Three engineering students receive Wingerter Awards as top seniors in class of 2020

The Wayne State University College of Engineering announced its selections for the Robert G. Wingerter Award, the highest recognition and honor given by the college to graduating seniors who have excelled in character, leadership and scholastic ability.

The 2020 recipients are Olivia Cali (chemical engineering), Elizabeth Melcher (biomedical engineering) and Pierre Renaudie (industrial and systems engineering). Each student was nominated by a faculty member from their respective departments.

Cali served as president of the Wayne State chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) during the 2019-20 academic year. She organized student engagement events, restructured the executive board, mandated leadership training for officers and secured funding for 14 students to attend the 2019 AIChE annual meeting. She has worked as a research assistant, developing 3D applications in tissue engineering with a focus on modular liver regeneration, and completed a co-op at DTE Energy in gas control — all while maintaining one of the highest cumulative grade-point averages in the department.

“She is an active, engaged student — asking questions, and assisting other students in learning exercises,” said Jeff Potoff, interim chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. “Olivia has been a leader of leaders.”

2020 Wingerter Award recipients
Olivia Cali, Elizabeth Melcher and Pierre Renaudi (left to right) received the 2020 Wingerter Awards from the College of Engineering.

Melcher has spent much of her time over the last three years in the Biomedical Engineering Device Design labs working on a variety of research projects, including her senior capstone project for an at-home knee joint distraction device to aid post-op rehabilitation — a system designed in collaboration with physical therapists at Orthopedic Edge. She was a mobility engineering intern at BAE Systems for two consecutive summers, served as treasurer of Tau Beta Pi, and volunteered with such groups as Detroit Rescue Mission, Future SWE and MINDSET (a STEM outreach program for Detroit elementary schools).

“Elizabeth has spent countless hours organizing events to better her community, helping new engineers entering her field, and building prototypes in my lab,” said Brian Mundo, a lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “She is one of our top graduating seniors, a fantastic problem solver and community leader.”

In two years at Wayne State after transferring from INSA Lyon in his native France, Renaudie has upheld a 4.00 GPA — highest in the department — while keeping a busy schedule as a student-athlete and community volunteer. Renaudie was captain of the men’s tennis team this season after earning All-GLIAC First Team honors in 2019 and leading his squad to a conference title. He was secretary of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, a member of the Detroit Feedback Loop and a tutor for the Detroit Youth Boxing and Educational Program. Last summer he returned to France for a three-month internship at Okeenea, a company that develops accessibility solutions for smart cities.

“He has a command of analytic reasoning that places him in the top 1% of students I have ever encountered,” said Evrim Dalkiran, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering.  “He aspires to get a higher education, use his knowledge for improved industrial and academic settings, and give back to WSU and Southeast Michigan communities.”


Robert G. Wingerter, BSME ’38, was a top executive at Libbey-Owens-Ford Company (now Pilkington North America) from 1967-79, serving as the organization’s CEO and chairman. He began his career in 1938 with Timken Roller Bearing Company and joined Rockwell-Standard in 1963 as executive vice president, director and president of the automotive division. He received the Wayne State University College of Engineering’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1967, established his eponymous award in 1968 and was a member of the college’s Hall of Fame inaugural class of 1983.


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