Making an Impact

2013 Distinguished Engineering Alumni/Alumnae
Each year the College of Engineering recognizes distinguished alums for their exceptional achievements, contributions and impact. The College of Engineering has more than 84,000 living alums and the distinction of DEA has been bestowed upon 489 of these outstanding individuals.

Luis D. Alfaro

Luis D. Alfaro, MSCE '77, PhD '80
Vice President of Engineering,
Panama Canal Authority

ILuis Alfaro has had a distinguished career in his native Panama in various positions tied to the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal expansion is one of the most important and challenging ongoing construction projects for the Panama Canal Authority, the autonomous agency that manages the canal, the leading interoceanic waterway serving world maritime commerce. Since 2007, he has served as the authority's vice president of engineering. 

Mark A. Burgess

Mark A. Burgess, BSAAE '78, MS '79, MSIA '82
Chief Engineer, Engineering Operations and Technology,
The Boeing Company

Mark Burgess is responsible for internal operations of Boeing's centrally managed research and development operation and provides executive leadership for approximately 8,000 engineers. Before becoming chief engineer in 2007, Burgess served as director of the Advanced Lean Enterprise organizations and was the air vehicle analysis and integration team leader for the last manned X-airplane Boeing built. 

Theresa C. Carter

Brigadier General Theresa C. Carter, PE, USAF, BSIE '85
Commander, 502d Air Base Wing,
Joint Base San Antonio, Texas

Brigadier General Theresa C. Carter is the first female civil engineering officer promoted to brigadier general in the United States Air Force (USAF). Carter served at the Pentagon; commanded at the squadron, group, and wing levels; deployed in support of the Persian Gulf War in 1990; and in 1997 was named the Air Force Senior Civil Engineering Manager of the Year. She is commander, 502d Air Base Wing, Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA), Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and installation commander for JBSA. She achieved the rank of brigadier general in May 2010. 

Ronald Klemencic

Ronald Klemencic, BSCE '85
Magnusson Klemencic Associates

Ronald Klemencic is president of Magnusson Klemencic Associates, overseeing 180 engineers and working on hundreds of concurrent projects in nearly every state and 20 foreign nations. His firm has received more than 330 awards for excellence while designing projects worth more than $73 billion. He has served on Purdue's Civil Engineering Advisory Board and is currently doing research with professors Mark Bowman and Michael Kreger at the Robert L. and Terry L. Bowen Laboratory for Large-Scale Civil Engineering Research. 

William A. Payne III

William A. Payne III, BSEE '80
Head of Advanced Technologies, CTO-North America,
Nokia Siemens Networks

A worldwide telecommunications innovator, William Payne became CTO when Nokia Siemens acquired Motorola in 2011, combining two top cellular network technology companies that accounted for about half of the commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) deals worldwide. Payne now splits time between Chicago, East and South Asia, and Europe. At Motorola, Payne defined the future of wireless networking by helping deliver first-generation LTE implementation and establishing the strategic direction for commercial development. 

Robert W. Rankin

Robert W. Rankin, BSME '72, MS '73
Chief Engineer, Powertrain Systems Engineering,
Ford Motor Company (retired)

After three months at Ford Motor Company, Robert Rankin was transferred from rotary development to emission controls, which led to being promoted to his first supervisory position five years after graduation. He progressed through several product design and development powertrain engineering management positions, and in 1994, he assisted in the Ford 2000 corporate re-engineering activity and was appointed one of Ford's first powertrain systems chief engineers (1994-2003). From 2003 to 2005, he was chief engineer TVM/Costs and Quality Diesel Engineering within North America Powertrain Operations. 

Theodore S. Rappaport

Theodore "Ted" S. Rappaport, BSEE '82, MS '84, PhD '87
David Lee/Ernst Weber Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering,

Theodore "Ted" S. Rappaport is the David Lee/Ernst Weber Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly). He holds appointments as professor of computer science at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University and professor of radiology at the New York University School of Medicine. He is currently working on the future of wireless communications, building the first center in academia to bring together wireless engineers, computer scientists and medical doctors. The objective is to bring wireless into its renaissance and change the whole form factor of computers, data centers and the office of the future. 

Richard B. Rivir

Richard B. Rivir, BSAAE '60
Senior Scientist, Aircraft Propulsion, Aerospace Systems Directorate,
Air Force Research Laboratory

Richard B. Rivir has been in the Air Force Research Laboratory's Propulsion Directorate in electric propulsion, plans, advanced propulsion, and turbines for 53 years. He is an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) fellow; served on Von Karman Institute's Technical Advisory Committee; chaired the International Gas Turbine Heat Transfer Committee; and was National Research Council advisor and research advisor for more than 100 graduate students. He currently serves on the Purdue Aerospace and Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories advisory boards. According to Rivir, his most significant career milestone was becoming the AFRL chief scientist for propulsion in 2010, a position that was once held by Hans von Ohain in the 1990s. Von Ohain designed and flew the first gas turbine engine in Germany in 1939. 

Henry T. Sampson

Henry T. Sampson, BSChE '56
Aerospace Engineer (retired)

Henry T. Sampson was the first African-American to earn a PhD in nuclear engineering in the U.S. From 1956 to 1961, Sampson worked as a research chemical engineer at the U.S. Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, Calif., in high-energy solid propellants and case-bonding materials for solid rocket motors. Following graduate studies, Sampson joined the Aerospace Corp. in El Segundo, Calif., as project engineer (1967-81), then director of planning and operations, Directorate of Space Test Program (1981-87). He led senior engineering staff in every phase from planning to launching and space operation of several satellites. Sampson received a patent with George H. Miley for the invention of the gamma-electric cell, a direct-conversion energy device that converts the energy generated from the radiation of high-energy gamma rays into electricity. Other patents include a binder system for rocket propellants and explosives and a case-bonding system for cast-composite rocket propellants, both related to the manufacturing and production of solid-propellant rocket motors. 

Robert D. Weist

Robert D. Weist, BSChE '62
Koloa Rum Co.

Robert Weist essentially has had two careers: one as a patent attorney, the other as an entrepreneur. He joined Amgen as vice president administration, with legal and patent functions. Weist was part of the startup company's original management team, retiring in 1989. Amgen is now the world's largest biotechnology company. While at Amgen, Weist successfully led the company's intellectual property strategy and its Japanese joint venture, Kirin- Amgen Inc., believed to be the most profitable joint venture of all time. After Amgen, Weist formed Weist Associates in 1992, specializing in business consulting in the biotechnology industry. In 1994, he was the founding consultant and initial CEO of the genomics company Hyseq Inc., and also served on the boards of directors of other companies in the industry. He is currently chairman of Koloa Rum Co., the first and only licensed distillery of rum on the Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi.