University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of EngineeringSpring/Summer 2013
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Roland Nyquist, ’43 CHME, is retired and lives in Kearney. Responding to the call for E-Week Memories, he replied, “As I recall we scared a poor white duck as it calmly swam in a small tub of water by dropping in a few drops of a surfactant which immediately caused it to sink. After several runs, we thought the poor duck had had enough as the feathers had absorbed enough of the surfactant that it could no longer swim.” He noted that in his UNL years during World War II, “several of our classmates were in advanced ROTC and some were called into active duty” while others had educational deferments that enabled them to finish their degrees. He worked with Shell Oil’s Research & Development organization in Emeryville, Calif., then entered naval officer training. He later returned to Shell as a process engineer at the company’s oil refinery in Wood River, Ill.

Arvel Witte, Ph.D., ‘57, '59 MS MECH, Rolling Hills, Calf., is retired from TRW Space and Defense. He shared his E-Week project memories of running a liquid air machine demonstration and supporting a steam engine project. He received the O.J. Ferguson Outstanding Senior Award in 1957 and remembered having “a lot of good professors--Vickers, Newhouse, Ludwickson, Loeb and Ferguson--and friends: Fran Ostdiek, Marvin Goodding and others.” He went on to earn his Ph.D. in aeronautics at Caltech in Pasadena.

M.P. Papadakis, ’63 MECH, is retired from careers as an airline pilot and law school professor. He responded to the college’s alumni survey about E-Week and added: “In 50 years since graduation I accumulated 25,000 flight hours,” starting with his military service on Navy carriers and in R and D tests. He also flew for Delta airlines as a 727, 737, 757, 767 and L 1011 captain. He went to law school and “flew every weekend and holiday so as to be a lawyer and law professor in the work week.” He also noted having investigated, evaluated or helped litigate 450 airplane accidents.

Howard Smith, ’65 MECH, Northville, Mich., is retired from 35 years in automotive engineering, most recently as a technical specialist in vehicle thermal management, with Ford Motor Co. He recalled his early 1960s E-Week project: “ I made an auto simulator to demonstrate reaction times in applying the brake, recording the time from accelerator to brake pedal and showing distance traveled at various vehicle speeds.”

North Sherrill, ’69 CHME, lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., and is associate pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church. He formerly worked with Reichhold Chemicals in Sterling Forest, N.Y., and E.I. duPont Co. in Deepwater, N.J. Adding to UNL E-Week memories was his task to show a chemical process—“something quick … (so) people could see instant results. We dipped hot dogs in liquid nitrogen, pulled them out, held them up, and then hit them against the table, which broke them into several pieces. People stood and stared rather dumbfounded at what liquid nitrogen can do. Of course, we warned them to keep their fingers out of it.” Later in his engineering career, he was involved in the early development of orthopedic casts wetted out with urethane polymer. The project stalled at the time but some years later he visited a friend in the hospital who was fitted with one of those plastic casts, and now the colorful versions are in wide use. He advises current engineering students: “You never know the future of your projects, no matter how ridiculous and impossible they may seem.”


Gene Kocmich, ’71 MECH, is retired from work as a senior systems engineering with Northrop Grumman. When he thinks of UNL E-Week, he remembers being “surprised at how many people attended and their interest.” Another surprise: “I didn't attend the follow-up meeting and initially didn't believe classmates when they told me I had received recognition for the outstanding display. It is one of two awards from my college years that I still proudly display.”

Bill Glaser, ’71 ’77 MS CIVE, Minden, Nev., was honored with the Nebraska Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2013. He has been president of the Nebraska Alumni Chapter serving the northern Nevada areas of Carson City, Reno and Lake Tahoe for the last six years. He has initiated such annual events as a Nebraska Book Award to five high school seniors for excellence in English, a Nebraska Golf Tournament, and a Nebraska Spring Dinner. He has served as project manager on large construction projects at San Diego International Airport and the State of Nevada Department of Transportation.

David K. Hemsath, ’79 CSCE, is a security and privacy architect/consultant with IBM Corp., in Austin, Texas. His UNL E-Week memories include: “visiting the college during E-Week my senior year of high school at Omaha North; (and) participating in one E-Week as an engineering student, showing some primitive text games on the university's old NUROS time-sharing system, and putting together a poster session using the old Calcomp pen plotter and FORTRAN programming to graph artillery shell trajectories using an empirical formula I found in an old engineering text at the Nebraska Hall library.” At UNL he also crossed paths with “an old IBM 1620 ‘scientific computer’ running another demonstration, with all its doors open for cooling circulation.”

Joseph A. Mortensen, '80 BS Interdisciplinary Program in Engineering, is a retired Marine colonel and test pilot who was appointed as chief of staff with the Test and Evaluation Group, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) located at the Navy's flight test center in Patuxent River, Md. NAVAIR provides full life cycle support of Naval aircraft, weapons and systems—including research, design, development, systems engineering, acquisition, and test and evaluation.

Jeff Kacirek, ’86 CSCE, is a software engineering manager with Garmin in Olathe, Kan. His duties include managing team design work for aviation software.

John D. Korff, CSP, REM, ’88 IMSE, was promoted to Environmental & Occupational Safety Health Program Manager for the FAA's Logistics Center in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Nathan E Wegene, ’92 MECH, relocated to Brisbane, Australia in 2012 to oversee Cerner's Technology Services and Managed Services teams for providing IT services to the company’s clients in Australia and the Asian Pacific.

Jess Sweley, ’99 BSE, ’12 FDST, was honored with a 2013 Early Achiever Award from the Nebraska Alumni Association. As senior director of research, quality and innovation at ConAgra Foods in Omaha, he leads a team of 30+ scientists, engineers and culinologists responsible for new product and technology development on such brands as Orville Redenbacher's, Marie Callender's, Healthy Choice and more, including new product launches.

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