Alumni Newsletter - Summer 2009

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Gift Establishes Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities

Gift founds new chair, more

Into the Storm: CU to Fly Unmanned Aircraft in National Tornado Study

Project investigates severe storms

Gift Establishes Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities

The teaching and outreach work of civil engineering Professor Bernard Amadei and his colleagues in the Engineering for Developing Communities program are taking a giant leap forward thanks to a $5 million commitment from Mort Mortenson (CivEngr’58), his wife, Alice, and builder M. A. Mortenson Company.

Amadei (shown at far left next to Mort and Alice Mortenson, their daughter-in-law Kate, and sons David and Mark) tackles development challenges in marginalized communities worldwide—challenges such as ensuring safe drinking water for Rwandan orphans in inhospitable environments, or promoting education and economic development in Afghanistan and the West Bank.

Amadei founded the nonprofit humanitarian organization Engineers Without Borders-USA and established the Engineering for Developing Communities educational program at CU-Boulder. The newly renamed Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities at CU helps to educate and inspire students to effect positive change in areas such as hygiene and sanitation, civil infrastructure, and power production.

The endowment funds the Mortenson Chair in Global Engineering for Amadei, and supports undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, research assistantships, curriculum development, Earn-Learn student apprenticeships, and other activities.

>> Read more

Age No Barrier for CU Engineering Teen Graduate

Eric Eason graduated from CU-Boulder in May with dual degrees in applied math and engineering physics, and the highest GPA among engineering bachelor’s degree graduates. He also won a Hertz Foundation Fellowship providing support for five years of graduate school—one of only 10 awarded across the country. Not bad for a young man who’s only 18 years old.

Eason, who grew up in Boulder, completed his high school education through a combination of home-schooling, tutoring, enrichment programs, and university classes. He first enrolled at CU-Boulder in fall 2002, taking music classes as a non-degree high school student, and entered full time at the age of 13.

"Eric has both an extraordinary academic record and an extraordinary range of achievements in research," said Professor John Price, director of the engineering physics program. Eason co-authored an article published in the European Physical Journal based on research he did at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and wrote an honors thesis in physics about improving an experimental scanning tunneling microscope to study high-temperature superconductors.

In the fall he plans to enter Stanford University's applied physics program, where his goal will be to earn a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics. His specific area of focus is undetermined. "I'd like to do some research that affects people—that's practical," he said.

Into the Storm: CU to Fly Unmanned Aircraft in National Tornado Study

The Research and Engineering Center for Unmanned Vehicles (RECUV) is participating in a nationwide project to explore the origins, structure, and evolution of tornadoes this summer by flying an unmanned aircraft system into the early stages of a severe storm.

The collaborative Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment 2 (also called VORTEX2) is being conducted over a six-week period May 10 through June 13 in the central United States. The project is the largest and most ambitious attempt to study tornadoes in history.

RECUV designed an aircraft weighing about 12 pounds with a 10.5-foot wingspan for the experiment, according to primary investigator Brian Argrow, associate dean for education and professor of aerospace engineering sciences. Called “Tempest,” the aircraft can be launched on a one-hour flight into a developing storm, where it will measure air pressure, temperature, relative humidity, and wind velocities.

"Our team worked for years to develop the capability to operate unmanned aircraft for such challenging applications in order to extend our reach to places too dangerous for human presence," said Argrow.

>> Read more   >> Project web site

Summer 2009 Classnotes

Warren David Cross (ElecEngr’44) is a retired high school counselor living in Torrance, California.

Ellen (Bardwell) Deisler (ChemEngr’45) is retired and, along with her husband, enjoying her three grown children and five grandchildren.

Gerald Richardson (ChemEngr’50) has been retired for 15 years from the Hanford Nuclear Plant, where he helped develop separations processes for recovering plutonium and other byproducts of uranium fuel irradiation. He lives in Richland, Wash., and has been busy since retirement hybridizing irises and working on family genealogy.

Larry Irwin (ChemEngr’60, PhD Edu’74) is happily retired in Bellingham, Washington, and proud to be a Buff!!

