Monday February 6, 2012

In a Special Class

A Nobel winner; pioneers in engineering and the Internet; a leader in HVAC and a local foundation are the first School of Engineering hall of famers.

A Nobel prize winner; an Internet pioneer; a world leader in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration; a pioneer in biochemical engineering; and a foundation with roots in innovation and engineering are the first inductees to the University of Dayton School of Engineering Hall of Fame.

The University will honor the inaugural class during the School of Engineering's 100-year anniversary gala at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, in the Kennedy Union ballroom. The event is invitation only.

A panel of University of Dayton School of Engineering and University administrators selected the inductees, "based on significant contributions to engineering and ties to the University," according to Tony Saliba, School of Engineering dean.

The inaugural class includes:

Charles Pedersen — a 1926 chemical engineering graduate of the University of Dayton and DuPont chemist for 42 years — is a co-winner of the 1987 Nobel Prize in chemistry. Among his credits is the discovery of crown ethers, so called because of the regal, pointed pattern created by oxygen atoms surrounding a positively charged metal ion. Pedersen discovered the ion binds to oxygen atoms on multiple sites creating more stable complexes, which have numerous popular applications, such as removing harmful concentrations of mercury in drinking water supplies and identifying potassium in blood samples to aid early diagnosis of heart disease. Pedersen died in 1989. According to Saliba, "Charles Pedersen was an innovator who contributed to many of DuPont's discoveries and products. We are privileged to have a Nobel Prize winner among our alumni."

John McHale, a 1978 electrical engineering graduate of the University of Dayton and one of the University's largest benefactors, started his career at Texas Instruments where his first venture was a low-cost technology to connect personal computers on a network. After selling the technology to Compaq Corp., he began NetSpeed, which developed the first broadband technology for upgrading telephone networks to provide high-speed Internet service. After Cisco Systems bought that, he helped start Tipping Point Technologies, which specialized in "intrusion prevention" network security. It was sold to 3Com Corp. According to Saliba, "We cannot thank John McHale enough for his contributions to the School of Engineering and the University of Dayton. He is truly a great engineer, entrepreneur and innovator. But, even more importantly, he's a great person who genuinely cares about engineering education and developing complete engineers, which he has shown with his generous gifts to the University."

Charles Wilke, a 1940 chemical engineering graduate of the University of Dayton and founder of the department of chemical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, established an international reputation in the 1950s as a scholar in the field of diffusion and mass transfer. He then shifted directions in the early 1960s to help establish the budding field of biochemical engineering. He endowed a chair in the University of Dayton chemical engineering department and provided long-term resources to continuously upgrade the Transport Phenomena Laboratory. According to Saliba, "Dr. Wilke was one of the great innovators. Many colleges have recently changed their chemical engineering department names to chemical and bioengineering. Dr. Wilke recognized that marriage in its infancy many years ago. His gift to endow the Transport Phenomena Laboratory took us to the next level of having one of the finest undergraduate laboratories in the country."

Emerson Climate Technologies' support of the University of Dayton spans more than a decade and includes a long legacy of contributing to educational and community programs including the Minority Engineering Program, the Design and Manufacturing Clinic and the Innovation Center. In 2007, Emerson Climate Technologies, based in Sidney, Ohio, and its parent company, Emerson, made a $1 million investment in the School of Engineering's Product Innovation Laboratory to provide opportunities for engineering and business students to work on new product development, potentially spurring the creation of new businesses. Students participating in the program are exposed to the various facets of the engineering field, including technical product issues, intellectual property potential, market evaluation and business plan development. According to Saliba, "Emerson's support of our Innovation Center has helped it become ‘best in class,' according to a national foundation. Not only has Emerson lent its financial support to helping the School of Engineering develop entrepreneurial engineers, it has provided support to our students by providing jobs and serving as advisers and mentors."

The Kettering Family Philanthropies carries on the legacy of the Kettering name, synonymous with engineering, innovation and supporting the Dayton community. In much the same way Charles Kettering's entrepreneurial spirit fueled job growth in the region, the School of Engineering hopes to do the same in its students. The Kettering family for years has supported the School of Engineering, including the Minority STEM Summer Bridge Program that offers incoming minority first-year students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) the opportunity to get a head start on their first semester at the University of Dayton. The building housing the School of Engineering is named for Charles F. Kettering's son, Eugene W. Kettering. According to Saliba, "Charles Kettering's legacy is well-known throughout the world and that legacy lives on through the foundations established in his family's names. He is one of the world's greatest innovators and entrepreneurs. We aspire at the School of Engineering to produce students in his likeness — students who create products that in turn create jobs and benefit economic development." 

The gala is among the events celebrating 100 years of engineering education excellence at the University of Dayton. The school kicked off the celebration the last June by dedicating a statue of St. Joseph, husband of Mary, mother of Jesus. St. Joseph perhaps is one of mankind's most famous carpenters, a close relative to engineers. The statue is a nod to engineering's Catholic roots.

"These events will provide an opportunity to promote the history of engineering and to note professional achievements of engineering alumni, faculty, staff and students," Saliba said. "We want to showcase 100 years of excellence in engineering education and research at the University of Dayton."

In its 100 years, the school has grown from St. Joseph Hall and heavily trodden floors of the chemistry lab on the second floor of the women's gym to the five-story Kettering Labs and additional facilities in the Science Center and College Park Center. The school continues to enroll a record number of undergraduate students, eclipsing all-time highs the last three years. Its research volume has helped the University of Dayton achieve the top spot among all Catholic universities for all sponsored engineering research and development and all sponsored non-medical research. U.S. News and World Report ranked the school's graduate programs 52nd in its latest rankings of engineering graduate schools, tied with the University of Notre Dame for the top spot among Catholic colleges and universities.

In addition to Pedersen and McHale, notable alumni include Carroll Hochwalt '20; founder of Monsanto's Central Research Laboratory; Joseph Pesce '28, who helped develop talking motion pictures for Westinghouse; Joseph Desch '29, who headed a top-secret program at NCR to develop a code-breaking machine credited with helping to bring World War II to an end; Roman Schoenherr '56, who helped develop the overhead projector; Bro. Raymond Fitz, S.M., '64, president of the University of Dayton for 23 years; Bill Klesse '68, CEO of Valero Energy Corporation; Joe Hinrichs '89, CEO of Ford China; Annette Clayton ‘92, former president of Saturn Corp.; and David Bradley '71, developer of the "Control-ALT-Delete" command for IBM.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at 937-229-3391 or