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The 2009-10 Distinguished Alumni Honorees

The 2009-10 Distinguished Alumni Honorees Back Row (from left to right): Lee Leffingwell, Arthur Ratzel III, Glenn Staats, Philip Schmidt and J. Mike Walker. Front Row: Stacy Genovese.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin recently honored five alumni and one facutly member at its Distinguished Alumni presentation held Thursday, April 1 in the T-Room. Chair Joe Beaman served as Master of Ceremonies at the event. The alumni were introduced by their former Mechanical Engineering advisors and then made acceptance speeches explaining their life path and role the university played in their careers. The Honorary Engineer Award, presented to Philip Schmidt, was presented by one of his current undergraduate students. The Outstanding Young Mechanical Engineer award was presented to Stacy Genevese, now Technical Director at Good Housekeeping. The engineers receiving the Distinguished Mechanical Engineer award were the Honorable Lee Leffingwell, Mayor of Austin, Texas, Dr. Arthur Ratzel III, Director of Facilities Management and Operations at Sandia National Laboratories, and Dr. J. Mike Walker, a co-founder and of Dril-Quip. The Hall of Fame award was presented to Dr. Glenn Staats, entrepreneur and founder of Internet AutoParts.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering, in an effort to recognize the accomplishments of its outstanding alumni, established the Mechanical Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 2004. The Academy seeks to do the following:

  • Recognize engineers publicly among University of Texas at Austin community and Engineering community
  • Champion our own professions
  • Create a sense of community/camaraderie within the Department
  • Facilitate interaction/continuity with the student body and our alumni and corporate friends

The Academy recognizes alumni in four categories:

Stacy Genovese received the Outstanding Young Mechanical Engineer award from Chair Joe Beaman, who was also her graduate advisor.

Stacy Genovese received the Outstanding Young Mechanical Engineer award from Chair Joe Beaman, who was also her graduate advisor.

Outstanding Young Mechanical Engineer— Stacy Genovese

The winner of this award is Ms. Stacy A. Genovese, now serving as the Technical Director at Good Housekeeping. Ms. Genovse received her masters degree in this department in 1998. Chairman Joe Beaman was her advisor. Ms. Genovese joined Good Housekeeping in 2006 as Director of the Consumer Electronics & Engineering Department of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute. in 2009, she was promoted to her current position where she oversees all testing within the organization. Prior to working for Good Housekeeping, she designed systems controls for jet engines for GE and Northop Grumman. She is the first woman in the 100 year history of Good Housekeeping Research Institute to hold her present position.

The Mayor of Austin, Lee Leffingwell, giving his acceptance speech.

The Mayor of Austin, Lee Leffingwell, giving his acceptance speech.

Dr. Arthur Ratzel receiving the award from Chair Joe Beaman.

Dr. J. Mike Walker receiving his award from Chair Joe Beaman.

Dr. J. Mike Walker receiving his award from Chair Joe Beaman.

Distinguished Mechanical Engineer Award Winners— Lee Leffingwell, Arthur Ratzel and J. Mike Walker

These members must be age 40 or older, and have proven superior professional achievement, community service and service to the University. These alumni are role models for all to follow and their example of distinguished professional practice deserves recognition.

The three engineers receiving this honor have had very different career paths. The Honorable Lee Leffingwell, now serving as Mayor of Austin, graduated with a B.S. degree in 1961. After a career in the United States Military as an officer and a pilot, he became a commercial pilot for Delta Airlines for 32 years. After retiring from Delta, he became interested in local politics in the late 1990s with a focus on environmental causes. He was appointed to the city's Environmental Board by the Austin City Council in 1999, and subsequently elected Chair by his colleagues. He was elected mayor in 2005 and re-elected in 2009.

