Virginia Tech's College of Engineering named its two top award winners in the College Association for Staff in Engineering for 2015. 

They are Amanda Covey of Blacksburg, Virginia, and of the Center for Injury Biomechanics in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics and Michael Vaught of Pembroke, Virginia, a laboratory instrument maker in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

The awards program and appreciation luncheon was initiated by the College Association for Staff in Engineering to enhance morale in the college by recognizing staff for outstanding contributions exhibited above and beyond normal job expectations.

Covey won the award in the administrative category and Vaught earned his award for the technical competition.

Richard C. Benson, dean of Virginia Tech's College of Engineering, announced the awards at a luncheon attended by some 180 engineering employees.

Covey was cited by several of the faculty members with whom she works.

Warren Hardy, professor of mechanical engineering, wrote in a letter of nomination that "It is a joy to work with Amanda...she is dedicated, patient, efficient, and extremely knowledgeable. No matter the circumstance, she is always pleasant and helpful."

Hardy said that even the "Army insisted that Amanda help steer the administrative ship. I'm not sure how many administrative assistants at Virginia Tech have been requested by name by the US Army, but I suspect that there is only one."

Pamela VandeVord, associate professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics, added, "I have known Amanda for the past four years...I have seen many examples of how she goes out of her way to help our faculty, students, and other staff on a daily basis. She always has a positive attitude and smile, even in the toughest situations. She somehow finds solutions to all of our challenging problems."

The faculty member who has worked with Covey the longest, Stefan Duma, professor and head of the biomedical engineering and mechanics department, added, "I hired Amanda originally as the primary Center for Injury Biomechanics assistant, but as her skills grew, it was clear she could carry additional responsibilities and therefore her job position changed to include departmental support.

"Over the years, she has been excellent in all activities and has handled the additional responsibilities perfectly. In particular, we have seen a dramatic increase in activity. As we have doubled our faculty and tripled our research expenditures due to many new and very large research grants. With this sudden growth, there has been a corresponding dramatic increase in responsibilities that she has performed."       

Vaught's nomination package was compiled by Y. A. Liu, professor of chemical engineering, and the chair of the department's honorifics committee.

Liu cited Vaught's superb job in supporting the chemical engineering department's move from Randolph Hall to Goodwin Hall during the past year.

"The cleaning of vacated labs was a major undertaking. Much of this responsibility fell to Mike, especially for labs that had been occupied by our retired faculty or our faculty undergoing medical treatment for long-term illness," Liu said.

"He assumed nearly complete responsibility for one large laboratory for which there were no personnel in residence. He played a lead role in the disassembly of many large pieces of equipment and machinery, and their reassembly after the move," Liu added.

Erdogan Kiran, former chemical engineering department head, said, "Michael has been an outstanding asset and has been an indispensable partner in the ongoing success of the experimental research programs that many of us pursue and we depend on him in developing and/or building unique instrumental capabilities."

Kiran commented, "It is an extreme joy to work with him as he always comes up with helpful suggestions and alternative approaches. He is always receptive to make modification to a part that is built to make it function even better."

Amanda Covey earned her bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Virginia Tech.

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