The magazine of the Case Alumni Association
at the Case School of Engineering


best of case

Introducing our 2023 award winners

By Robert L. Smith


For information on the awards program, and all Homecoming 2023 events, please go to

At Homecoming & Reunion Weekend Oct. 12-15, the Case Alumni Association will honor seven distinguished alumni and one steadfast friend for their accomplishments and for their service to Case and to humanity.

These awards represent the highest honors bestowed by the CAA, the nation’s oldest independent alumni association of science and engineering graduates.

This year, the CAA board of directors will offer special recognition to Tom Conlon, the longtime chief financial officer of the CAA,
who is retiring after 21 years of loyal and skillful service to the Case community.

The 138th annual awards program begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, in Strosacker Auditorium and will be livestreamed. All are welcome.

Let us introduce you to our 2023 award winners!

Gold Medal


Professor Dustin Tyler is restoring feelings and creating hope.

America has seen him on 60 Minutes and splashed across the pages of National Geographic Magazine. The work of Dustin Tyler, PhD ’99, is indeed showcase worthy as it changes lives with advanced prosthet-ics. But that’s only part of the story.

Tyler is a popular lecturer and lab leader in the Case School of Engineering, where he’s the Kent H. Smith II Profes-sor of Biomedical Engineering. He’s a prominent researcher at the Cleveland VA Medical Center, where he works with doctors at the cutting edge of rehabilita-tion. With his innovations mounting, he was elected to the National Academy of Inventors in 2022.

In recognition of the life-changing impact of his science and the honor he brings to Case, Tyler is to receive the Gold Medal, the highest honor bestowed annually by the Case Alumni Association.

Upon hearing the news, he expressed surprise, humility, and some trepidation. “There are so many unbelievable people who have graduated from this university. It’s a lot of pressure,” he laughed, “in a good way.”

In his quest to change the world, he’s just getting started.

Tyler directs the university’s fledgling Human Fusions Institute, which aims to combine CWRU’s historic strengths in medicine and engineering to advance neural engineering into new realms. Guided by his groundbreaking work restoring a sense of touch in people who have lost limbs, he sees applications for remote surgery, exploration, even space travel.

And he thinks Case is just the place to advance such wonders.

“We have 50 years of experience in biomedical engineering defining humans and technology,” Tyler said. “That knowl-edge we’re building on puts us in a unique position in the world to be the best, to really lead.” 

He arrived as a graduate student nearly 30 years ago and fell into the collaborative spirit. He credits his wife, Joyce, an occupational therapist, with helping him to see the human impact of engineering. He thanks their two children, Ryan and Linnea – a student in the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing – for cheering him on. He finds teaching fulfilling, academia liberating.

“I can think 10 years into the future,” he said. “Having that horizon allows me to dream about things like the Human Fusions Institute. It’s going to take a bit longer to get there, but it’s going to change the world.”

We get to watch it happen.

Givelber Award


Michael Diamant fosters fellowship in the Case tradition.

Michael Diamant ’68 doesn’t need a big group to feel a sense of fellowship, just an earnest one. While earning his engineering degree at Case Institute of Technology in the 1960s, he led the campus chapter of the Young Democrats — “all nine of us.”

Fifty-five years later, he’s lost none of his zest for campaigns with a cause. Diamant is a familiar face at planning meetings, scholarship receptions, and re-unions that support the Case community.

“I like meeting people and working on teams of people, serious people,” he explained. “And when you’re here with the alumni association, you’re doing something. There’s always a project.”

The friendly and steadfast volunteer will be honored at Homecoming with the Samuel Givelber ’23 Award, which recog-nizes an alumnus who fosters fellowship and kindness as Samuel Givelber did a century ago.

A self-described “science and math geek,” Diamant came to CIT out of Cleve-land Heights High School for its science reputation, looking toward law school.

“I love learning,” he said. “I love learn-ing about science. I don’t think I have the emotional discipline or the patience for what it takes to be a good engineer.”

He threw himself into a mosaic of student groups, including Hillel, where he met Amy, his wife of 54 years. Diamant went on to Harvard for his law degree and specialized in technical cases that tapped his science and math background, most recently as a partner with Taft, Stettinius & Hollister.

He experienced “one of the biggest honors of my life,” he said, when a former professor, Dean Tom Kicher ’59, MS ’62, PhD ’65, asked him to lead a visiting committee of alumni to shape the new Case School of Engineering in the 1990s. In total, Diamant volunteered at Case and the CAA for a consecutive 45 years, serving as president of the CAA from 1995-96. He sees the Givelber Award as a crowning moment.

“It’s an award in honor of a special person that went to many very special people,” he said. “So I am deeply honored.”

Young Alumni Leadership Award


Chioma Onukwuire sees a lot of herself in today’s students.

