STEM Forward
Press Release

STEM Forward to Honor STEM Outreach and Engineering Excellence at the 2022 Celebration of STEM Virtual Event


By - Jan 13th, 2022 06:00 am

MILWAUKEE––STEM Forward is pleased to recognize American Family Insurance as the 2022 Spirit of STEM recipient, Dr. Ayman EL-Refaie as 2021 Engineer of the Year, and Dr. Wujie Zhang as 2021 Young Engineer of the Year. The honorees will be celebrated at the Spirit of STEM Celebration / 69th Annual Engineers Week Banquet, taking place virtually on Wednesday, February 16, 2022, from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Vicki J. Martin, President of Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). Dr. Martin has launched the MATC Promise for high school graduates, and in 2018, she announced the MATC Promise for Adults, one of the nation’s first Promise programs for adult learners. Dr. Martin serves on the steering committee of the Higher Education Regional Alliance and is a founding leader of the M3 initiative, which brings together MATC, Milwaukee Public Schools, and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee to transform Milwaukee through education. Join us to hear Dr. Martin’s perspectives on MATC and Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges: Building the State’s Diverse STEM Talent Pipeline.

“Milwaukee Area Technical College and all 16 technical colleges around Wisconsin are uniquely positioned to meet STEM workforce needs by offering career-ready programs with a faster time to degree and the opportunity to use those credentials as a building block for a bachelor’s degree and beyond,” MATC President Dr. Vicki J. Martin said. “Employers are seeking diverse talent, and at MATC, 55% of our students are students of color. We are proud to be the region’s partner in lifting up diverse individuals, building the diverse talent pipeline, and strengthening our community.”

Dr. Ayman EL-Refaie is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Thomas and Suzanne M.Werner Endowed Chair in Secure/Sustainable Energy at Marquette University. He is known as a lead educator and researcher in the Opus College of Engineering. Over the course of 21 years of research, Dr. EL-Refaie has conducted ground-breaking research in advanced traction motors, traction motors that reduce or eliminate rare-earth materials, fault-tolerant electrical machines for safety-critical applications, and high specific-power electrical machines, among others.

His outstanding research in electric vehicles stands to influence the future of engineering innovation at Marquette and in Wisconsin and create immense economic and environmental value globally.

Dr. Wujie Zhang is an associate professor of Biomolecular Engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). Dr. Zhang’s scholarly work and research span biomaterials, tissue engineering, drug delivery, and cancer treatment. Dr. Zhang has published more than 35 peer-reviewed journal articles (15 undergraduate students as first/co-authors), authored the book Nanotechnology for Bioengineers, and holds multiple patents. With numerous external and internal funding sources, he is actively engaged in research involving undergraduate students in various areas, including engineered red blood cells for oxygen therapeutics development.

Dr. EL-Refaie and Dr.Wujie Zhang were selected from a pool of highly qualified nominees committed to advancing the engineering profession and inspiring others in southeastern Wisconsin. An independent judging panel completed the evaluation and selection of the nominees.

American Family is receiving the 2022 Spirit of STEM award for its outstanding commitment to STEM outreach and improving the STEM competency of K-12 students. Since 2012 the Spirit of STEM Award has recognized organizations making a significant impact in advancing STEM education and talent development. Recipients indeed are “Best in Class” in helping bring along the next generation and giving back in a very STEM way. Over the last three years, American Family Insurance has emerged as a leader in STEM education and outreach in greater Milwaukee through their support of many programs and organizations, including STEAM & Dream, MSOE STEM Center, Urban Future Centers – Milky Way Tech Hub, the sySTEMnow Conference, and others.

The Spirit of STEM Award was established in 2013 to honor organizations that significantly impact STEM education and talent. Past recipients include ATC, Direct Supply, GE Healthcare, Komatsu, Northwestern Mutual, Rockwell Automation, and We Energies.

STEM Forward’s Engineer of the Year has been a tradition since 1953. The award is given to a remarkable person in the Milwaukee 7 County Community who has made an extraordinary contribution to the engineering profession. The Young Engineer of the Year recognizes an exemplary engineer under 40. The Spirit of STEM award honors businesses committed to advancing STEM education and building talent in southeastern Wisconsin.

Individual tickets and group sponsorships are now available to this premier virtual event celebrating National Engineers Week. To learn more, visit Eventbrite or our Website.

About STEM Forward

STEM Forward is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and metro Milwaukee’s leading STEM education and outreach provider. STEM Forward’s programs, events, and activities inspire local youth to pursue STEM careers and provide a talent pipeline to businesses in southeastern Wisconsin.

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