Ramesh Kumar Mital (MechEngr’60) is retired as the general manager of Mecon Limited. He lives in Delhi, India.

Adel (Eltawil) Al-Taweel (MS ChemEngr’65, PhD‘69) is a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Terrence P. Kenyon (MS CivEngr’79) is vice-president of McLaughlin Water Engineers, Ltd., in Boulder.

John Allen (AeroEngr/Bus’72) is the owner of Travel Software Consultants in Aurora.

Doug Dickman (AeroEngr’79) is a pilot for U.S. Airways. He lives in Dowington, Pennsylvania.

Clay Trautner (ArchEngr’81) is director of projects at FLSmidth CEntry. He lives in Salt Lake City.

Seth A. Darst (ChemEngr’82) is the Jack Fishman Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics at Rockefeller University in New York City. He recently was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

John Chisholm (ArchEngr’83) is director of pre-construction at the Beck Group.

Steve Trombley (MechEngr’83) is the owner/president of LWI Metalworks. He lives in Shelbourne, Vermont.

Kathleen (Beyer) Devine (ChemEngr’84) is an adjunct professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey, teaching about environmental issues. She has three children, ages 16, 15, and 9. She also works at Sandy Hook, runs a non-profit to restore a herring run in the Navesink estuary, and is an active scout leader and Water Watch committee member.

Kent Choquette (EngrPhys/ApMath’84) was awarded the IEEE Laser and Electro-Optic Society 2008 Engineering Achievement Award. He is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois-Urbana.

Doug Limbach (MechEngr’84) is a medical device patent attorney with Shay Glenn LLP in Los Angeles.

Chakkrit Chandrema (MechEngr’84) is the deputy chief of staff for the Ministry of Defense in Bangkok, Thailand.

Joe Vranka (ChemEngr’85) is overseeing Montana’s 14 Superfund projects in his new job with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He was hired after 18 years with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, where his jobs included Superfund work and management of radiation programs.

Laura (Hudgel) Drury (ElecEngr/CompSci’87) of Highlands Ranch has 10 years’ experience in leadership in software development and telecommunications, most recently as COO of a 70-person organization. She is looking to transition to another leadership position in a technology company. Contact her at

Arlin Bartels (EngrPhys’87) is a payload systems manager at NASA, and lives in Crofton, Maryland.

Jon Christopher Beverly (ElecEngr’91) is a lt. colonel in the U.S. Air Force in Falls Church, Virginia.

Andrew Biggs (MechEngr’93) is a technical leader/software engineer at Cisco Systems in Thornton.

Matthew Oetting (ElecEngr’94) is an engineering consultant living in Boulder.

Morten Ilebrekke (ElecEngr’94) is chief development engineer, Conax AS in Oslo, Norway.

Wade Eck (ArchEngr’96) is CEO of MMA HEAT in Los Angeles. The company just launched its online channel,, through a partnership with iBN Sports to provide the latest news on mixed martial arts and pop culture using the best of web technology.

Peter Staab (MS ApMath’96, PhD’98) is an assistant professor at Fitchburg State College. He lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

Christelle Blanchemain (MS Telecom’97) is a test engineer at Thomson, living in Puteaux, France.

Marketa McGuire Elsner (CivEngr’99) is a research scientist with the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington.

Matthew Reilly (ArchEngr’01) and Kate Busby (CivEngr’01) married in October. Matthew is a project manager at F.E. Moran in Chicago.

Brian Saller (CivEngr’01, MS’02) is project manager with Turner Construction Company and lives in Englewood.

Robert Castillo (MS Telecom’01) is a product manager at Cox Communications. He lives in Smyrna, Georgia.

Lam Pham (CompSci’02) is a program leader at GE Healthcare in Paris, France.

Dimitriy Faynburg (AeroEngr’05) is an online satellite engineer at Orbcomm, and lives in Reston, Virginia.

Andrew Tubach (ChemEngr’07) is a chemical engineer at AAA Molybdenum Products. He lives in Westminster.

Margaret Tripodi (ChemEngr’07) is an associate engineer at Genentech in San Francisco.

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