National Volunteer Month is observed every April, and it serves as a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of volunteers who give their time and energy to serve others. In 1974, President Richard Nixon signed an executive order establishing National Volunteer Week, which was later expanded to National Volunteer Month by President George H.W. Bush in 1991. Since then, National Volunteer Month has become an important celebration of those who offer their time to help others.
The work of our volunteers is an essential part of Tau Beta Pi’s success in supporting and inspiring the next generation of engineers.
Their efforts have amplified the work of our Headquarters team and chapters, allowing us to achieve much more than what we could have done alone. Their willingness to share their time, knowledge, and experience has made a significant impact on the lives of young engineers.
Since April of 2020, Tau Beta Pi has recognized the people who dedicate their efforts to the Association on our social media and by sending originally designed thank-you cards and pins to our nearly 1,000 volunteers during National Volunteer Month. During National Volunteer Week, 8-10 members nominated by their peers are featured on TBP’s social media channels. Join us in recognizing the following volunteers:
Kara L. Combs, OH Mu ’21, holds the position of associate research engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Operations Research at the Air Force Institute of Technology. She received the prestigious honor of being named a Tau Beta Pi Laureate and Fellowship recipient in 2021 and was awarded a TBP Scholarship in 2019.
Currently, Kara serves as a member of the Student Advisory Board (SAB), having previously held the positions of Vice Chair (2022-23) and Outreach Committee Chair (2021-22). Recently, she was elected as the Recording Secretary for the Ohio Eta Chapter and serves as an Ohio Mu Chapter advisor, where she formerly held the Vice President and Corresponding Secretary positions (as an undergraduate).
Tonya J. Whitehead, Ph.D., MI E ’17, serves as the Chief Advisor of the Michigan Epsilon Chapter, District 7 Director, and secretary of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. She has held various positions within TBP, including chapter Historian, Recording Secretary, Interactive Chapter Exchange committee member, and spearheaded the DEI Committee Initiative in 2020.
Tonya is an associate director of the Office for Teaching and Learning (OTL) and an adjunct faculty in the College of Engineering at Wayne State University. In her role at the OTL, she leads a team of consultants and instructional designers who support faculty with a focus on STEM pedagogy and online and hybrid teaching strategies. She also teaches introductory engineering courses. Tonya earned her master’s and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Wayne State University and has both a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a master’s degree in manufacturing and engineering management from Michigan State University.
Tonya is an active member of various professional organizations, including the American Society of Engineering Education, Women in Engineering Leadership Society, Professional Organizational Developers Network, and Online Learning Consortium. Outside of work, she is involved in the Michigan Parent Teacher Association and Pawsitive Impact for Pets, and shares her home with three rescue dogs and a ball python.
As a student, Anthony M. Olenik, NY T ’08, served as vice president and president of the New York Tau chapter at Binghamton University, and was a TBP Scholar in 2007. He is the Chief Advisor of NY Tau, a District 2 Director, a member of the Laureate Committee, and was a participant in the TBP Young Engineer’s Organization pilot program.
He earned his BS in mechanical engineering, MS in industrial systems engineering, and MBA from Binghamton University. Anthony joined BAE Systems in 2007 through the Engineering Leadership Development Program and has held various positions, including hardware engineer, systems engineer, and program manager. He played a vital role in defense avionics production programs’ flood disaster recovery and later moved into business development and engineering new business as a proposal lead. He was also a key systems engineering lead for the regional & business aircraft flight controls factory production support engineering team, supporting multiple business and regional jets.
In addition to his professional career and volunteering for Tau Beta Pi, Anthony enjoys DIY home projects and road trips with his wife, Erika, and two children, A.J. and Sadie.
Teresa J. Hutton, WI B ’91, became active in Tau Beta Pi as a volunteer after the reinstatement of the Milwaukee Area Alumni Chapter (MilAC) in 2017, initially serving as Secretary and now as President of the alumni chapter. She presented professional career development sessions at the 2018, 2019, and 2022 Conventions, as well as virtually at the 2020 Unvention. In January 2020, Teresa assumed the role of District 8 Director and led the planning of the 2023 District 8 Conference with the host chapter, WI A, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With fellow MilAC officers, she organizes monthly alumni events such as technical tours, Tau Beta Pi Day Pizza, and alumni panels with collegiate chapters.
Teresa earned her MSEE from Marquette University (WI B), and has worked in various roles throughout her career. She began her journey as a software engineer at Motorola, Rockwell/Allen-Bradley, and QuadTech, and later transitioned into a project manager position at QuadTech. She has served as a scrum master and currently holds the role of engineering manager at Johnson Controls. She has also ventured into entrepreneurship by establishing a business that offers resume writing, career transition coaching, and Working Genius team workshops. Her business endeavors are aimed at assisting individuals and teams to find fulfilling and energizing roles in their respective fields.
