Coming home

Majid Rashidi teaching Mechanical Engineering Analysis.

coming home

Teaching where they once were students, Case’s new alumni faculty express a special motivation and satisfaction.

 

Upon walking into his new office on the fourth floor of the Glennan Building, Majid Rashidi ’81, MS ’83, PhD ’87, had to steady himself. This was the office of his thesis advisor, Professor Maurice Adams, who died last year.

 

Directly across the hall was the office of one of his favorite professors, Joe Prahl, and he’s teaching Machine Dynamics in the same classroom where he learned it from former Dean Tom Kicher, whom he can see like it was yesterday.

 

“Sometimes I get emotional,” Rashidi said. “I feel that I have come back home. I really am here to try to give back what I gained from Case.”

 

Rashidi earned three degrees from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering before embarking on a career in academia. After 34 years at Cleveland State University, he returned to the department last year as a full professor, excited as any first year on the Quad.

 

He’s part of a wave of 18 new faculty who joined the Case School of Engineering last year and this fall. Several of them, like Rashidi, are alumni who bring an extra measure of insight and devotion to the job.

Majid Rashidi ’81, MS ’83, PhD ’87

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Emily Graczyk, PhD ’18, is a biomedical engineer who strives to restore a sense of touch in people who have lost limbs. She came to the Case School of Engineering nearly 10 years ago to pursue her passion in neural engineering. While earning her doctorate, she was part of research teams at the Cleveland VA Medical Center.

 

“There’s not many places in the world that have the infrastructure we have here,” said Graczyk, referring to the hospitals and research centers on and around campus. “Case was always on my list of places I wanted to go. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could stay here?’”

 

She can. Last year, Graczyk attained a faculty position as an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. This fall, she’s teaching physiology, a core requirement for biomedical engineering majors.

 

She’s also working alongside her thesis advisor, Professor Dustin Tyler, PhD ’99, and with investigators at the Cleveland FES Center. Graczyk brings her own stardust to the team. In 2018, she was named a DARPA Riser, one of a select group of early-career researchers identified as potential superstars.

 

“I feel very lucky, very fortunate,” she said. “I get to continue to work with world leaders in this area.”

Emily Graczyk, PhD ’18

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Christopher Pulliam ’06, MS ’09, PhD ’13, joined the faculty this fall as an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He brings 10 years of industry experience, most recently with Medtronic in Minneapolis, where he was the Research and Technology Leader for Neuromodulation. Pulliam led a team of engineers focused on brain modulation therapies and neural engineering, which will be a focus of his research at Case.

 

“The opportunity to return to Case was a hard one to pass up,” he said. “The students, faculty, and hospitals make this a unique place, and I’m excited to find ways to contribute to the community.”

 

In the classroom, he’ll teach elective courses in the biomechanics and instrumentation tracks. He views his job as that of a facilitator, guiding students’ understanding of concepts as well as their real-world application.

 

“There is a practical curiosity that I try to tap into and awaken,” he said. “It serves us well, particularly in the areas of health and human sciences.”

Christopher Pulliam ’06, MS ’09, PhD ’13

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Steve Majerus ’08, MS ’08, PhD ’14, earned three degrees in electrical engineering at Case, then applied his knowledge as a researcher at the Cleveland VA Medical Center, pursuing translational research in the Advanced Platform Technology Center.

 

In July, he joined the Case faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering.

 

His research focuses on implantable medical sensors and electrical and ultrasonic neuromodulation. With that expertise, Majerus will teach MOS Integrated Circuit Design and hopes to develop a course focused on sensors and sensor interfaces.

 

I’m looking forward to teaching!” he said. “But I’m also eager to develop new research directions that are more theoretical and less focused on getting into clinical applications.”

Steve Majerus ’08, MS ’08, PhD ’14

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Brian Taylor ’05, MS ’08, PhD, the newest professor in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, brings a blend of scientific and artistic talent to Case. As an assistant professor of biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Taylor was the principal investigator for UNC’s Quantitative Biology and Engineering Sciences Laboratory. He’s also a trumpet-playing jazz musician with his own album, Spirito Sereno.

 

Taylor minored in music at CWRU School of Music while studying under robotics pioneer Roger Quinn in the Biologically Inspired Robotics Lab.

 

“Music and engineering, to me, are both very similar,” he said. “They both have a very analytic side and a very creative side.”

 

He credits Case with helping him to succeed in both fields and he’s eager to share what he’s learned.

Brian Taylor ’05, MS ’08, PhD ’12

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Kathleen Harper ’93, MS ’96, PhD, did not expect to be leaving Ohio State University after 25 years. But an opening at the Case School of Engineering intrigued her.

 

“I was part of a really great program down there, but I found out my alma mater was developing a first-year engineering program, and that’s my specialty,” she said.

 

She’s now assistant director of the First Year Engineering Experience and excited to be back on Case Quad.

 

“It’s been great,” she said, adding, “It has had its weird moments.”

 

Like, she’s delighted to find that Mama Santa’s is still serving pizza in Little Italy, but she’s unsure just how to direct a student who wishes to change a major–“All the systems are different!”

Still, she’s eager to re-learn. More than 500 first year engineering students will come through her lab this year. It’s her job to introduce them to hand-ons engineering and help them decide if it’s the career for them.

 

The opportunity leaves her breathless.

 

“There’s something about coming back to a place that had such a huge impact on my life,” Harper said. “And I get to take what was already a fabulous experience and make it even more impactful.”

 

To comment on this story, please email the editor at Robert.Smith@casealum.org.

Kathleen Harper ’93, MS ’96, PhD

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