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Distinguished Alumni


Alumni Excellence Academy Award Recipients 2014


Bob Carlson

Bob received his Bachelor of Science in Paper Science and Chemistry in 1974. An expert in the surface treatment and finishing of paper with 39 years of experience in new technology design, Bob startedhis career with the Beloit Corporation in 1973 as a group leader in development. In 1989, he moved to Boise Cascade where he became the leader of the Surface Treatment Development Group and manager of the pilot coater facility. In 1999, Bob became the principal scientist in Productivity Group – Center for Packing Innovation at MeadWestvaco.
Bob is active with TAPPI (Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry), having served as chairman of the coating and graphic arts division in the past. He also received the Division Leader and Service award, in addition to the DuPont Soy Polymer
medallion. He was a 20 year participant of the Technical Program Committee for the Coating Conference, a group of 45 worldwide experts in coating. Bob and his wife Deborah (a fellow WMU alumna) reside in Oregon.


Jennifer L. Lentner

Jennifer received her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) with a minor in Management in 1996. Jennifer joined Stryker as an intern while still a student at WMU. She began her career as a manufacturing engineer and over the last 18 years has held roles of increasing responsibility in manufacturing, research and development, IT, marketing, customer care, and communications. Under Jennifer’s leadership, the Marketing Communications team is responsible for Stryker Instruments’ employee communications, trade shows, and marketing communications.
Jennifer currently serves on the WMU Alumni Association Board of Directors as a member of the Executive and Distinguished Alumni committees. She also serves on the Council Board for the Greater Kalamazoo chapter of Girls on the Run. Jennifer, her husband Kurt (another proud Bronco alumnus), and daughter Elise reside in the Kalamazoo area. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys being involved in the community, playing golf, following Bronco football and hockey, and being involved with her
niece and nephews.


Kurt Lentner

Kurt graduated from Western Michigan University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (BSME). He joined Stryker Corporation’s Instruments Division in March of 1994 as a mechanical manufacturing engineering co-op student while attending WMU. Upon graduation, he joined the Instruments Advanced Manufacturing Engineering team, progressing to senior project engineer. In 2001, he became the associate operations unit manager for the Hardware Operations Unit and helped them
achieve Stryker’s MedSurg Group “Operations Unit of the Year.” Kurt joined the Instruments Human Resources team as HR manger in 2003, progressing to Human Resources director. In 2006, Kurt became director of International Marketing for the
Instruments Division, eventually traveling to 26 countries over a four year period. In 2009, global quality & management representative responsibilities were added to Kurt’s area of expertise. He joined the Corporate Quality and Regulatory team as senior director, Corporate Quality Systems in 2012.
Kurt and his wife Jennifer (fellow WMU alumna) reside in Kalamazoo. Western continues to have a very strong influence on his life and career. He has enjoyed the opportunity to attend many WMU athletic events (including four outstanding seasons of Bronco hockey!), participates in the Medallion Scholarship selection process, and the Seita Scholars mentorship program.


John J. Nigro

John graduated from Western Michigan University in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (BSME). The decision to attend WMU began with a football scholarship as well as the Hands-on-Approach Engineering program. John has worked at all levels of engineering within Chrysler over his 30 year career. He started in Exterior Systems as an entry level engineer. He then became manager resident engineer at the Windsor Minivan Plant, which then led to the director of body engineering. John is currently the VP – NAFTA Engineering Management Team at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in Auburn Hills.
John is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). He is also a supporter of the Southeast Michigan United Way and Forgotten Harvest of Michigan. He has been involved extensively in recruiting and interviewing at the University, as well as hosting
students at Chrysler for events such as the Sunseeker Solar Car Team and WMU’s Michigan Industry Road Trip.
Celebrating their 30th anniversary in September, John and Mary (fellow WMU alumna) have a son, Jack, who is attending WMU this fall to major in Engineering. They currently reside in Romeo, MI. John’s hobbies include hunting, fishing, and spending time with his
family on the west side of Michigan.


Carl D. Roberts

Carl received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Tech in1970, and his MBA in 1989 from Western Michigan University. He served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1972. Carl began his professional career with Eaton Transmission Division in 1968. He held a number of positions including chief engineer testing and manager of technical services for Truck Group. In 2000 he joined BorgWarner Cooling Systems as director of engineering and became vice president of engineering in 2001. He retired from
BorgWarner in 2007.
Carl has been and remains very active in a number of community service organizations including Winchell School Mentors, YMCA Black Achievers, Concerned Black Men, NAACP ACT-SO, United Way Allocations and Board, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Mt. Zion After School Tutors, Kids Moving & Thriving, Western Michigan University Engineering Board of Visitors, Western Michigan University Engineering Design Technology (Department Advisor), and WMU National Society of Black Engineers (Chapter Advisor).
Carl is happily married to Mary, and they have one son, Edward. Together, Carl and Mary have established the Carl and Mary Roberts Endowment for the WMU Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers.

Rajesh Voddiraju

Rajesh received his Master of Science in Computer Science in 1993. He graduated at the top of the class with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Nagpur University, and attended management programs at UCLA and Tuck School of Business. For the last 22 years, Rajesh has gone from a hands-on techie, to executive management roles in management/IT consulting, to his recent entrepreneurial success. He is the founder, president & CEO of HealthiPASS Inc., and a technology entrepreneur and Angel
Investor in healthcare and technology ventures.
Rajesh’s most recent venture, CVM Solutions, grew from a bootstrapped idea to being named to ‘Inc. Magazine’s’ 500/5000 fastest growing private companies in the US. CVM served over 300 Fortune 1000 firms nationally in helping them streamline their supplier management processes using its software-as-a-service and supplier intelligence data. It was acquired by a $2 billion firm in late 2011.
As an Angel investor, Rajesh has invested in a new brand of immediate care centers in the Chicagoland area and nearly a dozen technology startups. Rajesh has mentored many young entrepreneurs through his involvement with The Founders’ Institute,
AngelPool, Cornerstone Angels, and other groups.


Alumni Excellence Award Nominations

Alumni Excellence Academy inductees have embraced the expectations of our graduates to change the world. Each of these distin-guished alumni has achieved a high level of authority within their chosen profession, have benefited significantly the mission of their organization, and have demonstrated personal integrity of the highest caliber.

Criteria: Nominees must have earned at least one degree from a program of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Western Michigan University. Nominees must have achieved a high level within their chosen field of endeavor, which is exemplified by having attained increasingly responsible positions in their company/organization, and have been recognized by their peers. Nominees are encouraged to have participated in community and civic activities and have given distinguished service to their profession and/or their community.

Procedures: Recipients are recognized during an inauguration ceremony to be held in October of every year. Recipients are invited to be present at ceremony. If they cannot attend ceremony, induction is delayed until the following year. The number of awards awarded annually will be dependent upon the pool of applicants. Nominations must be received by May of every year. Nominations received after this date will be held for consideration next year.

Click here to view the Nomination Form

Please return completed nomination forms to:

Alumni Excellence Award Committee
College of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Western Michigan University
1903 West Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5314


Prior Alumni Excellence award recipients:


Dr. Richard R. Hartman
Charles P. Klass II
Brian A. Mack
David F. McGorrin
C. Wesley Smith