Four Honored with Clarkson University’s Most Prestigious Alumni Award

June 24, 2024

Al Poskanzer ’69, MS ’71, Ph.D ’74; John Connolly ‘79; Kenneth Lally ’79; and Michael Sarafin ’94 have been honored with the Golden Knight award by their alma mater, Clarkson University.

Clarkson University Logo

Presented each year during the Alumni Reunion, Clarkson’s most prestigious alumni award is given to alumni who have distinguished themselves either by service to Clarkson through Alumni Association activities or have demonstrated outstanding career achievement, bringing distinction to themselves and to Clarkson.

Poskanzer received his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry from Clarkson University.

Al served as a senior research chemist with the Shipley Company, research manager at Morton-Thiokol and as an entrepreneur. He then returned to academia at the University of California and Arizona State University.  He subsequently served as director of technology licensing at Boeing and is now a consultant in technology transfer and commercialization.

He also served 13 years in the U.S. Army Reserve as a captain and company commander with the combat engineers.

Al's Clarkson involvement started with lab work with Professor Egon Matijević
for the Shipley Company that was the genesis of the long standing relationship
between Clarkson and Shipley. He has presented to Clarkson faculty and students about technology transfer and commercialization of new technologies and is currently working to enhance Clarkson's research enterprise and technology transfer programs.

Al is a Legion, Loyal, Leadership and Legacy member of Clarkson’s Good Knights Guild.

He lives with his wife Linda in Casa Grande, Arizona.

Connolly graduated from Clarkson in 1979 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and then obtained an MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1982.

John’s 40-year career spanned both international and domestic positions principally in Nuclear Power and Power T&D for such companies as Alstom, ABB and GE. Notably, John was VP Business Development for ABB Service, head of North American Power T&D Service for Alstom and Principal Contract Specialist for Power Transformers.

John has been very active in the Boy Scouts of America having been both a Cubmaster and Scoutmaster. In addition, he has coached various youth sports teams.

John has been an active member of the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Council (MEAC) for the past thirty years. In addition, John was an early advocate for the now integral Capstone program, providing financial, technical and corporate support. Over the years he has also conducted on-campus seminars, assisted students with interview preparation and hired a number of alumni.

John and his wife Sandra (1981 Accounting) are both Legion members of Clarkson’s Good Knights Guild and reside in Maryland with their two children and four grandchildren.

Lally received his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Clarkson University  and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Rochester.

He is the founder of SimuTech Group, a multiphysics engineering simulation software distributor based in Rochester, New York.  

For the past 10 years, Ken has actively participated in Clarkson stewardship through philanthropy and service on the Board of Trustees. As a recent board vice president, Ken enjoys interacting with like-minded leaders who work to ensure Clarkson will continue to provide outstanding educational instruction and experiences, along with rewarding career development opportunities for future students.

Ken is a Legion, Loyal, Leadership, Legacy and Legend member of Clarkson’s Good Knights Guild.

After living in the Rochester area for many years, Ken and Jeanne now live in St. Petersburg, Florida, where they enjoy winter visits by their two children and two young grandchildren.

Sarafin received his Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from Clarkson University.

Michael serves as an Artemis Mission Manager at NASA Headquarters and is in his 31st year as a civil servant at NASA. His experience to date totals 65 human spaceflight missions across multiple spaceflight programs (Artemis, Orion, ISS, Space Shuttle and Shuttle-Mir). Prior to his current role, Michael was a NASA Flight Director and a Space Shuttle Guidance, Navigation and Control Officer.

Michael has visited Clarkson numerous times over the years to promote STEM and encourage young engineers and the engineering department staff by allowing them an opportunity to directly engage with someone in the field. By sharing his experiences and offering a first-hand opportunity to ask questions, he has provided encouragement to university students and staff for decades.

Michael currently resides in Washington, DC, with his wife, Angela, and considers Richfield Springs, NY, his hometown.

Clarkson University is a proven leader in technological education, research, innovation and sustainable economic development. With its main campus in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley, Clarkson faculty have a direct impact on more than 7,800 students annually through nationally recognized undergraduate and graduate STEM designated degrees in engineering, business, science and health professions; executive education, industry-relevant credentials and K-12 STEM programs. Alumni earn salaries among the top 2% in the nation: one in five already leads in the c-suite. To learn more go to
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