Wayne State University

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Alumni & Industry

2015 Night of the Stars


The Wayne State University College of Engineering will host the 2015 Night of the Stars at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 24, at the the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit.


Cynthia Bir, MSME 1999, Ph.D. 2000, is a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and director of the university’s Center for Trauma, Violence & Injury Prevention. She has extensive research experience in the area of human injury tolerances. Her research interests include sports injury biomechanics, ballistic impacts, blast injury and forensic biomechanics. She has studied the effects of impacts to all regions of the body and is known worldwide for her work in this area.

Bir has published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal papers and more than 100 abstracts and conference papers. Her research has received millions of dollars in funding from numerous organizations, including the Department of Defense, and she has served as an expert on NATO panels. Additionally, she is the lead scientist for both Sport Science on ESPN — which earned her two Emmys — and Fight Science on National Geographic. She has also been seen on Curiosity: Plane Crash (Discovery Channel), Stan Lee’s Superhumans (History Channel) and The Indestructibles (National Geographic).

Prior to joining the University of Southern California, Bir served as a professor of biomedical engineering at Wayne State University. She holds a B.S. in nursing from Nazareth College in Kalamazoo, Michigan; an M.S. in bioengineering from the University of Michigan; and an M.S. in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Wayne State.

Bruce Hettle, EMMP 1997, is vice president of North America manufacturing for Ford Motor Company. Hettle is responsible for Ford’s North American manufacturing footprint — the company’s largest in the world, with more than 30 manufacturing plants. He plays a key role in Ford’s ongoing efforts to improve manufacturing flexibility and efficiency, while also overseeing Ford’s product expansion in North America and the company’s seamless conversion to global platforms.

Hettle joined Ford in 1986 as a process engineer working on vehicle launches, and has spent his entire career with the company in manufacturing. Since 2008, he has led Ford’s manufacturing engineering group as executive director, global vehicle operations manufacturing engineering. In addition to other leadership roles, he served as director for Ford’s Manufacturing Business Office, and was plant manager for Wayne Stamping and Assembly and Edison Assembly.

Hettle holds a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Oakland University and a master’s in engineering management from Wayne State.

Earsel “Earl” Shipp, BSChE 1981, is vice president of operations for the U.S. Gulf Coast at The Dow Chemical Company, where he is responsible for nine manufacturing sites, including  Dow’s Texas operations, the company’s largest integrated chemical manufacturing complex.

He joined Dow in 1981 in Freeport, Texas, and has held a number of leadership positions throughout the United States and globally, including president of India, Middle East and Africa operations; business group president for basic chemicals; and global vice president for the oxides and glycols business.

Shipp is the Dow Chemical Executive Sponsor for the Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers.

Shipp has played an active leadership role in numerous civic and professional organizations in Michigan, Ohio, Louisiana, Texas, Africa and the Middle East. He is the former chairman of the board of the New Orleans Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and is currently a member of the Federal Reserve Energy Advisory Committee. He has served as the deputy chairman of the board of EQUATE Petrochemical Company, headquartered in Kuwait, and vice chairman of the board of M.E. Global BV, headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Shipp is currently chairman of the executive committee of the Economic Alliance of Brazoria County. He is also a member of the Greater Houston Partnership Board of Directors, the executive committee of the board of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, and the Texas Chemical Council Board of Directors.

A graduate of Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Shipp earned a chemical engineering degree from Wayne State University and an M.B.A. from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.


Angela Barbee-Hatter, BSME 1993, is director of global design operations for General Motors, where she oversees teams responsible for creative digital imaging and visualization, workload planning, talent acquisition, facilities and budget for GM's North America Design Center. Additionally, she is global lead for Europe, China, Korea, Australia and South America design operations. She has held numerous leadership positions at GM in manufacturing, engineering, and test and development, including assistant director – global accessory engineering and global executive chief of staff – global vehicle electrification and infotainment. She has also held positions with Ford and Nissan.

In 2004, Barbee-Hatter received the Black Engineer of the Year – Corporate Promotion of Education Award from the Career Communications Group, publisher of industry magazines such as US Black Engineer & IT and Women of Color. She was inducted into the organization’s hall of fame in 2012. She has been featured in numerous publications, including the book Driven: A Tribute to African Americans in the Automotive Industry, published in 2012.  A former board member of the National Society of Black Engineers, she has served as a mentor, public speaker and recruiter to minorities and women in engineering on behalf of GM. Her endeavors in this area earned her a Distinguished Service Award from the company.

Barbee-Hatter credits a middle school engineering program with sparking her interest in the field. She was the first African American female graduate of Milwaukee Trade and Technical High School’s pre-engineering program. In addition to her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Wayne State, Barbee-Hatter received a GM Distinguished Fellowship to Purdue University, where she earned a master’s in mechanical engineering. She later returned to Purdue as an adjunct professor in GM’s Engineer-in-Residence program, teaching engineering courses and managing research projects. She currently serves on the Purdue University Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board. She has received leadership awards from both alma maters.