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Going beyond the job description

Excellence Awards honor exceptional performance and service

The 2014 Excellence Awards continue MIT’s proud tradition of honoring the dedication and talents of outstanding staff. This year’s honorees represent a broad range of individuals and teams with a variety of backgrounds and expertise. But common threads run through their experiences: They have high expectations of themselves in every aspect of their job performance, with no thought of reward; they enrich the environment and performance level of their colleagues; and they share a selfless commitment to improving all aspects of the MIT community.

Honoring the legacy of Sean Collier

The Collier Medal, which will be awarded for the first time at the 2014 Excellence Awards ceremony, recognizes dedication to service at the highest level. Created to honor the memory of Officer Sean Collier — who was shot and killed on April 18, 2013 while protecting and serving MIT — the Collier Medal will be awarded to a member or team of the extended MIT community who exemplifies the model citizenship exhibited by Officer Collier. Through the medal, Officer Collier and his passionate commitment will live on as a lasting part of the MIT community.

The Collier Medal winner will be announced at the Excellence Awards ceremony on Feb. 25.

It’s all in a day’s work for Unsung Hero recipient

Stefan Wolpert will receive the Unsung Hero Award. As sensor system engineer for Lincoln Laboratory, Wolpert develops, tests, and applies digital electronics and embedded software in sensor networks. In addition to possessing the depth of knowledge and versatility that are essential in a successful engineer, Wolpert displays an exceptional commitment to teamwork and hands-on problem solving.

As his nominator states, “Stefan’s productivity is extraordinary, even within MIT. His software and circuits are often at the core of a new electrical prototype, similar to the metabolism of a living organism or a foundation beneath a building. And yet making these things work requires unusual skill, dedication, and perseverance. Everyone who works on a team with Stefan knows that the team’s success depends in large part on Stefan’s considerable efforts.”

“As an engineer, I try to optimize everything, to make things as economical, efficient, and high-performing as they can be,” Wolpert says.

As detailed in his nomination, Wolpert “is often found after hours and weekends and conducting work wherever it must be done …. Since his projects must solve real problems, his work continues outside in all conditions and climates …. Stefan has volunteered to work in underground, confined spaces that were never intended for human presence. Yet because the project needs it, Stefan has persevered without complaint.”
“Receiving this award was a great surprise to me,” Wolpert says. “It is wonderful recognition, and I am grateful to those who took the time to nominate me.”

Sustaining MIT through exceptional teamwork and dedication

Eight members of the MIT Medical and Emergency Operations Center Flu Clinic Coordination Team will be honored with the Sustaining MIT Award. The Flu Clinic Team win is apropos of the evolution of this award (formerly known as the Greening MIT Award), which now takes a broader view of sustainability-related efforts and recognizes those who “act as a guardian of MIT's resources by implementing more efficient or cost effective practices that improve MIT’s ecological, financial, or community health and wellbeing.”

The annual MIT Flu Clinics are known across campus as a model of efficiency and dependability, and they have increased the number of vaccinations given each year — even setting a single-day record for flu shots during the fall 2013 clinic.

As described in the award nomination, the clinic is the consummate collaborative effort: “While MIT Medical administers the vaccines, the planning effort goes far beyond the halls of E23. Members of the Emergency Operations Center, MIT News, the President's Office, and CopyTech all contributed toward this past year's clinic. Each team performed at the top of their level.”

“I couldn’t be more proud and excited for my colleagues that are receiving this honor,” says nominator David Tytell, communications manager at MIT Medical. “The reason the Flu Clinics run so smoothly and are so incredibly efficient is because of the tremendous amount of planning that goes into the event. The entire MIT community is healthier as a direct result of the team’s hard work, and it is so wonderful that they are being recognized for their important contributions.”

“We are thrilled and honored that the community recognized all of our efforts,” says team member Phyl Winn, administrative coordinator at MIT Medical. “It’s part of what we all do every day to keep the community healthy and safe in any way that we can. We are honored and proud to put on this annual event, and very excited and grateful for the recognition.”

Come and celebrate excellence

The 2014 Excellence Awards and the presentation of the Collier Medal will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. In addition to the awards noted above, the ceremony will also honor award winners in the categories of Advancing Inclusion and Global Perspectives, Bringing out the Best, Innovative Solutions, and Serving the Client. A reception in the Kresge lobby will follow. All members of the MIT community are encouraged to attend. For a complete list of the 2014 award winners and a schedule of ceremony events, visit

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