2018 ME Distinguished Engineering Alumni
The Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award is presented to engineering alumni who have distinguished themselves in any field of endeavor that reflects favorably on Purdue University, the engineering profession, or society in general.
In the case of alumni who are engaged in engineering work, their record of accomplishments should indicate a high potential for future growth into positions of increasing responsibility. The College of Engineering has over 85,000 living alumni. The distinction of DEA has been bestowed upon 509 of these outstanding individuals.
In 2018, two of the Distinguished Engineering Alumni were from Mechanical Engineering:
Principal, New Shore, LLC
When Chris Barman came to Purdue, she viewed her mechanical engineering major as a path to medical school and a career as a pediatrician. But along that road were summer internships in the automotive industry, which changed her path.
“Those experiences allowed me to realize that I really enjoy solving complex problems,” she says. “With that knowledge, I decided to pursue a career in the ever-changing — and technically challenging — automotive industry.”
Barman says Purdue provided her with a strong, application-based engineering education. Her practical knowledge enabled her to hit the ground running in the workplace, where she had to assess and solve real-world engineering problems.
As a mechanical engineering student at Purdue, she says she learned to approach a difficult problem with logic and reason, and to stick with it. “Never give up. Break it down, understand it and develop a plan to succeed,” she says. “It may not work the first time, but you’ll learn. Eventually you’ll achieve success.”
One of her favorite courses at Purdue was with Professor Victor Goldschmidt: The Creative Process in Engineering, which combined engineering with cognitive psychology, fine arts, communications and group dynamics. “It introduced me to collaboration and ‘no-limits’ idea generation,” she says. “It was an extremely effective way to be introduced to innovating in engineering.”
As she explained in an interview with Crain’s Detroit Business, which named her as one of Michigan’s 100 most influential women in 2016, Barman likes to listen and observe. “Just taking the time to not only listen, but observe body language, you can gain a lot of insight in the situation and be a good leader to your team.”
In that same interview, she also encouraged young female engineers to consider the automotive industry. “There’s a perception out there that automotive is very manufacturing intensive and very low-tech. In reality, it is very high-tech, and it is a dynamic and exciting place to be.” She also urges young women to “raise your hand and volunteer for the big projects that will grow you as a person.”
For all engineering undergraduates excited about future technologies, Barman recommends a solid foundation in electronics and software. “Having a strong understanding in these areas will increase your technical competency in a future of expanding electronic integration, no matter your engineering discipline.”
President and Chief Executive Officer, The Timken Company
Call it professional generosity. Richard Kyle says he believes in sharing credit and success: “All of my biggest achievements were as part of a team. Success in business is rarely achieved individually. Collaboration, selling, leading, motivating, following, and other social and managerial skills quickly become as or more important than individual contributions.”
That professional generosity combined with Kyle’s talent, drive, and a Purdue engineering degree, has led him to exceptional professional success. In 2014, he became president and CEO of the 118-year-old Timken Company, a global manufacturer of bearings and related components and assemblies.
Years earlier, while studying mechanical engineering at Purdue, Kyle began to acquire and hone the skills that would shape him as a professional.
“Purdue developed my work ethic and my approach to problem-solving,” Kyle says. “Collaboration exposed me to the world outside of my home state of Indiana, and provided a launching pad for my career through the placement office and a co-op with IBM.”
After holding key leadership roles with Hubbell Inc. and Cooper Industries, Kyle joined Timken in 2006 and took on responsibility for the industrial group’s global manufacturing operations as vice president of industrial manufacturing. He also worked closely with supply chain management and the automotive and alloy steel groups. During this period, Timken significantly expanded its manufacturing in the U.S. and also globally by adding operations in China, India and Romania.
Before becoming Timken’s CEO, Kyle held a number of key positions at the Timken Company, including chief operating officer. As COO, Kyle ensured that Timken had the proper operational controls, administrative and reporting procedures and people systems in place to enable the company’s growth and guarantee its operating efficiency and financial strength.
As group president of Timken’s aerospace and steel enterprises from 2010 to 2013, Kyle also was responsible for the enterprise’s innovation, engineering and technology efforts. From 2008 to 2010, he contributed to significant improvements in Timken’s profitability by leading large-scale changes to the company’s mobile industries business.
Today, the Timken Company accrues revenue of approximately $3 billion, has an enterprise value of over $4 billion and 14,000 employees operating in 28 countries.
Despite a demanding schedule, Kyle is an active member of the John Purdue Club, the Purdue President’s Council and the Purdue Alumni Association.
With two decades of high-level professional experience to reflect on, Kyle says he would advise today’s Purdue students not to “get overly precise in your career objectives and the timing. Lose yourself in your profession and your work, and opportunities will arise — probably more than you ever anticipated.
“Build your personal brand early in your career with integrity, hard work and learning agility.”