Every profession has its heroes. In engineering, they are the people who blaze new trails, developing breakthrough technologies that make a positive and profound impact on the world.
Each year, Design News recognizes the best and brightest engineering professionals through its engineering awards program (www.designnews.com, click on contests button). Below, we profile our ten nominees for the 2002 Engineer of the Year. These professionals, who work in fields as diverse as medicine, aerospace, entertainment, and automotive, have all made their mark on the world through their gifted engineering skills, vision, and determination.
Please help us honor the engineering profession by voting for the nominee you feel is best qualified to receive the Engineer of the Year Award. The winner Design News readers select will be the subject of the cover story of our March 3, 2003 issue and will be honored at the Design News Engineering Achievement Awards Banquet on March 4, 2003 in Chicago during National Manufacturing Week. Thanks to the generous and ongoing support of the Torrington Company, the winner also will designate an engineering school to receive a $25,000 grant.
Simply check off your choice for Engineer of the Year (or write a name in, if you choose) on the attached ballot card and drop in the mail no later than November 1, 2002.
Flying combat missions may get a whole lot safer and less costly if Richard W. Alldredge has his way. As Boeing's program manager for Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAV) since May 1998, Alldredge has overseen the development of the X-45, the first unmanned fighter plane which cruised through its maiden flight in May. This 27-ft long, jet-powered fighter is designed to tackle dangerous "first day of the war" strikes such as attacking enemy air defenses. Developed in conjunction with the Air Force and DARPA, it's projected to cost about half of what an F-16 costs to buy and operate. A larger, even more sophisticated version of the X-45—in terms of control and weaponry systems—is already in the works as is another UCAV design for the Navy.
You may never have seen engineer Russell Bowler's name in lights. But, if you have ever seen a winning racing yacht, you've probably seen his handiwork. As vice president of Farr Yacht Design Ltd., he has led structural design efforts of one of the world's most successful racing-boat companies for more than 20 years. Bowler introduced modern composite construction to what is now the grueling Volvo Ocean Race competition, and his designs won that toughest of sailing races in 1986, 1990, 1994, and 1998. And now, he has his eyes set on winning the 2003 America's Cup with his designs for the Oracle BMW racing syndicate.
More than half a million Americans died from cancer in 1998, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Thanos Etmektzoglou, senior engineer at Varian Medical Systems' Oncology Systems unit, has dedicated his career to lowering numbers like that. He is the guiding light behind development of Varian's IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy) systems that have already helped treat tumors previously thought to be untreatable because of their proximity to vital organs. IMRT precisely focuses high doses of radiation directly to cancer cells while sparing surrounding healthy tissue. Among achievements, he wrote the control-system software for many of Varian's IMRT devices, including linear accelerators for beam delivery and multi-leaf collimators.
Thanks to the efforts of Emmy-award winner Larry Hornbeck, going to the movies is an even more enjoyable experience today. Some 40 movies have been released in DLP Cinema format, a digital light projection technology that significantly enhances image quality. Hornbeck, a TI Fellow in Digital Imaging at Texas Instruments, invented the technology that forms the basis for DLP—the Digital Micromirror Display (DMD), which is a MEMs array of fast digital switches. Hornbeck holds 29 patents in DMD and CCD technologies, and has received numerous awards for his engineering work, including an Emmy in 1998 for outstanding achievement in the engineering development of large-screen projection display technology.
With over 35 patents to his name, John Karidis, a distinguished engineer with IBM, has focused his engineering, software, and industrial design skills on making sure mobile and desktop computers bend to the user's work habits rather than the other way around. Among Karidis' innovations: the mechanical design for the ThinkPad TransNote, whose flexible cover combined an ultra-thin mobile computer with a digitizing pad, and IBM's famous "butterfly" keyboard, a folding design that helped shrink the size of mobile computers without shrinking the size of the keys. Karidis previously worked on a wide range of projects for IBM research, including the development of the world's fastest electrical probing robot.
As head of a NASA-wide program ensuring mission battery reliability, Senior Battery Engineer Michelle Manzo's leadership efforts have resulted in a significant improvement in the life and performance of batteries for aerospace applications. She played an instrumental role in the ground-breaking decision for NASA to fly nickel-hydrogen batteries in low earth orbit onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. Those Ni-H2 batteries have now operated in space continuously for more than 11 years. Manzo's efforts have earned her the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the R&D 100 Award.
When making precision landings in remote Alaska, keeping station at sea, or driving in a strange city, people need never get lost anymore—thanks to Bradford Parkinson. He led the definition, development, and testing of the satellite-based, breakthrough technology of the Global Positioning System for navigation and vehicle location. Parkinson is currently chairman of the Aerospace Corp. and a professor of Aerospace Engineering at Stanford University, where his students developed differential GPS applications, including blind aircraft landings, and automatic tractor and space vehicle guidance.
Microcomputers—based on miniaturized, increasingly sophisticated processors—have changed the way we live, communicate, and learn. Considered by many to be the father of the modern computer processor, Pohlman led development of Intel's x86 processor family, as well as founding the company's 970 RISC processor business. The holder of several patents, Pohlman worked for Intel for 19 years, retiring in 1999 as vice president and director of development efficiency for the Microprocessor Development Group. Since retiring, Pohlman became chairman of the board and CTO for Primarion, an electronics company focusing on the energy demands of microprocessors.
Driving a car is now a safer experience, thanks to the efforts of mechanical engineer Tom Vos. Dating back to his early work on GM's Inflatable Restraints Program in the late 1960s, he has been a leading force behind occupant safety systems for automobiles. Director of Safety Systems Technology at TRW for the past 16 years, Vos has developed and directed the course of the company's safety products through his technical acumen. A holder of 12 patents in restraint design and manufacturing innovation, Vos has overseen the development of emergency locking retractors, seat belt pretensioners, air bag technology, and most recently, integrated safety systems that incorporate the entire bag, belt, sensors, and electronics.
Thanks largely to electrical engineer Rob Younge, robots could soon be as prevalent in operating rooms as anesthesia. The co-founder of Intuitive Surgical Inc., Younge led the team that developed the daVinciTM, the only robotic surgical system to receive FDA clearance. Already in use for thoracoscopic and laparoscopic procedures, the device recently received FDA approval for prostate removal and could someday be used in heart bypass operations. Doctors could use the device in some 3.5 million operations a year in the U.S. alone, enjoying the benefits of more precise movement of surgical instruments, less fatigue, and elimination of hand tremor.