College of Engineering Honors Alumni

 College of Engineering Hall of Fame inductees Robert Davidson (left) and Neil Schmitt (right) with Dean John English (center).

The University of Arkansas College of Engineering honored 14 graduates with College of Engineering Alumni Awards at its annual banquet on Saturday, April 5, at the Springdale Holiday Inn and Convention Center.

The awards recognize alumni of the college who have demonstrated exceptional professional and personal accomplishments and made important contributions to their professions and communities.

“Our alumni are one of our college’s biggest strengths and their accomplishments speak directly to the quality of our academic program,” said John English, dean of the college. “We are proud of all our alumni, but this group is a sample of our very best.”

At the banquet, Robert Davidson and Neil Schmitt were inducted into the college’s Hall of Fame, which was established in 1965 to recognize prominent graduates and leaders who have made outstanding contributions to the engineering profession and to society as a whole.

Davidson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the U of A in 1970, had a 38-year career with Arkansas Best Corp., retiring in 2009 as president and chief executive officer and also CEO of the company’s principal subsidiary, ABF Freight System.

Davidson left Arkansas Best with no debt, nearly $200 million in cash and more than 10,000 employees in 50 states, Canada and Mexico. Under his leadership, ABF was consistently recognized for best-in-class performance in productivity, safety, damage prevention, yield disci­pline, and market innovation. Davidson received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the U of A College of Engineering in 2006 and gave the college commencement address in 2007. He is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council and past president of the Arkansas Academy of Industrial Engineering.

Schmitt received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1963 and a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1964. He served as dean of the College of Engineering from 1983 until 1996, and as interim dean from 2001-2002. As dean, Schmitt led the college through a shift from primarily teaching to both teaching and research. Engineering research funding increased over a hundredfold during this time. Schmitt also started and supervised the Genesis Technology Center, which was recognized early as the premier technology incubator in the United States.

In addition, while Schmitt served as dean the college broke campus records for fundraising and established a new model for donor relations. Schmitt also supervised the design and construction of the Bell Engineering Center and led the transformation of an abandoned hosiery factory in south Fayetteville into the current Engineering Research Center.

The Distinguished Alumni Award honors College of Engineering graduates who have provided leadership in their communities and achieved distinction in their fields of endeavor. The recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards are:

• Tracy Black – B.S.C.S. 1988, senior vice president of information technology, J.B. Hunt
Transportation Services Inc.

• Jean Leger – B.S.Ch.E. 1982, M.S.Ch.E. 1983, vice president of utility operations,
OG&E Electric Services

• Charles Mayfield – B.S.E.E. 1964, M.S. 1965, vice president, sales, Siemens Communications/Nokia
Siemens Networks/Coriant

• Dana Sedgass – B.S.I.E. 1981, M.S.I.E. 1982, partner (retired), Accenture

The Early Career Award recognizes exceptional professional and personal achievements of more recent College of Engineering graduates. The 2014 recipients are:

• Drew Harrison – B.S.I.E. 2000, vice president of operations, Harrison Energy Partners

• Douglas Hutchings – M.S. 2007, Ph.D. 2010, founder and CEO, Silicon Solar Solutions and Picasolar

• Robin Prince – B.S.M.E. 2003, postdoctoral associate, University of California

• Kyle Rogers – B.S.C.S. 1997, chief technical officer, SOAPware

• Greg Schluterman – B.S.A.E. 1999, M.S.M.E. 2002, program manager, Harrison French & Associates

• Kevin Speer – B.S.E.E. 2003, district manager, Industrial Power Control Division, Infineon

• Richard Welcher – B.S.C.E. 1999, M.S.C.E. 2004, vice president and principal, Tatum-Smith
Engineers Inc.

• Greg Whitsitt – B.S.C.S.E. 1999, managing architect, Cerner Corp.

Release date: 4/15/2014