Polytechnic presents awards to exceptional technology alumni

Updated December 16, 2019

Melody Birmingham-Byrd visits with Bradford Sims at Purdue Polytechnic's annual alumni awards presentation.

On Friday, April 26, 2019, the Purdue Polytechnic Institute marked the sesquicentennial of Purdue University by honoring 11 of the college’s graduates as Distinguished Technology Alumni, Outstanding Technology Alumni and Early Career Alumni awardees. It was the college’s 17th year of recognizing exceptional graduates.

Mary Sadowski, former associate dean of Purdue Polytechnic and professor emerita of the Department of Computer Graphics Technology, joined Gary Bertoline, dean and distinguished professor, to introduce the Distinguished Technology Alumni awardees.

“I am honored to be your host as we recognize the accomplishments of these noteworthy alumni,” Sadowski said. “They were bright and engaged students who have grown into leaders in business, industry and academia.”

Distinguished Technology Alumni Awardees

These recipients have distinguished themselves through extraordinary achievements in their professions, scholarships or other creative activities.


Melody Birmingham-ByrdMelody Birmingham-Byrd
Senior Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer for Duke Energy

BS ’94, Organizational Leadership, Purdue University
MBA ’10, Strayer University
Advanced Management Program ’17, Harvard University

Melody Birmingham-Byrd is responsible for more than $12 billion in annual supply chain managed spending for the Duke Energy enterprise. She credits her degree and experience at Purdue with enabling her to enter her career with a balanced perspective of people, process and technology. However, when it comes to providing opportunities to everyone who has the drive, desire and ability to change the world, she believes there is still work to be done.

“The work I’ve accomplished over my career demonstrates that progress is in the making, and that boundaries can be removed when it comes to what women, African Americans or people who come from non-traditional backgrounds in their industry can do when they have the desire, tenacity, ability and are provided the opportunity.”

Mark S. LoepkerMark S. Loepker
National Security Agency Executive (retired) for Department of Defense

AS ’74, Aviation Electronics Technology, Purdue University
BS ’77, Electrical Engineering Technology, Purdue University
MBA ’82, Statistical Methods, University of Missouri

Mark Loepker chose the College of Technology for his electrical engineering technology studies because he enjoyed the applied aspects.

“Making things work – and fixing those that do not – always interested me,” he says.

Loepker leveraged his innate multi-tasking skills and the technological knowledge he acquired at Purdue to make the world a safer place.

“The work accomplished over my 43-year career in the Air Force and National Security Agency helped to protect and defend our nation’s most highly classified networks and information systems. Serving as a Missile Combat Crew officer demanded discipline and attention to detail. Assignments in nuclear research and development utilized my cross-disciplinary education in nuclear engineering. I was well-prepared to oversee technically complex programs supporting national defense.”

Bradford SimsBradford Sims
President, Capitol Technology University

BS ’90, Building Construction Technology, Purdue University
MS ’96, Building Construction Management, University of Florida
PhD ’99, Curriculum & Instruction, Purdue University

BS ’90, Building Construction Technology, Purdue University
MS ’96, Building Construction Management, University of Florida
PhD ’99, Curriculum & Instruction, (Co-chairs from Technology & Education), Purdue University

After graduating from Purdue, Bradford Sims built a career in the industrial construction industry, first as a project controls engineer with the Westinghouse Savannah River Corporation and then as a project controls supervisor for Cherne Contracting. He also was a cost engineer for a subsidiary of Raytheon.

Sims returned to Purdue to pursue a doctorate degree, transitioning his career onto an academic trajectory. Since 1999, he has been an assistant professor at the University of Florida, a professor and department head at Western Carolina University and dean of the College of Technology at Indiana State University. Sims also was the interim chancellor and chief academic officer at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Worldwide campus from 2013 until 2017.

Early Career Awardees

These recipients have graduated from the Purdue Polytechnic Institute within the last 10 years. They have made contributions to both their fields and Purdue University, and they illustrate the promise of becoming leaders among their peers.


Brad CozzaBrad Cozza
Airport Director, Indianapolis Executive Airport

BS ’12, Aviation Management, Purdue University
MS ’13, Aviation & Aerospace Management, Purdue University

Joseph MillerJoseph Miller
Senior Manager, The Boeing Company

BS ’07, Computer Graphics Technology, Purdue University
MS ’09, Technology, Purdue University

Cory-Khoi Quang NguyenCory-Khoi Quang Nguyen
Principal Research Scientist, CrowdStrike

BS ’09, Computer Information Technology, Purdue University
MS ’11, Computer Information Technology, Purdue University
PhD ’14, Technology, Purdue University

Zachary PiercyZachary Piercy
Director of Project Controls, Poynter Sheet Metal

BS ’09, Building Construction Management, Purdue University

Outstanding Technology Alumni Awardees

These recipients have made significant and recognized impacts in their fields, and they remain involved with the Purdue University community.


Rodney GlassRodney Glass
Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President, HID Global

BS ’92, Organizational Leadership and Supervision, Purdue University

Tim KrueckebergTim Krueckeberg
Project Executive, Turner Construction Company

BS ’95, Building Construction Technology, Purdue University

Kurt LutherKurt Luther
Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Virginia Tech

BS ’06, Computer Graphics Technology, Purdue University

Chat SchweinzgerChad Schweinzger
Manager, A.T. Kearney

BS ’09, Professional Flight, Purdue University
MS ’10, Aviation & Aerospace Management, Purdue University

This article appeared in Innovation Magazine, published annually by Purdue Polytechnic for alumni and friends.

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