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Sixteen exceptional graduates receive 2016 alumni awards

One of the engineering heroes behind the safe return of the Apollo 13 astronauts, Honda’s first female chief engineer and a top Columbus architect were among the 16 alumni from The Ohio State University College of Engineering honored during the 19th Annual Excellence in Engineering and Architecture Awards on November 4, 2016.

he Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership was presented to Ralph A. Rockow (BS ’58, MS ’58, mechanical engineering), president and chairman of Exodyne. He’s one of the engineers who designed and developed the Lunar Module Descent Engine that landed 12 men on the lunar surface and safely returned the Apollo 13 astronauts to Earth in 1970. Rockow also played a major role in advancing the state-of-the-art air bag restraint systems in automobiles.

“But for Ohio State, I may not have received an education that allowed me to compete easily on the world’s stage in the field of engineering,” Rockow said.

Honorees at the 19th Annual Excellence in Engineering and Architecture Alumni AwardsGeorge W. Acock (BS ’63, architecture), founder and president of Acock Associates Architects, received the Benjamin G. Lamme Meritorious Achievement Medal. During his 49 years of practice, he has designed more than $1 billion of construction and has been awarded 22 citations for excellence in commercial and residential design. His award-winning projects include Ohio State’s William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library, Columbus’ North Bank Park & Pavilion and Columbus’ Arena District.

Meritorious Service Citation recipient Daniel Kimmet’s (BS ’71, MS ’72, mechanical engineering) record of service to his alma mater places him in an elite group. He is currently chair of the Mechanical Engineering External Advisory Board, a member of The Ohio State University Alumni Association Advisory Council and is involved in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering But for Ohio State Campaign Committee. From 2014 to 2015, he was executive director of Ohio State’s Center for Manufacturing and Design Excellence.

Jonathan Blank (BS ’01, MS ’02, PhD ’08, materials science and engineering) received the Texnikoi Outstanding Alumni Award. He is the ceramic matrix composites design section leader at GE Aviation, the company’s fastest growing section and one of the most ambitious materials development programs to advance green technologies and power output in aircraft engines. An active participant in STEM and diversity outreach and education at GE and in the community, Blank has served on the board for iSPACE, a non-profit providing STEM education, and mentored at-risk students and promoted STEM careers as a program leader for Aiken High School’s Young Scholars Program.

“The hard work, passion and amazing achievements of our alumni, not only fill us with pride, but also raise the reputation of this great college, and inspire future Buckeye engineers, architects, and city and regional planners to follow in your footsteps,” Dean David B. Williams, Monte Ahuja Endowed Dean’s Chair, said at the awards celebration.

The 12 alumni honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards for outstanding professional achievement in engineering and architecture are:

  • Accomplished entrepreneur John D. Bair (BS ’91, computer and information science) is executive director of the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence at Ohio State and previously co-founded Pinnacle Data Systems.
  • Doug Baughman (BS ’82, chemical engineering) retired following 24 years as a reservoir engineer in the oil and gas industry. From 2002 to 2006, he was executive vice-president and chief operating officer and co-owner of CamWest II, an independent oil company.
  • Colette Pierce Burnette (BS ’80, industrial and systems engineering), an experienced leader in higher education with a deep commitment to student success, is president and CEO of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. She is the first female president of the merged institution and only the second female leader in the university’s 140-year history.
  • Thomas J. Burns (BS ’86, electrical engineering) is director of the Strategic Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) where he oversees programs in battle management, communications, intelligence and electronic warfare, among others.
  • James M. Dickey IV (BS ’83, industrial and systems engineering) is a senior managing director at Accenture, where he has worked for 31 years, and office managing director for the company’s Cleveland location. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.
  • Steve Dunmead (BS ’85, MS ’87, ceramic engineering) has been a global business executive in the advanced materials and specialty chemicals industries for more than 20 years. Most recently he served as chief operating officer of SWM International. He holds 25 U.S. patents in the areas of advanced ceramics and composites and was twice named Inventor of the Year at Dow Chemical.
  • Lara Harrington (BS ’90, aeronautical and astronautical engineering), a chief engineer at Honda R&D Americas, Inc., has held engineering leadership and program management positions contributing to the 1997 Acura CL, 1998 Honda Accord Coupe, 2001 Acura MDX and 2003 Honda Pilot, Honda’s first full-size SUV to enter the U.S. market. In 2015, she was recognized as one of the “100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry” by Automotive News.
  • Eric Lagerberg (M ’88, architecture) is executive vice president at CallisonRTKL, as well as a member of its board of directors. With more than 25 years in the architecture industry, Lagerberg currently oversees CallisonRTKL’s retail practice group, directing the efforts of nearly 400 creative professionals across the globe.
  • Tobias James Rittner (M ’00, city and regional planning) is president and CEO of the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA). An expert on economic development finance, he is the author of CDFA’s highly acclaimed Practitioner’s Guide to Economic Development Finance and an adjunct faculty member at Ohio State and Carnegie Mellon University.
  • Bridging the fields of engineering and medicine, Cynthia J. Roberts (MS ’86, electrical engineering; PhD ’89, biomedical engineering) holds the Martha G. and Milton Staub Chair for Research in Ophthalmology in Ohio State’s College of Medicine with a cross appointment in biomedical engineering. She has published 110 papers in peer-reviewed journals, contributed to 22 book chapters and co-edited two books.
  • S.V. Sreenivasan (MS ’88, PhD ’94, mechanical engineering) is a professor of mechanical engineering and the Joe C. Walter Endowed Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin). A renowned expert in nanomanufacturing, he has published more than 100 technical articles and holds over 100 U.S. patents. He is also co-director of the NASCENT Center, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center.
  • Sugu Suguness (MS ’85, civil engineering) is chair of the Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering External Advisory Board at The Ohio State University. He founded Prime Engineering & Architecture, which under his 21-year leadership, provided multidiscipline architectural and engineering services to clients like the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Air Force and NASA.

Learn more about the 19th Annual Excellence in Engineering & Architecture Alumni Awards honorees in the awards program or view photographs from the event.