Rose-Hulman Alumni To Be Recognized for Career, Community and Institute Service

Friday, February 18, 2022
Photo of Rose-Hulman alumni award winners 2022.

The Alumni Association annually recognizes alumni, faculty, staff, and students for their career achievements, service to their communities, and dedication/support to the institute and its constituencies.

Seven alumni will be recognized March 26 for their considerable career achievements, and service to their communities and alma mater, in the 2022 Alumni Awards ceremony at the Hatfield Hall Theater.

“Rose-Hulman has a long list of alumni with distinguished achievements at different stages in their careers,” said Rose-Hulman President Robert A. Coons. “Each year we’re proud to recognize a select group for applying the skills they learned on campus toward betterment within their professions and communities, while faithfully supporting the institute and its continued mission of educating tomorrow's science, engineering and mathematics leaders.”

The Alumni Association is honoring the following alumni this year: 

Honor Alumni Award

The association’s highest alumni award recognizes exceptional achievement in any career field, vocational and service to society. 

John Elzufon: The 1968 chemical engineering alumnus is founder, senior litigator and managing director of the Elzufon Austin & Mondell law firm in Wilmington, Delaware. He specializes in professional liability defense, is the only attorney in Delaware selected by his peers as a “Top Attorney” for medical and legal professional liability defense, and has been elected to the American Board of Trial Advocates. In 2021, Elzufon was asked by the Delaware Supreme Court to update and revise the summary chapter of state law regarding medical malpractice. He originally worked as a chemical engineer with DuPont in Wilmington before attending and graduating from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. He returned to Delaware for his legal career. Elzufon has been involved in the Jewish community, serving as president of his synagogue and the Jewish Federation of Delaware, and as chair/member of the Jewish Community Relations Committee for 25 years. He also has been active in Common Cause and Delaware Guidance for Children and Youth, and was awarded the Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award and City of Wilmington’s Outstanding Accomplishment Award.

Justin Smith: The 2003 mechanical engineering graduate is a senior manager with SpaceX, recently leading the guidance, navigation and controls team for the Dragon spacecraft. He partnered with NASA astronauts to implement the crew capabilities that he helped design with his team, and in 2020 worked in mission control at SpaceX headquarters during the first crewed spaceflight flown by a commercial provider. Smith also has designed key aspects of the revolutionary booster recovery technology that SpaceX has pioneered for the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles. He is currently leveraging his crewed spaceflight experience to lead the SpaceX GNC team on the development of the first commercial human landing system to deliver astronauts to the lunar surface in NASA’s Artemis Program.

Career Achievement Award

This honor highlights alumni whose professional achievements have brought distinction to themselves, credit to Rose-Hulman and benefit their communities.

Kristen Dahle: The 1999 civil engineering alumna is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Corps of Engineers, being stationed throughout Germany and deployed four times to combat locations, serving four years in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. She currently is the executive director for the Corps of Engineers Commanding General and her next assignment will be a military assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. Dahle also has served as a director of national security affairs for the Strategic Studies Institute and Army War College Press and commander of the Corps of Engineers’ Philadelphia district.

Mitch Landess: Using skills learned while earning bachelor’s (1994) and master’s degrees (1996) in electrical engineering, he is Conexus Indiana’s vice president of innovation and digital transformation. In this role Landess is helping the statewide technology advocacy organization develop pathways to digital transformation for advanced manufacturing and logistics firms. He previously spent 17 years as part of the leadership team of Rose-Hulman Ventures, the institute’s revenue-generating enterprise that serves engineering clients and provides valuable student internships and real-world work experiences. He started his career as a control systems engineer and operations team member for the startup of the $438 million Wabash River Gasification Repowering Project near West Terre Haute, Indiana.

Larry Schiefer: The 1997 computer engineering graduate is vice president of software engineering with MIRROR, leading teams innovating and creating new at-home fitness products. Also, as co-founder and chief technology officer of HIQES, a mobile platform and app consulting company, Schiefer has helped drive and create new products and solutions in the telecommunications, networking, public safety, financial, entertainment, and home fitness spaces. He enjoys teaching others and has provided Android operating system training sessions around the world, including engineers with Intel, Qualcomm and Bose, and co-authored the 2021 book, Inside the Android OS. Schiefer has been recognized as a Google Developer Expert for Android.

Distinguished Young Alumni Award

Alumni are recognized for achieving significant success within their first 10 years after graduation in the areas of career accomplishments, community service and dedication to Rose-Hulman.

Derek Archer: The 2012 biomedical engineering alumnus is a research assistant professor with Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Department of Neurology. He is striving to bridge the gap between computational genetics and neuroscience to better understand what genetic risk factors drive white matter neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease. Previously, Archer examined neurodegeneration in a wide variety of aging-related disorders while pursuing a doctorate degree.

Tim Balz: The 2017 mechanical engineering graduate has attributed much of his life to give individuals with a variety of mobility disabilities access to modern technology to aid in their independence. Balz is founder, chief executive officer and chairman with Kalogon, an investor-backed, high-growth startup, with several other Rose-Hulman alumni and student interns, that’s creating life-changing innovative products for people with disabilities. At age 15, he founded Freedom Chairs, a wheelchair refurbishment charity, and has donated more than 150 chairs to people throughout the world. As a Rose-Hulman student, Balz created the Intel Connected Wheelchair that was named the top Internet of Things Device of 2014 by Intel. After Rose-Hulman, Balz worked on high-profile projects for SpaceX before leaving to devote full time to the development of Kalogon.

As part of this year’s Alumni Awards, the Alumni Association also will recognize faculty and staff members along with a student for demonstrating strong and selfless commitment to the institute and its students and alumni, along with professional achievement and dedication to the betterment of their departments. Recipients of those awards will be announced later.