2022 Awards – Congratulations!
Seven Quad City are STEM professionals and one technical organization will be recognized by the Quad City Engineering & Science Council (QCESC) at its 60th Annual STEM Celebration on February 24th, 2022. The event, held at The Bend, 1100 3rd Street, East Moline, IL, IL 61244, will showcase the exceptional Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) professionals, educators, volunteers and the next generation of STEM professionals in the Quad Cities region. The event is held annually during National Engineers Week (E-week).
The awards pay tribute and recognize science and engineering professionals, educators and volunteers whose outstanding achievements and contributions have made a lasting impact on technology, society and their profession. This includes helping to promote and raise the awareness of STEM education and careers in the Quad Cities region and its schools.
The following professionals will be recognized for outstanding achievements in their field:
- Junior Engineer of the Year: (< 36 years old on 12/31/2021)
- Junior Scientist of the Year: (< 36 years old on 12/31/2021)
- Senior Engineer of the Year: (36 Years or older on 12/31/2021)
- Senior Scientist of the Year: (36 Years or older on 12/31/2021)
- Lifetime Achievement Award
- STEM Teacher of the Year
- STEM Volunteer of the Year
- President’s Award of Merit
- Society of the Year
See the 2022 Winners Below!
For further information about the QCESC Awards, please e-mail Susan Eckert
2022 Award Recipients
QCESC 2022 Junior Engineer of the Year: Walter DeDoncker
Walter DeDoncker is a civil engineer for IMEG Corp. in Rock Island. He is the lead designer for street reconstruction projects, municipal bridge repairs and replacements, and utility projects. He has conducted routine safety inspections for over 100 vehicular bridges.
Walter is an active member of the Society of American Military Engineers – Rock Island Post, currently serving on the Board of Directors and as their Communications Chairperson. His nominator, Roger Perk, stated that Walter “specializes in providing local municipal clients the services needed to realize successful, accurate and safe construction projects.” He currently serves as Chair of the IMEG Quad Cities Community Involvement Committee and mentors junior engineers and technicians.
Walter holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Iowa State University.
QCESC 2022 Senior Engineer of the Year: Sara Somsky
Sara Somsky is the Geotechnical Department Manager at Terracon’s Bettendorf office. She oversees geotechnical project managers and the exploration team. She also serves as an engineering consultant for the materials testing department.
Sara is the past President and current Treasurer of the American Society of Civil Engineers – Quad Cities Section. She is also the current 1st Vice President of the Society of American Military Engineers – Rock Island District. And she is a member of the National Association of Women in Construction – Quad Cities Chapter 50.
As an active volunteer for MathCounts, Block Kids, Bridge Building Competitions, FIRST Robotics, Girl Scout STEAM nights and Badge events, Sara firmly believes that “Engineering helps people look at a world of possibilities, and the possibilities are endless.”
She earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Iowa State University.
QCESC 2022 Senior Scientist of the Year: Dr. Anshu Singh
Dr. Anshu Singh is the Chief of Environmental Services and Co-Founder of Riverside Global in Hampton, IL. She also serves as an adjunct instructor for the Biology Department at St. Ambrose University.
Dr. Singh is the current Chair of the Southeast Iowa Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. She is also a member of the Society of American Military Engineers and American Agri-Women.
Dr. Singh organized the Quad Cities first annual Water Technologies and Products Demonstration Day at the QCCA Wetland Centre in East Moline. She volunteered as the Corn Belt Ports Director of Sustainability and Conservation, which helped secure $1.24 Billion in investment in the region’s waterways through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. 25% of the total investment will specifically go for innovative and technology-based ecosystem restoration and protection projects on the Illinois Waterway and the Upper Mississippi River.
Dr. Singh earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a Master of Science in Horticulture from India. She went on to earn her Doctorate in Environmental Science from Western Illinois University.
QCESC 2022 STEM Teacher of the Year: Jacob Hunter
Jacob Hunter is the Lead Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor for the North Scott Community School District. There, he not only grew the agriculture program to include two teachers in one school year, but also increased student enrollment in introductory courses by 446% during his first year at the school. He established and expanded the first junior high FFA chapter in the state of Iowa.
Jacob co-leads the charge to establish a regional agriculture facility to enhance experiential education opportunities for all, including metro students. He has planned and taught numerous courses that qualify for college agriculture credit including: Veterinary Science, Ag Engineering and more.
Jacob has earned numerous awards recognizing his contributions to the education profession, and played a significant role in North Scott’s FFA being named the 2020 Iowa (FFA) Supreme National Chapter, and one of the top ten chapters in the nation.
