Roger J. Feulner

Vice President (retired)
Honeywell Inc.
BSEE '61, MSEE '63

[Roger J. Feulner]

For his technical achievements in software development, communications, and system architecture, and for his outstanding managerial accomplishments, the Schools of Engineering are proud to present the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award to Roger J. Feulner.

On beginning his career

After college, I joined Automatic Electric, a telephone equipment company trying to get into new areas. I was hired to help design a control system that could be used for pipelines and power utilities. When Automatic Electric decided to get out of that business, I went to Honeywell, in 1967—and from a technology point of view, many of the communication techniques and functions for a big, spread-out pipeline system really applied to large commercial buildings as well. I ended up working on a ground-breaking product for Honeywell, the Delta family of building control systems. The idea of these systems was to save labor by allowing people at the control center to turn the equipment on or off throughout the buildings [temperature controls, large fan systems and chiller systems, security systems, and fire systems]. As the cost of energy increased, energy-management functions were added.

On leading people

Early in my career, I was a technical contributor. Then I was named a supervisor, and I became a manager of larger and larger groups. Understanding what the people reporting to me were doing made it possible to make the transition to management. After various engineering supervisory positions, I was offered a position in marketing. I went from managing 60 or 70 engineers to managing three sales and marketing people. I gained a much broader view of business from my marketing role. Those experiences, and various positions since, crystallized my management philosophy. I found that my staff, if given the proper objective and opportunity, would make a tremendous contribution, and I found myself delegating more and more to them, really fostering a participatory environment. I've given people the latitude to make decisions, even mistakes. It's worked well for me.

On career highlights

The Delta system was the first breakthrough I had. Then, when I took over corporate research functions for half the company, there were three research centers that I had to combine into one. The challenge was to articulate our goals and to create one larger, more-efficient unit without losing half our employees. It was a balancing act that required a lot of communication.

Another career highlight occurred when Eastern Europe started to open up politically. I began looking for a place to establish a small research center in Europe to serve our European engineering departments. I settled on Prague in the Czech Republic, which had some wonderful institutions—like its universities—that had survived the Communist regime. We formed the Honeywell Research Center in Prague, specializing in control theory, and it became a big hit: it worked right away.

Then, in 1993, a couple of engineers born and raised in India came to me with the suggestion that Honeywell start a software development center there. We established the center, staffing it with 12 engineers and convincing engineering directors in the corporation to try pilot projects there. Without any top-down management dictates, we built our reputation by performing. Eventually the Honeywell India Software Operation became the highest-rated software organization in the company. Today it has about 340 engineers.

On travel overseas

Susan, my wife, has always been an enthusiastic companion and has traveled with me throughout Europe, the Far East, and India. Over my career I made six trips to India, and she accompanied me each time. Before reaching India, we'd take different side trips. We've visited friends assigned in Japan, and we've toured Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore. Great travels.

Board of Directors, Honeywell India Software Operation Private Ltd.
Technology Transfer Advisory Committee, Minnesota Project Innovation Inc.
Advisory Board, Intelligent Buildings and Construction Solutions Inc.
Outstanding Electrical Engineer Award, Purdue University
Vice President, Technology Alliances, Honeywell
Advisory Board, Yamatake-Honeywell, Advanced Technology Center, Tokyo
Industrial Advisory Board, University of Illinois, Chicago, College of Engineering
Vice President and General Manager, Sensor and System Development Center
Board of Directors, Honeywell Ericsson Development Company, Los Angeles
Product Development Board, Honeywell Bull, Paris
Vice President and General Manager, Application Systems Division, Honeywell Information Systems
Director of Engineering, Building Control Division
Market Manager, Building Management Systems
Engineer/Engineering Manager, Honeywell
Engineer, Automatic Electric Labs

BSEE '61, MSEE '63, Purdue University