The University of Arizona Logo

2014 Engineering Homecoming: Powerful Partnerships in Real Time

Time to read
3 minutes
Read so far

2014 Engineering Homecoming: Powerful Partnerships in Real Time

Nov. 15, 2014
Partnerships in biomedicine, challenges in mining, Mars rovers, women in engineering and One World Trade Center are among the hot topics at UA's Engineering Homecoming.

Hundreds of alumni attending the 2014 University of Arizona College of Engineering Homecoming Nov. 7-9 had many reasons to come together and celebrate.

Homecoming marked the centennials of two UA programs: agricultural and biosystems engineering, and Homecoming itself. It gave 12 alumni from the class of 1964 a chance to reminisce on five decades of being a Wildcat. At a presentation about One World Trade Center, 100 alumni, students and faculty got a rare glimpse into construction of this iconic building. Some 100 aerospace and mechanical engineering alumni and guests attended Homecoming, where many reconnected with Professor Emeritus Henry “Skip” Perkins and Dave Hutchens, UA Alumnus of the Year. And Homecoming 2014 gave all attendees a chance to cheer the Wildcats on to victory over Colorado.

Engineers Breakfast Recognizes Distinguished Alumni

About 600 Engineering alumni and friends kicked off Homecoming 2014 with the 51st annual Engineers Breakfast, where University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart gave opening remarks.

She celebrated the College of Engineering as a place for “creating serendipity” and for its many partnerships, not only with academic colleagues across campus, but also with business and industry leaders. In these ways, she said, the College is playing a key role in advancing the University of Arizona’s mission.

“I believe this College and you, its alumni, are going to have a profound impact on the future,” she said.

Joe G.N. Garcia, UA senior vice president for health sciences and keynote speaker, discussed how scientific breakthroughs like the Human Genome Project have created new opportunities for collaboration between engineers and medical researchers in such areas as telemedicine and big data analytics.

“Bioengineering is transforming medicine,” said Garcia, who noted that the College of Engineering has ties to most departments in the College of Medicine and that engineering students are gaining invaluable training working directly alongside clinicians.
The College launched a new video at the breakfast, Women in Engineering, featuring four students and recent alumnae. The women spoke of their desire to help others through engineering and inspire more women to enter the field.

In the video, biomedical engineering major Kristina Rivera, who has Type I diabetes, said, “I have a driving force to make life easier for people with medical problems.”

Electrical and computer engineering graduate student Nikitha Ramohalli, who works with Engineers without Borders, marveled at engineering’s global impact and opportunities for discovery.

“Because I’m an engineer, I get to be an adventurer and create for the rest of my life,” she said.

2014 Engineers Breakfast Slideshow

And the Award Goes to

College of Engineering Dean Jeff Goldberg presented the 2014 awards to distinguished alumni, starting with the Alumnus of the Year Award to Dave Hutchens.

Hutchens, president and CEO of UNS Energy and Tucson Electric Power, earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1988 and his MBA in 1999. He serves on the College’s Industry Partner Board and has supported a renewable energy partnership between the UA and Tucson Electric Power and worked to increase philanthropic support of student programs.

“You will never, ever regret having an engineering degree,” he told students and recent graduates at the breakfast.

Patrick Marcus, owner of a local engineering firm, received The Bear Down Award for recruiting, teaching and mentoring students and helping them find jobs. He earned bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the College in 1999 and 2006, respectively.

“Local startups must build relationships with engineering students early on,” he said. “We can’t afford not to be closely involved with the University.”

Darcy Anderson, who earned her master’s in 2000, received the Advocacy Award for promoting the College to high school students. She works at the Pinal County Air Quality Department.

The class of 1960’s Mel Green, president and CEO of a structural engineering and historic preservation firm, received the Sidney S. Woods Alumni Service Award. Green has volunteered many hours -- flying to and from his California home -- as a teacher to students and adviser to faculty.

The Citizen of the Year Award went to Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. Since earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1972 and 1976, respectively, he has served the county for nearly four decades. Huckelberry noted that engineers, many of them from the College, comprise one of the largest groups of professionals working for the county.

Race Cars and Rovers

Some campus security personnel were not pleased to see students wheeling their racecars down the UA Mall on Friday. But it was for a good cause: promoting College of Engineering ingenuity and inventiveness, at the Engineering Showcase tent. Students with the Wildcat Formula Racing and Baja Racing teams presented two cars-in-progress apiece.

The four remote-controlled planetary rovers under the tent were smaller but built with even greater ambition: exploring Mars. Professor Wolfgang Fink and students with the National Society of Black Engineers demonstrated the robotic vehicles, created in Fink’s Visual and Autonomous Exploration Systems Research Lab.

Mining Challenges and Opportunities

Charles Jeannes, president and CEO of Vancouver-based GoldCorp, delivered the ninth annual W.C. Lacy Distinguished Lecture, “Turning Challenges Into Opportunities in Today’s Mining Industry.” He discussed prospects for gold production and pricing and mining’s explosive growth in many parts of the world. Jeannes is a 1983 graduate of the UA James E. Rogers College of Law, which hosted the lecture.