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When people achieve phenomenal success in the pursuit of helping others, they deserve recognition. This was the purpose of Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering’s inaugural Alumni Awards. 

On April 11, distinguished guests from across the university and alumni communities, gathered in Scaife Hall to honor eight individuals whose leadership, creativity, and volunteerism underscore what can be achieved with an engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

“The pride our alumni feel is based on their exceptional experience and significant power of this institution and its impact on the world. The Carnegie Mellon experience is a foundation people stand on throughout their career,” said Bill Sanders, dean of the College of Engineering and the evening’s host.

James Garrett Jr., provost of CMU, in his enthusiastic remarks recognized the leadership engineering alumni have shown in their professional activities and their willingness to volunteer time back to Carnegie Mellon. He, too, alluded to one of the night’s key themes—alumni engagement positively broadens CMU’s global impact.

“I am grateful for you [alumni] staying connected to this community and for being an ambassador for Carnegie Mellon,” said Garrett.

The pride our alumni feel is based on their exceptional experience and significant power of this institution and its impact on the world.

Bill Sanders, Dean, College of Engineering

The first awards of the evening—the Recent Alumni Achievement Awards—recognized individuals in the early stage of their careers who have made remarkable accomplishments. Venkee Sharma (ChemE 1987), the president and CEO of Aquatech, presented them to Olivia Dippo and Dylan Lew. The three of them share a deep commitment to sustainability.

Dippo (MSE/BME 2015) is CEO and co-founder of Limelight Steel. She pioneers laser tight technology in ironmaking, which achieves energy savings. Recognized on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, her leadership and innovation are driving the steel industry toward decarbonization.

Lew (MSE 2021, 2021) is the CEO of Ecotone Renewables, a company formed to make sustainable food and agriculture systems more prevalent outside the industrial scale. He’s filed two utility patents and is recognized for leadership in tacking global challenges like food waste and climate change.

The Recent Alumni Service Excellence Award honored Andre Sutanto (MechE/BME/EPP 2013, 2013), a long-dedicated volunteer. As a student, he distinguished himself as a teaching and research assistant. Today Sutanto is a senior mechanical engineer at the National Robotics Engineering Center, and he continues to serve the College by participating on councils and boards. He mentors international students, and his contributions epitomize the spirit of service.

The next wave of honors—the Alumni Service Excellence Awards—were presented by Barbara Buck (ChemE 1973), founder of Buck Sentinel Rock Consulting. This award recognizes individuals who have shown exceptional dedication by volunteering their time and expertise through mentoring, lecturing, and other appreciated forms of involvement.

This year’s recipients were Phil Dowd, Lisa Salley, and Carol Williams.

Dean Bill Sanders at a podium


Dowd (MSE 1963) has left an indelible mark on industry and the College. He co-founded and held senior positions at SunGard Data Systems. At CMU, he has served on the Board of Trustees since 1996. His affinity for the College and its mission has led him to generously establish The Philip L. and Marsha Dowd Professorship, The Philip L. and Marsha Dowd Teaching Fellowship, and The Dowd Engineering Seed Fund for Graduate Student Fellowships. 

Salley (MSE 1987), a strategist at heart, is renowned for her thought leadership in national security at the intersection of manufacturing, materials science, recyclability, and the future workforce. She founded the Heritage Solutions Group, and she has extensive experience in advising startups. Salley has held global division president roles in Fortune 50 companies. Her contributions to the College have enriched the student and alumni communities. 

At Dow Chemical, Carol Williams (ChemE 1980) rose to Executive Vice President of Manufacturing & Engineering. Committed to governance in the chemical manufacturing sectors, she serves on the board of directors at Owens-Illinois and Olin Chemical. Williams has a history of advancing opportunities for women in engineering through her involvement with professional organizations, and her advocacy has fostered a more inclusive engineering community.

The last presenter of the evening was Hillard Lazarus (CEE 1970), a retired professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. Like all the presenters and honorees, he is deeply engaged with the CMU community.

Lazarus presented Alumni Outstanding Achievement Awards to Anthony DiGioia III, M.D. and Merline Saintil for the extraordinary contributions they have made in their professions.  

DiGioia (CEE/BME 1979, 1982) is an engineer, entrepreneur, and orthopedic surgeon who has made significant innovations in healthcare. He co-founded the Center for Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery at CMU. Recently he and others developed an AI/Machine Learning platform called “Joint AI” that can diagnose and recommend treatments for patients with hip and knee arthritis pain. Committed to global health equality, he leads a medical mission that provides free joint-replacement surgery in Central America. 

The last honoree was Merline Saintil (III 2005), a former software engineer turned Silicon Valley COO and investor, who guided six companies through IPOs. She serves on boards for Fortune 100 and high-growth companies. Co-founder of Black Women on Boards, a global organization of 200 executives, she helps propel top talent into leadership roles. She produced an award-winning documentary, OnBoard, that celebrates women’s achievements in the workforce. Saintil serves as an inspiration for creating thriving and innovative workforces.

Concluding the evening, Sanders announced that the names of the awardees will be mounted on a Wall of Honor so that the CMU community can see the names of those who have enriched the College and the world.

Learn more about our honorees’ accomplishments and how you can nominate someone for the 2025 Alumni Awards.