Leo H. McWilliams, Ph.D., IN G ’82, serves as the Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs in the College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. He earned his B.A. in economics, and a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Notre Dame, where Dr. McWilliams has been a faculty member for 22 years. He has taught in the First Year Engineering program, and in 2009, he became the director of the Minority Engineering Program (MEP), which helps students of diverse backgrounds to succeed and become integrated within the college. Before joining Notre Dame, he worked as a principal engineer in the aerospace sector at Honeywell International for 16 years.
His volunteer work for Tau Beta Pi includes serving as the Chief Advisor for the Indiana Gamma Chapter at the University of Notre Dame from 2012 to the present, as a TBP Scholarship and Fellowship application reviewer since 2016, and as a member of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee since 2021.
Phiwat Klomkaew, AL E ’18, received his BS in chemical engineering at the University of South Alabama in 2018 and his MS in chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin in 2021. He is currently working as a gas processing engineer at Archaea Energy, a BP company.
He was a 2017 TBP scholarship recipient and a 2018 Fellow. Phiwat served as the president of the Alabama Epsilon chapter in 2017, held the positions of secretary, vice-chair, and chair on the Student Advisory Board, was a director of the Central Texas Alumni Chapter, has been a Chapter Development Committee member since 2021, and is currently a director of the Pittsburgh Alumni Chapter. Most recently, he attended the March inspection of the Texas Delta chapter at Texas A&M University at Qatar! He loves to travel, and his sister, Atchima Klomkaew, AL D ’18, is also a member of Tau Beta Pi!
Solange Dao Fantozzi, P.E., FL A ’95, was president of the Florida Alpha Chapter in 1994. She later became an Engineering Futures Facilitator in 1997 (presenting over 160 sessions), served as a Florida Delta Chapter Advisor from 2001 to 2019, and was a member of the Executive Council from 2006 to 2014, holding the position of Vice President. Currently, she is a member of the Fellowship Board.
After graduating from the University of Florida in 1995 with a BS in civil engineering, Solange immediately began working at her father’s civil design firm to gain experience and prepare for her P.E. licensure. In addition to learning the ins and outs of running a business, Solange has been the President of Dao Consultants for the past 15 years. Dao Consultants, a certified Minority and Woman-Owned business in Orlando, FL, has steadily built its reputation under her leadership. Solange collaborated with a variety of organizations, including municipalities, public and private schools, and residential developments, in the Central Florida area. Throughout her career, she received recognition from local professional organizations, but she is most grateful for the support she has received from TBP.
She says, “TBP gave me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills through Engineering Futures, as an EF Facilitator, as a Chapter Advisor, as a member of the Executive Council, and now my humble role as a Fellowship Board member. All these steps aided the growth of my ability to run a firm, market new businesses, and balance work and family life. I owe so much to TBP.”
Longtime volunteer, John W. Prados, Ph.D., P.E., TN A ’54, served as a member of the Executive Council from 1986-90 and as treasurer of the Great Smoky Mountains Alumni Chapter from 1974-2001. He has been chair of TBP’s Editorial Board since 2002, helping advise the editors of The Bent on issues related to editorial policy and features.
Dr. Prados is Vice President and University Professor Emeritus in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Tennessee (UT) where he has been employed for more than 50 years, beginning as a graduate assistant in 1953. He is a Fellow of AIChE, ABET, and ASEE and is a registered professional engineer in Tennessee. In 1993 he received ABET’s highest recognition for service to engineering education, the L. E. Grinter Distinguished Service Award, and for 1997-98 he was named Faculty Macebearer, the highest faculty honor conferred by UT. Read more about his distinguished career here.
A native of Spring Hill, TN, Dr. Prados earned the Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering at the University of Mississippi and the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in chemical engineering at UT. He served for two years as a munitions officer in the United States Air Force. He is married, with three daughters and three granddaughters.
Lt. Col. Kurt P. Rouser, Ph.D., OH H ’11, held the positions of vice president of the Ohio Eta chapter in 2010-11, chief advisor for Colorado Zeta from 2012-16, Charter president and secretary of the Pikes Peak Alumni Chapter from 2013-16, and member of the Outstanding Advisor selection subcommittee from 2021-22. Currently, he is the chief advisor for the Oklahoma Gamma chapter (2017), and Charter president and secretary for the Pioneer Alumni Chapter (2017). He has been a member of the alumni committee at annual Conventions and has presented Engineering Futures and professional development sessions. In 2019, he was the recipient of the TBP Outstanding Advisor Award.
Dr. Rouser is an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Oklahoma State University (OSU). He holds a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from the US Air Force Academy (USAFA), an M.S. in aviation science from OSU, and both an M.S. in aeronautical engineering and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT). During his 21 years in the Air Force, he served as a technical analyst at the National Air Intelligence Center, maintenance engineer and executive officer at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, and operations officer at Arnold Engineering Development Center. Dr. Rouser served eight years on the USAFA faculty in the aeronautics department. After retiring from the Air Force in 2016, he transitioned into his current OSU position, teaching and researching aerospace propulsion and power. He is married and has seven children.
Whether you were featured or not, if you’re a volunteer for the Association, we want to thank you for all that you do!
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