Stevens Luminaries Shine at Awards Gala

4/8/2014

Stevens pride — and some of the university’s most illustrious alumni — filled the historic Plaza Hotel in Midtown Manhattan on April 5, when the university honored 10 people at the second annual Stevens Awards Gala for their extraordinary contributions to Stevens, their professions and the world.

More than 400 enthusiastic supporters were in attendance — a sizable increase from the inaugural event in 2013 — filling the elegant Grand Ballroom to recognize these accomplished individuals, nine of whom are Stevens alumni. 

Honored for their spectacular success in their industries and professions were: David J. Farber ’56, M.S. ’61, a retired Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University who is known as the “Grandfather of the Internet” (Stevens Honor Award); Fernando (Frank) L. Fernandez ’60, M.S. ’61, director emeritus, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA, and former Stevens professor (Distinguished Alumni Award—Academia and Government); Sang-Beom Han, M.S. ’85, Ph.D. ’91, CEO  and president, LG Display (International Achievement Award); Jack Lipinski ’72, president and CEO of CVR Energy Inc., CVR Refining LP, and CVR Partners LP (Distinguished Alumni Award—Engineering); Cristina Vieira Martinez ’94, M.Eng. ’96, senior associate, Thornton Tomasetti, and board president of the ACE Mentor Program of New Jersey (Young Alumni Achievement Award); Dwight B. Massey ’53, founding partner emeritus of Massey Quick & Co., LLP (MQ) (Distinguished Alumni Award—Business and Finance); and Albert E. Sisto ’71, founder and general partner, Sixth Bridge, LP; investment director, Tern, Plc.; and partner and founder of a number of other companies (Charles V. Schaefer Jr. Entrepreneur Award). 

Three individuals were recognized for their longtime and extraordinary contributions to Stevens. Robert W. Bosse ’50 (also a past Stevens Honor Award winner) and A. Joseph Schneider ’46 received the Lifetime Service Award, and Richard P. Widdicombe, the longtime Stevens library director and student mentor, received the Friend of Stevens Award.

Bill Evans, the Emmy Award-winning Channel 7 Eyewitness News meteorologist, served up humor and sincerity as emcee, praising the awardees and Stevens. Both honorees and the audience described the evening — which featured dinner, dancing and impressive musical performances by Stevens students — as magnificent and a sort of rebirth for the university.

“Students and young alumni, I hope that you are now convinced that a degree from Stevens Institute of Technology is a passport to a successful career,” said Stevens President Nariman Farvardin.

Honor Award winner David Farber is known as the “Grandfather of the Internet” for his own contributions to the development of the Internet. His extraordinary career has included working as a professor at CMU, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California at Irvine and the University of Delaware, as well as with Bell Labs and the Rand Corporation.

A strong supporter of Stevens, he urged the audience to help the university provide top faculty who are not only great teachers but also great researchers who will inspire their students.

“Students deserve the best faculty we can provide them,” he said.

Earlier in the evening, Farber praised his Stevens education. “Stevens had a large part in what made my career work,” he said. He expressed optimism about the university’s future and students.

“I think that it (Stevens) has a very important place in the world. Stevens always produces people who go out and do things.”

Martinez told the audience that she was genuinely honored and humbled by the award.

Emigrating from Portugal and starting Stevens at age 16, she praised many people who have helped her along the way, from her parents to the Stevens Technical Enrichment Program and the many mentors who helped her at Stevens and in her career. She also thanked her three children, “who inspire me every day to be the best person I can be.”

Meanwhile, Joe Schneider ’46, a longtime volunteer and supporter of Stevens and the Alumni Association, marveled at his entry to Stevens 70 years ago, during World War II.

“This is certainly a day I will never forget. I never expected to be standing here, or anywhere, at age 90,’ he said, to roaring applause.

Schneider, who still works at his Guttenberg, N.J., embroidery shop, says that a $350 scholarship to Stevens changed his life. Today, he’s a fervent supporter of student scholarships.

So many of the honorees expressed great humility and much gratitude for the paths their lives have taken.

“I am floored. This is something that I didn’t expect. Stevens really changed my life and made a difference,” said serial entrepreneur Albert Sisto. Nothing in his childhood spent in Newark’s Down Neck neighborhood would have suggested that he would become a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, he said.

But he found himself, like Schneider, with encouraging teachers who urged him to apply for a scholarship to Stevens. That $1,800 scholarship helped him attend Stevens and work with computers for the first time.

“I got hooked on all things digital, and the rest is history,” he said.

To read more about the 2014 honorees, please visit this page.

The honorees were chosen by the Stevens Awards Selection Committee, which received some 350 resumes and worked for several months to choose the 10 honorees, said committee chair Wayne Monsees ’71, M.Eng. ’72, M.M.S. ’78.

“(This event) gives Stevens a bigger showcase for the breadth of talent it produces,” he said. 

Attendees praised the event’s elegant venue and the accomplishments of the awardees. Patty Torres ’01 posted photos from the evening to Instagram, urging her classmates to attend next year’s gala. The evening has special value for students and young alumni, she said.

“We can hear the stories of honorees and what they have done and who they can become,” she said. “They help inspire us to be better.” 

At the end of the night, those who had spent the night celebrating Stevens’ best left The Plaza looking forward to next year’s gala, which will take place in the same majestic location on March 28, 2015.