Jacob serves the Iowa Teach Agriculture’s Mentoring Program as a lead member and coordinator for diversity and inclusion. He served as the Lead Teacher for the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency Regional Planning Partnership for Agriculture
Jacob earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Life Sciences Education from Iowa State University and is currently attending the Harvard Graduate School of Education for a Masters of Education in School Leadership.
QCESC 2022 Volunteer of the Year: Curt Hammer
Curt is a Grain Harvesting Electrical Systems Supervisor at the John Deere Global Crop Harvesting Product Development Center in East Moline.
He has been involved in FIRST Robotics since 2012. Curt has served extensively as a mentor for FIRST teams. He started with FRC in Des Moines until he transferred to the Quad Cities. He then mentored FRC QC Elite for four years and now shares his time by also mentoring an all-female Quad Cities FIRST Tech Challenge team – meeting weekly, and logging more than 300+ hours annually. He inspires students to make their robotics experience a continuous pursuit of learning, rather than just preparation for competition.
Curt has volunteered as a judge, judge assistant and referee for various FIRST Robotics events.
Curt earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University.
QCESC 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award: Deb Mathias
Deb Mathias worked as a Principal Environmental Engineer for Stanley Consultants in Muscatine until her recent retirement.
After a non-traditional entry into the engineering profession, Deb has spent the past 23 years helping hundreds of clients by providing safe, economical and reliable services. Deb began her career designing drainage for Jamaica’s North Coast highway. Her high-profile projects include:
- Davenport West Side Diversion Tunnel
- Multiple New Orleans flood protection projects
- Numerous Everglades restoration projects
- The Abu Dhabi International Airport
- Master planning the reconstruction of Iraq
She has been a member of eight different professional organizations, most notably, the American Society of Civil Engineers – Quad Cities Section and the Iowa Engineering Society – Muscatine Chapter (serving both organizations in all leadership capacities).
Deb has been a member of the Quad Cities Bicycle Club since 1980 and on the Board of Directors since 2002. For the past four decades she hosted educational and safety programs, trail advocacy, bike to work promotions and racked up more than 100,000 miles on a bike – some of those miles coming from overseas trips. Her longest ride to date is 289 miles in one 24-hour period.
Deb is the author and coauthor of numerous presentations given at state and regional conferences.
She earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Iowa.
QCESC 2022 President’s Award of Merit: Carl Loweth
Carl Loweth is the five-term past QCESC STEM Coordinator and ten year QCESC volunteer. Carl worked for John Deere supporting innovation for over 30 years before starting his own consulting company.
Under Carls’s leadership, the QCESC led numerous outreach events such as the QC Tech Challenge and STEM Teachers’ Night Out. He was a frequent QCESC volunteer for ten plus years which included FIRST Robotics. He always brought a big smile and great ideas to our events, helping make sure students from around the area had every opportunity they could to learn more about STEM.
Nationally, Carl was a STEM advocate through work with Innovation Research Interchange (IRI).
Carl currently resides in Florida.
Carl graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Business Administration.
QCESC 2022 Society of the Year Award: Society of American Military Engineers – Rock Island Post
The Quad City Engineering and Science Council is pleased to present its 2022 Society of the Year Award to the Society of American Military Engineers-Rock Island Post
Founded in 1920, the Society of American Military Engineers builds leaders and leads collaboration among government and industry to develop multi-disciplined solutions to national security infrastructure challenges.
The Rock Island Post is one of more than 100 Posts and Field Chapters around the world.
The SAME Rock Island Post is very active, hosting eight regular Post meetings in 2021. Monthly Post meetings provide a means for STEM professionals to routinely learn about new aspects of the industry and share unique projects for members to develop and converse.
The Rock Island Post, in partnership with ASCE Quad Cities Section) hosted a virtual engineering training conference in 2021 and provided over 170 engineering and STEM professionals more than 1,000 total Professional Development Hours of training opportunities and a space for local professionals to connect, converse, and share knowledge.
It also organized and hosted the Annual August Scholarship Golf Outing. Through this and other fundraising ventures, the Post raised and distributed over $15,000 dollars in scholarships to local students pursuing higher education in a STEM field. Additionally, the Post once again partnered with Davenport Public Works to host a Boy Scout Merit Badge over Soil and Water Conservation.
The Post has been helpful supporting QCESC. It had several volunteers at both the Battle of the Bridges and the Cardboard Boat Regatta. In addition, the Post has been very active in advertising and promoting QCESC.
SAME-Rock Island Post holds monthly meetings. For more information, visit their website https://www.same.org/join
2021 Award Recipients
QCESC 2021 Junior Engineer of the Year: Matthew Wold
Matthew Wold is an Engineering Supervisor for Automation Systems at John Deere Product Development Center, Silvis, where he leads a team of engineers focused on developing advanced automation systems for combines. When Matthew joined John Deere, he was responsible for designing and field testing new concepts to improve the performance and efficiency of rotary combines. As a senior engineer, he focused on grain loss monitoring and predicting characteristics of crop in front of the combine using satellite imagery, as well as developing software and coordinating it with physical component design.
