Staff Award Recipients Demonstrating Their Love for Aero

Three deserving staff members have been honored with outstanding awards, making Michigan Aerospace proud

Three staff members from Michigan Aerospace have recently received awards thanks to their hard work and dedication to the department. Congratulations goes out to Stella Bublitz, Aero’s Annual Mart Stenzel Staff Dedication Award winner, along with Doug Barr and Stephanie Custer, the two U-M College of Engineering 2023 Staff Incentive Award winners. Our department would like to thank these incredible individuals for all of their contributions towards making our community stronger.

Staff Incentive Award:

The CoE 2023 Staff Incentive Award is an annual award that recognizes staff who have consistently demonstrated the College’s vision, mission, and values. The two recipients, Stephanie Custer, an Academic Advisor, and Doug Barr, Engineering Technician, are both essential members of the Michigan Aerospace family, each showing commitment and integrity within the department.

“It is truly an honor to receive this award. I believe in the short time I have been with the department, we have begun to see a shift in culture for the better. I am proud to be a part of that shift and glad to see the hard work I have put in has not gone unnoticed,” explained Doug after being announced as one of the recipients. “I could not have gotten this award alone; I wouldn’t have been able to achieve everything that I got done without the guidance and help from the other technicians and without the leadership from Tom Griffin. I am looking forward to seeing the future of Michigan Aerospace and being a part of the future we create.”

Doug Barr quickly became one of the department’s lead technicians, putting in extra effort to learn the systems and techniques required to serve those not only in the Michigan Aerospace Department, but also the College of Engineering. “He built a bridge between the AERO DEI Committee and our department technicians by attending the bi-weekly meetings, sharing information with colleagues, and has made helping our student groups a priority. He has placed himself as a leader to promote the agendas of student groups with the single interest of bringing people together,” his nominator explains. “He has the utmost respect for anyone at this University and treats all with respect and dignity. His contributions are many, and unselfishly goes above and beyond normal job duties. His strong work ethic has motivated others, and increased our reliability and diversity. Doug’s impact on our department has been very positive and significant.”

Stephanie Custer joined the Aerospace Department as our first staff academic advisor once we transitioned from a faculty advising model. This meant she was entering a new role and would need to employ best practices in advising to address the needs of students. 

“Within weeks of taking on the role and meeting with students, she began assessing the challenges we faced and utilizing different technology to better communicate with students,” said her nominator. “Her innovation expanded beyond technology and she quickly began developing an advising model to better serve our growing population of Aerospace undergraduate students. One of her biggest successes has been the creation of group advising and putting on intentional events to serve large groups of students at once while still addressing their unique circumstances. One example of this is Dinner and Declaring, which brings students at a similar place in their academic career together to mingle, eat, declare their major in Aerospace, and ask any questions they have.”

Upon receiving the award, Stephanie commented, “Receiving this award provides a significant amount of validation to the work I am doing to serve our prospective and current Aerospace students as well as recognizes the strong connections I am building within the department and the College of Engineering. I am privileged to work in a department and team that strives to improve our processes and supports me in implementing my ideas to better serve students.”

Mart Stenzel Staff Dedication Award:

Aero’s Annual Mart Stenzel Staff Dedication Award was announced in 2017, in honor of Mart Stenzel. This award is meant to honor Mart’s love for the Michigan Aerospace Department, his work ethic, and his inclusive and welcoming personality. This year’s winner, Stella Bublitz, the Executive Assistant to the Chair, encapsulates Mart’s values and love for the department. Not only does her tireless work ethic radiate through the department, she consistently shows a welcoming and positive attitude towards those around her.

“Winning this award is such a high honor and I am truly humbled to have been nominated and awarded the Mart Stenzel Staff Dedication Award. It serves as a motivation to continue to work hard in my position at Aerospace Engineering,” Stella commented upon receiving the award. “This award brings a sense of true pride and accomplishment and encourages me to continue to grow and improve my impact at the University.”

When nominated, one of her nominators explained, “When she joined Aero she immediately jumped in and started working, keeping everything organized. She blended seamlessly, it was like Stella had already been with us for a long time. Her commitment to Aero was further demonstrated when she volunteered to help Prof Jorns with a large meeting he was hosting in July 2023. This was not part of her job responsibilities whatsoever, but wanted to help. She immediately began providing resources for his meeting, potential costs, and also what type of contracts/forms that he would need to complete. She is extremely knowledgeable in “party planning” and really made the meeting so much more professional and complete as a result of her help!”