SWE Engaged Advocate Award
Melinda Keller, mechanical engineering professor, received the Engaged Advocate Award by the WE Local program of the Society of Women Engineers in December. The award recognized her contribution and advancement of women in engineering. Keller, who has taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department for more than 20 years, works tirelessly to support diversity and inclusion efforts in the College of Engineering and at the department level.
She also serves as an advisor for the Cal Poly Amusement Park Engineers and Designers club, Indian Student Association, Design for America, Rotoract and the Men’s Intramural Beach Volleyball Team. Keller was previously awarded Most Supportive Professor by SWE in 2019 as well as PolyRep’s Mentor Award.
CSU Faculty Innovation & Leadership Award
Jim LoCascio’s impact on students was just part of the reason he was recently honored with the California State University Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award (FILA). The award, presented to one faculty member of each of the 23 CSU campuses, acknowledges CSU faculty who have demonstrated leadership at the program, department, school, college or university level to improve student success and outcomes in courses with traditionally low success rates or persistent equity gaps. The award comes with $5,000 in cash for the winner and $10,000 for departments. LoCascio donated his cash award to the Mechanical Engineering 80th Anniversary Campaign.
“As I meet with engineering alumni, so many of them tell me that their classes with Professor LoCascio had a profound impact on their lives,” said College of Engineering Dean Amy S. Fleischer. “He has a lasting legacy through his students.”
Part of LoCascio’s teachings have been creative: In 2016, he arranged for freshmen mechanical engineering students to see a play, “All My Sons,” which introduces questions that involve engineering ethics as well as an individual’s obligation to society.
“Dr. LoCascio is one of those rare professors that throughout his career has had a profound influence on many of his students,” wrote Andrew Davol, a former LoCascio student who became a peer on the mechanical engineering faculty team. “I know that my career choice may have been very different without his influence.”
LoCascio has helped other CSU programs, and he does outreach to help younger students get excited about STEM education. His dedication to helping his other family — those in the engineering field — traces back to his upbringing and his father, who began working at age 7.