CU-Boulder Honors Distinguished Engineers For Contributions

Published: April 8, 2003

A NASA astronaut and the founder of Spectra Logic Corp. are among five CU-Boulder engineering alumni and a non-alumnus who will be honored with Distinguished Engineering Alumni Awards by the University of Colorado at Boulder April 11.

Astronaut James S. Voss and Spectra Logic Corp. founder Nathan C. Thompson are among the six awardees who will be honored at the 38th annual Engineering Awards Banquet. The banquet will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Millenium Harvest House Hotel in Boulder and is not open to the public.

The awards recognize alumni and friends who have distinguished themselves through outstanding personal qualities, knowledge and significant contributions to their fields. Honorees represent fewer than 1 percent of the college's 25,000 graduates.

Dean Robert H. Davis of the College of Engineering and Applied Science will present the awards in the categories of education, government service, industry and commerce, private practice, research and invention. A sixth "special" category honors non-alumni who have provided outstanding service to the college.

Darrell Donly was recognized in the industry and commerce category for his 28-year career achievements with Bechtel Corp., one of the world's premier engineering and project management companies. Donly worked on a series of construction projects around the world before rising into management. He later headed the Houston office, was elected senior vice president and in 1998 was named president of Bechtel's North American region.

Charles H. Dowding was recognized in the education category for his achievements over more than 30 years teaching and conducting research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northwestern University. He is a leading authority on the effect of construction blasting vibrations on rock and has influenced the U.S. Bureau of Mines' control limits for blasting. Known as an enthusiastic teacher, he also founded Digital Vibration, Inc., which built the first telecommunications computers to remotely monitor blasting vibrations.

Engineering Assistant Dean James C. Sherman was recognized in the non-alumni category for his contributions to the CU-Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science since 1982. Sherman joined the college as director of student records and counseling and became an assistant dean in 1995. In more than two decades working with engineering students, he has advised thousands of students and parents, and manages college enrollment and registration, college humanities and social science offerings and college rules.

Awtar Singh was recognized in the private practice category for his achievements in the field of geotechnical forensic engineering. He co-founded Lockwood-Singh Associates, which completed more than 5,000 geotechnical and geological projects between 1972 and 2000, when the company was sold. Singh is an active philanthropist who has donated his time to helping students at all levels with their math achievements. He has endowed scholarships and fellowships at both CU-Boulder and the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned his doctorate.

Spectra founder Thompson was recognized in the research and invention category for his innovations and achievements in founding and managing Spectra Logic Corp., a worldwide company delivering high-capacity automated tape libraries. He started the company as Western Automation Laboratories while still a sophomore at CU-Boulder. Over 23 years, he built Spectra into a 260-employee, $50 million per year business. He attributes the company's success to its commitment to continued innovation, research and development.

Astronaut alumnus Voss was recognized in the government service category for his distinguished service in the U.S. Army and as a NASA astronaut. Since becoming an astronaut in 1988, Voss has logged 202 days in space and conducted four space walks on five shuttle flights. He is an active alumnus of the University of Colorado, sharing his experiences with CU students and working with the faculty on experiments.

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 and select the Alumni-Awards category.