Past Alumni Award Recipients

The inaugural recipients of the W.S. Lee College of Engineering’s Alumni Awards:

Industry Partnership Award

Carl Ellington ’80 B.S.C.E.

President, Talbert, Bright & Ellington Carl Ellington, Jr. was born in Charlotte, NC. He attended UNC Charlotte and earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1980, and received his North Carolina Professional Engineer License in 1985. He began his career in airport engineering and management at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport and the Myrtle Beach International Airport. In 1994, Ellington joined with Jay Talbert and Steve Bright to establish the airport engineering design firm Talbert, Bright & Ellington (TBE) in Charlotte, where he continues to serve as Principal-in-Charge today. Ellington served on the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors from 2012 to 2022. In addition, he is a UNC Charlotte CEE Advisory Board member, and assists with the Continuing Education Program and the airport design classes at UNC Charlotte. Ellington resides in Charlotte with his wife, Susie, and son, Mickey.​

Professional Achievement Award

Klaus Perkins ’93 B.S.C.E.

Structural Department Head – Associate Principal, Clark Nexsen, Inc. Klaus Perkins leads the structural engineering department in Clark Nexsen’s Raleigh office. Over his 28-year career, he has distinguished himself as a leader and engineer with a collaborative, team-oriented approach. Klaus has designed structural systems for a wide range of projects including higher education housing and academic buildings, corporate laboratories, military facilities, and pedestrian bridges. Klaus earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from UNC Charlotte in 1993. He joined Clark Nexsen in 2007 and has worked on many significant projects, including Fitts-Woolard Hall at NC State, Brandon Avenue Student Housing at UVA, and the Fort Fisher Visitor’s Center.

Early Career Award

Christopher Bailey ’12 B.S.M.E.

Project Engineer II – Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Leonardo DRS Christopher Bailey is an engineering professional who demonstrates exceptional performance in leading various teams by providing critical capabilities/platforms for the armed forces utilizing his diverse background in complex problem solving. Currently, he is a project engineer managing program and technical execution for Leonardo DRS. Previously, he has worked for Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Bailey was previously on the William States Lee College of Engineering’s Alumni Council and currently serves on the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society Board of Directors. He completed a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at UNC Charlotte, a master’s at N.C. State and an MBA from UNC.

Champion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award

Tiffani Teachey ’03 B.S.M.E., ’05 M.S.E.M

Sr. Mechanical Engineer, Westinghouse Tiffani Teachey is a Sr. Mechanical Engineer at Westinghouse Electric Company. She is a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) advocate, professional speaker, and international best-selling author of the children’s book “What Can I Be? STEM Careers from A to Z” and two women empowerment books. She is the owner of Thrive Edge Publishing and a publishing consultant with Inspired Authors Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management, both from UNCCharlotte. She is currently a Leadership Studies Ph.D. student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. As an engineer with more than eighteen years of experience, Tiffani is passionate about inspiring the next generation to engage in STEM careers. She received the 2021 UNC Charlotte Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Tiffani, born and raised in Winston-Salem, NC, enjoys traveling and being a youth mentor.

Service Award

Mellissa Oliver ’12 B.S.C.E.

Land Planning & Entitlement Manager, PulteGroup Mellissa Oliver has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from UNC Charlotte, which has helped launch her career and passion for the land development industry. She is the Land Planning and Entitlement Manager on the Land Acquisition Team at PulteGroup, where she has been a significant contributor in securing land permitting and investment of $35 million for just over 1,000 single-family and townhome units in the Charlotte market in the past year alone. She is a recipient of the CBJ 40 Under 40, Axios 30 Under 30, and UNC Charlotte’s YAC Top 10 Under 10 Outstanding Alumni awards.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Award

Ryan Brumfield ’09 B.S.C.E., ’10 M.S.C.E.

Director of Integrated Mobility Division, North Carolina Department of Transportation Ryan Brumfield is currently the Director of the Integrated Mobility Division at the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Ryan joined the Integrated Mobility Division in April 2020 as the Innovations and Data Branch Manager prior to becoming Director in January 2021. Before joining NCDOT, Ryan was the Senior Transportation Advisor for the Appalachian Regional Commission where he led efforts to improve transportation access to opportunities and services for Appalachian residents and businesses. Prior to his work with ARC, Ryan was with the Federal Highway Administration for seven years, most recently as the national manager of the TIGER (recently BUILD, now RAISE) discretionary grant program. Ryan has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from UNC Charlotte and is a registered professional engineer.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Award

Ryan Kennedy ’04 B.S.E.E.

CEO of Atom Power Ryan Kennedy is co-founder and CEO of Atom Power, Inc. He has been in the electrical design, project leadership, and engineering industries for over 27 years. A native of Charlotte, Ryan began his career as an electrician and worked with hardhat and tools on large commercial projects for six years before starting his study of electrical engineering at UNC Charlotte. Once Ryan received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Magna Cum Laude from UNC Charlotte in 2004, he continued full-time in his career as a Project Manager for a large electrical contracting and engineering firm. As Project Manager, Ryan negotiated and built some of the most high profile projects in the southeast for several large corporations, having managed and built over $90-million and 4-million square-feet in electrical construction projects. Ryan played a significant role in the design or construction of several notable Charlotte high-rise buildings, including Truist Tower, Fifth Third Center, Three Wells Fargo Center and Duke Energy Center. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in five US states and Board Member of the William States Lee College of Engineering’s Electrical and Computer Engineering department.

Engineering Technology and Construction Management Department Award

Gary Stevenson ’85 B.S.E.T. Electrical

Director of Program Development, Fibertek Gary Stevenson graduated from UNC Charlotte in May 1985 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. In June 1985, he began working as a Staff Engineer for Fibertek, Inc. and has worked there for the past 37 years. Fibertek is a developer of advanced laser systems for the Department of Defense and NASA. He is currently the Director of Program Development and works in areas including Technical Proposal writing and Business Development. Mr. Stevenson is planning to retire next spring and may be moving to the Charlotte area where he will continue to work part-time as a consultant and mentor students.

Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science Department Award

Amber Stern ’03 B.S.M.E.

Principal and Director of Biomechanics, Engineering Systems Inc. Dr. Amber Stern is currently a Principal and the Director of Biomechanics at Engineering Systems Inc. (ESi) in Charlotte, NC where she applies her expertise to a wide range of forensic and biomechanical analyses. Prior to joining ESi, Dr. Stern spent time as an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri – Kansas City in the Mechanical Engineering Department, a Research Engineer at Southwest Research Institute, and a Graduate Assistant at Virginia Tech and Wake Forest’s Center for Injury Biomechanics. Dr. Stern has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and abstracts in the fields of biomedical and mechanical engineering and has received numerous national and international honors and awards.

Systems Engineering and Engineering Management Department Award

Jingrui Xie ’15 M.S.E.M., ’16 Ph.D.

Manager of Electric Load Forecasting, National Grid Dr. Jingrui Xie received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China (2009), a Master of Arts degree in Economics from Duke University (2011), a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management (2015) and a Ph.D. in Infrastructure and Environmental Systems (2016) from UNC Charlotte. Dr. Xie is currently the Manager of the Electric Load Forecasting team at National Grid and serves as an editor for IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid.