Distinguished Alumni

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor the Institute bestows upon a graduate, and is in recognition of "a particular achievement of noteworthy value, a series of such achievements, or a career of noteworthy accomplishment.

Mihran S. Agbabian M.S. '48 (Civil Engineering), Awarded 2000.

Moshe Arens M.S. '53 (Mechanical Engineering), Awarded 1980.
Moshe Arens, president of Cybernetics, Inc., in Savyon, Israel, attained major achievements in the diverse areas of engineering and politics. As vice president of engineering for Israeli Aircraft Industries, he played a dominant role in the development and production of the Gabriel missile, the Westwind executive aircraft, and the Kfir fighter, an outstanding engineering accomplishment. Arens left the company in 1971 to found his own consulting firm and to enter the political arena. In 1973 he was elected to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, and served as chairman of its Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Eventually he achieved the rank of Minister of Defense and also served as Israel's ambassador to the United States.

Horace W. Babcock B.S. '34 (Civil Engineering), Awarded 1994.
A noted astronomer who discovered that stars possess magnetic fields and who pioneered the field of adaptive optics, Horace Babcock was director emeritus of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. He published extensively on stellar magnetic fields and the sun's 22-year magnetic cycle, and was widely acknowledged to be a leader in the area of adaptive optics, which develops optical techniques to compensate for atmospheric distortion and other phenomena that interfere with astronomical ¿seeing.¿ Babcock earned his PhD from UC Berkeley in 1938. He served as an instructor at the University of Chicago, 1940-41, then spent a year at the MIT Radiation Lab. From 1942 to 1945, he was with the OSRD Rocket Project at Caltech, his work there earning him the U.S. Navy Bureau of Ordnance Development Award. He was on the staff of the Mount Wilson Observatory, Carnegie Institution of Washington, from 1946 to 1948, and of the Hale Observatories - which comprised the Mount Wilson, Palomar, and Las Campanas Observatories - from 1948 to 1980. He was director from 1964 to 1978. Babcock was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1954, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1959, and the American Philosophical Society in 1966, and was an associate of the Royal Astronomical Society (London) and a corresponding member of the Société Royale des Sciences (Liège). His other honors include the Eddington Medal (1957) and Gold Medal (1970) of Britain's Royal Astronomical Society, and the American Astronomical Society's Hale Prize (1992). Dr. Babcock passed away in 2003.

Mary Baker MS '67, PhD '72, Awarded 2014.
President, ATA Engineering Inc.

William J. Carroll B.S. '48 (Civil Engineering) M.S. '49 (Civil Engineering), Awarded 1996.
William J. (Bud) Carroll is Chairman Emeritus of Montgomery Watson Harza, a Pasadena environmental engineering firm with offices worldwide. He held various positions while at Montgomery Watson, including chief engineer, president and CEO, and chairman of the board. During his years with the company, Carroll specialized in water and wastewater engineering. He prepared more than 50 master plans for water and sewage systems, designed treatment plants, reservoirs, and pumping stations, and was instrumental in the development of many public agencies, both at home and abroad. He participated in projects in 15 foreign countries. Carroll was originally a member of the Caltech's class of '45, but interrupted his academic career to serve as a U.S. Army Air Forces meteorologist during World War II. He joined Montgomery Watson (then known as James M. Montgomery) in 1951, and spent the early years of his career chiefly on projects within the United States - among them co-designing the San Diego Metropolitan Sewerage Project and developing a non-reclaimable waste system to handle industrial wastes for the Chino Basin. In later years, Carroll was increasingly involved in international projects such as the billion-dollar expansion of Manila's sewerage systems and the planning and design of water systems for seven cities in Indonesia. The recipient of many honors and awards, Carroll is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He has also served as president of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the American Academy of Environmental Engineers. In 1975 he was president of the Caltech Alumni Association.

Earnest H. Clark B.S. '46 (Mechanical Engineering) M.S. '47 (Mechanical Engineering) Awarded 1981.
After receiving his degrees at Caltech, E.H. (Hubie) Clark, Jr. joined Baker Oil Tools in 1947 as a trainee engineer. He became chief research engineer in 1957, vice president and assistant general manager in 1958, president in 1962, and chief executive officer in 1965. Listed among Fortune magazine's 500 largest industrial companies. Baker was chosen by that publication as one of the top ten business triumphs of the 1970s. Clark was past president and a director of the Petroleum Equipment Supplies Association and a member of the boards of the American Petroleum Institute, CBI Industries, Inc., Beckman Instruments, Inc., and the National Energy Foundation. Interested in education, he became a trustee and chairman of the academic affairs committee at Harvey Mudd College.

