Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards (SIHOF)

the 9th Annual 

Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards!


The Air Zoo, the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, and Zoetis proudly hosted the 9th annual Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards. We honored the past, celebrated the present, and raised money to help inspire what will be, through future educational opportunities! Please take a moment to peruse the 2022 awardees below. 


 Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame

What is the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinement? 

The Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame was established in 1987 to recognize men and women who have made significant contributions to aviation. Each year, the Air Zoo is proud to induct a new class of enshrines, who take their place in the Hall of Fame exhibit located inside the Air Zoo. Learn more at  


For questions about nominating someone for the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, email Christy Kincaid or call 269.350.2819 today.  2023 Nominations due September 30, 2022.

Announcing the 2022

Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame Inductees 

COL. EUGENE 'GENE' CAROLAN - U.S. Army Helicopter Pilot

Eugene “Gene” Carolan was born on March 12, 1947, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, but moved to Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Detroit Henry Ford High School in 1965. In 1967, he was drafted into the United States Army. After graduation from Basic Training, Gene attended Army Officer Candidate School (OCS). Upon graduating from OCS, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Gene volunteered and completed training as an Army Helicopter Pilot. After earning his Army Aviator Wings, Gene was sent directly to Vietnam where he served as an Army Helicopter Pilot and as an Infantry Officer in combat. Serving as a Cobra Gunship Pilot, Assault Helicopter Pilot, and leader of soldiers and airmen in Vietnam, Gene was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, several Air Medals, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.

After leaving the Army, Gene attended Eastern Michigan University and earned a degree in accounting in 1972. Gene joined the Michigan Army National Guard in 1977 and served for over two decades as an Officer and Helicopter Pilot. He served as a Helicopter Platoon Leader, Air Cavalry Troop Commander, and Assault Helicopter Battalion Commander. Gene was directly responsible for the successful training and mentoring of an entire generation of Michigan Army National Guard Helicopter Pilots, many of whom subsequently deployed on tours of duty to our nation’s wars in the Middle East.

Gene retired from the Michigan Army National Guard in 1997 as a Colonel and was placed on the Retired List of the United States Army when he turned 60 years of age in 2007. In the private sector, Gene was a CPA, owning his own accounting firm, championing small businesses in the Lansing area, and serving as the President of Junior Achievement of Mid-Michigan. Col. Eugene “Gene” Carolan passed away on July 22, 2021.

DENNIS ‘Doc’ HALLADA - U.S. Army Helicopter Pilot

Born in Hancock: Dennis ‘Doc’ Hallada was born in Hancock, Michigan in 1947. He moved with his family to Minnesota in 1951 where he attended and graduated from Aurora-Hoyt Lakes High School in 1965. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966. He graduated from basic training and passed the Army Flight Aptitude Test. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and completed helicopter pilot flight training. He was assigned to Vietnam as a UH-1 Helicopter pilot, completing more than 3000 sorties and 1583 combat flight hours. On October 16, 1966, he was awarded the U.S. Army Broken Wing Award for safely landing an AH-1F Cobra Gunship after experiencing engine failure over mountainous terrain at night on a busy freeway.

During his 18 months of service in Vietnam, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, and 30 Air Medals, one being for Valor. While in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot, he had performed as aircraft commander, flight platoon leader, and was promoted to Captain. Upon returning from Vietnam, he was assigned to Fort Wolters, Texas as a Helicopter Flight Instructor.

In 1973, he was discharged from the U.S. Army and joined the Michigan Army National Guard. While serving in the Michigan Army National Guard, he worked as a full-time instructor pilot, flying and instructing other pilots in UH-1 and AH-4 helicopters. He retired from Army Aviation in 1999 having flown more than 12,500 hours.

CHRISTINA HAMMOCK KOCH - Astronaut & Electrical Engineer

Christina Koch was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on January 29, 1979, moving to North Carolina at age 3. Christina dreamed of becoming an astronaut and attended NASA Space Camp. Christina graduated from North Carolina State with a bachelor’s degree in Physics and Electrical Engineering and a master’s in Electrical Engineering. 

After graduation, Christina took science and engineering jobs in remote locations such Antarctica, Greenland, the Northern coast of Alaska, and American Samoa. She became the first woman to serve as a cryogenics technician at the South Pole. One of the scientific instruments she worked on traveled on the Jupiter Juno Missions in 2011. While working in Barrow, Alaska, about 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Christina submitted her NASA application.

