SpaceShipOne Designer Among Distinguished Engineering Alumni Honored By CU-Boulder

Published: April 16, 2006

The University of Colorado at Boulder will honor four distinguished engineering alumni at the 41st annual Engineering Awards Banquet on April 21.

The recipients include the chief aerodynamicist for SpaceShipOne, which won the $10 million Ansari X-Prize, an expert in marine structures who helped to design the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a CU-Boulder faculty member in chemical engineering and a professor of computer science at the University of Tokyo.

Dean Robert H. Davis will present the 2006 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Awards to the following alumni:

Jim Tighe, who earned his bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering at CU-Boulder in 1997, will be recognized in the industry and commerce category for his key role in designing the space plane that won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004. Tighe was the chief aerodynamicist on the project, which became the first privately funded, manned spacecraft to fly into space twice within a two-week period. The space plane was built by Scaled Composites in Mojave, Calif., and Tighe was recognized as the Engineer of the Year by Design News in 2005.

Subrata Chakrabarti, who earned his master's and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering at CU-Boulder in 1964 and 1968 respectively, will be recognized in the private practice category for his successful career in the engineering of marine structures, including storage tanks, submarines, wave basins and piers. After 28 years with the Chicago Bridge and Iron Co., he founded the firm Offshore Structure Analysis, which consults on innovative projects worldwide, including the design and installation of the concrete piers for the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge. He recently joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Alan Weimer, who earned his master's and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering in 1978 and 1980 respectively, will be recognized in the research and invention category for his work in advanced materials, nanotechnology and sustainable energy. Weimer had a 16-year career at Dow Chemical Co. before becoming a professor of chemical engineering at CU-Boulder in 1996. He holds 21 patents, co-founded the startup company ALD NanoSolutions and is the global coordinator for the six-country International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy, which is working to split water using concentrated sunlight.

Kumiyo Nakakoji, who earned her master's and Ph.D. degrees in computer science at CU-Boulder in 1990 and 1993 respectively, will be recognized in the education category for her influential work on how information technologies can be used to support creativity. Nakakoji is a professor at the University of Tokyo's Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology and a regular collaborator with the Center for LifeLong Learning and Design at CU-Boulder.

For more information on the awards, go to