Selected in 2007, six high-achieving alumni returned to Purdue last April to be honored as the latest recipients of the Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Awards (CEAAA). Their brief bios follow.
Willis “Rick” Conner (BSCE ’76), president and CEO of American Structurepoint, Inc., spent most of his childhood building and tinkering with just about anything with mechanical possibilities. Recognizing this talent, his father encouraged him to pursue engineering—a career Conner began at age 16, working part time as an apprentice drafter, blueprint boy, and deliveryman at the very company that would eventually name him president. He has been highly involved in such distinctive projects as the I-70 interchanges at the new Indianapolis International Airport, Super 70 and Hyperfix in downtown Indianapolis, the “Speedzone” urban redevelopment in Speedway, Indiana, the 15-story S&L Data Building in Cincinnati, and the regional headquarters for Reebok.
Thomas Doran (BSCE ’75, MSCE ’77), a Californian transplanted to Detroit in his childhood, discovered Purdue and gravitated toward environmental engineering, mainly due to the influence
of his graduate advisor. Doran’s interests in biology and chemistry led him to take graduate courses in chemical engineering, which supplemented his civil engineering training. After graduate school, Doran connected with Hubbell, Roth & Clark, a Michigan consulting firm, where today he serves as a partner and vice president. A lover of the written word, Doran has contributed both to technical forums and the print media, including publications such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Detroit Free Press.
The 2007-08 Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Award recipients (from left to right): Susan Hida, Lester Hunkele, Thomas Doran, Willis Conner, Philip Stutes, and Anne Bigane Wilson.
Susan Hida (BSCE ’81, MSCE’ 83), spent her civil engineering days at Purdue interacting with professors and engineering professionals in and outside the classroom. The experience, she says, led to her feel more comfortable at conferences and meetings outside of the workplace. She was hired by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) after the Loma Prieta earthquake to help engineer an ambitious bridge seismic retrofit program. Later, she became a project engineer on various jobs across the state. She claims to have been in the right place at the right time for both Purdue and Caltrans. Her hard work and engineering expertise must have had something to do with it, too. She was named the Caltrans assistant state bridge engineer in 2007.
Lester Hunkele III (MSCE ’75), a Brooklyn-born son and one of seven children, came to Purdue via West Point and the U.S. Army. Here, he earned a graduate degree in construction management and engineering. He served as the deputy assistant secretary of Veteran Affairs and worked at the executive level of several construction companies before ultimately lending his name to his own company—Hunkele Consulting. Some specific assignments included assistant head of Marine Corps facilities, where he evaluated the explosion, building response, and prevention techniques days after the Beirut Bombing; program manager for the design and construction of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington; and consultant to a New York City commissioner to re-establish transportation flows in lower Manhattan after 9/11.
Philip Stutes (MSCE ’75), a Louisiana native, had a family and a career in the works before attending Purdue. His company, then John E. Chance & Associates, offered him the chance to attend and audit graduate-level courses to bolster his knowledge of commercial satellite positioning. Post Purdue, Stutes began a career introducing satellite positioning and proper geodetic principles to his company and to the offshore oil and gas industry. He started with the Navy Navigation Satellite Positioning System “Transit,” designed to position the Polaris Submarine Fleet and eventually migrated to the Department of Defense’s Global Positioning System (GPS). Today, Stutes is president of Fugro Chance, Inc., an offshoot of the company that sent him to Purdue in the first place.
Anne Bigane Wilson (BSCEM ’79, MSCE ’81), grew up the first of five daughters in Oak Lawn on Chicago’s South Side. Her love of math and science drew her to engineering at Purdue, where she graduated from the first Construction Engineering and Management class with a BS degree. She then completed a master’s degree in civil engineering in 1981. In the fall of 1984, Wilson joined her father in the family asphalt paving business in Chicago. Founded by her great-grandfather in 1907, Bigane Paving Co. is a fourth-generation firm, originally established for retail coal and oil sales. In the summer of 1987, however, Wilson and her partner and sister, Sheila, were put in the position of running the firm upon the sudden death of their father. Now president, Wilson helped celebrate the firm’s 100th anniversary in October 2007.