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Molinaroli College of Engineering and Computing

  • CEC alumni award winners and Dean Haj-Hariri

CEC honors distinguished alumni

Pictured (L-R): Lewis Caswell, Colisha Dunbar and CEC Dean Hossein Haj-Hariri

The College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) recognized distinguished alumni and thanked donors at the Alumni Awards and Benefactor Dinner at the Pastides Alumni Center on Thursday, March 28. 

Colishia Dunbar and Lewis Caswell were recognized for their achievements and impacts in mechanical engineering. 

“These alumni represent the college well with their tremendous work ethic and commitment to improving lives and communities. They are also an inspiration to our current students, and we are extremely proud to call them alumni of the College of Engineering and Computing,” says CEC Dean Hossein Haj-Hariri

Outstanding Young Alumna

Colishia Dunbar (B.S., Mechanical Engineering ’20)

Dunbar is currently the technical marketing manager at Hubbell Utility Solutions in Aiken, South Carolina. Her responsibilities include directing a team of application engineers within the insulators business unit, while overseeing product marketing, applications, and product training. She also spearheads new product development initiatives.

In recent years, Dunbar has dedicated herself to mentoring students, particularly CEC first-generation students. Her guiding principle centers on perceiving every obstacle as an opportunity. This vision has culminated in the upcoming launch of an entrepreneurial venture, Challenging Obstacles, Creating Opportunities (COCO’s) Trust, in the fall of 2024. The mission of COCO’s Trust  is to empower students, young adults, and women of color to overcome challenges and turn their obstacles into unique opportunities.

“I'm still in awe, and it's an honor to be recognized by the university. I look forward to continuing my efforts as far as mentorship and volunteerism, and I'm proud to see where the college is headed,” Dunbar says. 

Distinguished Alumnus

Lewis Caswell (B.S. Mechanical Engineering ’59)

As a first-generation student, Caswell interned at W.O Blackstone & Co., Inc. in Columbia as an intern during his senior year. Upon graduation, he was employed by the company as an estimator and project manager. In 1982, Caswell purchased the majority interest in W.O. Blackstone & Co., Inc. was named president and CEO. The company currently has more than 120 employees and is one of the largest mechanical contractors in the state. He retired as chairman of the board in September 2023. 

Caswell was a member of the South Carolina Building Codes Council from 1972 to 1990 and member of the South Carolina Contractors Licensing Board from 1996 to 2020, serving as chairman for five years. In recognition of Caswell’s contributions to the state, Governor Nikki Haley bestowed upon him the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor in South Carolina. 

Through his philanthropic endeavors, the Lewis M. Caswell Endowed Scholarship in Mechanical Engineering was established in 2004. Caswell also provided the start-up funds in 2020 to formalize the college’s First-Generation Student Summer Start program, a three-week residential experience designed to support first-generation students’ transition to university life.

“I'm surprised and shocked, but I'm very much honored. I'm indebted to the dean and others that have put this together,” Caswell says.

Haj-Hariri also announced the establishment of the Dr. Joseph and Geneva Gibbons Legacy Society for individuals who contribute $10,000 or more to the CEC over their lifetime. In addition, the annual Alumni Awards and Benefactor Dinner will be renamed the Gibbons Society Dinner. Gibbons served the college from 1963 to 2006 in several roles, including chemical engineering professor, department chair, associate dean for academic affairs and interim dean. 

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