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Carl R. Ice College of Engineering honors 10 alumni for early career success

Friday, Feb. 9, 2024

2024 College of Engineering PPA awards

Ten alumni will be recognized by the Kansas State University Carl R. Ice College of Engineering for their significant early to mid-career successes. Top row, from left: Patrick Schutter, Diana Grauer, Amy Bartak, Jason Eichenberger and Mauricio de la Serna. Bottom: Deisy Corredor, Tanya Warnecke, Yujia Zhou, Carol Fries and Khristian House. | Download this photo.


MANHATTAN — The Kansas State University Carl R. Ice College of Engineering will honor 10 alumni for significant early to mid-career success at its annual Seaton Society Award Celebration on March 1.

Recipients of the college's Professional Progress Award were nominated by their respective department heads and confirmed by Matt O'Keefe, dean of engineering.

The following are the 2024 Professional Progress Award honorees:

Patrick Schutter, Emporia, is a 2004 K-State graduate with a bachelor’s in construction science and management. He started with BHS Construction 20 years ago as an intern and has risen through the ranks to his current position as president. He leads procurement of new projects in addition to executive oversight of all projects. Schutter graduated from the Leadership Manhattan 2015 class and the Leadership Kansas 2020 class. He has been active in the Flint Hills Area Builders Association and served as president in 2013. He currently serves on various boards and committees, including the MATC Business and Industry Leadership Team, City of Manhattan Code of Appeals Board and the Manhattan Chamber’s Economic Development Committee. He is also a Wabaunsee County volunteer firefighter, treasurer of the Pottawatomie County Economic Development Board and secretary of the Meadowlark Board of Trustees.

Diana Grauer, Manhattan, is a 2006 and 2010 K-State graduate with a bachelor’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering. She also has a master’s certificate in venture capital from the University of California, Berkeley. Grauer is director of research and development for NOV, an oil field equipment manufacturer based in Houston. She was formerly chief technology officer of Ocean Aero, a startup in the blue economy and offshore technology space. Prior to Ocean Aero, she held various roles at TechnipFMC, including director of ventures, director of research and development and chief research engineer. Grauer serves on several advisory committees, including the Subsea Systems Institute at the University of Houston, the Center for Marine Robotics at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Business Plan Competition at the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. She is past chair of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Internal Combustion Engine Division and past chair of the mechanical and nuclear engineering advisory council at Kansas State University. She has also taught mechanical engineering courses at Idaho State University and Kansas State University. She currently serves as an advisor to multiple startups at various stages of growth. She and her husband James Marshall have three children — Calder, Barrett and Laura.

Amy Bartak, Overland Park, is a 2005 and 2014 K-State graduate with a bachelor’s in computer engineering and a master’s in electrical engineering. She began her career in information technology, working for Sprint and Yellow in Kansas City. In 2010, she transitioned to work for the Kansas State University Foundation, fundraising for the College of Engineering. In 2012, Bartak joined Burns & McDonnell, where she currently serves as a grid modernization manager, assisting electric utility clients in their grid transformation projects by bridging the gap between IT and operational needs. She collaborates across Burns & McDonnell locations and departments to develop strategy and execute distribution automation programs. Bartak is an active alumna of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, volunteers with Rose Brooks Center, is active in the Society of Women Engineers and is an advocate for women and minorities pursuing engineering careers. She serves on the Wabash Cannonball Kansas City planning and scholarship committee and is a life-long fan of K-State sports.

Jason Eichenberger, Prairie Village, is a 2004 and 2008 K-State graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s in civil engineering. He works in the energy division at Burns & McDonnell’s world headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, where he currently serves as business development manager for several Midwestern clients helping to coordinate retrofits to existing power plants and new generation projects relying on solar, battery storage, nuclear and fossil technologies. He has spent much of his career supporting environmental compliance at power plants nationwide, primarily reviewing and implementing EPA regulations related to wastewater treatment and solid waste handling and disposal. He is a licensed professional engineer in Kansas, Michigan and Louisiana. Eichenberger has presented at conferences across the county and published multiple whitepapers and trade articles. In Kansas City, Eichenberger, a former Eagle Scout, serves as an assistant scoutmaster and an assistant den leader with his sons and is active with his local church.

Mauricio de la Serna, Wichita, is a 2004 and 2011 K-State graduate with a bachelor’s in industrial engineering and a master’s in engineering management. He is currently the global business process implementation leader for Koch Engineered Solutions. De la Serna began his career in the industrial manufacturing industry with Eaton in Hutchinson, Kansas, and spent 12 years in operations, quality, project management and marketing with several Eaton businesses across the United States. After his career with Eaton, de la Serna spent six years leading operations, supply chain and quality teams in metal machining and processing and component manufacturing businesses in the aerospace industry. He has remained connected to K-State over the years, attending career fairs and recruiting engineering students while serving as a member of the Multicultural Engineering Program advisory council. He is a current member of the industrial and manufacturing systems engineering advisory council at K-State. De la Serna and his wife Jennifer have three boys and two girls — Alex, Olivia, Xavier, Camila and Thomas.

