Outstanding Mechanical Engineer Awards
Every year, the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University recognizes alumni who have demonstrated excellence in industry, academia, governmental service, or other endeavors related to mechanical engineering. Honorees have shown outstanding character and leadership and have accomplished great things. Since 1991, 294 alumni have been honored with the prestigious Outstanding Mechanical Engineer Award.
Congratulations to all our 2020 OME recipients for showing us the best that Mechanical Engineering has to offer!
William E. and Florence E. Perry Head and Reilly Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Dr. William G. (Bill) Conley left the halls of Purdue University as a budding young dynamicist, yearning to impact national security and defense. Just over a decade later, Dr. Conley has realized, and continues to realize, that goal, shaping the technology of electronic warfare in an attempt to make the world a safer place.
After leaving Purdue, Dr. Conley joined the technical staff at Naval Surface Warfare Center - Crane Division, where his background in signal processing and dynamical systems proved highly advantageous in the development of electronics suitable for disrupting the electronic triggers of radio-controlled improvised explosive devices (IED) at a time when such technology was desperately needed. He quickly drew the attention of Pentagon leadership, who would honor him as the DoD’s Outstanding Employee with a Disability in 2011; and the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA), which would subsequently offer him a Program Manager role based on his professional efforts to date.
From 2013 to 2015, Dr. Conley led efforts at the DARPA Strategic Technologies Office (STO) to revitalize their electronic warfare research portfolio. With a balanced blend of strategic development, technology innovation, and business acumen, Dr. Conley led the program through an era when asymmetric electronic threats would become increasingly relevant within global context.
In 2015, based on his success at DARPA, Dr. Conley would move to the Pentagon and eventually assume the role of Senior Executive – Director, Electronic Warfare within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In this role, Dr. Conley was responsible for the programmatic execution of the DoD’s electronic warfare portfolio, which is statistically the most complex portfolio in the DoD based on interdependencies. This included coordination of various subject matter experts, acquisition, program management, policy development and governance, road mapping activities, and budgeting – an approximately $7B annual activity.
In 2019, after a decade of public service, Dr. Conley stepped away from the government to join Mercury Systems, as its Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. In this role, Dr. Conley currently serves as the technical leader of a global aerospace and defense contractor with more than 1,000 employees and approximately $500M in annual revenue.
Dr. Conley quite simply has changed the face of modern electronic warfare, making each of us just a little bit safer each day.
William “Bill” Cummings is the global Rolls-Royce Defense Aerothermal Capability Manager. In this role, Bill ensures the functional design of current and future products across all of the aero disciplines including fans, compressors, combustors and turbines. In parallel, he also oversees the research, technology and capability development in the same disciplines. Bill is the foremost technical expert in combustion aerodynamic design in Rolls-Royce North America. His contributions include multiple patents and publications. He is recognized throughout the gas turbine industry, as illustrated by his recent invitation to be a technical panel member during the 2020 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum.
Prior to his role in management, Bill worked on the AE3007, focusing on NOx and UHC reduction for regional jet applications, successfully meeting the Class 5 requirements of the Zurich airport; the F136 for which he served as a CFD specialist and then combustion aero tech lead; and the Trent 1000, for which he oversaw external aerodynamics, i.e., the airflow emanating from the compressor and flowing around the combustor. His work on the Trent 1000 took place during an assignment to Rolls-Royce Derby in 2004-2005. Subsequent work back at Indianapolis included combustion aero for a supersonic business jet program sponsored by NASA, alternative fuels programs, and the Rolls-Royce Derby team that set the course for future large engines as recently demonstrated in the Advance 3 technology demonstrator.
While the depth of his technical achievements is worthy of recommendation, Bill is best known for his kindness, approachability and teamwork. He is uniquely curious. A characteristic that has led to interests outside of engineering including beekeeping, bird watching, pipe organ construction, conservation, baseball, bicycling, etc. His outside interests allow him to connect with many people and aid in his remarkable ability to mentor young professionals.