After interviewing, NASA selected her for the 2011 Astronaut Candidate Class.  During her training she mastered the T6 turboprop plane and learned to fly NASA’s T38 supersonic jets. She was required to learn survival skills and take Russian lessons. She completed her training in 2015. During her missions, Christina set several records. She made history with the longest single spaceflight by a woman—328 days in space. On October 28, 2019, she participated in the first all-woman spacewalk with fellow astronaut, Jessica Meir. Christina participated in three ISS space missions and six spacewalks. Christina returned to Earth on February 6, 2020. That same year, she received an honorary PhD from North Carolina State University. Christina is currently training as an Artemis Team Member.

RAY H. OWEN - WWII Fighter Pilot

Ray was born December 1, 1921, in Paris, Illinois. His family moved to Detroit, Michigan where he attended Cass Technical High School. Ray Owen enlisted in the Naval Air Corps on August 3, 1942. He began ground school in Asheville, North Carolina, flying Piper Cubs, and trained in the Boeing Stearman in Olathe, Kansas in June 1943. Later that summer, he transferred to Corpus Christi, Texas, and flew Vultee SNVs and SNJ Texans. In January, he was sent to the Naval Air Station in Miami, Florida, for fighter training in an SBD Dauntless. When he went to Glenview, Illinois, in March of 1944, he successfully landed the SBD on the USS Sable in Lake Michigan and received carrier qualification. He was then assigned to Pearl Harbor to receive further training in the F6F Wildcat as part of Air Group 81.

From November 1944 to February 1945, Owen was involved in major strikes in China, Japan, and the Philippines aboard the USS Wasp. One flight saw the wings of Owen’s F6F riddled with bullets, but he managed to fly the 100 miles back to the ship, compensating for the sustained damage. He served out the remainder of the war stationed on the East Coast and separated from the Naval Air Corps in November 1945 as a Lieutenant. He earned the Philippine Liberation Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, and Air Medal. Owen worked as an electrician for the next 45 years, and regularly talks to young people in Detroit, Northville, and Midland about his experiences.

ROBERT 'BOB' POTVIN - U.S. Army Helicopter Pilot

Robert Floyd “Bob” Potvin was born in Detroit on May 31, 1947 and graduated from Detroit Benedictine High School in 1965. After attending Michigan State University, Bob entered the United States Army, and completed Basic Training. He volunteered for Warrant Officer Flight Training, was accepted, and trained as an Army Helicopter Pilot. Upon graduation from flight school, Bob was assigned to Vietnam, as an Air Cavalry Scout Helicopter Pilot, in the First Cavalry Division. For his bravery in combat, Bob was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Purple Heart.

After returning from Vietnam, Bob continued to serve in the Army as an Instructor Pilot in AH-1 Cobra Gunships. Bob left the Army and again attended Michigan State University, graduating with a degree in Criminal Justice in 1973. Bob joined the Michigan Army National Guard, where he again served as a Scout Helicopter Pilot in an Air Cavalry Unit. In that capacity Bob was directly involved in the training and standardization of scores for other helicopter pilots, and in their acquisition of Air Cavalry and Attack Helicopter tactics, techniques, and procedures. Many of the pilots Bob helped train subsequently deployed overseas to fly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chief Warrant Officer Four (CW4) Robert “Bob” Potvin passed away on May 5, 2019.

Science Innovation Hall of Fame

What are the Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards all about?

Air Zoo Science Innovation Hall of Fame Award TrophiesCombined with the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, this festive and interactive event recognizes West Michigan high school students, K-12 level educators, and local organizations and individuals who have innovated and excelled within, or shown exceptional support of, education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM). In order to remain competitive in today’s global economy, it is critical for our youth to excel in these vital disciplines. With over ninety innovative educational programs, including classes, camps, field trips, and off-site outreach, the Air Zoo is spearheading STEAM initiatives in our region and highlighting local careers available in these important fields. Our hope is that the Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards play a major role in encouraging local students and educators to embrace STEAM education, ultimately helping to ensure a thriving local economy for years to come.  

All SIHOF award recipients receive a cash scholarship.  

Award Descriptions:

 Student Excellence Award - $500 Financial Award

The Student Excellence Award honors high school students who excel in the studies of science while also seeking to expand their knowledge and leadership skills outside of the classroom.

Student Art & Science Award - $500 Financial Award

The Student Art & Science Award recognizes a high school student who exemplifies the special harmony between arts and sciences.

Educator Excellence Award - $750 Financial Award

The Educator Excellence Award recognizes excellence and innovation in the teaching of STEAM subjects, the fostering of deep and meaningful student learning, and generation of exceptional student achievement.

