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Torgersen and four alumni receive engineering honors


BLACKSBURG, Va., May 25, 2006 – The Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech has presented President Emeritus Paul E. Torgersen with the Marvin Agee Award for his service as the Industrial and Systems Engineering department head from 1967-1970.

The Marvin Agee Award is the department’s highest honor bestowed to alumni and supporters of the department for outstanding career achievements and service. In addition, the department has inducted four new members into its Academy of Distinguished Alumni. In addition, the department: Tim Guleri, Bob Gunter, Robert van Luyn, and Bevlee A. Watford.

Paul Torgersen, the Marvin Agee Award recipient, currently holds the John W. Hancock, Jr. Chair of Engineering. He has taught at least one course each semester for the past 50 years, and continues to teach at Virginia Tech on a part-time basis. Torgersen came to Virginia Tech as professor and head of the Department of Industrial Engineering. In 1970, he was appointed dean of the College of Engineering, a post he held for 20 years as he led the college to its place of national distinction. Torgersen then served as president of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center and was also interim vice president for development and university relations. He was named president of Virginia Tech in the fall of 1993 and served in this capacity until January, 2000.

Torgersen is a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) and the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). In 1991, he received ASEE’s prestigious Lamme Medal. He received IIE’s highest recognition--the Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Award--in 2001. Additionally, he received Virginia Tech’s first Affirmative Action Award, the 1992 Sporn Award for Teaching Excellence, and was named Virginia’s Engineering Educator of the Year in 1992.

The first inductee into the Industrial and Systems Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni is Tim Guleri, who is a managing director at Sierra Ventures, a private venture investment firm with $1.1 billion in committed capital. Prior to this position, he was vice chairman and executive vice president of E.piphany, a leading provider of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) enterprise software. He was the co-founder and CEO of Octane Software. Guleri led Octane's merger with E.piphany in March 2000, which marked the largest acquisition of a private application software company by a public corporation in the history of the industry. Guleri holds a master's degree from Virginia Tech, and a bachelor’s degree from Punjab Engineering College in India.

The next inductee is Bob Gunter, senior vice president of operations at Northrop Grumman Newport News. Named to this position in 2005, Gunter is responsible for manufacturing, planning, resource management, sourcing, supply chain management, production engineering, logistics and supplier quality, and facilities and waterfront services. He is also the president for Newport News Industrial Corp., a business unit that specializes in marine and industrial products and supplies outage services for the power generation industry. Gunter previously served as senior vice president of aircraft carriers at Northrop Grumman Newport News. He also served as vice president of engineering, where his responsibilities included aircraft carrier and submarine engineering, research and development, and testing. Gunter holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland and a master's degree from Virginia Tech.

The third inductee is Robert van Luyn, of Newport News, a 32-year veteran of managerial positions with General Electric (GE). As a child growing up in Holland during World War II, van Luyn and his family endured five years of German occupation. He later completed an apprenticeship as an electrician in Holland, and worked there until 1953. Following compulsory service in the Royal Dutch Army, van Luyn immigrated to the United States and subsequently became a U.S. citizen. He had planned to make a living as an electrician, but after observing the opportunities available in America, he decided to apply to Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Tech). Following graduation in 1963, he embarked on his long career with General Electric. He worked at a number of GE manufacturing facilities; obtained PE licenses in the states of Georgia and North Carolina; and received a patent for a leak detector for power transformers. He retired from GE in 1995 as staff engineer at General Electric Aircraft Engines in Wilmington, N.C.

Bevlee A. Watford, of Blacksburg, Va., is the final inductee. She received her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and her Ph.D. from Virginia Tech. Watford served on the industrial engineering faculty at Clemson University from 1985 to 1992, attaining the rank of associate professor. In 1992, she became the founding director of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity for the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, and an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering. In 1997, Watford became the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Engineering. In 2004 she joined the faculty of the newly named Department of Engineering Education, earning the rank of professor in 2005. Currently Watford serves as a program manager for the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation.

Watford was selected as the 1989 Young Engineer of the Year by the State of South Carolina, Chapter of the Society of Professional Engineers. She also received the 1996 Virginia Tech Affirmative Action Award for her work in support of women and other minorities in engineering. In 1997 she received the Charles E. Tunstall Award for Outstanding Minority Engineering Program Director, and in 1998 was selected as one of the Top Minority Women in Science and Engineering by the National Technical Association. Most recently, Watford was selected as the recipient of the 2002 Black Engineer of the Year award in the category of college level educators, a 2002 Advancing Women Award from the Virginia Tech Women's Center, the 2003 Minorities in Engineering award from ASEE and the 2006 Motorola Legacy Builders Award for outstanding contribution to the support of under-represented engineering students.