Chicago--The applause resonated as more than 275 engineers and business leaders rose to their feet to honor Brian Muirhead, who was selected Engineer of the Year by readers of Design News magazine.
Muirhead was among the gifted engineers feted at a black-tie affair sponsored by Design News and held at the Ritz Carlton on March 17, 1998. A kind of Academy Awards for engineers, this annual event--held in conjunction with The National Design Engineering Show--recognizes outstanding contributions to the field.
In fact, Muirhead, who as flight systems manager headed up NASA's triumphant mission to Mars last summer, could not resist comparing engineering in the real world to moviemaking in Hollywood. "For the same amount of money it took to make the movie Titanic, we completed this mission to Mars...with a better ending," said Muirhead.
Muirhead received a $25,000 grant from the Torrington Co. He designated Cal Tech, where he was a straight-A undergraduate, to be the grant's recipient.
Sharing the spotlight was Dr. William "Red" Whittaker, who received the Special Achievement Award for his ground-breaking work in robotics. Founder and director of the Carnegie Mellon University Field Robotics Center, some of Whittaker's more unusual creations have probed the depths of an active volcano, ventured into nuclear reactors, and survived a march across inhospitable desert wastelands.
"One of the greatest pleasures in this field is creating something from nothing," said Whittaker. "You can't buy 'em, you've got to make 'em."
Whittaker will award a $15,000 grant from NTN Bearing to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Horst Maack of Cincinnati Milacron received the Engineering Quality Award for his efforts to help revitalize the firm's centerless grinding machine business. He will award a $15,000 grant from Schneeberger Inc. to the University of Cincinnati.
Other accolades handed out at this gala event included the Excellence In CAD Award, which went to Cannondale's Tod Patterson for his innovative mountain bike frame. Design News also recognized SDRC as the winner of the Best Product Award of 1997.
Excellence in Design Competition winners were also announced. First place winners received a $5,000 check from The MacNeal-Schwendler Corp., although Thomas Zimmerman of IBM, could have easily performed a quick electronics funds transfer. He is the inventor of the Personal Area Network, a device that uses capacitive coupling to allow people to exchange digital information with a handshake.