Francis H. Clauser B.S. '34 (Physics) M.S. '35 (Mechanical Engineering) Ph.D. '37 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1966.
Academic Vice Chancellor, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Robert W. Conn M.S. '65 (Mechanical Engineering) Ph.D. '68 (Engineering Science), Awarded 1998.
The dean of UC San Diego's school of engineering and the first recipient of the Walter J. Zable Endowed Chair in Engineering, Robert W. Conn is an internationally recognized leader in the field of plasma physics, plasma processing of materials, and fusion energy. Prior to joining UC San Diego in 1994, he served at UCLA as professor of engineering and applied sciences and as founding director of the Institute of Plasma and Fusion Research. He came to UCLA in 1980 after holding the Romnes Faculty Professorial Chair at the University of Wisconsin, where he was on the faculty from 1970 to 1979; he also helped found its program in fusion energy technology, and directed the University of Wisconsin Fusion Technology Center from 1974 to 1979. Editor of the journal Fusion Engineering and Design since 1986, Conn has in his field published more than 200 papers in journals, more than 100 conference papers, and several book chapters. He has also served as a member or as chair on many government and National Academy advisory committees. The recipient of numerous awards, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1987 and is a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Nuclear Society. Long involved with industry, he founded Plasma and Materials Technologies (now Trikon Technologies) in 1986, serving as chairman and senior technologist from 1986 until 1993, and remaining on the board of directors until the end of 1994.

Trent R. Dames B.S. '33 (Civil Engineering) M.S. '34 (Civil Engineering), Awarded 1993.
Trent Dames co-founded the LA-based engineering consulting firm of Dames & Moore in 1938, with fellow alumnus William Moore. Classmates, they had both graduated from Caltech with BS and MS degrees in civil engineering. From a two-man consulting team, Dames & Moore grew into an international and multi-disciplinary organization providing comprehensive environmental and specialized consulting and engineering services for a worldwide clientele. Dames was responsible for providing administrative leadership as the company expanded, and for establishing and overseeing management policy. He retired in 1989. See also: William Moore

Frank W. Davis B.S. '36 (Mechanical Engineering), Awarded 1968.
President, Fort Worth Division, General Dynamics Corporation.

Louis G. Dunn B.S. '36 (Aeronautics) M.S. '37 (Mechanical Engineering) M.S. '38 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '40 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1974.
Retired.

Warren E. Fenzi B.S. '37 (Civil Engineering), Awarded 1977
President, Phelps Dodge Corporation

Richard G. Folsom B.S. '28 (Mechanical Engineering) M.S. '29 (Mechanical Engineering) Ph.D. '32 (Mechanical Engineering), Awarded 1966.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Philip M. Githinji M.S. '61 (Mechanical Engineering) Engineer '63 (Mechanical Engineering), Awarded 1993.
Philip Mwangi Githinji was for many years a leading promoter of engineering education and the engineering profession both in Kenya and in Africa at large. At the University of Nairobi he taught thermodynamics, heat transfer, and air-conditioning and refrigeration, among other topics. He earned his PhD there for research into the drying of pyrethrum flowers, a natural insecticide. He eventually rose to become vice-chancellor (president) of Kenyatta University (1987-1992). The president of Kenya decorated him with the award of Elder of the Order of the Burning Spear.

James E. Hall B.S. '57 (Mechanical Engineering), Awarded 2001.
The record of race car designer and constructor James Ellis Hall includes driving Formula I for the Stirling Moss team in 1963, finishing 12th in the Drivers' World Championship. He was US Road Racing champion in 1964 and winner of the Sebring 12 Hour, the Road America 500 and the Canadian Grand Prix, all in 1965. Teams he managed won International Formula 5000 Championships in 1974, '75 and '76; International Can-Am Championships in 1977 and '78; and the USAC and CART National Championship in 1980. His is the only team to have won auto racing's Triple Crown - the Indianapolis, Pocono and Ontario 500-mile races - in a single season (1978). His Team Chaparral won the Indy 500 again in 1980. Hall has appeared on the covers of Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, and numerous motorsports magazines worldwide and has been inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame, the Motorsports Hall of Fame, and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

