Meet Our Alumni

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Our extremely successful alumni have created companies, led large corporations and government agencies, and have become successful researchers at universities and national laboratories. They also fondly remember our Department for a combination of academic excellence and human connection.

Alumni Vignettes

Jim Hall (BS '57 ME)
Mr. Hall is a race-car designer who pioneered the use of aerodynamics in race cars. He co-founded Chaparral Cars which led the field in innovations in the 1960s and 1970s, and enjoyed wide success including winning the 1978 and 1980 Indianapolis 500. Mr. Hall also drove competitively in the Formula 1 and Sports Racing Car circuits in the 1960s, Winning the U. S. Road Race Championship in 1964. He now resides in Midland Texas, and is active in the oil and gas business.

Bill Gross (BS '80 ME)
Mr. Gross is the Chairman and Founder of Idealab, an entrepreneurial “incubator” based in Pasadena. Bill's stated mission with the organization is to create and operate pioneering technology companies. In recent years, Idealab has focused on solar thermal and other energy technologies. A lifelong entrepreneur, Mr. Gross started several companies prior to Idealab. He serves on the boards of directors of numerous companies and is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology and of the Art Center College of Design.

Garrett Reisman (MS '92 ME, PhD '97 ME)
Dr. Reisman has been a member of NASA's astronaut corps since 1998. He spent three months aboard the International Space Station launching with the STS-123 crew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on March 11, 2008 and returned to Earth with the crew of STS-124 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on June 14, 2008. On May 14, 2010, Dr. Reisman boarded Atlantis for his second trip to the International Space Station on Space Shuttle Mission 132. During both flights, he conducted three spacewalks totaling more than 21 hours.

Robert W. Conn (MS '65 ME, PhD '68, ES)
Dr. Conn is the President of The Kavli Foundation and widely recognized for his academic research and leadership, as well as his experience in the private sector. He is Dean Emeritus of the Jacobs School of Engineering and Walter Zable Professor of Engineering, Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Conn has been a leading researcher in plasma physics and fusion energy, and active in energy and science policy. He pioneered the study of fusion systems as potential power reactors, identifying the major physics and engineering challenges facing the development of a practical fusion power source. His theoretical and experimental research focused on fusion plasma physics, the plasma boundary layer, surface science and chemical physics. It was for his research contributions to the development of fusion energy that he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1987.

Regina E. Dugan (PhD '93 ME)
Dr. Dugan was appointed the 19th Director of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on July 20, 2009 and is the first female director. In 1999, she led a counterterrorism task force for the Deputy Secretary of Defense and has served as a special advisor to the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army. Dr. Dugan co-founded Dugan Ventures where she served as President and CEO. In 2005, Dugan Ventures founded RedXDefense, LLC, a privately held company devoted to innovating solutions for combating explosive threats, where she also served as President and CEO. Dr. Dugan is a recipient of the Bronze deFleury Medal of the Army Engineer Regiment and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Exceptional Service.

Sudhir K. Jain (MS '80 CE, Ph.D. '83 CE)
Dr. Jain is the Rajeeva and Sangeeta Lahri Chair Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur. He is also on deputation as the Director of the Indian Institute of Technology in Gandhinagar. Dr. Jain has taught earthquake and structural engineering and has offered his expertise as a consultant to several major bridge projects in high seismic regions of India. Dr. Jain serves on the Board of Directors of the International Association for Earthquake Engineering and is currently its Executive Vice President. He is on the Board of Directors of the World Seismic Safety Initiative. He is also the Executive Board Member of the Asia-Pacific Association for Public Safety Science and Technology. Prof Jain was elected a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering in 2003.

Tricia Waniewski Sur (MS '94 ME, PhD '99 ME)
Dr. Sur is the Director of Business Development at ATA Engineering. She previously spent several years as a Senior Research Scientist at the Naval Hydrodynamics Division of Science Applications International Corporation. While at Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a Member of the Technical Staff, Dr. Sur was awarded a JPL NOVA award for commitment to excellence, and a NASA Software Release Award for contributions to IMOS v5.0.

Samantha Daly (MS '02 ME, PhD '07 ME)
Dr. Daly is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan. She leads a research group in the Active Materials and Mechanics Laboratory (AMML) in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Research in the AMML laboratories lies at the intersection of experimental mechanics and materials science, with an emphasis on using novel methods of experimentation coupled closely with theoretical and computational modeling. In 2010, Dr. Daly was awarded an Early Career Research Program Award from the Department of Energy Office of Science.

Jeffrey T. Scruggs (MS '00 AM, Ph.D. '04 AM)
Dr. Scruggs is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke University. His area of research concerns the dynamics and control of electromechanical vibratory systems. Dr. Scruggs' research bridges the fields of power electronics, structural mechanics, and nonlinear control. The general concepts of his work are applicable in many areas, including civil structures, aerospace systems, vehicle suspensions, and MEMS.

Marc Sells (BS '09 ME)
Since graduating in June 2009, Marc Sells has held the position of Project Engineer at Energent Corporation in Orange County, California. Energent focuses on inventing and developing new technology for waste energy recovery and geothermal power systems. Marc performs thermodynamic analysis, system design, and closed-looped testing. Additionally, he has been involved in commercial business development and heads customer relations management for the company.

Stanislova Petkova (BS '10 ME)
Ms. Petkova is currently working for Schlumberger in Malaysia as a Field Technology Trainee. She is working on the operations and maintenance of Subsea Tools in Testing Services. Previously as an intern at Schlumberger she designed utilities evaluating true stress-strain data for non-linear finite element analysis in MATLAB Graphical user interface and updated parts in ProE and AutoCAD to meet requests from the field.