She loved being a contestant in The Engineering Game at Homecoming 2022, for she always wanted to be on a game show. And she’s happy to share her expertise on an alumni panel, even if she has to drive in from Michigan.

But for Chioma Onukwuire ’17, MEM ’18, probably her biggest impact comes from her role as an advisor and a mentor to students, often through groups like the Society of Women Engineers and the Case Alumni Association. She is, she says, seizing the opportunity to reciprocate.

“Giving back to my alma mater, it feels like I’m kind of paying it forward to 17-year-old Chioma,” she said. “I want to help Case help the students who are going to come.”

Onukwuire will receive the Young Alumni Leadership Award at Homecom-ing 2023, a tribute to her volunteerism and her eagerness to help those following her path toward a Case degree.

She still appreciates her many mentors from the Department of Macro-molecular Science and Engineering, she says, as well as the guidance of her mother, who steered her to Case from their home in Houston.

She earned two degrees, including a master’s in engineering management, and today manages software products as a technical product manager for Cardinal Commerce. But Case taught her more than technical skills, she says.

She gained her first taste of leadership in her sorority, Phi Sigma Rho. With
the help of Sears think[box] and Launch-Net, she founded her African fashion platform, Chimu.

“Case has made me the type of person I am today — someone who is resilient, someone who wants to train people to be better than me,” she said.

“Also, there are not a lot of students who look like me at Case — so those students who wonder, ‘Where are the black people here?’ they will see me and think, ‘OK, we can make it here.’”

It’s a message she shares as often as she can.

Thomas P. Kicher ’59, MS ’62, PhD ’65, Meritorious Service Award


Gordon Daily credits Case for the secrets to his success.

Gordon Daily ’00, MSE ’01, played four sports at Case and holds athletic re-cords yet unbroken, including the most home runs in Spartan baseball. But what he’s most thankful for are the life skills he learned as a student-athlete.

While earning degrees in computer and electrical engineering, Daily captained sports teams and established a campus chapter of Phi Kappa Tau, which he led as president. He’s now president of his own company, Boxcast, which brought video streaming to the masses.

“When I think about the secrets to my own success, it really comes down to the people I surrounded myself with,” he said. That includes his three co-founders, all Case classmates, and his wife, Cara, who supported his startup dream.

Daily had worked for Rockwell Automation for a decade when he and three colleagues decided to strike out on their own. As Rockwell automates facto-ries, Boxcast sought to automate video streaming. The company made it possible for people and organizations to broadcast meetings, services, and events over the Internet with a simple, box-like device.

Launched in 2009, Boxcast boomed during the pandemic, when events went hybrid. As president, Daily oversees about 75 employees, including many Case engineers, in upbeat offices in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood.

Meanwhile, he shares his experience with engineering students as a speaker and mentor. He twice served on the board of the Case Alumni Association and recently joined the board of Case Western Reserve University.

Daily said a Meritorious Service Award will be one of the shiniest trophies in a crowded case.

“It’s very humbling to receive this award because I’m so impressed with all of my classmates,” he said.

Thomas P. Kicher ’59, MS ’62, PhD ’65, Meritorious Service Award


Kirsten Bowen wants more young women erecting landmarks.

Kirsten Bowen ’96 didn’t have many role models to follow when she studied engineering in the 1990s. There were only a handful of women in her classes and women were a distinct minority in the profession.

Today, Bowen helps to make sure other young women don’t feel so alone. She mentors and champions women in pursuit of engineering degrees, especially those hoping to become civil engineers.

“Mentoring is important to me because I wish that I had someone to help and guide me,” she said. “I floundered a bit. So when the folks in the alumni office ask me if I’m interested in mentoring a student, I usually jump at the chance.”

Her Meritorious Service Award reflects not only a busy volunteer but also a pro-fessional success story. Once she found her calling, Bowen’s ascent was rapid.

She joined Michael Baker International 22 years ago and today is a vice president and its national director of railroads. She’s a builder of bridges and highways, but also an expert in intermodal infrastructure, bringing her handiwork to depots, docks, and freight yards.

Bowen credits Case for teaching
her strength and grit and “how to think things through.” She’s thankful to her husband Chris, who helps her to pursue a demanding career while they raise their 15-year-old son, Charles, who is on the autism spectrum.

The support allows her to share her skills widely. After serving on the board of the Case Alumni Association for eight years, Bowen joined the board of the Case Alumni Foundation, where she helps to manage an $80 million endowment. Meanwhile, she’s a hero to student groups like the Society of Women Engineers, which made her its keynote speaker during Engineers Week 2022.

To young people considering a career in engineering, Bowen shares the special pride known to civil engineers, whose work is often on display.

Because she helped design the iconic Fulton Road Bridge over the Cleveland Zoo, she says, “I can take my son there and say, ‘There’s my bridge.’”

Thomas P. Kicher ’59, MS ’62, PhD ’65, Meritorious Service Award


Bill Emling’s support is something to count on.