Matthew serves on the Finance Team at Sacred City Church and has been involved at Hope at the Brick House as a community volunteer. He is a member of ASABE and past treasurer and member of the Grain Harvesting Standards Committee. Matthew has also served on the Agricultural Equipment Technology Conference Planning Committee.
Matthew has a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering from North Dakota State University and a Master of Science in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
QCESC 2021 Senior Engineer of the Year: Roger A. Perk
Roger Perk has served our community and our nation as a lead Civil Engineer, working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on inland navigation, environmental sustainability and flood risk management projects that provide critical safety, security and sustainability for our citizens as well as significant economic benefits. He has provided services for projects at 20 lock and dam sites, three major flood control reservoirs, and 800+ miles of flood control measures. Work outside of our area includes overseeing the federal portion of the Cedar Rapids flood control project and deployment to New York City following Superstorm Sandy.
Roger volunteers as an instructor for the Boy Scouts and is a past assistant scout master. He has been a guest speaker for and is the current president of the Society of American Military Engineers and is a STEM tutor/presenter at numerous school events. Roger has served on the pastoral council and is a choir member at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, as well as a work crew member for Habitat for Humanity.
Roger has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Nebraska, and a Master of Science in Civil/Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin.
QCESC 2021 Junior Scientist of the Year: Ellie Wilder
Ellie Wilder, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst, joined Stanley Consultants in 2018 and hit the ground running. She quickly became the company’s GIS champion, creating and managing comprehensive geo-databases, coordinating with engineers on GIS data collected and educating members on the efficiencies of GIS and mobile data collection. Her enthusiasm has paid off. The company’s use of mobile data technology has increased substantially. GIS is now being used on a regular basis on projects across the company, landing a substantial project with a multinational food processing and commodities trading corporation. This win further propelled future use-cases for this technology. Ellie has become a requested GIS resource by the firm’s Federal Business Unit doing assessments for the Marine Corps and Texas Military Department.
Ellie’s community activities include the Hawkeye Area Community Action Plan (HACAP) Adopt-A-Family program, resulting in roughly $3,000 worth of gifts being donated since she began participating. She serves with Friends of Hickory Hill to remove invasive species. Ellie has big plans to spread the word about GIS to young students since her discovery of GIS in college ultimately changed the direction of her career from visual artist to scientist.
Ellie earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Policy and Planning with a Geographic Information Science minor from the University of Iowa.
QCESC 2021 STEM Teacher of the Year: Michael Carton
Michael Carton serves as the Director of Education and Outreach for WQPT in Moline. He developed and implemented a one-of-a-kind classroom outreach program for WQPT that teaches students in kindergarten through 3rd grade how to code. In just three years, he has taught more than 1,500 students (and their teachers) to program using a free Scratch Jr. app. Math camps, after school science and, coding clubs, and Hour of Code community classes round out his work experience. Prior to WQPT, Michael was a teacher in the Rock Island Milan School District where he created science, math, technology, chess and Guys Read clubs. He taught STEM FUSION, offered Saturday Science classes and utilized LEGO WeDo, Simple Machines and Mindstorms to teach STEM.
Michael’s STEM activities include coaching FIRST LEGO League Challenge and Explore teams, and serving as a LEGO Education Ambassador. He is a Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center donor, Big Brothers Big Sisters-Big, and Quad City Family Focus Magazine contributor.
Michael has authored many publications and earned numerous awards recognizing his significant contributions to the education profession as well as our community.
Michael earned a Bachelor of Education from Western Illinois University and will receive his Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction this spring.
QCESC 2021 Volunteer of the Year: Robin Willick
Robin Willick is an Electrical Systems Engineer at the John Deere Global Crop Harvesting Product Development Center in East Moline. She earned a Bachelor of Science in System Engineering from the University of New Haven, West Haven, CT.
Robin has been a key volunteer in the Quad Cities supporting multiple FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST LEGO League competitions; serving in roles as robot inspector, official scorer and judge. She is currently a mentor for FIRST Tech Challenge Team 12863, Flourish & Bots.
In addition to her FIRST activities, Robin has volunteered for Introduce a Girl to Engineering day, Logan Science Night, Discover E Academy, Jane Adams STEM Night, the QC STEM Festival and judged for Project Lead the Way. She’s even organized an all-day Girls in the Shop event for high schoolers to learn fundamental shop skills.
