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      Engineering Dean Recognized for Body of Work

      Fred Akl will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from Delaware County's Society of Professional Engineers

      Fred Akl

      School of Engineering Dean Fred Akl will accept a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Delaware County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers on Feb. 22.

      Engineering alumnus Nick Cirilli (MS '79) says that School of Engineering Dean Fred Akl impressed him not long after accepting the deanship in 1998.

      "He immediately reached out to the local engineering community, including our Delaware County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers (PSPE)," said Cirilli, a longtime member of the group. "We were always reaching out to others, so this was something new. My first impressions of Dean Akl were that he was an engineer with sincerity, wrapped in determination, moxie and spunk."

      Cirilli, founder, owner and principal engineer with Cirilli Associates, Inc., has maintained his relationship with Akl over the years and says that he continues to be impressed with the dean's mounting list of accomplishments. For this reason, Cirilli nominated Akl for the Delaware County PSPE Lifetime Achievement Award. Akl will accept the award at a banquet on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Concordville Inn.

      "This is a great honor to be recognized by my peers, many of whom are giants in the profession," said Akl. "To be nominated and selected for this award is both humbling and flattering."

      The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented each year to a candidate who has demonstrated long-term contributions to the local, state, national or global communities in the field of engineering. Candidates must work or reside in Delaware County or southern Chester County.

      Leaving a Mark at Widener

      Akl has spent more than 30 years in higher education. He previously held faculty and administrative positions at Louisiana Tech University, Ohio University, California Polytechnic State University and Cairo University.

      At Widener, Akl has made his mark by helping to strengthen the undergraduate enrollment in not only numbers, but quality, and has done so in a highly competitive market. Under his leadership, the School of Engineering nearly tripled enrollment and recently launched new undergraduate and graduate programs in biomedical engineering.

      Akl helped launch an Honors Program and a Living Learning Community specifically for Widener engineering students to help enrich their undergraduate experience. To reach aspiring engineers, Akl and the Widener School of Engineering host multiple outreach programs for high school students throughout the year in addition to one for high school teachers and counselors to make them aware of career choices in engineering for their students. These outreach programs have attracted more than 10,000 students and 400 teachers and counselors since 2000.

      Consulting with NASA

      Akl's professional career is equally impressive and covers a broad range of work from underground to space structures in the U.S., Canada and Egypt. He worked as a faculty fellow and consultant for NASA for 10 summers, sharing his expertise as a structural engineer specializing in vibration control and advanced computations. He aided in the testing and preparation for docking the space shuttles with the Mir, a Russian space station.
      Despite this high-profile project, Akl still sees his work "to educate the next generation of engineers over time" as his greatest accomplishment to date.

      To help celebrate Akl's Lifetime Achievement Award at the Feb. 22 banquet, contact Dewey Jurich at or register online at


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