Duane E. Wilmot died July 13 in Yuma, Ariz. He was born Dec. 21, 1922, in St. Edward, Neb., and married Mary Marjorie Scott in 1944.
He served in the United States Army in World War II and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in chemical engineering in 1948. He worked for the Union Carbide Co. in Whiting, Ind., the TeePak Co. in Danville, Ill., and Midwest Carbide in Keokuk.
Wilmot was active in the Society of Chemicals Engineers, Kiwanis International, George M. Verity Riverboat Museum and Project Read. He is survived by his wife and three sons, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Robert Kleis died December 17, 2009, in Lincoln. He spent his life in agriculture, first as a farm boy in Michigan, then working as a farm laborer, a farm machinery serviceman, and dairy herd improvement tester—all before he graduated from high school.
After he served in the U.S. Army during World War II, he completed his B.S. and M.S. in electrical and agricultural engineering at Michigan State College, and a Ph.D. in mathematics and agricultural engineering at Michigan State University. He had a successful career in agricultural research and also held administrative positions, including department head of Agricultural Engineering at UNL. He served as associate director for the UNL Agricultural Experiment Station and executive director for BIFAD and USAID in Washington, D.C.
When he retired in 1980, Kleis was Executive Dean for International Programs at UNL. In addition to the numerous honors and awards he received over his lifetime, he published more than 50 technical papers, 200 popular publications, and four book chapters. He was instrumental in founding the Lester Larson Tractor Test Museum and was a volunteer for the TeamMates mentoring program.
Weldon Vlasak ’54 B.S. ELEC of Clatonia is a science writer who recently published his fourth book, The Birth of an Atom (ISBN 0-9659176-3-0), about how matter is created in the universe. This work culminates more than two decades of study of the electromagnetic properties of high-velocity, and addresses two of the great remaining problems of physics: the supposed “barrier” surrounding a proton, and Nils Bohr's abstract notion of an atom of unlimited size that closely correlates to the radiation frequencies of an atom. The book also includes a controversial issue, Vlasak added, “wherein the velocity of the electron in an atom is shown to be moving at velocities close to the speed of light.”
Ronald B. Lantz, Chemical Engineering (B.S. 1958 and M.S. 1959) wrote his autobiography, From FARM to Fortunate through PERSEVERANCE (Xlibris; ISBN 978-1-4500-8734-6). Lantz gained his Ph.D. at Iowa State and worked for Chevron and Esso oil companies, and developed his own environmental firm, Intera. Now living in Austin, Tex. with his wife, Donna (whom he married during his time at UNL), Lantz and his three sons own a family venture capital investment firm. His book includes many detailed memories that will ring true to Nebraska Engineering graduates from that era.
On one of the two days of chemistry laboratory, I also had ROTC. We had to wear military uniforms to that class and so I had it on for the chemistry laboratory. One of my chemistry classmates told me that if you mixed potassium chlorate with concentrated acid it was explosive. I was convinced he was wrong so in a laboratory session when I was wearing the ROTC uniform, just the pants, shirt and tie, the two of us conducted a little experiment. I put a little solid potassium chlorate into a small test tube and then a little nitric acid in it. I was right: it did not explode but instead it started to give off a yellow gas--undoubtedly chlorine. The laboratory instructor apparently had been observing us and rushed over and said, "Throw that into the sink, you are giving off a poisonous gas." I threw it into the sink which had running water in it and when it hit the water, there was a minor explosion because nitric acid is very hygroscopic. At least it splattered the water-acid mixture and got a fair amount on my ROTC pants in front. By night when I changed out of the uniform, the spots on the pants had completely dissolved and there were several holes that penetrated all the way through the thick wool pants.
In my junior year, the chemistry had switched to organic. This is the course that often flushed out the chemical engineers. It involved a lot of memorization and often the names for organic compounds didn't seem to be totally logical. Neither of those factors is typically good for engineering students who are logically oriented. I started the year with trepidation but I had little trouble with either the course work itself or the laboratory that went along with it. I continued to take mathematic courses and started real chemical engineering courses like Unit Operations. For elective courses I chose logic and public speaking. I hated the course on public speaking. But, it was far and away the most important elective course, and perhaps any course, that I took. It taught us how to develop a speech. The professor used to say, "Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them." Good advice and even if you were not a really good speaker, you could get pretty good grades in his class if you followed that simple set of speech requirements.
