Congratulations to the 2018 Faculty & Staff Awards Winners By Nicole Hoyle

Day after day, our faculty and staff work tirelessly to ensure the success of our college. Each year, we take a moment to acknowledge their dedication; from the long days teaching to the long work nights to make sure everything gets done, our faculty and staff are second to none. At the annual Faculty & Staff Assembly, we acknowledge our faculty in the categories of teaching, research, service, and mentorship. Our staff are recognized for their accomplishments in institutional, strategic, and operational excellence; knowledge and achievement; and service excellence. Here are this year’s winners.


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The Faculty Teaching Award was given to Bilal El-Zahab from the Mechanical and Materials Engineering Department. El-Zahab has been known amongst students as the professor who makes teaching fun. He believes in providing a friendly and engaging environment in the classroom while also encouraging his students outside the classroom to share their ideas with peers and members of the scientific community by participating in different competitive platforms.

Mohammed Hadi from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department was the recipient for this year’s Faculty Research Award. Hadi joined the college in August 2005. He currently leads the ITS program at the FIU Lehman Center for Transportation Research and has worked on a large number of national, state, and local research projects. Among his many accomplishments, he is also ranked among one of the top 10 research awardees for the college.

Joining Hadi as a winner of the Faculty Research Award is Ioannis Zisis from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Zisis serves as an assistant professor and as co-director of the Laboratory for Wind Engineering Research at the Extreme Events Institute. Zisis’ current research deals with structural and environmental engineering, a field dedicated to studying wind effects on the built environment and mitigating their adverse impacts on structures. His work in the Wall of Wind facility has also been recognized by the National Science Foundation.

Our recipient for this year’s Faculty Service Award is Peter Clarke from the School of Computing and Information Sciences. In his time with the university, Clarke has been a part of more than 300 different committees having to do with the university, college, the School of Computing and Information Sciences as well as, grants, and much more. He has always seen the importance of working with students, faculty, and professional organizations to achieve their goals of servicing their numerous communities.

Priyanka Alluri from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department received the Faculty Mentorship Award. Alluri has been guided in her teaching career by the three pillars of academia – teaching, research, and service. She strongly believes that the successes of her students are hers. Alluri remembers when she was in her students’ shoes and always tries her best to lead by example.

The Institutional, Strategic, and Operational Excellence Award is given to the staff member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty not only for the college, but for the university. The award this year went to Tiana Solis from the School of Computing and Information Sciences. Solis has been instrumental in the success of our students here at the College of Engineering & Computing. Her motto, “Education for Everyone” has helped her guide students into finding their passion in the engineering field. Solis mentors new advisors at the School of Computing and Information Sciences, leads group presentations for potential students and assists the Office of Retention and Graduation Success with special projects that help promote student access.

The Staff Knowledge and Achievement Award is given to the staff member knowledgeable in all things relating to the college. This year, the award went to Vanessa Faz from the Dean’s Office. Faz has been with the College of Engineering & Computing since 2015 as grants administrator. Faz has embodied what it means to be a team player and on numerous occasions, has stepped in to different roles other than her own to lend a hand where needed, including our Human Resources Department.

The Staff Service Excellence Award goes to the staff member who excels in providing the best customer service while maintaining Panther Pride. Our recipients this year are Mabel Fernandez from the Mechanical and Materials Engineering Department and Julieta Vallejos from the Center for Diversity & Success in Engineering and Computing.

Fernandez joined the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering in 2014. Fernandez goes beyond the call of duty when it comes to assisting faculty and students within the department. She believes in getting the task done, and always with a positive attitude. She also works as an advisor for some of the student groups, which shows her dedication to making sure our students succeed.

Vallejos began her work at the College of Engineering & Computing as a program assistant in April 2015 and is now the program coordinator for the Center for Diversity and Student Success in Engineering & Computing. Vallejos has contributed to many units within the college including Advancement and Student Access, while immersing herself in different projects to ensure the success of our students. She shows great determination every day to make sure our students leave our college with pride for their university and passion for their profession.

They say that success is nothing unless you have someone to share it with; we are fortunate enough to have such remarkable faculty and staff. Their success within their respective areas ensures the success of our college and brings light for the future to come. We commend all their hard work and pride ourselves to be so privileged to have such incredible people in our FIU family.