Wayne State University's College of Engineering announces Engineering Alumni Council, new alumni volunteer programs

Don Smolenski, MSChE '79, PhDChE '90 
Chair, Engineering Alumni Council

DETROIT – Wayne State University’s College of Engineering introduced a new volunteer board today to guide its plans to expand alumni programs and outreach.

The Engineering Alumni Association was established 40 years ago when Gene Tomlinson, BSChE ’56, MSChE ’61, MBA ’74, served as president of the Wayne State University Alumni Association. He worked with faculty member and fellow alumnus Stanley Stynes, BSChE ’55, MSChE ’58, who later served as dean of the college, to envision a vibrant organization that would benefit alumni and enable them to support students and faculty. Today, the Engineering Alumni Association comprises 25,000 members who live in every state and 48 countries around the world.

Tonight at its signature event, Night of the Stars, the College of Engineering will introduce the inaugural members of the Engineering Alumni Council, which will serve as the advisory board for the Engineering Alumni Association. The goal of the council is to increase the value of a Wayne State engineering and computer science degree. The 24-person board will enable members of the Engineering Alumni Association to network individually as well as at university and college-hosted events, and through social media. The council will also create opportunities for alumni to volunteer their time and expertise to help prepare students for successful careers.

“The College of Engineering’s strategic plan calls for an increased investment in our alumni network,” said Dean Farshad Fotouhi. “The council will play a key role in shaping the future of the Engineering Alumni Association. We want all of our alumni to know, whether you’re beginning your career or enjoying the fruits of retirement, there’s a place for you here.”

Individuals who have earned a Wayne State engineering or computer science degree are considered members of the Engineering Alumni Association. No dues are required to participate in events, services and programs, including those offered by the Wayne State University Alumni Association.

The council includes three standing committees, which will be charged with leading three new programs: a volunteer program for alumni to share their expertise with students and student organizations, an ambassador program for alumni at major companies to connect fellow alumni to the college, and dedicated events and community service projects for undergraduate alumni who have graduated in the past 10 years.

“Wayne State gave me an opportunity when I needed it most,” said Don Smolenski, MSChE '79, PhDChE '90, inaugural chair of the council and OEM liaison manager for Evonik Oil Additives USA. “My goal for the Engineering Alumni Association is to leverage the talent of our alumni members to create those same kinds of opportunities for today’s students.”

Smolenski joined Evonik in 2012 after a distinguished 33-year career at General Motors. Most notably, he co-invented GM’s automatic engine oil life monitor, which is now standard on most of its vehicles in North America. He is a fellow of the Engineering Society of Detroit and the Society of Automotive Engineers, and was inducted into the College of Engineering’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

Other officers are Russ Pogats, BSEE ’92, vice chair; Brian Geraghty, MSME ’72, Volunteer Committee chair; Julius Reeves, BSIE ’86, Ambassador Committee chair; and Luke Popiel, BSEE ’13, Recent Alumni Council chair.

For more information about the Engineering Alumni Council, please visit http://engineering.wayne.edu/alumni/eac.php.

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Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering 380 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students. For more information about engineering at Wayne State University, visit engineering.wayne.edu.