Once Bill Emling ’79 gets started on something, he tends to dive in.

That happened in the steel industry, where his appreciative colleagues and customers are making it difficult for him to fully retire. And it happened with the Case Alumni Association, where he volunteered soon after graduating.

CAA scholarships helped him to attain his degree in materials science, he said, and he felt he owed a debt of gratitude.

A role as a class agent led to represent-ing Case at industry conferences. One term on the board of the CAA became two. He was an early supporter of the co-op program in the Case School of Engineering and was part of the committee that helped rebuild the
metal casting lab in the White Building.

This Homecoming, the quiet, steadfast volunteer will receive a Meritorious Service Award for his decades of support.

“I felt it was import-ant that I give back to the CAA because of the help they gave to me as a young student in a time of need,” he said simply.

Case gave him much more than a degree, he says. It’s where he learned critical thinking and patience. He credits Sigma Alpha Epsilon with teaching him leadership skills, forging indelible memories, and introducing him to his wife, Jean, the sister of fraternity brother Jeffrey Herzog ’79.

Emling rose in the steel industry as a specialist in research and development and operations. That led to a top sales and executive position at SMS Group, from which he planned to retire this year. When peers heard the news, they urged him to serve the industry as a consultant, and so Emling Metallurgical Services was born.

Still, he has been able to scale back his hours and work from home. He and Jean are starting to travel and hope to spend more time with their three children. The meritorious award aptly closes a chapter.

“This award is a nice honor, a great cherry on top of the career that I’ve enjoyed,” he said. “I feel very honored.”

Immediate past president


Joe Fakult helped the CAA expand its influence.

Joe Fakult ’90 led an alumni association that has been growing in size and influence, one he thinks is well positioned for the is two-year term as president in June and can look back on an impactful tenure.

As the Case School of Engineering graduates more students each year, the CAA has seen its ranks grow modestly but steadily, he notes, to about 30,000 members. That coincides with a growing endowment, which is approaching $85 million and allows the CAA greater financial wherewithal and the ability to support big projects.

Under Fakult, the CAA made a historic commitment of $5 million — the largest single outlay in its 138-year history — to support the new research building pro-posed for Case Quad. He sees a project that will help the CAA fulfill its mission.

“When you look at the mission of the Case Alumni Association, we are here to help the students and the faculty and the school,” he said. “One of the most im-portant things that any school needs is a proper facility.”

By helping science and engineering faculty to collaborate in a state-of-the-art building, the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building will help Case rise to the next level, he said.

Fakult, a lead engineer for Safran Elec-trical & Power in Twinsburg, now moves into the role of immediate past president — where he will advise Brian Casselberry ’95, who assumed the presidency July 1.

He said Casselberry will see a new window open.“As president, you’re kind of tied into a lot more about what the organization actually does,” Fakult said, adding that he developed personal relationships with both Dean Ragu Balakrishnan and University President Eric Kaler.

His advice to his successor is simple: “Remember that you represent all the alumni, and keep your nose to the grindstone.”

Special recognition


Tom Conlon helped build the CAA into a robust alumni association.

Few have witnessed the growth of the Case Alumni Association like Tom Conlon, the longest serving member of today’s staff.

When he started as chief financial officer in 2002, the CAA endowment stood at about $30 million. Today, it’s closer to $82 million, with funds protected by a foundation he helped establish.

Conlon is retiring after 21 years at “the best job I ever had.” The board of directors plans to recognize him for distinguished service at Homecoming 2023.

Conlon, a Vietnam War veteran and a CPA who once thought about becoming an engineer, has served the association as both CFO and interim executive direc-tor. He guided the CAA through market swings and the often-tricky merger of the Case legacy into Case Western Reserve. He says he always had a lot of help from Case’s loyal alumni.

“What is special about the CAA is the membership,” he said. “I always equated them to Marines. They are so devoted to this
university, to Case. Every single one of them is always striving to make the organization better and make the school better.”

One way they do that is by awarding Junior Senior Scholarships, which support hundreds of STEM students each year.

“How can you not like giving scholar-ships away? That’s my favorite program, no question,” Conlon said.

He’ll now have more time to spend with Debbie, his wife of nearly 50 years, his daughters Shannon and Colleen, and his baseball loving grandson Ryan, 10.

Never short of hobbies, Conlon has a classic car to maintain — a replica 1965 427 Cobra — a collection of some 80 clocks to wind and repair, and a G gauge train world in his basement. But he leaves with a heavy heart.

“I loved my job,” he said. “Getting an honor like this…I had no idea that this was coming. None whatsoever. I will do as MacArthur once said, ‘Move on.’ It’s tough to leave.”

@2020 Case Alumnus Magazine
Case Alumni Association, Inc.
All rights reserved.

Stay connected.
follow us on social media.