College of Engineering to induct three new Hall of Fame members

hof2016The Wayne State University College of Engineering will induct three new members into its Hall of Fame at the college’s annual awards dinner on Thursday, Nov. 3, at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Olga Alavanou, BSEE ’88, Kathy Kay, BSCS ’83, and Jeff Yanssens, BSME ’83, compose the class of 2016 and will bring membership to 142 honorees since the Hall of Fame’s inception in 1983.

Dean Farshad Fotouhi and the Engineering Alumni Association will welcome the three inductees and their families, as well as colleagues, alumni and industry leaders to the awards dinner, which begins at 6 p.m. The cost to attend the event is $125 per person ($75 for guests under 30), and valet parking is included. Proceeds from the event will benefit scholarships and student programs.

Alavanou has worked for Yazaki North America, Inc. for nearly two decades in various roles, including her current position as executive vice president for General Motors and Fiat Chrysler business units. Alavanou manages Yazaki’s electrical and electronic distribution business and is responsible for global customer strategy, development, engineering, quality and manufacturing planning. She joined Yazaki in 1998 as a sales manager in the GM Business Unit and advanced through the ranks, serving as executive vice president of supply chain management immediately prior to her current assignment.

Alavanou’s 28-year career in the automotive industry began at Ford Motor Company, where she was a product development engineer. She was also part of the management team at Alcoa and United Technologies. Alavanou received her bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Wayne State University and her M.B.A. from the University of Detroit Mercy.

Kay is vice president of business technology at Pacific Gas and Electric Company in San Francisco, where she and her team of technology professionals focus on developing strategic solutions for mobile, data analytics and customer applications. Prior to joining PG&E, Kay was senior vice president of business technology services at Comerica Bank in Michigan before moving on to SunTrust Bank in Atlanta, where she was the enterprise chief technology officer and executive chair of the diversity program.

Kay began her career at General Motors, where she worked in various positions for more than two decades. She holds a bachelor’s in computer science from Wayne State University and a master’s of engineering in management of technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Yanssens received his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Wayne State in 1983 and was subsequently hired at General Motors. He began his career as a test and development engineer while completing graduate work in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, earning a master’s in 1988. In more than three decades at GM, Yanssens has worked in numerous roles, including director of the European chassis team at Opel in Russelsheim, Germany.

The Detroit native advanced through the ranks to his current position as chief engineer of GM’s large luxury cars, including the Buick LaCrosse and the Cadillac XTS. Yanssens recently led an international effort in the development of the 2017 LaCrosse, which is being built at the Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Center and at SGM in Shanghai, China.

To make a reservation for the Hall of Fame Awards Dinner, visit


The Wayne State University College of Engineering Hall of Fame was founded in 1983 to recognize and honor distinguished alumni who, through their leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation, have made significant industrial, educational and societal contributions to the engineering and computer science professions. The Hall of Fame celebrates the rich history of the College of Engineering and provides exceptional standards by which Wayne State University engineering students can measure success.

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