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Wildcat fans enjoy the Engineering tailgate prior to the Homecoming game.

Wildcat Engineers Celebrate 60 Years at Homecoming 2023

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Wildcat Engineers Celebrate 60 Years at Homecoming 2023

Nov. 17, 2023
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Appreciating a proud legacy while looking ever forward.

Alumni, students and faculty celebrated another year of progress at the annual Homecoming Engineers Breakfast, but this year’s 60-year anniversary called for a long look back as well.

Aaliyah Thompson-Mazzeo, president of the Engineering Student Council, kicked off the event with a word of thanks for alumni.

Aaliyah Thompson-Mazzeo stands at a podium
Aaliyah Thompson-Mazzeo is president of the Engineering Student Council.

“As we continue to reminisce the past, celebrate the present and uncover the future, our communities today would be nothing without our alumni,” she said. “I believe I can speak for everyone when I say we are proud to continue your Wildcat legacy.”

Thompson-Mazzeo, who is majoring in biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering, then introduced David W. Hahn, the Craig M. Berge Dean of the college, who shared important milestones demonstrating the college’s evolution over the decades and data showing increases in student enrollment and research funding.

"I know individually and collectively, we're changing the world to a better place," Hahn said. "We're really proud of the work you do every day as engineers in industry and government and the defense of our nation and also in academia, helping to shape the future engineering workforce."

Hahn also introduced the event’s keynote speaker, Dr. Zoe Draelos, and later presented her award, along with those of other outstanding alumni.

Draelos pursued a graduate degree in medicine shortly after earning her engineering B.S. This led to her career in dermatology, which she views as the perfect combination of medicine and engineering. Draelos is now a research and clinical board-certified dermatologist and a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

During her speech, Draelos listed multiple products that she works with daily that she considers to be engineering miracles: disposable razors, cans of shaving cream, and facial moisturizers — especially important in Tucson.

"Where medicine hits engineering and where engineering hits medicine, that's where invention occurs,” Draelos said. “I understand the University of Arizona is now pioneering a collaborative effort between the schools of engineering and medicine. I think this is a wonderful, fabulous idea, and I know there will be many young people who find that interface, as I did, between medical backgrounds and engineering.”

Alumni awardees pose with plaques in front of a photo background
Alumni awardees from left to right: Ryan Gapp, Alex Reynoso, Scott Sayles, Vy Kieu and Zoe Draelos.

Alumnus of the Year Award

Zoe Draelos - Mechanical Engineering, 1979

In 1988, Draelos founded Dermatology Consulting Services to perform research in aging skin and provide aesthetic procedures in the cosmetic, OTC drug, and pharmaceutical arenas. She has contributed chapters to 42 textbooks, served as the principal investigator on 750 studies, and was the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology for 10 years. In 2019, she was the inaugural recipient of the Florence Wall Award from the Society of Cosmetics Chemists honoring her as the most influential woman in cosmetic science.

"I'm so grateful for this award today. I went to many Engineers Breakfasts with my father, and it's really an honor for me to receive this award,” Draelos said. “I have enjoyed my career tremendously, and at heart, I will always be a University of Arizona Engineering Wildcat."

Outstanding Young Alumni Volunteer Award

Ryan Gapp - Biomedical Engineering, 2014

Gapp is a quality engineer with W. L. Gore & Associates and lives in Flagstaff. He grew up in Tucson and was one of the first graduates of the B.S. in biomedical engineering program. As a student, Ryan was part of Engineering Ambassadors and was a research associate at the Arizona Center on Aging.

Throughout his career at Gore, he has worked on many different medical devices that improve cardiovascular health care. Gapp has volunteered as the UA outreach champion/liaison from Gore since 2018. He leads a “core team” of other Wildcats at Gore who also enjoy volunteering for Engineering events or helping advocate for philanthropic support for the UA. Gapp recently served on the College of Engineering search committee to hire the new biomedical engineering department head, Mario Romero-Ortega.

Outstanding Young Alumni Volunteer Award

Vy Kieu - Mechanical Engineering, 2014

Kieu has spent nine years in the utility industry with Salt River Project and has nearly 13 years of professional experience, including with IBM. As the manager of generation planning, analysis and renewables, Kieu is leading SRP’s transformation of energy generation to include more renewable resources like solar photovoltaics and batteries.

Kieu has served on the Alumni Engineering Council Board for more than five years and is currently council president. She has volunteered her time and expertise consistently to support the next generation of engineers.

Bear Down Award

Scott Sayles - Civil Engineering, 2000

Sayles is a civil engineer with a passion for design, construction, and problem solving. Hailing from Kingman, Arizona, he learned many practical lessons growing up in a rural setting. These lessons paired well with his UA education, providing a solid foundation for what life threw at him. Sayles has enjoyed working for WSP and Parsons on complex projects in the United States and internationally. He was recently reappointed to the Arizona Board of Technical Registration as the civil engineering board member.

He has been a part of many volunteer efforts that support Engineering, including the UA Alumni Engineering Council, the Sayles Advancement in Education Foundation, and the UA Civil & Architectural Engineering Alumni Industrial Council.

"It is important for me to be part of ensuring passionate individuals can access higher education, especially in engineering disciplines," Sayles said. "Scholarships help play that pivotal role."

Sidney S. Woods Alumni Service Award

Alex Reynoso - Mining Engineering, 1974

Reynoso has been involved with the Alumni Association for 30 years. He is the founding member and president of the Salt Lake City SkiCats and was also recognized with the 2021 Alumni Wildcat Spirit Award.

“I am excited to be honored for doing what I truly believe in – helping others achieve their dreams by receiving a superior education to go out and make good in this world,” he said.

Reynoso believes the UA offers an incredible atmosphere of students and professors who make a difference. His scholarship endowment affords opportunities for minority mining students.

Reynoso enjoyed an exciting 44 years of adventures in the mining industry, retiring after 28 years with Rio Tinto Kennecott in Utah. He volunteers his time supporting community and church charities. A golf and travel enthusiast, he does his yelling and crying when watching the Cats play. But most of all, Reynoso just loves being happy with family and friends.

Watch the Engineers Breakfast recording.