Alumni Awards

For more than 35 years, the University of Michigan-Dearborn has honored outstanding alumni for their contributions to the University and community.

These men and women are "Difference Makers" who have continued the University's legacy of leadership in their lives and careers. View past award winners.

Photo of Chancellor Domenico Grasso, far left, with the 2022 Alumni Difference Maker Award winners.
Chancellor Domenico Grasso, far right, presented awards to, top from left, Michael Surmanian, Mayor Abdullah Hammoud, Jackie Hart from Altair Engineering, and Nicole Corso; bottom row from left, David Yesh, Monika Minarcin and Robin Wilson.

College of Business Alumnus of the Year

This award honors a graduate of the College of Business who has shown outstanding professional accomplishments in his or her field, has demonstrated public service and leadership, and is engaged in the advancement of the College of Business and its alumni.

Michael Surmanian, '76 MM

Surmanian spent 20 years working in engineering and senior management roles in the automotive and precision connectors fields. In the early 1990s, he founded Microtech Engineering, Inc., and co-founded Cartesian Technologies and BioDot, Inc. Surmanian served as president of BioDot, a leading manufacturer of automation equipment for producers of rapid diagnostic tests until 2002. Upon leaving BioDot and Cartesian Technologies, he co-founded DCN, a custom developer of rapid diagnostic tests, where he recently retired as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Surmanian serves on UM-Dearborn’s National Advisory Council. He and his wife established the Michael and Vana Surmanian Family Scholarship, which provides need-based support to students who participate in the study abroad program to Italy.

Alumni Business of the Year

This award will honor a UM-Dearborn alumni-owned business that has made an impact and has showcased its commitment within the community.

Altair Engineering, Jim Scapa, '83 MBA

Established in 1985, Altair Engineering is a leading provider of software and cloud solutions that enables innovation, reduced development times and lower costs through the entire product lifecycle, from concept design to in-service operation. Their comprehensive, open-architecture solutions for data analytics & AI, computer-aided engineering, and high-performance computing, enable design and optimization for high performance, innovative, and sustainable products and processes in an increasingly connected world. Headquartered in Troy, Altair operates 86 offices throughout 25 countries and employs more than 3,000 people and serves more than 5,000 customers. An award-winning workplace, Altair’s accolades include the Top Workplaces USA 2022, the Inc. 2021 Best-led Companies, and the 2021 Investors Business Daily Best Environmental, Social & Governance Companies.

Office of Alumni Engagement

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