Administrator inspires engineering students to constantly innovate

October 07, 2019

Headshot of Dennis Hanlon

On 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.

“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.”

For his extraordinary efforts and dedication, Hanlon is being honored with one of this year’s Center for Excellence in Service to Students awards, the university’s most prestigious staff honor, on October 17.

“Dennis has been an incredible and truly reliable support for the entire Quinnipiac engineering community and he regularly goes the extra mile to help the specific visions of young designers come to life,” said Paula Strautmane ‘19. “His excitement about new inventions is inspiring and has motivated us to keep working and improving our projects — especially when we hit some bumps on the way.”

Hanlon has even said he enjoys challenging his students because he knows of their potential, even if they don’t recognize it.

“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.”

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.

“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.”

After working for decades in research and development departments for various biotech companies, spending 15 years a business owner and holding six United States patents, Hanlon knows first-hand what budding engineers need to know in order to succeed.

“My big goal is to help the students who come through this program be prepared for the working world,” said Hanlon. “I do my best to build their confidence and guide them.”

Hanlon said that he is grateful to be working with a great group of educators and to be able to play a small role in the transformation of students’ lives — though many may argue that his role is a lot bigger.

Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students

School of Engineering

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