Roppel receives newly established creative mentoring award

Published: Apr 6, 2009 12:23:00 PM
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Spencer family and Thad Roppel

Thad Roppel receives his award at the 2009 College of Engineering Spring Awards ceremony, held March 27. From left, Samia Spencer, Mark Spencer, Thad Roppel and Bill Spencer.

Thaddeus A. Roppel, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been recognized as the first recipient of the Mark A. Spencer Creative Mentorship Award at the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering's spring awards ceremony. The award is designed to recognize and encourage mentorship by engineering faculty members as a critical component of teaching.

"Faculty mentors give students an avenue to further develop their interests and talents," says Engineering Dean Larry Benefield. "This award recognizes those who look beyond the classroom for opportunities to teach and nurture their students."

The award was created by William and Samia Spencer and their son Mark in recognition of the valuable role that mentors played in Mark's education at Auburn. Acknowledged for their own success in academia, William is the former department head of educational foundations, leadership and technology in the College of Education, while Samia is an alumni professor of French in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. The award carries a $10,000 stipend, which will in the future be split between selected faculty members and their mentored students.

"We believe that it's important for the university to applaud good mentoring and those faculty members who recognize the potential of students," says Samia. "Mark was a good student, but it was the extra effort put in by Dr. Roppel that really allowed Mark to grow in his interest and skill."

Mark began his work with Roppel while developing a science project in high school. As his interests grew, he went on to major in computer science and software engineering at Auburn. Today, Mark is a pioneer in the world of open source technology. He is the founder, chairman and chief technology officer of Huntsville-based Digium, Inc., a company specializing in the development of private branch exchange (PBX) software and open source telephony software.

A call for nominations for the Mark A. Spencer Creative Mentorship Award will be distributed in fall 2009.