CU-Boulder To Honor Distinguished Engineers At Awards Banquet

Published: April 10, 2002

Five alumni and the founding chair of the computer science department will be honored with Distinguished Engineering Alumni Awards at the 37th annual Engineering Awards Banquet at the University of Colorado at Boulder April 12.

The awards recognize engineering graduates who have distinguished themselves through outstanding personal qualities, knowledge and significant contributions to their fields. Awards are being given in four categories: education, industry and commerce, government service and "special," a category for non-alumni who have provided outstanding service to the college.

The honorees are a select group, representing less than 1 percent of the college's 25,000 graduates.

Ben B. Balsley, who earned both his master's degree and doctorate in electrical engineering at CU-Boulder in 1964 and 1967, respectively, will be recognized in the government service category for his research contributions over 40 years with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and CU-Boulder. A fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Balsley previously won the Department of Commerce Gold Medal for his discovery of the Polar Mesosphere Summer Echoes, a sign of global climate change.

Ralph N. Eberhardt Jr., who earned his bachelor's degree in physics at CU-Boulder in 1965, will be recognized in the industry and commerce category for his 37-year career at Martin Marietta and Lockheed Martin Corp. He did pioneering work in low-gravity physics and fluid management, and in advanced propulsion systems, and he served as project manager on the Cassini Propulsion Module, for which he received the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Achievement Award. He retired as director of the Lockheed Martin Propulsion Center in 1999.

Lloyd D. Fosdick will be recognized in the special category for his service to the college as professor and founding chair of the computer science department. He came to CU-Boulder from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and served as chair from 1970 to 1978, and then again from 1985 to 1990. He also is credited with bringing the department into the College of Engineering from its former home in the College of Arts and Sciences. He now holds the title of professor emeritus.

Donna S. Gerren, who earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in aerospace engineering at CU-Boulder in 1977 and 1979, respectively, will be recognized in the education category for being an exemplary teacher. After working in industry as an aircraft design engineer for 12 years, and earning her doctorate at the University of Kansas, she returned to CU-Boulder as an assistant professor of aerospace engineering. She also has been recognized as Faculty Advisor of the Year in 1998, 1999 and 2000 by the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics.

David D. Webster, who earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1965, will be recognized in the industry and commerce category for his leadership of American Electronic Components Corp., a supplier of relay switches and engineered sensors to the automotive industry. He recently retired as president and chief executive officer of the Elkhart, Ind.-based company, which he led for 22 years. During that time, he markedly increased its size and took the company public here and in the United Kingdom, before merging it with Echlin Corp. in 1996.

David J. Wheaton, who earned his bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering at CU-Boulder in 1962, will be recognized in the industry and commerce category for his career accomplishments over three decades with General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin Corp. He served as General Dynamics' first corporate vice president for new business development and strategic planning, and later managed Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter Program through the initial program contracts leading up to the award in fall 2001 of what promises to be the largest defense contract in history.

The recipients were nominated by their colleagues and selected for the awards by the Engineering Advisory Council of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. For more information visit