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College of Engineering honors eight accomplished alumni

Mare Payne, News Bureau
(217) 333-0567;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Eight alumni of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were honored April 19 at the 38th annual Engineering Awards Convocation.

Each year the college recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding alumni and former faculty members with the Alumni Award for Distinguished Service in Engineering. The award honors leadership, contributions to knowledge and dedication to the professional development of young engineers and scientists.

The award winners:

orange dot Joseph Philip Colaco, president of CMB Engineers Inc. and professor of architecture, University of Houston. Colaco, who earned a master's in 1962 and a doctorate in 1965, both in civil engineering, was honored for his creative innovations in structural systems, his contributions to the advancement of the art and science of design of tall buildings and his dedicated service to his profession.

orange dot Carl J. Johnson, chief executive officer, II-VI Inc., Saxonburg, Pa. Johnson, who earned a doctorate in electrical engineering in 1969, was honored for his contributions to the growth of low-defect density II-VI compound semiconductor materials employed in the manufacture of high-quality optical, electro-optical and radiation-detection devices for applications using infrared, visible and X-ray/gamma-ray wavelengths.

orange dot Shung-Wu "Andy" Lee, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois. Lee earned a master's in 1964 and a doctorate in 1966, both in electrical engineering, and is being honored for contributions to antennas and electromagnetic scattering and to the design of frequency selective surfaces for stealth technology.

orange dot George K. Muellner, president of Phantom Works, a division of The Boeing Co., Seal Beach, Calif. Muellner earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering in 1967 and began his 31-year career in the U.S. Air Force upon graduation. As an industrial leader, technology program manager, test pilot and public servant, Muellner was honored for his leadership in the development of engineering technologies for advanced aircraft and spacecraft and for his dedicated and outstanding career in public service.

orange dot Peng T. Ong, founder and chairman emeritus of Interwoven Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif. Ong, who earned a master's degree in computer science in 1988, was honored for his vision and leadership in building Interwoven into the world’s leading provider of enterprise-class content infrastructure software.

orange dot Alexander Rankin V, founder and chairman of Vulcan Spring & Manufacturing Co., Telford, Pa., and co-founder and chairman of FirstService Bank, Doylestown, Pa. Rankin, who earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1957, was honored for his entrepreneurial spirit, the excellence of his manufacturing endeavors, his service to the profession and his support of young innovators.

orange dot Phillip D. Schwiebert, executive vice president, Western region, of Questron Distribution Logistics, Milpitas, Calif. Schwiebert, who earned a bachelor's degree in 1961 in engineering mechanics, was recognized for his entrepreneurial spirit and distinguished business career, contributions to engineering knowledge servicing the truck and rail shipping industries, and service to the university.

orange dot Joseph R. "Joe" Tanner, mission specialist for NASA, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston. Tanner, who earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1973, credits his engineering education at Illinois for getting into the astronaut program in 1992 after his Navy career. Tanner was recognized for creatively using his engineering background as a foundation for making important contributions to the nation’s space exploration program.