Deisy Corredor, San Diego, California, is a 2005 and 2008 K-State graduate with a master’s and doctorate in biological and agricultural engineering. She also holds a certificate in biotechnology project management from the University of California, San Diego, and completed deep dive certification in upstream development at MIT. She has more than 15 years of pharmaceutical industry experience, leading process development for research and chemistry, manufacturing and controls. As U.S. head of bio-process engineering, she directs cross-functional microbial platforms teams within Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, specializing in target therapeutic proteins for oncology and immuno-oncology treatments. Before joining Sanofi, she worked as senior director of protein science and CMC development at Synthorx, overseeing all aspects of the design of new targets from conception to selection, including the development of upstream and downstream processes for different phases of clinical trials. She also worked as a product leader in development for IVDR genotyping devices at Illumina. Corredor is specialized in process development, characterization, validation and manufacturing under current good manufacturing practices regulations enforced by the FDA.

Tanya Warnecke, Boulder, Colorado, is a 2003 K-State graduate with a bachelor’s in chemical engineering. She completed a doctorate in chemical and biological engineering at the University of Colorado in 2008. She is currently partner at DVDT Partners and co-founder/chief technology officer at Codebreaker Tx. She previously spent four years as co-founder, president, chief technology officer and board member at Artisan Bio, where she led all aspects of technology, intellectual property and operations to achieve Artisan’s vision to design, build and deliver precisely engineered cells for next-generation therapeutic applications. Prior to Artisan, Warnecke was co-founder, chief technology officer and board member at Inscripta, a start-up delivering digital genome engineering solutions including instrumentation, reagents and software for automated, multiplexed CRISPR editing. She previously served as the director of technology at OPX Biotechnologies, as an advisor with the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability in Copenhagen, Denmark, as well as co-PI of the Cell Architecture Lab at Denmark Technical University. Warnecke is the inventor on more than 30 patent filings across a range of applications, including novel and engineered CRISPR endonucleases and gRNAs, CRISPR editing methods and novel targets for next-generation CRISPR-based cell therapies. She currently serves on the boards for the Colorado Biosciences Association and Sophie’s Neighborhood, a nonprofit dedicated to research into cures for an ultra-rare disease.

Yujia Zhou, Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a 2004 K-State graduate with a master’s in electrical engineering. She also earned a Master of Business Administration from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Zhou is currently the director of corporate strategy at DTE Energy, headquartered in Detroit. In her current capacity, Zhou leads strategic initiatives and roadmaps for various corporate priorities, including the company’s transportation electrification plan and electric distribution grid investment plan. She also partners with business units during all stages of the projects to provide thought leadership, drive execution and deliver values. Zhou joined DTE in 2008 and has held positions with increasing responsibilities. Her experience ranges from energy market fundamentals, power plant acquisition, prioritization of a billion-dollar infrastructure annual investment plan to representing the company in various stakeholder collaboratives on utility industry rulemaking. Prior to joining DTE, Zhou was a transmission planning engineer at ITC and a technical consultant at KEMA Labs

Carol Fries, Austin, Texas, is a 2008 K-State graduate with a bachelor’s in information systems. She also has a master’s in information technology from Carnegie Mellon University. Fries began her career as a software developer with Wipro Technologies, taking her to India for six months and later to Detroit to work as a contractor with General Motors for three years. Fries then moved over to GM, where she’s worked for the last 10 years in a variety of roles and leadership positions, including business analyst manager, software engineering manager and technical product manager. She is currently the head of technical product for customer on/off-boarding and knowledge management global platforms, driving toward a self-serve customer enrollment and knowledge base platform for clients, stakeholders and customers. When she’s not working, Fries and her husband Jesse and their two children Zoe and Aidan enjoy traveling within and outside the country.

Khristian House, Houston, Texas, is a 2000 K-State graduate with a bachelor’s in architectural engineering and a minor in pre-law. Over the course of his career, he has led design teams and business development strategy for mission critical, science and technology, health care and industrial facilities across the U.S. House is currently a senior vice president and Texas southwest district business line leader for WSP USA, one of the world's leading engineering, environment and professional services firms. In this role, House leverages his technical knowledge and industry relationships to support the engineering business operations in Texas and surrounding states. With an adept ability to understand a client’s goals and constraints, House is driven to serve a project’s vision and performance, while fostering a high-performing team of subject matter experts. House currently serves as the past-president of Architecture Center Houston, building projects team leader of Truly Fed Ministries and member of the special events committee for the Society of Marketing Professional Services Houston.

Media contact

Division of Communications and Marketing


Carl R. Ice College of Engineering

News tip

Emporia, Manhattan, Overland Park, Prairie Village and Wichita, Kansas; San Diego, California; Boulder, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Austin and Houston, Texas.


Use the following links to download portraits of the individual award recipients.

Patrick Schutter

Diana Grauer

Amy Bartak

Jason Eichenberger

Mauricio de la Serna

Deisy Corredor

Tanya Warnecke

Yujia Zhou

Carol Fries

Khristian House

Written by

Grant Guggisberg