Dr. Arthur Ratzel received his Ph.D. from UTME in 1981, and began his career with Sandia National Laboratories in 1976. He was subsequently promoted to technical management in 1990 and to Senior Manager in 2000. From 2003-2005, he served as Chief of Staff to the senior vice president of the Sandia Nuclear Weapons Program. In 2005, he was promoted to Director of Engineering Sciences, overseeing 400+ staff and contractors. He currently serves as Director of Facilities Management and Operations.

Dr. J. Mike Walker received his Masters degree from this department in 1968 under Dr. J. Parker Lamb. After graduating, he went to work for Exxon, and later received his Ph.D. from Texas A & M in mechanical engineering. In 1978, he left Exxon, became Director of Engineering at Vetco. In 1981, he and three associates cofounded an oilfield company literally out of a garage. From its humble beginnings, their company, Dril-Quip, which is headquartered in Houston, has grown to become one of the world's leading manufacturers of offshore drilling equipment. Dr. Walker is still working with the company, as are many of their original employees.

Mechanical Engineering Hall Of Fame— Glenn Staats

Members in this category are alumni who are retired or near-retirement with outstanding career records. This award recognizes sustained and meritorious contributions to engineering and engineering management.

Dr. Glenn Staats, winner of the Hall of Fame Award, with Professor Emeritus Paul Jensen, his faculty advisor.

Dr. Glenn Staats, winner of the Hall of Fame Award, with Professor Emeritus Paul Jensen, his faculty advisor.

The 2009/10 recipient of the Hall of Fame award is Dr. Glenn Staats, who received a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from this department in 1968 and 1970, respectively. Dr. Staats spent six years as a faculty member at the University of Missouri-Columbia after receiving his Ph.D., leaving academia to pursue his entrepreneurial interests, founding Service Dealer Technologies, Inc. Next, he founded and ran Cooperative Computing, selling it in 2007, followed by Internet AutoParts, which now has annual sales of over $300 million. All three businesses serve(d) the automotive replacement parts industry. He is currently retired to a life of investing and ranching.

Mechanical Engineering Honorary Engineer Award— Philip Schmidt

Recipients of this award are non-University of Texas at Austin Mechanical Engineering Alumni who have made major contributions to the engineering profession and whose support of the University of Texas at Austin Mechanical Engineering Department merits recognition.

Professor Phil Schmidt, winner of the Honorary Engineer Award, with Yuval Doron, a 2008 BSME graduate, who credits Dr. Schmidt with "saving" him when he was ready to give up. Mr. Doron has subsequently received his MSME degree from Texas A & M and is starting an engineering consulting firm.

Professor Phil Schmidt, winner of the Honorary Engineer Award, with Yuval Doron, a 2008 BSME graduate, who credits Dr. Schmidt with "saving" him when he was ready to give up. Mr. Doron has subsequently received his MSME degree from Texas A & M and is starting an engineering consulting firm.

Dr. Philip Schmidt is the 2009-10 recipient of the Honorary Engineer Award. Dr. Schmidt is a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, beginning his career here 40 years ago. He served as Associate Dean of Graduate Studies from 1978-1981. He received his B.S. degree in Aeronautics & Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1962, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering in 1965 and 1968, respectively. His research focus is on industrial thermal processes, particularly the application of microwave and radio-frequency heating and drying. He is the founder and director of the Project-Centered Education Project, a major curriculum reform program, that focuses on a hands-on approach to engineering education. He has received much recognition for his teaching, including some of the highest accolades awarded by The University of Texas at Austin, most recently the Chancellor's Teaching Award and the Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award, both in 2009. He is one of the most beloved professors to ever teach in the Mechanical Engineering department. Mike Vu, a ME senior and the president of SEEK (Student Engineers Educating Kids), a student service organization of which Dr. Schmidt serves as faculty advisor provided Dr. Schmidt's introduction.

Charter Members Of The Academy

Outstanding Young Mechanical Engineer

Distinguished Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical Engineering Hall of Fame

Mechanical Engineering Honorary Engineer Award


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