George W. Housner M.S. '34 (Civil Engineering) Ph.D. '41 (Civil Engineering), Awarded 2006.
Widely considered the father of earthquake engineering, George W. Housner is Caltech’s Carl F Braun Professor of Engineering, Emeritus. Beginning with his PhD thesis, “An Investigation of the Effects of Earthquakes on Buildings,” his research has revealed the characteristics of destructive ground shaking and has improved seismic design methods for structures. In recognition of his contributions, Housner has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.He has served the National Academies in many capacities, including as chair of committees on earthquake engineering research, the International Decade of Natural Hazard Reduction, and the investigation into the 1964 Alaskan earthquake. He has chaired the Consulting Board for Earthquake Problems of the California Department of Water Resources, the Caltrans Seismic Advisory Board, and the Governor’s Board of Inquiry on the Loma Prieta Earthquake. The projects on which he has consulted include the California Water Project, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit System, and the trans-Arabian pipeline, as well as numerous dams, buildings, nuclear facilities, ports, and off-shore oil platforms. In 1978, he led a delegation of earthquake engineers to the People’s Republic of China as a follow-up to President Nixon’s trip there six years earlier. Housner’s numerous honors include the National Medal of Science, the Founders Award of the National Academy of Engineering, and the California Earthquake Safety Foundation's Alquist Award. He holds honorary doctorates from the University of Michigan and USC.

Anthony J. Iorillo B.S. '59 (Mechanical Engineering) M.S. '60 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1990.
Mr. Iorillo was a senior vice president of Hughes Aircraft Company, and presided over the company's Space and Communications Group, responsible for the development and production of communications satellites and other space vehicles, spacecraft instrumentation, earth terminals, terrestrial communications equipment, and information systems. He also served as Chairman of the Board of American Mobile Satellite Corporation. He was the inventor of the Hughes Gyrostat satellite technique, which has been used in scores of communications satellite missions. For his work he received the 1970 Lawrence A. Hyland Patent Award and the Spacecraft Design Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Arthur T. Ippen M.S. '35 (Civil Engineering) Ph.D. '36 (Civil Engineering), Awarded 1970.
Professor of civil engineering and director of the Hydrodynamics Laboratory of the department of civil engineering at MIT, Arthur Ippen received his PhD from Caltech in 1936. He wrote more than 60 professional articles, engineering reports, and other papers. He was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a U.S. delegate to the 17th International Navigation Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1949. In 1962 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Toulouse in France.

Hassan M. Ismail Ph.D. '49 (Civil Engineering), Awarded 1972
President, Cairo University

W. Morton Jacobs B.S. '28 (Mechanical Engineering) Awarded 1971.
President and Executive Officer, Southern California Gas Company.

Jack L. Kerrebrock Ph.D. '56 (Mechanical Engineering), Awarded 1997.
Jack L. Kerrebrock is professor emeritus of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. Before his retirement in 1996, he was MIT's R. C. Maclaurin Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and also served as associate and acting dean of engineering and as head of the aeronautics and astronautics department. From 1981 to 1983, he was associate administrator for aeronautics and space technology at NASA. Before joining the MIT faculty in the early 1960s, Kerrebrock worked as a research engineer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and as an aeronautical research scientist with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in Cleveland, Ohio. He also held research fellowships at Caltech from 1953 to 1956 and from 1958 to 1960. He received his bachelor's degree from Oregon State University and his master's degree from Yale University before pursuing doctoral work at Caltech. Kerrebrock has served on numerous committees and advisory boards, including the presidential National Commission on Space (1984-86); the U. S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board; and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Research Council. He is a fellow of the AIAA, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received NASA's Exceptional Service Medal in 1983, and was decorated for exceptional civilian service by the U. S. Air Force in 1981. He returned to Caltech as a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar in 1990-91.

Max V. Mathews B.S. '50 (Electrical Engineering) B.S. '50 (Mechanical Engineering), Awarded 1989.
Electronic violins, psychoacoustic perception of musical sounds, and musical uses of real-time computer systems are the subjects of Max V. Mathew's research at Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Mathews came to Stanford in 1987 after 23 years at the Acoustical and Behavioral Research Center. Under his direction, the laboratory carried out research in speech communication, visual communication, human memory and learning and physical acoustics. After graduation from Caltech in 1950, he earned a MS in 1952 and a ScD in 1954, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then joined the staff of AT&T Bell Laboratories where his research focused on sound and music synthesis with digital computers. Mathews was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1975, and the National Academy of Engineering in 1979. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Audio Engineering Society.

