College of Engineering to honor three distinguished alumni at annual Night of the Stars

Wayne State University's College of Engineering will recognize exemplary alumni during its annual signature event, Night of the Stars, on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Three alumni will be inducted into the College of Engineering Hall of Fame. Cynthia Bir, Bruce Hettle and Earl Shipp were selected among more than 25,000 engineering and computer science alumni who live and work in every state and in 48 countries.

"Cindy, Bruce and Earl are outstanding representatives of Wayne State, and very deserving of this honor," said College of Engineering Dean Farshad Fotouhi. "I am also excited to bring Night of the Stars to our Midtown neighborhood at the DIA."

This year's Night of the Stars, sponsored by Urban Science in Detroit, will benefit student programs such as undergraduate research, study abroad and career services, and scholarships.

Tickets are $125 per person or $75 for individuals under 30 years of age, and include a plated dinner and valet parking. RSVP at

Sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact the College of Engineering Development Office at 313-577-4707 for more information.


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.

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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

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