Bill continues to give back to his alma mater. He played a vital role in securing funding for the establishment of an aerothermal turbine research center at Purdue University’s Zucrow Laboratories, which includes a world class two-stage rotating turbine rig and a world class annular cascade rig. In addition, he has secured funding to pursue advancements in rotating detonation combustion, rotating detonation combustor/turbine integration, alternative fuels and advance turbine blade tip optimization. In his position at Rolls-Royce, he overlooks all the research at Purdue related with compressors, combustors-fuels, and turbines.
Robert Harvey Kohr was born in Washington, D. C. in 1925. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. Between 1954 and 1960 he worked at General Motors, concentrating chiefly on analysis and simulation of vehicle dynamics. He earned his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University in 1962 and achieved the rank of Professor in 1967. Robert Kohr's life was extraordinary, especially considering it ended tragically just as he was approaching the peak of his intellectual insight and vigor.
Robert Kohr was the consummate classroom professor. The courses he taught at Purdue attracted the best and brightest students, both undergraduate and graduate students. His meticulously-prepared lecture notes and articulate style made every class meeting a stimulating experience. He advocated the heuristic approach to problem solving, a philosophy that attracted undergraduate students to consider graduate school and graduate students to seek his commitment to mentor them through their studies and research.
Robert Kohr was an exemplary research adviser. He required of his doctoral students a solid background in mathematics and supporting course work from outside the School of Mechanical Engineering. He expected well-thought-out research proposals from candidates before initiating their thesis research. He demanded rigorous attention to facts and details. The success of his teaching, research and mentoring styles led several of his doctoral students to seek careers in the academic community.
Robert Kohr was a gentleman, devoted husband and father. He was respected by his students, colleagues and social and professional acquaintances as a man of high moral character, a loyal and trusted friend and a solid citizen. He died in a mid-air collision near Shelbyville, Indiana on September 9, 1969. He was 44 years old.
Two awards have been established in honor of Robert Kohr in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, the Robert H. Kohr Award in recognition of Outstanding Work in Dynamics, Simulation and Automatic Controls in 1973, and the R. H. Kohr Graduate Student Fellowship in Mechanical Engineering in 2019.
Peter Konieczny is currently a Business Group President within Amcor, a global packaging company that develops and produces flexible packaging, rigid containers, specialty cartons, closures and services for food, beverage, pharmaceutical, medical-device, home and personal-care, and other products. The company employs more than 50,000 people and has revenues in excess of $13 billion from sales and operations in 200 locations in over 40 countries, including several locations in Indiana. Peter is responsible for all of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and his organization has approximately 10,000 employees and accounts for 40 percent of the Flexibles business.
Peter joined Amcor in 2010 after six years as President of Silgan White Cap. In the latter part of that appointment, he was located at the company headquarters in Downers Grove, Illinois. Silgan White Cap manufactures and supplies consumer goods packaging products for the food and beverage industries. Peter previously held Chief Executive Officer and Chief Finance Officer positions in the heavy industrial equipment industry. In particular, he was Managing Director of Noell Cranes, directing their construction and installation of shipping port cranes in China. Prior to that he served as Assistant to the CEO of Preussag AG, a German steel company, which he joined after working for four years as a Management Consultant for McKinsey and Company.
Peter obtained his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from Leibniz Universität in his native Hannover before joining Purdue at the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories for two years, where he performed his MSME research on the optimal design of low-noise centrifugal blowers. That project was funded by IBM, and resulted in several well-cited publications and presentations, and he received the Institute of Noise Control Engineering Student Paper Award for his presentation of the work at the 1990 National Noise Control Conference.
Charles M. Krousgrill received his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in 1975 before going on to complete his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA in 1976 and 1980 respectively. Upon graduation from Cal Tech, he accepted a position as assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. He rose through the ranks and became Professor of ME in 1997 and currently holds the Tebbe Family 150th Anniversary Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
Professor Krousgrill is an exceptional researcher, who has led many research projects and has collaborated with many faculty members within Mechanical Engineering and at various other engineering schools at Purdue University. He has received more than $10.1M in research grants and contracts with his share more than 50% of this total. He has published over 100 journal and conference papers and has given many presentations in industry, government and international conferences.
