manufacturer and supplier of titanium bar and forging products for the aerospace, medical, chemical, and industrial product industries. Sobota graduated from Pitt with a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering in 1967.

Information on awardees from elsewhere at Pitt follows.

Leigh Hoffman is the recipient of the 2007-08 President’s Distinguished Service Award for Staff at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Hoffman is the assistant dean of student services, the director of orientation and cocurricular programs, and the judicial coordinator who oversees student disciplinary actions. In presenting the award, Sharon P. Smith, Pitt-Greensburg president, said Hoffman “never sits back to rest on past success but rather is always envisioning improvements to programs and innovations that will take us in new and exciting directions. Her impact is extraordinary.”
Hoffman has worked at Pitt-Greensburg since 2003. She was promoted to her current position in 2006. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology/education from Juniata College and a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Scranton.”

Tao Cheng, a professor in the Pitt School of Medicine’s biochemistry and molecular genetics program, received the Scholar Award from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The grant includes $550,000 over five years and is given to highly qualified investigators who have shown a capacity for independent, sustained original investigation in the field of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

James Menegazzi, research associate professor of emergency medicine in Pitt’s School of Medicine, won two awards from the National Association of EMS Physicians. He won Best Scientific Presentation and Best Cardiac Arrest Presentation. In addition, Jon Rittenberger, a research fellow instructor of emergency medicine within Pitt’s medical school, won the Best Fellow Presentation. The awards were presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of EMS Physicians held recently in Phoenix.