By the end of my junior year, I was typically getting either an 8 or a 9 on UNL's nine-point grading system. My overall average was good enough that honorary fraternities were asking me to join. Sigma Tau, the honorary engineering fraternity was the first to elect me to membership. Two upper level chemical engineers, Russ Nielsen and Bill Everett, came out to the house on 3330 J St. to announce to me that I had been elected. They had some difficulty because they came about midnight ... knocking on the basement windows. We went to the door and they presented me with a certificate of election to Sigma Tau. Completing the election process required each of us to get a slab of wood that the organization supplied, and carve it and sand it into a paddle. The 8" handle is hexagon shaped and opposite sides of the hexagon slope down to the flat paddle which is about 4" wide by 18" long by 3/8" thick. An original figure representing our selected field of engineering had to be on one side and the Sigma Tau symbol on the other. The hard part was that signatures of all actives on campus (48), of the founder, of the faculty (41), and the pledges (38) all had to be written in ink and then the whole paddle varnished so the signatures became permanent.
Warren Hill ’63 B.S. ELEC is dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology at Weber State University. He was selected chair of the Technology Accreditation Commission (TAC) of ABET for 2010-11. “The TAC accredits technology programs across the country and in several foreign countries,” Hill said. “Last year the TAC took accreditation actions on 171 programs at 69 difference institutions.” He lives in Washington Terrace, Ut.
Ron Ferry ’70 B.S. ELEC worked for Lincoln Telephone Company/Alltel/Windstream for 38 years before retiring in 2008 to join the US State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. He is currently stationed in El Salvador, where he works in the Embassy “to do whatever good I can do to help the people here.”
Dennis Wagner ’75 B.S. CIVE is public works director (he has also served as town engineer, town administrator and director of engineering) for the city of Windsor, Col.
Kevin Fairbanks '83 B.S. AGEN has just finished his second year of learning about nuclear power. He is programming the Plant Process Computer, VAX 4100’s, running OpenVMS, and coding in Fortran. He noted that this work takes him back to the days in Lincoln under Dr. Schulte, programming the SOLSWINE application on the mainframe.
Michael Cloeter ’85 B.S. and ’87 M.S. CHME of Lake Jackson, Tex. was promoted to senior research scientist with The Dow Chemical Company in Freeport, Tex. Cloeter works in the Fluid Mechanics & Mixing Discipline within Dow’s Engineering Sciences organization. His specialties include physical modeling of industrial processes that are studied using laser diagnostics and other visualization methods. He consults with design teams on a wide variety of business technologies, and his globally-leveraged capabilities include testing of turbulent reacting flows, stirred tank mixing, static mixing, spray technology, and multiphase systems.
Joseph Voboril ’86 B.S. IMSE is commander of the US Navy's center of excellence for officer training in Newport, RI. “Nearly 70% of the Navy's officers pass thru Naval Station Newport for training during their careers,” said Voboril, whose job is “akin to being mayor/city manager for a city of 17,000 people, that is frequently visited by the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations.” On his staff is ENS John Parizek, USN, CEC, a 2009 graduate of UNL’s civil engineering program. Voboril added, “We enjoy employing Husker Power to the challenges of running one of Navy's premier installations.”
Steve D. Kathol, B.S. '92 & M.S. '94 CIVE, was promoted at The Schemmer Associates Inc. to the position of Transportation Group Leader. An Omaha native, Kathol joined Schemmer in May 1994 and most recently served as the firm's bridge department manager, since February 2001. In his new role, Kathol will oversee the firm's transportation engineering group, which includes all services related to bridge, highway and roadway, and traffic engineering. He will continue to manage projects and conduct business development and long-range strategic activities. He currently serves as project manager on several high-profile projects, included the IDOT Broadway Avenue Viaduct contract in Council Bluffs, IA, the 26th and Corby CSO project in Omaha, and the firm's statewide Bridge Scour Analysis contract for NDOR.
