John DeBell of Catharpin, Va., is the 2006 recipient of Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering Distinguished Service Award.
DeBell is the president and chief executive officer of Burgess and Niple, Inc., of Chantilly, Va.
DeBell, a graduate of Virginia Tech, has a long history of service to both his alma mater and to his profession.
At Virginia Tech, DeBell is a past chair of both the College of Engineering Advisory Board and the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Advisory Board. He has worked in the past towards improving space needs for the College of Engineering and for the computing facilities for the CEE department at Virginia Tech. DeBell has also been a lobbyist in Virginia on behalf of higher education. DeBell is a member of the university’s Ut Prosim Society and the President’s Circle. He serves on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Virginia Tech Foundation.
In 1975, DeBell was named Virginia Society of Professional Engineers (VSPE) Young Engineer of the Year and in 1983 he served as VSPE president. In 1978, and again in 1982, DeBell received VSPE’s Outstanding Service Award and was awarded Engineer of the Year of 1988. In the National Society of Professional Engineers, he served as a national director for four years, and was a member of its Board of Governors for two years.
DeBell is a veteran of the Vietnam War from which he carried home several medals. Afterwards he and his wife, Connie, started their own business shortly after they married. Together, they built Bengston and DeBell, a company that focused on water and sewer projects. By 1987, the business had grown to some 300 employees. In the mid 1990s, Burgess and Niple assumed 100 percent of the stock. DeBell stayed on a partner and remains as president and CEO.