John R. McMillan B.S. '31 (Mechanical Engineering), Awarded 1980.
Chairman of the Board, Reserve Oil and Gas Company, Los Angeles, California, John R. McMillan was a leader in the petroleum industry for many years, a field he entered while still a student at Caltech. He was president and director of Reserve Oil and Gas Company from 1963 to 1980, and managed the merger of that company with Getty Oil. McMillan started out as a draftsman for Barnsdall Oil Co. and eventually became petroleum engineer and production foreman of that firm. He joined Fullerton Oil in 1943, and in 1954, the year the company merged with Monterey Oil, became its president. President of the Monterey Division of Humble Oil in 1961, he went on to become president and director of Monterey Gas Transmission Co. in Houston. While with Monterey he organized, and was the first president of, Transwestern Pipeline Co. In 1963, before joining Reserve, he became a partner in Lacal Petroleum Co. in Los Angeles. McMillan was given the Distinguished Service Award by the Society of Petroleum Engineers in 1971, and in 1974 was named a fellow of the Institute for the Advancement of Engineering.

Duane T. McRuer B.S. '45 (Mechanical Engineering) M.S. '48 (Electrical Engineering), Awarded 1983.
President and Technical Director, Systems Technology, Inc., Hawthorne, California, Duane McRuer was president and technical director of Systems Technology, Inc., a company he confounded in 1957 and which grew from a small engineering consulting form to an internationally recognized center for research in automatic and manual vehicular control and human dynamics. Before founding STI, McRuer worked for Northrop Aircraft, Inc., where he pioneered new techniques for the control of high performance aircraft, including stability augmenters and hydraulic and fly-by-wire controls – the forerunners of present day flight control systems. McRuer has written more than 100 technical papers and is co-author of Analysis of Nonlinear Control Systems and Dynamics and Automatic Control. He is a fellow of several professional societies.

Richard Miller PhD '76, Awarded 2014.
President, Olin College of Engineering

William W. Moore B.S. '33 (Civil Engineering) M.S. '34 (Civil Engineering), Awarded 1993.
Co-founder, Dames and Moore, William Moore was for more than 50 years known as a leader in the field of engineering, as well as the most visible representative of Dames & Moore, the company he and fellow Caltech Distinguished Alumnus Trent Dames founded in 1938. Moore served as the firm's technical strategist and its major ambassador and troubleshooter throughout the world. He and Dames shared a fascination for developing high-quality and efficient systems for testing soils. Through their efforts, Dames & Moore quickly made a name for itself with its innovative sampling devices, one of which, the underwater sampler, is still used today. See also: Trent Dames

Francois M. Morel M.S. '68 (Civil Engineering) Ph.D. '72 (Engineering Science), Awarded 2009.
He is a fellow of the Optical Society of America, a member of the IEEE Photonics Society, and editor in chief of the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics. His many honors include the Clair Patterson Medal, the Maurice Ewing Medal, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and he is a fellow of the Geochemical Society and the American Geophysical Union. An environmental consultant to private firms and public interest groups, he has served on a number of national scientific committees and has been a member of the visiting committee for Caltech's geological and planetary sciences division since 2000. Morel's work blends geochemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, and genetics in an attempt to understand how ocean life depends on its chemical environment and in turn shapes that environment, and he is renowned for how effectively he has shared that vision with students and colleagues.

Navin C. Nigam Ph.D. '67 (Civil Engineering), Awarded 1991.
Director (President), Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Navin C. Nigam became Director and professor of civil engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi in 1989 and later Vice Chancellor of the University of Roorkee. His research interests have included structural mechanics, random vibration, and earthquake engineering. At IIT Dr. Nigam served as head of the department of aeronautical engineering, dean of research and development, and deputy director. He is a fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the Institution of Engineers. He also served on the governing body of the Council of Scientific Industrial Research.

Robert L. Noland B.S. '41 (Mechanical Engineering), Awarded 1989.
After graduation from Caltech in 1941, Robert Noland developed design criteria for solid propellant rocket motors. He holds several patents in this field. In 1951, he started his own company, which adapted glass-reinforced plastics for use in rockets and missiles, developing some of the first fiberglass-resin honeycomb cores used as structural elements in aircraft. In 1966, he moved to Ametek, Inc., as executive vice president, and was elected president and a member of the board of directors in 1970. Noteworthy research and development projects under his guidance included solid-state pressure transducers, and cadmium telluride-based photovoltaics. At the end of 1988, Ametek split into two companies, and Mr. Noland became president and CEO of the spin-off company, Ketema, Inc., of Glenbrook, Nevada.

Ed Reinecke B.S. '50 (Mechanical Engineering), Awarded 1969.
Lieutenant Governor, California.

L. Eugene Root M.S. '33 (Mechanical Engineering) M.S. '34 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1966.
President, Lockheed Missiles and Space Company.

