Alumni Recognized for Making Difference in Careers, Communities

Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Rose-Hulman and its Alumni Association presented Alumni Awards this year to 11 alumni, faculty, and staff members for bringing distinction, value, and service to their professions and communities.

The Rose-Hulman Alumni Association has bestowed special honors to alumni, faculty, staff, and a student in recognition of their accomplishments that have brought honor and distinction through their outstanding career work and dedicated volunteer efforts to their communities and the Institute. 

This year’s honorees include a mechanical engineering graduate who has spent a lifetime in leadership roles in automotive technology and is spearheading vehicle efficiency initiatives.

Also, award winners are forerunners in curbing gas and diesel engine emissions and they’re visionaries working in the cutting edge of sustainability and energy technology. They’re innovators in software engineering and data analytics, and researchers and educators developing the latest scientific, engineering, and mathematics practices and pedagogy.

“Each of this year’s (Alumni Award) recipients share a common mission: to help make the world a better place. I am always truly amazed at all they have accomplished,” said Rose-Hulman President Robert A. Coons. “Their achievements play a significant role in solidifying our reputation for producing some of the most brilliant minds in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” 

Vice President for Institutional Advancement Steve Brady noted that the Alumni Award recipients “distinguished themselves among a cohort of equally talented and driven engineers, scientists, and mathematicians.”

The 11 award winners were:

Honor Alumni AWARD

The institute’s highest alumni award, this distinction recognizes exceptional alumni achievement in any field, vocational and/or voluntary. It honors those who have attained and maintained extremely high standing in their chosen fields and in their service to society. 

Rob Hochstetler
Electrical Engineering, 1991
A distinguished professional in the energy sector, Hochstetler has been president and chief executive officer with Central Electric Power Cooperative, Inc., based in Columbia, South Carolina, since 2014. It is the second-largest generation and transmission electric cooperative in the nation, manages the wholesale power portfolio for the state’s 19 electric distribution cooperatives. His 30-year career has evolved from a plant engineer to a leader adept at managing complex facilities and navigating corporate strategy, safety, and environmental stewardship. Hochstetler furthered his education with master’s degrees in business administration, statistics, strategic planning, and public administration, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in organizational leadership. He also serves as an activity-duty lieutenant colonel in the South Carolina State Guard.


Recognizing alumni whose professional achievements have brought distinction to themselves, credit to the institute, and benefit to their communities.

Brian Leyes
Mechanical Engineering, 1999
He has had a 25-year career in leadership positions with DaimlerChrysler, Chrysler Group LLC, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Stellantis, where Leyes is currently Head of FW Powertrain Synthesis. In this role he spearheads overall vehicle efficiency initiatives in support of corporate targets for carbon net-zero emissions. Leyes formally was chief engineer for the Jeep Wrangler, a vehicle that earned the distinction of being the first and only Jeep product to earn recognition as SUV of the Year from Motor Trend magazine. He is executive sponsor for Stellantis’ Rose-Hulman recruiting team and volunteers in his community with the Boy Scouts of America and coaching multiple youth sports teams. 

Jennifer (Anderson) Mrzlack
Mechanical Engineering, 2002
Experiences in renewable energy, HVAC, power transmission equipment, and consumer goods have made Mrzlack a valuable voice in sustainable energy resources. She is president with the PSG Group, playing an instrumental role in the installation of 35 megawatts of solar energy resources across 100 Midwest sites. Mrzlack also started and supervises Sage Initiatives, a consulting and advisory group helping meet clients’ business and operational goals in a sustainable and impactful way. She is engaged with higher education institutions, including Rose-Hulman, and K-12 schools on initiatives, has a leadership role in the Solar Energy Industry Association Board, and is a member of the Indiana Chamber Energy Policy Committee.

Roy Primus
Bachelor of Science - Mathematics, 1975
Master of Science – Mechanical Engineering, 1977
A retired senior principal engineer with the General Electric Global Research Center, Primus boasts a distinguished 43-year career of research and development in reciprocating engines. His leadership in engine thermodynamic system modeling significantly advanced the field, and his pioneering publications in second law analysis techniques, initiated over 40 years ago, remain relevant today, laying the foundation for identifying inefficiencies in engine systems and reducing CO2 emissions. He has published 35 technical papers and holds 56 U.S. patents, is a Society of Automotive Engineers’ fellow, and received the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Internal Combustion Engine Award. Primus also earned outstanding teacher honors as an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Distingushed Young Alumni AWARD

Recognizing alumni who have achieved significant success in their first 10 years after graduation in the areas of career achievement, community service, and dedication to their alma mater.