Congratulation 2022

Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awardees

Educator Excellence Awards go to:

Allison Charles | Climax-Scotts Community Schools | K-5 STEM Educator

2022 was our first year providing a STEAM special class to our K-5 students at Climax-Scotts Elementary School. Since it was many students first time understanding how the concepts of STEAM relate to the real world, investigating the design process, and learning how to use teamwork to accomplish a task, our lessons at the beginning of the year were often designed to provide as little direction from me as possible. This forced students to think differently about their role in their education and gave the opportunity for students to think outside of a set of questions and answers provided by the teacher. Instead, students learned they had to actively think about answers to problems, debate classmates respectfully, and come to solutions and redesign opportunities collaboratively. I think this way of looking at my students allows me to release the role of “teacher” and prioritize my role as a “facilitator” in their journey. I am not worried when a lesson veers off track when it’s rooted in things that motivate students and develop their sense of wonder.

Currently students are working through answering “Wonder Wall” questions. The Wonder Wall is a place in the classroom where students include their curiosities and wonders at any time all year long. Grade level bands are responsible for becoming the “experts” to answer the question and working as a team to write a response to the question, recording a video, independently running the technology, and designing a poster for the hall that would interest other students in watching their video response. For over a month our entire class time with all K-5 students has been fully driven by their questions about the world around us, such as: How does a bike work? How do you test for real gold? Why is the Statue of Liberty green? My hope is that in giving them so much control over the way we use our STEAM time they will begin to see the importance of questioning the world around them and eventually transfer this into their own interest and career paths. 

As a teacher in a rural farming community, I think that the traditional idea of “careers in STEAM” can feel a bit far off and out of reach to many of my students. Our students generally think these professions only include astronauts, robotics, computer technologies, and similar fields. I’ve been working this year to expand the idea of what STEAM means to my students, and how it affects professions that are valuable to their life experience. For example, we discussed how farming has changed over time based on new technologies in equipment, and even how some tractors work the fields based on GPS tracking. We have been working to shift our view of how STEAM related concepts can be found in many jobs that are more tangible to the community we live in. As students begin to expand their understanding of what STEAM careers are and the way these professions actually impact their daily lives, I hope they begin to realize that many of their future interests have a strong base in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.

Kim Van Loo | Kalamazoo Christian Schools | Librarian

In 2016, a group I led began a “STEM Week” involving all students in grades K-4. We considered an after-school program, but we knew many kids would not be able to attend. By creating a program during the school day, we were able to include all students in our school. We also wanted to share the experience with parents, so we designed an after-school open house so parents and students could share the process and projects they were working on. We believe that our integration of STEM processes in our school has benefitted our students because we have more engaged and creative science learners. We had so much more active learning in our classrooms that week, compared to the more traditional science knowledge and inquiry type activities we have had in the past. We recently completed our 2022 “STEM Week”. Our curriculum needed one more piece, and now we have it!
Recently, my role at Kalamazoo Christian has shifted from a classroom teacher to a Librarian and Gifted and Talented Coordinator. This role enables me to continue challenging students outside of the classroom through coding classes, math clubs, STEM clubs, reading groups and outdoor activities. Many of these are offered after school or at lunchtime. Seeing students actively learning and engaged in problem solving through STEM activities has been so rewarding!

Sarah Wood | KENT ISD | Education Technology Consultant

As an educator, I thrive on serving others and celebrating the successes of teachers and students in STEAM, technology use, computer science, and design thinking. I take a creative, out-of-the-box approach and constantly look for inspiration from different sources - using a culturally responsive approach to design learning experiences. Some
of my favorite units taught in elementary STEAM class were Toy Story Mania, STEAM Glow Games, and Computational Thinking with Minecraft. I freely share my resources
on my blog at 

I am an active advocate for effective use of technology in the educational setting and serve on several networks through the Kent ISD. One of the groups that the EdTech team at the Kent ISD proudly serves is that of KETS (Kent Educational Technology Specialists). For the 21-22 school year, each meeting revolved around a different topic and members were asked to step forward and present poster sessions at meetings so that district-level projects could be made visible and celebrated. I also contributed to several poster sessions during these meetings and shared Virtual Make & Takes, as well as Virtual Learning and Exploration Rooms.

As a Digital Marketing & Design Specialist for the statewide educational technology organization, MACUL, I have had the opportunity to create, contribute, and celebrate the work done by individuals, schools, and districts across the state and stay on top of educational technology trends, strategies, and tools. This work coupled with my work at the Kent ISD has provided me with a wide knowledge base to share with districts and networks across the county and state.

