Success Stories

Successful Alumni

Jerry L. Allen

A 1978 mechanical engineering graduate, Jerry L. Allen built Vikimatic Sales into a $110 million distributor of fiber optic products. Today, Vikimatic Sales is a private line of branded products within the TVC Communications family, the nation’s premier telecommunications distributor. Allen holds 11 patents.

In 1995 Allen was named Best Boss of the Year from a national pool of 700 nominees. He was honored as “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Earnst & Young of Ohio in 1997 and a year later the Northeast Ohio Growth Association named Allen “Deal-Maker of the Year”.

Allen has been the driving force behind two capital campaign projects at Trine University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1998 and earned Trine’s highest honor, the Pillar of Success Award, in 2003.

Karen Austin

Karen Austin, a 1983 computer science graduate, is senior vice president and chief information officer for Pacific Gas and Electric Company. She leads every aspect of the company’s information technology and supply chain business, including the support of mission-critical systems and developing the company's technology strategy, infrastructure and architecture.

Computerworld magazine has named Austin as one of its Premier 100 IT Leaders. She is one of 500 LinkedIn Influencers blogging regularly. In June 2014, she joined the Board of Directors at Verifone.

Prior to joining PG&E in June 2011, Austin held several executive-level positions at Kmart Corporation and Sears Holdings Corporation. While at both companies, she was responsible for systems governing store operations, merchandising, supply chain and finance. At Kmart, she served as divisional vice president, Supply Chain Applications; vice president, IT Applications; vice president for applications development; chief information officer; and interim chief marketing officer. At Sears, Austin served as senior vice president and chief information officer, and as president of consumer electronics. She has also held various information technology positions for The Timken Company and for Central Mutual Insurance Company in Ohio.

James D. Bock

A 1954 mechanical engineering graduate and university trustee, Jim Bock  set out to make a difference in the world. Shortly after graduating, he met his wife, Joan, without whom, he says, much of his success would not have been possible.

A 1954 mechanical engineering graduate, James Bock began his career at Elkhart Welding and Boiler Works. In 1978 he took a job as executive vice president and chief operating officer at Bock Industries which was among the largest steel tube producers in the world. By 1989, Bock was the sole owner and president of the corporation which he sold to begin Bock Engineering Company.

Bock joined Trine’s board of trustees in 2003. Soon after, he and his wife donated $1 million to fund the Jim and Joan Bock Center for Biomedical Engineering which helped launch Trine’s biomedical program.

In 2011 Bock was presented with Trine University’s highest honor, the Pillar of Success Award. This award recognizes individuals for their achievements and accomplishments, leadership, service, philanthropy, commitment to their community and Trine University.

Lynn A. Brooks

Lynn A. Brooks, a 1975 business administration graduate, is president and chief executive officer of Rieke Packaging Systems, and is president of Rieke's parent company, TriMas Corp. He serves on the boards of Rieke Foundation and Englass Limited in England. He is also a member of many professional organizations including the Petroleum Packaging Council and the American Institute of CPAs.

Since 2007 Brooks has served on the Trine University Board of Trustees and was twice honored by the university. In 2009, Brooks was recognized with Trine's Distinguished Service Award. Then in 2013 Brooks was the recipient of the Pillar of Success Award.

Lesley Cochran-Timm

Lesley Cochran-Timm earned a degree in criminal justice at Tri-State University in 1995 and has served with the U.S. Secret Service for more than 21 years. Assigned to the Presidential Protective Division in 2003 during the Presidency of George W. Bush, she has protected U.S. President Donald Trump, former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, Vice President Al Gore, former Vice President Dick Cheney and heads of state from Israel, Iran, Jordan, Poland, Russia, Great Britain, Fiji, Haiti, Barbados, Cameroon, Korea and other countries.

When not detailed to a temporary protection assignment, Special Agent Cochran conducts protective intelligence investigations regarding threats toward current and past presidents as well as criminal investigations such as counterfeit, bank fraud and identity theft.

Rick L. James

A 1977 business administration graduate and university trustee, James has over 30 years in the cast metals business, all of them in management or executive positions. He spent 20 years at Auburn Foundry in Auburn, Ind., serving in various positions including president and chief executive. In 1997, James struck out on his own as chairman and CEO of Metal Technologies.

James is deeply involved with the cast metals industry. In addition to being a board member for the Indiana Cast Metals Association, James is a member of the American Foundrymen’s Society, and is vice president of the board of directors for the Foundry Education Foundation. His company, Metal Technologies, also offers internships to Trine students, as well as, employing many Trine graduates.

In 2012, James received the Trine University Distinguished Service Award. He was also presented with Trine University’s highest honor, the Pillar of Success Award. The Rick L. and Vicki L. James University Center is named in his honor.

Dr. Ralph Ketner

An accounting alumnus, Dr. Ralph Ketner came to Trine, then Tri-State College in 1937 at age 17 following the death of his parents during the Great Depression. In 1957, He co-founded Food Town, later to become Food Lion, a successful 1,300 store grocery chain in the mid-Atlantic and southeast United States.

Dr. Ketner is a benefactor of Trine University’s Ketner School of Business and has contributed nearly $2 million to endow a chair as well as establish an endowment fund in the school. The Ketner Sports Center in Hershey Hall is also named in his honor.