Marie Stettler Kleine
Mechanical Engineering/International Studies, 2014
As an assistant professor in Colorado School of Mines’ Department of Engineering, Design, and Society, Stettler Kleine has devoted her career to the study, critical participation in, and reform of engineering education. She challenges engineers to critically engage in their work, particularly emphasizing the roles of values in engineering’s pursuit to “do good”. Stettler Kleine co-edited “Does America Need More Innovators?” (MIT Press, 2019), is program chair for the American Society for Engineering Education’s Liberal Education/Engineering and Society’s Division, and her collaborative National Science Foundation-funded research focuses on critical pedagogy and inclusive engineering for community development.

Luke (Lujia) Zhang
Computer Science/Software Engineering/Mathematics, 2017
At 16, Luke Zhang left his home in Wenzhou, China, to purse better educational opportunities and the American Dream. He has taken his Rose-Hulman education to become a senior data scientist with Resultant, a data and technology research consulting firm based in Indianapolis. His work helped aid Indiana’s crisis response during the pandemic, alongside Governor Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Department of Health. Zhang is now leading Resultant’s Rapid Prototyping Team and has transitioned to Resultant’s Google Business Unit as the prototype/solution architect. In the community, he is a Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundations Class V fellow and member of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series Class XLV, and serves on the board of directors for many not-for-profit organizations.

Alumni Volunteer AWARD

Recognizing alumni who have donated significant time in their volunteer efforts for Rose-Hulman, toward the advancement of STEM education, in professional/industrial groups and organizations, and within their community.

Olivia Horne
Computer Science, 2020
An impressive early-career path has Horne as a software engineer and intern manager with Google after working with Microsoft. She specializes in the design and development of Google’s Dataproc, a service for open-source big data analytics. At Microsoft, Horne was involved in development of Azure Watson, a cloud computing crash analytics service. She has donated significant time to support Rose-Hulman, the advancement of STEM education, and several professional/industrial groups and organizations. This includes leading curriculum development and being a lecturer for the Google Develops Academy and Rainier Scholars in the Seattle area.

Collegian Rosie AWARD

Recognizing alumni employees whose work elevates Rose-Hulman’s mission, strengthens alumni-institute connections and who have proven themselves to be advocates for lifelong relationships with the Institute.

Eric Reyes
Mathematics/Economics, 2006
As an associate professor of mathematics, Reyes has led efforts to reform Rose-Hulman’s statistics curriculum and been an advocate for remote learning opportunities and non-traditional grading systems. In 2020, he helped deliver faculty training in online course development – efforts that helped the Institute provide educational services throughout the pandemic and beyond. Reyes serves on various committees on campus and is currently a faculty representative to the Board of Trustees. He also collaborates with medical students on research projects focused on rural health as an adjunct clinical assistant professor of biostatistics and health data science with Indiana University’s School of Medicine in Terre Haute.

Rachel M. Romas AWARD

Recognizing an outstanding student who exhibits excellence in academics and character while demonstrating a strong commitment to institute initiatives and promise of post-college success.

Ben Brown
Civil Engineering, 2024
Involvement in campus residence life had Brown taking the initiative to re-establish the Freshman Survival Guide and organizing/supervising the inaugural Rose-Hulman Oktoberfest, an event that helped strengthen the campus community and built valuable relationships with Terre Haute businesses. Following graduation, he will become a project engineer with Kokosing Construction Company in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Honorary Alumnus AWARD

Recognizing one faculty and one staff member each year who demonstrate strong and selfless commitment to the institute, professional achievement, and dedication to the betterment of their respective departments. 

Dan Morris
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
A member of the Rose-Hulman faculty since 1996, Morris’ research interests include chemical analysis using microfluidic device platforms and metal-mediated oxidative DNA damage. He actively helps students in industry-sponsored research projects, develops presentations for national science conferences and holds a patent, efforts earning him the Board of Trustees Outstanding Scholar Award. Additionally, Morris has been an Innovation Fellow at Rose-Hulman Ventures and a visiting scientist with Eli Lilly and Company and Protea Biosciences.

Janie Szabo
Interim Human Resources Director
She has been successful in a variety of roles as a Rose-Hulman employee since 2008, contributing to the AskRose homework helpline outreach service, Office of Learning & Technology, and now Office of Human Resources. Szabo actively contributed to the development of the Leadership Education & Development program, helped update the curriculum of the RHIT100 college and life skills course for first-year students, and served as a representative for the Office of Academic Affairs and Human Resources and Finance areas on the data governance committee.