Kathol is a licensed professional engineer in Nebraska, Iowa, and five other states, and a licensed structural engineer in Illinois. In 2003, Kathol was recognized by the Nebraska Society of Professional Engineers (NeSPE) as the organization's Young Engineer of the Year.
In May 2006, he was named principal and a member of Schemmer's Board of Directors. Kathol currently serves as a director for the American Council of Engineering Companies of Nebraska (ACEC/N).
Rezaul A. Khan ’92 M.S. ENGM lives in Herndon, Va. and works for the US Federal Agency’s contract business as a senior consulting engineer.
Gregory Kelvin '95 B.S. BSEN is a member of the faculty of Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
Kyle Vohl, P.E., ’99 B.S. CIVE was honored by his peers in the Nebraska Society of Professional Engineers, Eastern Chapter as the 2010 Young Engineer of the Year. The award is given annually to a licensed engineer, age 35 or younger who has, according to the chapter, “made outstanding contributions to the engineering profession and community.” While at UNL, he interned with E&A Consulting Group, Inc. of Omaha; after 13 years with E&A, he is now project manager in the areas of road design, hydrology and hydraulics. In addition to his work in the field, Vohl also takes part in a middle-school mentoring program aimed at encouraging young students in math and science.
Blaine Christiansen '01 B.S. BSEN began a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at UC Davis Medical Center. After UNL he attended graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis, where he earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering. After a two-year post-doc at Harvard Medical School in the Center for Advanced Orthopedic Studies, he now researches the role of the mechanical loading environment in determining the structure and strength of bone, and how bone adapts to increased or decreased mechanical loading conditions.
Donee Alexander '02 B.S. & '04 M.S. BSEN is working on her Ph.D. at the University of Washington in Civil and Environmental Engineering. An interest in evaluating how engineering technologies affect community health in the developing world also led to a certificate in Global Health from the Global Health Department where, this past quarter she developed and taught a senior/graduate-level course titled Engineering in the Developing World. Research takes her to Bolivia for half of the year where she evaluates the health benefits related to improved cookstove implementation. In addition to her research, she is the Bolivia project manager for Engineers Without Borders—UW Chapter. “The department was great to me," Alexander said, "I’m sure I wouldn’t be where I am now had I not gone to UNL.”
Kimberly Ryland '03 B.S. BSEN is an Advance Product Engineer with 3M in Ardmore, OK.
David Anthony ’06 B.S. Computer Engineering and B.S. Electrical Engineering spent three years as a software engineer at Garmin International. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in computer science from UNL. He researches wireless sensor networks in the Cyber-Physical Networking Lab under Dr. Mehmet Can Vuran. Anthony also works with the Platte River Whooping Crane Trust to track whooping cranes throughout their migration.
Neal Baumert ’07 B.S. ELEC lives in Omaha and works as an electrical engineer for Kiewit Engineering Company. KECo focuses on industrial projects such as natural gas combined cycle power plants providing engineering, design, & estimating services for 30 Kiewit districts in North America.
DelShawn Brown '07 B.S. BSEN received his M.S. in Environmental Engineering this spring from UNL. He is employed by FD & Associates based in Omaha and working on the Omaha Lead Superfund Site. FD & Associates provides environmental services to the EPA and HUD. Brown supervises 15 employees and field staff; responsibilities include income projections for payroll, compliance with state and federal guidelines, and proposal preparation in response to RFPs for contract procurement. Brown plans to gain as much experience as possible to sit for the PE exam in the next few years. Future plans may include a return to school to pursue a Ph.D.
Crystal Bryan '07 B.S. BSEN begins her third year of graduate studies at Tufts University Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. She soon will have a new publication in BMC Genetics. Her thesis project involves cell cycle control and cardiomyocyte growth.
Jacob Johnson '07 B.S. BSEN is a biomedical engineer with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Minneapolis. He was recently nominated for the Biomedical Engineer of the Year award.
John Lepak '09 B.S. CONM works for Omaha Electric Service, Inc. where he does estimating and project managing for traffic signal, roadwork and utility projects.
Kitti Rattanadit ’10 Ph.D. ENGM is a lieutenant colonel with the Royal Thai Army and is faculty with the department of mechanical engineering at the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy (CRMA). He lives in Lumluka, Pathum Thani, Thailand.