Throughout retirement, Dr. Ketner kept an office at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C. where he was a consultant to the business school. He received Trine University’s highest honor, the Pillar of Success Award in 2005. The award recognizes individuals for their achievements and accomplishments, leadership, service, philanthropy, commitment to their community and Trine University.

Angie May

A 1987 mechanical engineering graduate, Angie May serves as president and CEO of Data Cave and Analytical Engineering, Inc., both located in Columbus, Indiana. She earned her MSME from Purdue University and worked for Cummins, Inc., in several key positions for about 10 years before founding AEI and Data Cave with her husband David. Data Cave is a purpose-built, fully redundant data center; AEI designs and develops engines and engine-related systems and manufactures real-time instrumentation used worldwide by engine companies.

She provides guidance to several local advisory boards including the Bartholomew County School Corporation committee focused on secondary education and is a member of the Board of Directors for Salin Bank. She serves in a number of civic capacities including: Indiana University Purdue University Columbus Advisory Board, Curriculum Sub-Committee; Columbus Education Coalition Executive Board of Directors; Heritage Fund Board of Directors, Finance Sub-Committee; and, Bartholomew County School Corporation Secondary Education Advisory Board.

John J. McKetta Jr.

A chemical engineering alumnus, John J. McKetta graduated in 1937. He has served on the energy and environment advisory boards of five United States presidents. McKetta has served on the boards of directors of 16 different companies, and his achievements and awards are numerous. In 1976 he won the Lamme Award as the best engineering professor in the United States. In 1981 the International Chemical Engineering Award was bestowed upon him as the top chemical engineer in the world. In 1989 McKetta won the coveted Herbert Hoover Award for his services to society.

McKetta has served as a trustee at Trine University since 1957. He received an honorary doctorate in 1967 and was named a distinguished alumnus. In 2001 McKetta was given Trine’s highest honor, the Pillar of Success Award recognizing his many achievements and accomplishments, leadership, service, philanthropy and commitment to his community.

Dr. Anne Reifel Miller

Dr. Anne Reifel Miller received a bachelor of science degree in biology from Tri-State University in 1978, followed by a certification in Medical Technology from Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She then studied at Ball State University, receiving an master of science degree followed by a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Indiana University School of Medicine.

Dr. Miller accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at Lilly Research Laboratories training, in the Division of Eukaryotic Genetics. During her post-doctoral tenure she worked closely with the team of scientists who developed Xigris, focusing her research on the identification of a new transcription repressor, BEF-1. After completing her post-doctoral training, Dr. Miller joined the newly formed Diabetes Discovery Division at Eli Lilly and Company.

During the past 20 years, her research has focused on the identification and development of innovative therapies for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. She was a key member or leader of scientific teams that have advanced eight molecules into clinical testing, including first-generation GLP-1 analogs, the insulin sensitizer Naveglitazar, Arxxant™ for diabetic retinopathy, and free fatty acid receptor agonists. Dr. Miller’s work has ranged from designing and expression of analogs to extend or alter the time action and activity of biomolecules to the identification and development of ligands that modify the activity of nuclear hormone and G-protein coupled receptors. Dr. Miller is currently a Research Fellow and leader of the Gut Brain Axis Group, where she supervises a staff of scientists dedicated to the development of novel therapies for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Robert P. Molitor

Robert P. Molitor received his chemical engineering degree in 1942. After college, Molitor joined US Rubber Co. in Mishawaka, IN. While there he helped develop self-sealing fuel tanks for fighter planes. This innovation saved the lives of countless airmen during World War II. Molitor went on to work for A.G. Spalding Co. in Chicopee, MA. for 42 years. As Vice President for Research and Development, he was awarded 27 patents for his innovative work, mostly in the field of sporting goods. Among other things, Molitor pioneered colored tennis balls, made numerous improvements to footballs and basketballs and was instrumental in the change from horsehide to cowhide baseballs in the major leagues. His most famous accomplishments were in the world of golf, where he is considered the “father of the modern golf ball.” Molitor developed the first two-piece golf ball, the Top Flight in 1971. A high end golf ball manufactured by Spalding still carries the Molitor name.

In 1991 Molitor was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by Trine University for his many contributions to his alma mater.

Ralph Trine

A 1961 mechanical engineering graduate, Trine’s company, Vestil Manufacturing, is a leading manufacturer of ergonomic products, loading dock equipment, material handling equipment, packaging equipment and storage solutions. He also owns T&S Equipment.

In 1990 Trine was awarded Employer of the Year. He is also involved in the Steuben County Humane Society, Boy Scouts of America and was elected to the Indiana Academy in 2009.

Trine and his wife Sheri have made significant contributions to the success of the university which bears his name. In 2002, Trine was awarded an honorary doctorate in engineering, and, in 2006, he was awarded the Pillar of Success.

Sarah Waidelich

Sarah Waidelich, a 2010 mechanical engineering graduate, is an intellectual property attorney focusing her practice on patent litigation at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School, where she served as associate and contributing editor for the Michigan Law Review.

She is admitted to the bars in Michigan and New York, as well as various federal courts. Prior to joining Honigman, she practiced in New York City, where she participated in two patent infringement jury trials in the District of Delaware.

She has also been involved in a number of family law cases on a pro bono basis, most notably in the case of In re Gach, where the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled unconstitutional a statute that permitted termination of parental rights based solely on the fact that the parent’s rights to another child had previously been terminated.