President Obama Presents Smeal Alum with 2011 SAVE Award
President Barack Obama talks with Smeal alumnus Matthew Ritsko, the winner of the 2011 Presidential Securing Americans' Value and Efficiency (SAVE) award, in the Oval Office, Jan. 9, 2012. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (January 12, 2012) -- President Barack Obama this week presented the 2011 Presidential Securing Americans' Value and Efficiency (SAVE) award to Penn State Smeal College of Business alumnus Matthew Ritsko, a financial manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Ritsko, a 2005 graduate of Smeal with a degree in Economics, met the president in the Oval Office to receive the SAVE award, which gives front-line federal workers the chance to submit their ideas on how their agencies can save money and work more efficiently. Ritsko's winning proposal calls for NASA to create a "lending library" where specialized space tools and hardware purchased by one NASA organization will be made available to other NASA programs and projects.
His proposal was one of four finalists out 20,000 entries that the Office of Management and Budget put online. More than 48,000 Americans across the country cast votes for the idea they liked best, and Ritsko's idea won with more than 19,000 votes.
"I think the SAVE Award is a great opportunity to stress that federal employees everywhere try to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars," Ritsko said. "We are always striving to find ways to be more efficient and effective."
Regarding his meeting with the president, he added: "Spending time with the president was a unique experience. President Obama was very welcoming and easy to talk with. It will be a highlight of my career that I will always remember."
Ritsko joined NASA in 2005 after graduating from Penn State. He is currently a financial manager on the Gravity Extreme Magnetism SMEX (GEMS) Project. In his time at Goddard he has worked within the Office of the Chief Financial Officer and the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) project. He is highly active supporting numerous initiatives and committees at NASA while pursuing a master's degree in business administration from the University of Maryland. Ritsko lives in Crofton, Md.