Administrator inspires engineering students to constantly innovate

Headshot of Dennis Hanlon

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n the lower level of the Center for Communications and Engineering, tucked away in the machine shop, you’ll find Dennis Hanlon working diligently with engineering students to bring design projects to life.

As the fabrication support specialist for the School of Engineering, Hanlon teaches students how to safely operate equipment while offering guidance on optimal project design. Students often refer to him as their hero for regularly going the extra mile to help and share his years of manufacturing knowledge with them. 

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“Dennis always seeks out to assist students with a task — whether it’s for academic purposes or pure curiosity,” said Michael Austin ’20. “His relaxed, yet approachable, attitude makes it easy for anyone to ask him for help and learn something from him.”

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“They panic when they first get their projects because they have no idea what to do, but I know where they’ll end up even if they don’t believe it,” said Hanlon. “Week by week they work hard, things come together and boom — they did something they didn’t think they could do.”

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Hanlon’s colleagues look up to him for his passion and drive.

“The impact that Dennis’ efforts have had is very visible, and the quality of these design projects has increase drastically over the past couple of years,” said Mary Ho, associate professor of mechanical engineering. “Not only is Dennis providing such a great resource for the students in the classroom setting, but he has volunteered his time outside of the classroom and normal business hours to help our students.”

Lynn Byers, professor of mechanical engineering, chair of the engineering department and previous Center for Excellence honoree, said that Hanlon is never content with the status quo.

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“Dennis constantly seeks ways to improve how our laboratories are run for the best possible student experience,” said Byers. “His outstanding performance on a daily basis exceeds the regular expectation of his position.”