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During the Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend, the computer engineering department celebrated its 30-year anniversary and inducted Roy Czernikowski, its first faculty member, into the Computer Engineering Academy.
Czernikowski has played many roles within the department. From faculty member to department chairperson, Czernikowski has seen the growth of the department from a few students in 1975 to more than 400 currently.
More than 75 current and former students, faculty and staff celebrated the anniversary and praised Czernikowski, who was described by many as a mentor, advisor, motivator and friend. Alumnus Fred Dewey did not realize the influence Czernikowski had on him until several years into his career.
“It hit me one day how important that real-world education was,” says Dewey, who graduated from the program in 1983 and is the chief executive officer of the social media organization Kachingle. “I was a more effective engineer. Roy’s mentoring and coaching made me who I am.”
The computer engineering department was formally established in 1980 and Czernikowski was the sole faculty and academic advisor at the time. Today, the department delivers undergraduate, graduate and dual-degree programs with concentrations in computer architecture, digital systems design, image processing and real-time embedded systems. Czernikowski continues to teach many of the courses in these programs.
The department moved into the renovated addition of the James E. Gleason Building in 2007, adding more classroom, laboratory and research space.
Andreas Savakis, department head of computer engineering, recognized Czernikowski for his role in helping to build the program and joked with him about his creative design projects for students, his musical abilities as a pianist and French horn player and skills as a commercial pilot.
“It’s been fun, it’s been a challenge,” said Czernikowski, who attended the event with his wife, Karin Dunnigan, and oldest son, Erik. He also has a son Adam, and daughter, Sara.