CU-Boulder Honors Distinguished Engineers For Contributions

Published: April 19, 2005

Six alumni and the former director of the Women in Engineering Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder will be honored with the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award at the 40th annual Engineering Awards Banquet April 22.

Dean Robert H. Davis will present the 2005 awards, which recognize alumni and special friends of the engineering college who have distinguished themselves through outstanding personal qualities, knowledge and significant contributions in their field. The recipients were nominated by their colleagues and selected for the awards by a committee of the Engineering Advisory Council.

James D. Abrams will be recognized in the private practice category for his successful career as a building contractor in Texas. His firm, J.D. Abrams Inc., was founded in the mid-1960s and has grown into a major company specializing in civil engineering and heavy construction. The firm has performed some 340 public works contracts with a value of more than $2.7 billion.

Peter J. Balsells will be recognized in the industry and commerce category for his invention and development of the spring-energized seal, an innovation first employed in the Atlas Missile program, which later became the foundation of his successful California company, Bal Seals Engineering. Balsells serves as the company's chairman and head of research and development.

Linda A. Capuano, vice president of technology strategy for Honeywell International, will be recognized in the industry and commerce category for her leadership contributions to several technology organizations. She co-founded the telecommunications company Conductus and later served as vice president of Allied Signal. She also has chaired the Board of Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Michael S. Francis will be recognized in the government service category for his professional contributions beginning as an influential research director with the U.S. Air Force and continuing through his current position as director of the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Francis directed the X-31 International Experimental Fighter Aircraft Program at DARPA in the early 1990s and is a world expert in robotic aircraft.

David Haussler, professor of bio-molecular engineering at the University of California at Santa Cruz, will be recognized in the research and invention category for his significant accomplishments in genome analysis and his leading role in assembling the human genome sequence. His work became a key component of the international collaboration to complete the reference sequence, and his research group has made continuing contributions to the discovery of information in the sequence.

Eugene W. Myers Jr., professor of computer science at the University of California at Berkeley, will be recognized in the research and invention category for his distinguished contributions to the field of computational biology and genome analysis. Myers co-developed the BLAST program for fast, sensitive database searches, which is considered a seminal event in the creation of bio-informatics, and developed the methodology for assembling genome sequences from short DNA sequences.

Jill S. Tietjen, former director of the Women in Engineering Program at CU-Boulder, will be recognized in the special (non-alumni) category for her long-term commitment to the college and the advancement of women in engineering. Tietjen served as WIEP director from 1997 to 2000 and is currently an independent consultant and motivational speaker who is active in a number of national organizations.