Student Excellence Awards go to:

Abigail Houtrouw | Kalamazoo Central High School & Kalamazoo Area Mathematics & Science Center

For as long as I can remember, I have been loving school and learning, especially math and science. Solving math problems was and is exciting to me. I love the hands-on experience science gives, and I have known for quite some time that I want to go into the medical field. My parents love to remind me how, even at the young age of 3, I would get on our computer, and with my tiny hand I would use the mouse and figure out how to do things. My life has been a mission to learn as much about science and technology as possible. During middle school, I attended Comstock STEM Academy, where I was exposed to so many opportunities and advanced STEM classes. For example, I was able to participate in VEX robotics and learn how to build and program them. I was among a few select students who wereable to work with the 3-D printers.

I now attend Kalamazoo Central High School and the Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center. I am taking rigorous STEM classes that have extensive research projects each year. One major passion of mine is computer science. KAMSC has an amazing computer science program. An integral component of this is KAMSC Computer Science Teams. There are so many extracurricular  opportunities and activities, including programming competitions that allow students to work in small teams to solve challenging problems. It is exciting and rewarding to be able to work collaboratively with my talented peers. As a freshman, I was the only one in my grade to join KAMSC CS Teams, which is rare even for sophomores. I was the only 9th grader on KAMSC’s American Computer Science League team and also on the Purdue University travel team. I’m the only senior at KASMC who has been on the CS Team for four years.

Among my favorite honors and accolades are those I received from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, including the NCWIT Rising Star Award and State Honorable Mention. I am very passionate about empowering young women in STEM, and especially in technology. I was able to share my passion for science and technology by speaking as a panelist to 70 KAMSC sophomores. I articulated my struggles and victories in CS and encouraged the tenth graders to take AP Computer Science. My goal was to especially target females to not be intimidated as a girl in computer science. It is so crucial to have diversity in tech. I let them know how I am planning on pursuing a double major in nursing and computer science. CS can be integrated into any field, but especially healthcare. I want to be on the cutting edge of technology in the healthcare industry.

Tanmay Shekhar | Portage Central High School & Kalamazoo Area Mathematics & Science Center | 12th Grade

My passion for science springs from a surprising place, the seemingly dull field of basic thermodynamics astounded me as a child. Simple ideas, like heat, that I thought I had mastery over became multidimensional with the introduction of concepts like entropy, pressure and thermal vibration. This discovery hinted at the multifaceted and constantly learning nature of science and inquiry that transcended mere vocab memorization and formula plug and chugging. There were always deeper concepts and more potential applications in a multitude of fields and the near infinite opportunities enthralled me. I didn’t need to worry about picking a single interest in scientific discovery when science is just as multifaceted as I am. These realizations and understanding of science have only intensified my passion and desire to spend my life pursuing and spreading this
very passion for scientific discovery.

I have expressed passion in many fields of science, purely through pursuit of interests and knowledge. I have conducted mentored research under two different WMU professors in wildly different topics, from analyzing PFOS chemicals and their effects on plants to designing a risk-aware decisionmaking model that can award trust scores to various sensing devices. Both these projects further fueled my interest in research and allowed me to best understand what I really find interesting and am passionate about within the rather wide sphere of Biology and Computer Science.

I have also had the opportunity to join the coding team at the Kalamazoo Mathematics and Science Center. While I enjoyed simply being able to apply and problem solve with programming, the collaborative skills I developed along with my teammates were invaluable. We built a community in which we competed, helped, and pushed each other to excel, regardless of grade or skill. I truly believe that being able to share research and scientific inquiry as well as forming a collaborative problem-solving environment would impassion every student in the country towards STEAM. The scientific community of the future astounds me with its multidimensional nature and returns me, just for a moment, to being a small awe-filled child.

Sponsorship Opportunities Available!

Show your support for our region's best and brightest Educators, Students, and Innovators in 2022! Download a sponsorship application HERE.  You or your company can play a major role in supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math education in our area! Next event to be held April 16, 2022.

To learn more about SIHOF and MAHOF please contact Nikki Statler, Air Zoo Director of Marketing via email or at 269.350.2815.

A Special Thanks to our 2022 Event and Award Sponsors:
Barbara Parish * CTS Telecom * Darwin & Mary Wellington * Donna Ward  *  Esper Electric * First National Bank of Michigan * Imperial Beverage * Jamie Pleune*  Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport * Kindred Financial Partners of Raymond James * Plante Moran * PNC Bank * Quality Air * RAI Jets * Schupan * Sea Otter Swim School * The Tyler Little Family Foundation *  WowToyz, Inc. * Zoetis

This year's event is underwritten by Zoetis.

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