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Engineering honors staff members

By Liz Crumbley

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 32 - June 4, 1998

Wanda Foushee, fiscal technician for the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering (AOE), and Julie Petruska, laboratory supervisor for the Environmental Engineering Program of the Department of Civil Engineering (CE), were selected by the College Association for Staff in Engineering to receive 1998 employee-recognition awards for outstanding contributions and service.
Foushee, who received the Dean's Award, handles the majority of AOE accounts, including all research accounts and purchases. "But she goes well beyond what is required by this position," said AOE Department Head Bernard Grossman. "She routinely tries to foresee problems and to find better ways to accomplish her tasks. She also acts in my behalf on fiscal matters, offering advice and suggestions on how to better manage the departmental budget."
An important part of Foushee's job is interaction with faculty members and students, several of whom wrote letters in support of her nomination for the Dean's Award. "She is very patient and clear in explaining the way things work, even as she does so for the fourth or fifth time," wrote Associate Professor Wayne Durham of Foushee's management of his contracts and grants.
Patrick Ryan, an AOE senior and president of two student organizations for which Foushee oversees accounts, said "she has been whole-heartedly supportive of all student projects and events, and instrumental in the planning of most of them." Philippe-Andre Tetrault, a graduate student, also appreciated Foushee's help: "I never had the impression that my questions and problems were a burden for her. No matter what she is doing, I have the feeling that her priority is to help the students. She treats the students like individuals, not like numbers."
Petruska, who received the Exemplary Employee Award, also was cited for her efforts on behalf of students. "As easy means of assessing the magnitude of Julie's contributions would be to simply read the `Acknowledgments Page' of any thesis or dissertation completed by a graduate students in our Environmental Engineering Program," said CE Department Head William Knocke. Assistant Professor Nancy Love said Petruska "is highly skilled in visualizing what a student needs and executing a workable plan, and always at a minimal cost."
In addition to all the responsibilities involved in supervising laboratories used by 11 faculty members and 65 to 70 graduate students each year, Petruska has taken on other major tasks constituting "more work for no more pay," said Gregory Boardman, former head of the program and Petruska's Ph.D. advisor. When Boardman needed an instructor for an Environmental Chemistry Laboratory course several years ago, Petruska volunteered and has taught the course ever since.
Five years ago, she was asked to oversee the lab facilities for environmental engineering's portion of the New Engineering Building. She designed the lab layouts, selected all furnishings and equipment, participated in all planning for design and construction of the new facilities, interacted with the contractor on construction issues, and supervised the move of all lab and office equipment into the new space. "It was a tremendous relief to be able to turn this project over to Julie with the full confidence that it would be done efficiently and successfully," Knocke said.
"As with the other faculty members, I am very impressed with her outstanding effort in executing our move from one building to another--that effort was noteworthy and deserving of commendation," added Associate Professor Marc Edwards. "However, I am most impressed by the high level at which Julie performs on a routine basis. Julie is the type of employee who makes everyone else just a little bit better than they might have been."