AE faculty and staff members, alumna honored with Penn State Engineering Alumni Society Awards


By Mariah Chuprinski

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Five representatives of the Department of Architectural Engineering (AE) have been honored with 2019 Penn State Engineering Alumni Society (PSEAS) Awards.

The PSEAS Awards are presented to faculty, staff, alumni and department supporters that exemplify outstanding expertise, dedication and service to the College of Engineering and its departments. Awards are distributed each year and honorees are selected by their peers and member of the PSEAS Board of Directors.

Department of Architectural Engineering 2019 PSEAS award winners include: Somayeh Asadi, Outstanding Advising Award; Ryan Solnosky, Lawrence J. Perez Memorial Student Advocate Award; Anand Swaminathan, Rising Star Award; Holly Seidel, Dean’s Circle of Excellence Award; and Karen Sweeney, Distinguished Service Award.

Somayeh Asadi, Outstanding Advising Award

Somayeh Asadi, assistant professor of architectural engineering, received the Outstanding Advising Award. This award recognizes and rewards outstanding advisers of engineering undergraduate and graduate students. Advising awards were established in recognition of the importance of advising in the total engineering education program.

As a Department of Architectural Engineering faculty member for five years, Asadi advises numerous undergraduate and graduate students each year.

Asadi is the faculty adviser for the National Electrical Contracting Association’s student chapter at Penn State, where she recently led the Green Energy Challenge team.

She also served as an adviser for several Drawdown scholars, as well as a student participating in the College of Engineering’s Research Experience for Undergraduates, both in summer 2019.

Asadi’s research areas include the design of infrastructure systems with a focus on smart and connected networked systems; cyber-physical human systems; advancing safety by assessing workers’ attention, perception and decision making; and the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Ryan Solnosky, Lawrence J. Perez Memorial Student Advocate Award

Ryan Solnosky, associate teaching professor of architectural engineering, has been honored with the Lawrence J. Perez Memorial Student Advocate Award. This award recognizes a College of Engineering faculty member who contributes to the welfare of students and enriches the College by his or her willingness to devote significant time and effort to assist students with academic and/or personal problems.

Solnosky joined the AE department in 2013 and was promoted to associate teaching professor in July 2019.

Solnosky is involved with almost every aspect of the architectural engineering undergraduate experience. He teaches classes at the second-, fourth- and fifth-year levels each year, including AE481W, Comprehensive Architectural Engineering Senior Project. Also known as AE Senior Thesis, the course is a required year-long capstone for all graduating AE students.

Each year, Solnosky serves as an adviser of the Penn State Architectural Engineering Institute International Student Design Competition team, a group comprised of fifth-year AE students representing each of the four architectural engineering options: construction, lighting/electrical, mechanical and structural. The students are presented with a real-world project scenario where they must work together to design a fully integrated building. In the spring, the team competes against other architectural engineering departments from around the country by presenting and defending its design to a panel of judges.

Known for his innovative instructional techniques, Solnosky replaces lectures for engaging, interactive lessons that help students better relate to real-world project scenarios. He holds impromptu review sessions and AEI student design team meetings after hours and enjoys answering questions to make each AE student’s experience as seamless as possible.

Solnosky’s research examines complex structural building systems and the challenges in designing and integrating them with other disciplines and improving engineering education.

Anand Swaminathan, Rising Star Award

Anand Swaminathan, research technologist in the Department of Architectural Engineering, has been named the recipient of the Rising Star Award. This award recognizes an individual who shows great promise in his or her position and has demonstrated exceptional job performance.

In his position for two years, Swaminathan serves as the department’s research and teaching facilities engineer and laboratory manager. He has undertaken a wide range of improvement projects in the Engineering Units, including identifying and documenting equipment and salvaging what was no longer usable or needed, as well as bringing AE’s facilities to a level compliant with current building codes and safety guidelines.

Swaminathan also led the design and development of a “building maker’s space,” which includes 3-D printers, a laser cutter and teaching demonstrations to support several undergraduate courses, and is the staff coordinator of the department’s spaces in the new West campus buildout.

Holly Seidel, Dean’s Circle of Excellence

Holly Seidel, department administrative support coordinator and manager of the Engineering Copy Center, has been honored with the Dean’s Circle of Excellence Award. This award is reserved for staff members who have a proven track record of performing at the highest levels of administrative excellence.

Seidel has been with the University for 33 years and joined the architectural engineering department in 2014. She previously served as the administrative coordinator for the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering for 26 years.

In her role, Seidel oversees the activities of the AE administration office operations in hiring, administrative reporting, budget management, research administration, space allocations and facility management, parking allocations, coordinating graduate student assistantship offers, managing the Engineering Copy Center staff and operations and supervising the AE administrative staff.

Karen Sweeney, Distinguished Service Award

Karen Sweeney, senior vice president of diversity, inclusion and community at Turner Construction, has been named the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. This award recognizes and rewards an alumnus, friend or former faculty member who has donated time, expertise and energy in the form of outstanding and special service to a department, unit or to the College.

The award includes a $500 donation to a unit of the awardee’s choice. Sweeney has elected it to be contributed to the AE department.

Sweeney received her bachelor of architectural engineering degree in 1980 with a focus in the construction option.

As a strong supporter of the architectural engineering program, Sweeney has maintained an active role in the department and greatly contributed to its continued success.

Sweeney served as a PSEAS board member for 10 years and as its president from 2011-12. During that time, she helped establish the College of Engineering’s annual football tailgate, an event held at one home football game each season. The tailgate aims to provide College of Engineering alumni with an opportunity to connect and to raise money for student scholarships through its ticket sales and silent auction.

She also has participated in the Alumni Society of Architectural Engineering and the Department of Architectural Engineering’s Industrial and Professional Advisory Council.

Sweeney’s generosity to Penn State during the past 30 years has aided the College of Engineering’s student scholarship fund and Penn State Health’s Palliative Care Program. She also spearheaded the creation of a $50,000 endowed scholarship for architectural engineering students from Turner Construction.

This year, she established a $50,000 endowed scholarship with her husband, Charles, in the architectural engineering department. Awarded to one full-time AE undergraduate student per academic year, special preference for the scholarship is given to students who participate in programs that promote equity and inclusion, such as the Women in Engineering Program.

Sweeney was previously honored with the College of Engineering Outstanding Engineering Alumni award in 2010.


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Megan Lakatos



Widely acknowledged as one of the top Architectural Engineering programs in the world, the Penn State AE Department is dedicated to providing outstanding academic excellence to all of our students. The AE program is focused on preparing students and conducting research in the design, engineering, and construction of building projects.

Department of Architectural Engineering

104 Engineering Unit A

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-6394