Three alumni awards were presented at the Touchstone and Homecoming Celebration Dinner
on Friday, Sept. 15, as part of Trine University’s 2017 Homecoming events.
Sharon McDonald, a 2000 criminal justice graduate, received the Outstanding Achievement
Award. The Outstanding Achievement Alumnus award is given each year to an alumnus
who has attained a high level of achievement in his or her profession, is well thought
of in his or her community, and who upholds the ideals of Trine University.
After graduating from Trine, McDonald joined the Michigan State Police and graduated
from the 119th recruit school. She was assigned to the Monroe Post, where she became
a field training officer and background investigator. In 2005, she won the Monroe
Post Trooper of the Year award.
She then spent a little over three years as an undercover narcotics officer with a
multi-jurisdictional task force, winning the 2007 Southeast Criminal Investigation
Division Gerstacker Award, which recognizes an officer who symbolizes outstanding
professional ethics, dedication to duty and a concern for giving back to his or her
From there, she became a sex offender registry coordinator and sexual assault investigator.
In 2014, she joined the Internet Crimes Against Children task force as part of the
Michigan State Police Intelligence Operations Division. The task force focuses on
investigations involving the sexual exploitation of children, mostly by conducting
proactive undercover investigations targeting people who manufacture, distribute and
possess child pornography.
She met her husband Michael at Tri-State, now Trine, and they have been married for
15 years. They live in Monroe, Michigan, with daughters Chloe, 2, and Emma, 5.
James Bullard, a 1972 civil engineering graduate, is the 2017 recipient of the Distinguished
Service Award. The Distinguished Service Award is given each year to an alumnus/ae
who has performed outstanding service to society in his or her profession, personal
achievement or community; and who has manifest interest in Trine University and has
supported it by contributions of time, talent, and money; by recruitment of students;
or by placement of graduates.
Bullard worked for the Indiana State Highway Commission from 1973 to 1975 and went
on to earn his master of science in civil engineering from the University of Illinois
After graduate school he served as a project geotechnical engineer for Northern Testing
Laboratories in Boise, Idaho, and ATEC Associates in Indianapolis. In 1981 he became
division manager for CME Services for ATEC, and was later promoted to assistant regional
manager and senior vice president, where he oversaw a nine-state region. In 1996 he
became the Utah operations manager and associate principal for Terracon in Salt Lake
City. He returned to Indiana in 2001 to join Geopier Foundation Company, where he
continues to work today as lead regional engineer for Indiana and parts of Ohio.
Bullard is past president of the Indiana Section of the American Society of Civil
Engineers (ASCE) and past president of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Branch of ASCE.
He is a registered professional engineer in seven states, including Indiana. He and
his wife of nearly 44 years, Alison, live in New Palestine, Indiana. They have two
children and two grandsons.
Bullard has served Trine University on the alumni association board of directors for
more than 15 years, and is a past president of the board. He currently serves on the
university’s Civil Engineering Advisory Board, and actively supports Trine through
the Scholarship Gala, Alumni and Friends Golf Outing and various university events
in and around Indianapolis.
Ryan Ratkowski, a 2008 design engineering technology graduate, is the 2017 recipient
of the Distinguished Service Young Alumnus Award. The Distinguished Service Young
Alumnus Award is presented to an alumnus or alumna who is 40 years of age or younger,
has performed outstanding service to society in his or her profession, personal achievement
or community; and who has manifest interest in Trine University and has supported
it by contributions of time, talent, and money; by recruitment of students; or by
placement of graduates.
Ratkowski works as a research and development product development engineer for Avalign
Technologies, Inc., a full-service contract manufacturer of medical instruments, implants
and delivery systems for the OEM medical device industry, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Prior to working at Avalign, he was an associate product engineer for Symmetry Medical,
now Tecomet, in Warsaw, Indiana.
Ratkowski is currently involved with Trine University as a design engineering technology
professional advisory board member, a member of the alumni association board of directors,
and as an adjunct professor in the Allen School of Engineering teaching for the Design
Engineering Technology Department. He previously provided senior design project opportunities
for the Design Engineering Technology Department through Avalign and spoke to Biomedical
Engineering Society members on campus about his job functions within the medical device
He has been married to his wife, Charleann, for eight years. The couple live in Churubusco
and have two daughters — Leah, 5, and Eliza, 2.
Photos: Top, Sharon McDonald, center, receives the 2017 Outstanding Achievement Award. Middle,
James Bullard, center, receives the 2017 Distinguished Service Award. Bottom, Ryan
Ratkowski, center, receives the 2017 Distinguished Service Young Alumnus Award. Trine
University President Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., left, and Ned Haylett, president of
the Trine University Alumni Association board of directors, present the awards in
each photo. (Photos by Dean Orewiler)