Beyond STEM, Robin has volunteered for United Way Spring/Fall Days of Caring and the Davenport Mobile Food Pantry.
QCESC 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. William F. Pratt
Dr. William Pratt’s career spans over 50 years. He is Director for the School of Engineering at Western Illinois University. Starting with six students in August of 2009, Dr. Pratt developed and expanded an ABET accredited, multi-disciplinary engineering program at the Quad Cities campus. He has not only been the director but professor, adviser and recruiter for the School of Engineering. The program touts high quality senior design projects with projected return on investment in the millions of dollars, as well as cooperative internships with industry, and multi-professional partnerships resulting in job placement for graduates. Dr. Pratt has a long history of civic engagement and building broad coalitions between community leaders, businesses, scientific and engineering community and education, yielding great benefits for all involved. Besides his current position as Director of the School of Engineering, over the course of his career, Dr. Pratt has served in various positions including: officer in the U.S. Army, manufacturing engineer, senior program manager, new business development manager, consultant, CEO, assistant professor of engineering and interim department chair.
A devoted volunteer, Dr. Pratt has shared his time and talents with the Quad City Engineering and Science Council and FIRST Robotics. He is a board member and past president of the West Point Society of the Prairies, serves on the Quad City Manufacturing Laboratory Board and has participated on numerous Quad Cities Innovation Hub committees to define QC2030 strategy.
He has authored Air Force technical reports, delivered conference proceedings across our nation and filed multiple U.S. patents.
Dr. Pratt earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Management from the U.S. Military Academy. He went on to complete a Master’s of Science in Engineering Management and a Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering, both from Brigham Young University, Utah.
QCESC 2021 President’s Award of Merit: Dan D’Alessandro
Dan D’Alessandro is the two-term Past President, past Awards Chair, and current Professional Development Coordinator for the Quad Cities Engineering and Science Council (QCESC). He has made significant contributions to the QCESC and STEM in our community and state; reaching far beyond his responsibilities for his various volunteer roles. Dan is retired from John Deere and is involved in many volunteer organizations, guiding progress for each group he joins.
Under Dan’s leadership, the QCESC has substantially increased connections. Austin Laugen, current QCESC President said, “Dan’s networking has developed and strengthened the QCESC’s corporate relationships, sponsorships and ties with professional societies.” During his presidency, Dan elevated the awareness of skilled trades. Beyond his term, Dan works continuously to understand and improve the QCESC. He has helped streamline finance records; recruit, involve and train new QCESC board and committee members, and secures engaging expert speakers. Dan is a self-starter and led the work to create and publish the first 2021 QCESC Annual Report.
One of our most active QCESC FIRST volunteers, Dan has served as judge and judge advisor for FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition. He is co-chair of the Southeast Iowa STEM Advisory Board and was instrumental in helping launch the Iowa STEM Council’s first Iowa QC Family STEM Festival in 2019.
Dan graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and also holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Northern Iowa
QCESC 2021 Society of the Year Award: American Society of Civil Engineers – QC Section
The Quad City Engineering and Science Council is pleased to present its 2021 Society of the Year Award to the American Society of Civil Engineers – Quad Cities Section.
ASCE is a society of professionals that plan, design, construct, and operate our infrastructure needs while protecting and restoring the natural environment. The Society represents more than 150,000 members of the civil engineering profession in 177 countries. Founded in 1852, ASCE is the nation’s oldest engineering society.
ASCE and QCESC jointly plan and co-host one of the premier annual STEM events in the Quad Cities, The Battle of the Bridges Competition. Volunteers organize this fun competition where school- and family- teams design and build bridges made from wooden sticks and glue. The teams learn how to make strong structures while having a lot of fun.
ASCE-Quad Cities Section holds monthly meetings. For more information, visit their website http://sections.asce.org/quad-cities
2020 Award Recipients
Left to Right: Jessica Brooks – Co-Sr Scientist of the Year; Aaron Maurer – STEM Teacher of the Year; Andrea Fitzpatrick – STEM Volunteer of the Year; Donald Harby – Co-Sr Scientist of the Year; Dan D’Alessandro – President & Awards Chair, QCESC; Jose Candelario, IEEE – Society of the Year; Jay Brady – Sr. Engineer of the Year; Vernon McAllister – Lifetime Achievement Award; Pat Barnes, – Director Emeritus, QCESC; Kristine Bullock – President’s Award of Merit; Austin Laugen – President Elect, QCESC.
The awards were first established in 1966 initially with the Engineer of the Year award. Since then, additional awards have been added including for:
1995 – Scientist of the Year
2000 – Society of the Year
2007 – Lifetime Achievement
2010 – STEM Teacher of the Year
2013 – STEM Volunteer of the Year