Outstanding alumni honored at annual reunion
MSOE’s annual Summer in the City reunion offers an opportunity for alumni and their families to visit campus, reminisce, and see what changes have occurred since their time at the university. The reunion also offers a chance to honor alumni for their individual successes and contributions to MSOE.
2017 Distinguished Alumni of the Year
This year’s Distinguished Alumni Award honors a husband and wife team who exemplify MSOE’s mission: Michael Barber ’82, ’12 (Hon.) and Jacqueline Herd-Barber ’84. Over the years, they have excelled in their respective professions and given generously of their time, talents and treasure—within the MSOE community and beyond.
Jackie Herd-Barber made her mark on MSOE early, a co-founder of the university’s National Society of Black Engineers. After graduation in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, she embarked on a nearly 25-year career with Motorola. She held both direct and indirect sales management positions. By the time she retired in 2009, her accounts had included manufacturers across an array of diverse markets—from automotive to health care.
“I have many great memories about my time at MSOE,” Herd-Barber said. “I am very appreciative of the relationships I established with my professors, administrative staff and classmates – including my dear husband.”
Over the years Herd-Barber has been active in the MSOE community as an Alumni Association board member and a mentor in the Upward Bound program, encouraging students to pursue STEM careers. “I continue to mentor and Michael and I also provide financial support through a scholarship to increase the number of students in STEM fields.”
Herd-Barber has also served on several community and civic boards: she was campaign co-chair of the 2016 United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, immediate past chair of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts; and past chair of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Urban League and Rotary Club of Milwaukee. Currently, Herd-Barber is a member of the MSOE Corporation, and she serves on a number of boards including SaintA, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Foundation, St. Anne’s Center for Intergenerational Care, the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Foundation, Federal Defender of Wisconsin, Black Arts MKE, Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.
Herd-Barber has been recognized for her community contributions, which include induction in to the MSOE Wall of Fame (2006), Milwaukee Urban League Unity Award (honoree, 2013), Milwaukee Business Journal Woman of Influence (2014), Fellowship Open Community Volunteer (honoree, 2015), and Excellence in Education Award recipient (2016). She is also a member of the Milwaukee Chapter of the Links Inc. and Girlfriends Inc.
Michael Barber, like his wife, earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He graduated from MSOE in 1982 and over the course of his 30-plus-year career has had a variety of roles in engineering, operations and product management. He holds patents for novel X-ray system designs and has been directly involved with many product advances in the field of diagnostic testing.
Barber was the first leader for GE’s strategy on global health: healthymagination. Barber and his team delivered 50 products targeting cost, quality and access, while establishing key partnerships for GE in the cancer, maternal and newborn health, and emerging markets. Most recently, Barber serves as a GE officer and president and CEO of GE’s Molecular Imaging and Computed Tomography business. Molecular imaging looks at the biochemistry of disease by highlighting metastatic lesions, neurodegenerative disorders and cardiac function.
Barber is a champion of GE’s African American Forum, focused on professional development for African-American employees, and is the executive sponsor for the sustainability portion of GE’s $30 million philanthropic commitment to improve health care in sub-Saharan Africa.
Active in his professional associations, Barber serves on the board of Talix Inc. and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME). In 2014, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and in 2009 he was named a Black Enterprise ‘Master of Innovation.’
Barber, who was the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Engineering Degree from MSOE in 2012, continues to serve his alma mater on the Board of Regents.
The Barbers have two adult children, Dr. Lauren Barber, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, and Justin, who completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and recently earned his MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Lubar School of Business.
Alumni Achievement Awards
Bringing real-world experience into the classroom is the goal of Dr. Eric Durant ’98, P.E. A professor and director of the computer engineering program, Durant has been on both the delivering and receiving end of an MSOE education. He earned bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and computer engineering from MSOE in 1998. He continued his education at the University of Michigan, where he earned an M.S.E. in electrical engineering in 1999, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 2002. In 2011, he completed an executive MBA from UW-Milwaukee. He earned his P.E. certification in 2016. Durant was the recipient of the STEM Forward Young Engineer of the Year Award in 2013, which is presented annually to an outstanding contributor to the engineering profession from the greater Milwaukee area, and the MSOE Oscar Werwath Distinguished Teacher Award in 2016. During his time as an MSOE student, Durant said he benefitted from the mentorship of great faculty who took personal interest in their students. Since he joined the MSOE faculty in 2002, Durant in turn has provided mentorship not only as a teacher, but as advisor of MSOE’s SCOE Robotics and Photography Club. In addition to teaching, Durant is a senior DSP research engineer II and visiting professor at Starkey Hearing Technologies in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He holds five U.S. patents based on this research. Durant is passionate about being an outstanding educator and mentor and staying technically current through research and work in industry.
Having summited Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa and reached Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal – it is quite possible that there is no mountain Stephanie Johnson ’00 can’t climb. After graduating from MSOE with a degree in industrial engineering, Johnson went on to earn her MBA from Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C. Since 2014, she has worked as manager of Global Training for John Deere in the Agriculture and Turf Division in Olathe, Kansas. Johnson points to her MSOE education for developing the problem-solving and leadership skills that have made her successful. Another important aspect of Johnson’s MSOE career was her involvement in sports: through her participation in volleyball and basketball Johnson made lifelong friendships and learned teamwork. When Johnson is not working she enjoys hiking, skiing, running and traveling the world. She often combines her love of running with traveling, completing 30 half marathons in locations around the world, and five full marathons – one in New Zealand and another in Asia. She has traveled to six of the seven continents, and lived in Singapore as part of her work for John Deere. No matter where her life takes her, Johnson said she will always love the Green Bay Packers.