However, Professor Krousgrill’s great impact in academia and true love is teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students. He has excelled in educating students and is world renowned for his teaching contributions. Professor Krousgrill received the H. L. Solberg Best Teaching Award for the first time in 1985 and has won this award nine more times. He has won the A. A. Potter Best Teaching Award from the Purdue College of Engineering four times. In addition, Professor Krousgrill won the Charles B. Murphy Undergraduate Teaching Award, the highest teaching award at Purdue University in 1994. In 1999, he was inducted into Purdue’s Book of Great Teachers. He served as the cooperative education coordinator for more than 20 years in total. Furthermore, Professor Krousgrill has made exceptional teaching contributions to the development and contents of numerous courses at Purdue University, pioneering new teaching methods. On top of all of this, he has made lasting contributions by personally mentoring a large number of undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Mechanical Engineering.
James’ career has been all about engines, starting at Detroit Diesel in 1995, and moving to Eaton Corporation in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he has worked for the last 17 years. Specifically, he has led the charge for diesel cylinder deactivation, technology that selectively disables certain cylinders in a diesel engine to increase fuel economy, improve engine efficiency, and decrease carbon emissions. Government regulators are promoting diesel cylinder deactivation for 2027 emissions standards, while some customers may become early adopters in 2024.
In this capacity, he has worked closely with Purdue University’s Herrick Labs, who have a 7-year research program with Cummins for Advanced Engine Combustion and Aftertreatment Using Variable Valve Actuation. This investigation helped shape engine technologies that are most viable for upcoming emissions regulations while preserving/improving fuel economy.
James has built key relationships with government, industry, academia, and media, showing that Eaton is a trusted advisor for existing and new technologies. His executive leadership in the energy sector has led to conserving fossil fuels and reducing emissions by creating organic growth solutions through innovation, product development, intellectual property and publications.
Professor M. Pinar Mengüç is an internationally known scholar in thermal transport, particularly in radiative transport. He received his BS and MS from ODTU/METU in Ankara,Turkey, and his PhD from Purdue University in 1985, supervised by Prof. Raymond Viskanta. The same year he joined the University of Kentucky (UK), and promoted to the ranks of associate and full professor in 1988 and 1993, respectively. He was a visiting professor at Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Italy during 1991 and at Massachusetts General Hospital-Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, during 1998-99 academic year. He was awarded an Honorary Professorship at ESPOL, in Ecuador in 2006. At the end of 2008, he was promoted to Engineering Alumni Association Chair Professor at the University of Kentucky, which he still holds (as emeritus).
Professor Mengüç joined Özyeğin University, Istanbul in 2009 as the founding Head of Mechanical Engineering, a position he held until 2019. In 2009, he also established the Center for Energy, Environment and Economy (CEEE/EÇEM) which he is still directing. His current research areas include radiative transfer, nano-scale transport phenomena, applied optics and sustainable energy applications. He is an elected member of Science Academy of Turkey, a fellow of both ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineering) and ICHMT (International Center for Heat and Mass Transfer), and a Senior Member of OSA (Optical Society of America). He is the recipient of several awards, including the 2018 ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award, the highest award bestowed to individuals in heat transfer. In addition, with the Center (CEEE) he is directing, he received the First Place Award on ‘Efficiency’ from the Ministry of Industry and Technology of Turkey (in November 2019), and the First Place Award on ‘Energy Efficiency’ from the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey (in January 2020). Both awards were based on a Sustainable Energy project CEEE/EÇEM has completed, which was funded by European Union and was one of the largest grants received by any center in Turkey.
He is the author of more than 150 published articles, has co-authored more than 200 conference papers and two books. He has worked with more than 60 MS, PhD and Post-Doc researchers, and had more than 130 invited/keynote lectures delivered. He is a member of the executive committees of several NGOs, including ICHMT and Science Academy, Turkey. He is one of the three Editors-in-Chief of Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer (JQSRT), a Handling Editor of Physics Open, and Honorary Editor of Journal of Enhanced Heat Transfer. He was the Turkish delegate to European Union for Energy Programs (2010-2016), and a delegate of Turkey to Climate Change Conferences (COP, 2010, 2019).