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Dean, student earn Engineers Week accolades

February 24, 2011

The dean of Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and one of ASU’s engineering students have been recognized for their achievements by the Greater Phoenix Area Engineers Week coalition.

Dean Paul Johnson received the Outstanding Engineering Educator of the Year award and Joy Marsalla was presented the Outstanding Engineering Student of the Year award at a Feb. 24 ceremony.

The awards are part of National Engineers Week promoted by a national foundation and a coalition of regional groups that work to advance the engineering profession.

The Greater Phoenix Area group considers dozens of award nominees from almost 40 local chapters of various professional engineering associations, and roughly an equal number of engineering and construction companies, along with several public agencies and educational institutions.

Johnson and Marsalla were nominated by Christopher Kmetty, a senior civil engineer and project manager for the city of Peoria who earned an engineering degree from ASU in 1997.

In the nomination, Kmetty cited Johnson’s efforts to bring a global perspective to education and research in ASU’s schools of engineering, and his push to ensure quality education for students.

“He is intensely focused on raising the quality of the university experience for undergraduates. You don’t always see that kind commitment to students from a dean of a large school at a major research university,” Kmetty says.

Marsalla, a student in ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College, expects to receive a bachelor of science degree this spring in civil engineering. Her emphasis is on environmental engineering with a minor in sustainability. She plans to earn a master’s degree in environmental engineering at ASU.

Kmetty’s nomination points not only to her academic achievements but success in industry internships, her community service activities and leadership in student engineering organizations.

Throughout years as associate dean of engineering research, ASU’s associate vice president of research and executive dean for the ASU’s schools of engineering, Johnson has continued to teach and mentor graduate and undergraduate students.

He worked with former engineering schools dean Deirdre Meldrum to restructure engineering departments and programs at ASU to better focus research pursuits and student learning to meet the world’s growing need for engineering innovations.

Johnson was instrumental in starting E2 Camp, a three-day orientation experience for ASU freshmen engineering students.

As dean, he maintains his position as a professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment and continues teaching an Introduction to ASU course for freshman.

“In my experiences with Dean Johnson, he has taught me about compassion as a leader and fortitude in doing what is right,” Kmetty says.

Marsalla is currently interning with Ritoch-Powell and Associates, a Phoenix engineering firm. She has studied abroad in Italy and participated in the undergraduate engineering research program at ASU.

She has won scholarships from several engineering-related organizations, including the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, the Arizona Association of Environmental Professionals and the Arizona Water Association.

Marsalla is president of the ASU student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and the environmental team captain of the American Society of Environmental Engineers ASU student chapter.

She’s been a volunteer for the ASU Community Service Program and Habitat for Humanity, a member of Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona and a mentor for the School of Sustainability and the Built Environment summer camp and the engineering schools’ E2 Camp.

She is the founder of the Order of the Engineer program at ASU. The Order encourages engineering graduates to take a pledge to uphold ethical and professional standards in their engineering careers.

“She rocks,” Kmetty says. “She is the kind of prized student ASU should trumpet as an example.”