Glenn A. Schurman M.S. '47 (Mechanical Engineering) Ph.D. '50 (Mechanical Engineering), Awarded 1994.
Glenn Schurman spent his professional lifetime in the oil industry, where he made significant contributions to oil production, development, and exploration, areas in which he holds close to a dozen patents. Before attending Caltech, he received his BA from Washington State University in 1944 and then served on the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (now NASA), performing research on combustion gas turbines. After graduating from Caltech, Schurman joined the Oil Field Research Laboratory of Chevron Oil Company, in La Habra, California, where he undertook numerous projects related to finding, developing and producing petroleum. He left the laboratory in 1963 for an operating assignment in New Orleans, Louisiana, and during the next 10 years he held a number of positions on the Gulf Coast and in Texas and the Rocky Mountain states. In 1975 he moved to London to oversee Chevron's activities in the United Kingdom sector of the North Sea, where he supervised the design and installation of what was then the world's largest oceanic oil-producing platform to develop oil from the Ninian Field, the North Sea's third largest oil field. He returned to the United States in 1981 and was corporate vice president of oil field development and production operations when he retired from Chevron in 1987. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, and the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Schurman was named an Honorary Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his role in developing the North Sea oil fields.

Henry G. Schwartz Ph.D. '66 (Civil Engineering), Awarded 2004.

Mark Serrurier B.S. '26 (Civil Engineering), Awarded 1981.
Mark Serrurier, who received his BS in civil engineering at Caltech in 1926, received an MS in structural engineering at the University of Illinois in 1928. He was then employed by the American Bridge Company as a trainee in structural detailing, fabrication, and erection until 1932, when he returned to Caltech for 14 years as an engineer and part-time instructor in applied mechanics. He designed the tube of the 200-inch Hale telescope , a concept adapted by the builders of 17 subsequent telescopes. He also designed a high-speed wind tunnel for Theodore von Karman, and under the director of Clark Milikan worked on the design and construction of the Cooperative Wind Tunnel. In 1946 Serrurier became president of Moviola Manufacturing Company , a family business engaged in the design and manufacture of editing equipment for the motion picture industry. His redesign of Moviola in 1948 earned him an Oscar in 1980. He retired in 1966 and passed away in 1988.

Donald L. Turcotte B.S. '54 (Mechanical Engineering) Ph.D. '58 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1999.
After a year as assistant professor of aeronautics at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Donald L. Turcotte joined the faculty of Cornell University. While initially in aerospace engineering, in 1973 he turned to the geological sciences. He is currently Maxwell Upson Professor of Engineering at Cornell, and he was chair of the university's department of geological sciences from 1981 to 1990. The recipient of the Day Medal of the Geological Society of America, the Regents (New York State) Medal of Excellence, the Wegener Medal of the European Union of Geosciences, and the Whitten Medal of the American Geophysical Union, Turcotte is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Sciences. He has been an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow; a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow; a Kloos Scholar at Johns Hopkins University; the William Smith Lecturer of the Geological Society of London; a Christensen Fellow of St. Catherine's College, Oxford; and a Visiting Fellow, Corpus Christi College, Oxford. His principal contributions to the earth sciences have been in the development of theories of mantle convection and geodynamic problems. Much of this work is set forth in his textbook (with Gerald Schubert) Geodynamics. He has also been a leader in applying the concepts of fractals and chaos to the earth sciences and is author of the textbook Fractals and Chaos in Geology and Geophysics. He is the author or coauthor of some 270 papers.

Victor V. Veysey B.S. '36 (Civil Engineering), Awarded 1976.
Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, U. S. Department of the Army

Wilton W. Webster B.S. '49 (Mechanical Engineering), Awarded 2005.
Wilton Webster is senior science advisor at Biosense Webster, as the cardiovascular catheter company he founded in 1969 is now called. Webster was inspired to go into this business after meeting a cardiologist who showed him how to modify existing catheters by adding thermistors and electrodes. Some ten years later, the development of electrophysiology gave rise to a new medical practice: curing patients with heart arrhythmias by radio-frequency ablation using catheters. A young electrophysiologist of Webster's acquaintance convinced him that his products could be further modified for use in this emerging field. Webster's company became very successful, and too large for him to run alone. It merged with another producer of cardiovascular catheters, Cordis Corporation, in 1994, Webster came to his profession by a somewhat circuitous route. After graduating from Caltech, he worked for eight years for CF Braun and Co., a designer and builder of oil refineries and chemical plants. For the subsequent 10 years he sold custom electronic components manufactured by small start-up companies that had formed in response to the space race. Serendipitously, that work led to a hobby built around medical instrumentation and to an interest in cardiology, which in turn introduced him to cardiac catheters.

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Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering