FAU Engineering and Computer Science Outstanding Leaders Honored at 2015 Talon Awards Ceremony

2015 Talon Awards

FAU hosted its annual Talon Awards ceremony as part of Homecoming 2015, to recognize outstanding leaders from the community, alumni, faculty and student body constituencies. Co-sponsored by the FAU Alumni Association (FAUAA) and FAU Student Government, the ceremony and reception took place at the Marleen & Harold Forkas Alumni Center on FAU’s Boca Raton campus. The engineering and computer science honorees were, Steve Swanson '86, retired NASA astronaut; and Alyssa Harris, an undergraduate student in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Swanson received the Alumni Talon Award. In a span of seven years, he made three trips to the International Space Station (ISS), returning from his most recent mission aboard Russian spacecraft Soyuz TMA-12M in November 2014. Swanson joined NASA as a systems engineer in 1987 in the Aircraft Operations Division of Johnson Space Center, working on the Shuttle Training Aircraft. In the fall of 2008, while serving as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, Swanson carried an FAU College of Engineering and Computer Science flag to the ISS to deliver the final pair of power-generating solar array wings and truss element to the ISS. That flag now hangs in the dean’s suite of the Engineering East building on the Boca Raton campus as a tribute to Swanson’s endeavors. He is the recipient of the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the Johnson Space Center Certificate of Accommodation and the Flight Simulation Engineering Award, and a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Swanson was also named the Fall 2007 Florida Atlantic University Alumni Association (FAUAA) Hall of Fame recipient. Established by the FAUAA in 1985, the Hall of Fame award recognizes distinguished alumni who demonstrate exceptional service and commitment to their profession and to the community.

Harris, from Wyckoff, N.J., is pursuing a degree in electrical engineering. An avid researcher who published her first research paper as a sophomore, Alyssa was recognized as the "Undergraduate Researcher of the Year" for the College of Engineering and Computer Science. She serves as the president of Society of Women Engineers at FAU, encouraging women to pursue careers in the STEM field. She is also president of Owls Supporting Diversity, a disability awareness organization on campus, as well as secretary for the Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society.

Before the Talon Awards were presented, eight FAU alumni and future alumni were inducted into the Parliament of OWLs (Older, Wiser Leaders), the University’s alumni honor society that recognizes outstanding former student leaders, past presidents of the FAUAA, distinguished alumni of the colleges and Alumni Hall of Fame members. Future alumni, Max Torres (May 2016), was inducted from the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Torres is a senior at FAU pursuing his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. He is a member of the Innovation Leadership Honors Program, the Society of Hispanic Professionals, the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, and the chair of the student branch of the IEEE. He mentors middle and high school students in robotic competition programs, teaches college students the fundamentals of electrical engineering through the IEEE bootcamp, he has competed in the world-wide IEEEXtreme programming competition, and in the spring of 2015 presented at the TEDx conference held in Boca Raton, Fla. Torres plans on furthering his education in power engineering and renewable energy.

The Talon Leadership Awards ceremony was established in 1997 and is co-sponsored by the FAU Alumni Association and the FAU Student Government Homecoming Committee. It unites alumni, students, campus and community leaders in a celebration of leadership, support and service to FAU. Talon Awards are presented in four categories: the Alumni Talon Award, the President’s Talon Award, the Student Talon Award and the Faculty Talon Award.

Select here to see the historical list of the College of Engineering and Computer Science alumni and honorary doctorate recipients.

For more information about the FAU Alumni Association, call 1.888.FAU.ALUM (328.2586) or visit www.faualumni.org.

Photo l-r: FAU Provost Gary Perry, Ph.D.; award recipient Alyssa Harris; award recipient Stacie Lee Rossow, D.M.A., ’97, ’01; FAU President John Kelly; award recipient Eleanor Baldwin; award recipient Steve Swanson, Ph.D., ’86; Tiffany Weimar ’07,’ 10, chair of the FAU Alumni Association Board of Directors; and FAU College of Engineering and Computer Science Dean Mohammad Ilyas, Ph.D.

November 12, 2015