Bernard Kozel Mentor Award

Bernard Kozel Mentor Award

The Bernard Kozel Mentor Award is a distinguished accolade established to honor mentors associated with the Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). This award recognizes mentors who consistently contribute their time and expertise to support RIT's student innovators and entrepreneurs, embodying Bernard Kozel's commitment to fostering growth and leadership.

The award’s namesake, Bernard Kozel, was well respected for his roles as an entrepreneur, innovator, investor and connector. Kozel’s entrepreneurial journey began post World War 11, when he successfully established various companies dedicated to structural steel, semi-conductors and high- tech electronics. Central to his accomplishments was a deep belief in mentoring , evident through his co-founding of KG Capital Associates and his emphasis on guiding and investing in emerging entrepreneurs.

Bernard Kozel’s mentorship ethos centered on cultivating holistic skills- confidence, creativity, leadership and empathy- in aspiring leaders. He encouraged individuals to excel in their endeavors and contribute positively to their communities.

The Bernard Kozel Mentor Award was established by his daughter, Barbara Kozel to commemorate his legacy. It acknowledges mentors at the Simone Center who emulate his commitment to guiding young talents. Award recipients demonstrate unwavering dedication to nurturing student growth and encouraging their pursuit of excellence.

The award underscores the lasting impact of mentorship and Bernard Kozel’s enduring belief in the potential of individuals to shape a better future.

2023 Winner

Craig & Barb

Craig McGowan

Craig McGowan is an accomplished entrepreneur and technology enthusiast. He has been recognized by receiving the Bernard Kozel Mentor Award for his exceptional contributions to the fields of entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology development.

One of the cornerstones of Craig's professional journey is his involvement in starting three startup businesses during his career at Kodak. These ventures demonstrated his keen business acumen and ability to navigate the intricate landscape of entrepreneurship. 

His coaching journey commenced in 2017 when he joined the Simone Center. Since then, Craig's impact has reverberated through various entrepreneurship programs, underscoring his commitment to nurturing the next generation of business leaders.

Throughout his tenure at the Simone Center, Craig has provided guidance to over 50 teams across 19 semesters. His mentorship extends beyond the boundaries of a single institution, as he has also made significant contributions as a coach in the Golisano College of Computing and the Gleason College of Engineering.


2022 Winner

Patricia Wall

Patricia Wall

Patricia Wall is an innovator in product design and customer discovery methodologies, She conducts socio-technical studies of customers to inspire the design of new technologies, practices, services and business opportunities. She is a recipient of the Bernard Kozel Mentor Award recognizing her contribution as a mentor to the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.

During her career as a product designer and ethnographic researcher at Xerox, Patricia collaborated with designers, social scientists, and engineers to create industry-leading customer discovery approaches and tools to support innovation. These tools capture in-depth understanding of customer needs and practices, technology solutions and their impact, and enable co-development of solutions with customers and developers.

Since joining the Simone Center in 2016, Patricia has coached multi-disciplinary entrepreneurial teams, emphasizing high impact, team-based, customer-inspired solutions in an environment of experiential learning and growth for students. In addition to coaching, she provides customer discovery methods instruction and support for programs in the Simone Center,  the Kate Gleason College of Engineering and Golisano College of Computing and Information Services.