While many alumni from the University of Wisconsin engineering program have received a number of accolades in their field, recognition from their alma mater for distinguished achievements carries a special meaning.
The 64th annual Engineers’ Day Banquet presents the College of Engineering Distinguished Achievement Award and the Early Achievement Award to UW alumni who have utilized their engineering degree to provide substantial contributions to the field, honoring alumni whose success ranges from local to global impact.
Engineering School Assistant Dean of Alumni Brian Mattmiller said selecting the nominations for each award was a difficult task when considering the thousands of success stories of alumni across the country and globe.
Between eight and 12 alumni are nominated every year, Mattmiller added.
Renee Meiller, spokesperson for the College of Engineering, said this year’s nominees represent a diverse range of success on a local and global scale, citing Michael Duckette from Brookfield, Wis., and Appu Kattan from Alexandria, Va., as some of the most distinguished honorees.
Duckette, she said, represented a positive impact in the field on a local level, as he played a major role in the creation of Miller Park’s and Lambeau Field’s reconstructions.
Kattan’s extensive work with system management, on the other hand, has resulted in his concepts and knowledge being received by engineers across the world, Meiller said.
The majority of the nominees’ careers span 20 years or more of work experience, Meiller said, but this year’s Early Achievement Award nominee Jenny Topinka’s career is half of the typical figure.
Within 10 years, Topinka has already achieved $200 million in research and development investment as well as engineering finances at General Electric, Meiller said.
She added although many nominees have received multiple awards and honors for their advances in each respective field, many consider the award from UW to be their highest honor.
“[Many alumni] attribute their personal and professional success to their UW engineering education,” she said.
Mattmiller echoed the sentiment, saying receiving the award can be a particularly momentous achievement because it comes directly from their alma mater.
He also said the award serves as a reminder to current engineering students of the what future career paths in the field could hold.