Inaugural Class of 2011
The University of Idaho recognizes these individuals for their personal contributions to engineering achievement, leadership, engineering education, and service to the profession and society.
We salute engineering leaders for their lifetime commitment to advancing the quality of life through achievement, high ethical standards, innovation and commitment.
Tommy W. Ambrose
Tommy Ambrose spent his youth on a sheep ranch near Jerome, Idaho and at the age of 17 enlisted in the United States Navy. He served on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Theatre during World War II and then returned to Idaho to complete bachelor's (’50) and master's (’51) degrees in chemical engineering at the University of Idaho. Ambrose played as a center on the varsity football team for three years while studying chemical engineering. He then married his 50’s classmate Shirley Ann Ball, and they have three daughters, Pamela Lee, a professional cellist; Julie Lynn, a major gifts director for a symphony orchestra; and Leslie Ann, a principal software designer.
Ambrose completed his doctorate at Oregon State University in 1957 and subsequently was awarded an honorary doctorate by U of I. His first job was with the General Electric Company at the Hanford Atomic Works in Richland, Wash., where was engaged in reactor research and development followed by managerial responsibility for processes and nuclear safety. He worked for Battelle Memorial Institute from 1969 to 1990 in various capacities including director of the Seattle Research Center and then as vice president and director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. He also served as a liaison officer for Battelle’s four international laboratories.
Ambrose retired from Battelle to serve the University of California System as liaison between its president and three Department of Energy’s National Laboratories which they managed at Livermore, Los Alamos and Berkeley. Ambrose served on Washington’s Commerce and Economic Development Committee and its Council for Post-Secondary Education, and Idaho’s Science and Technology Council. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Idaho Foundation, engineering advisory boards for the U of I, University of Washington and Idaho State University and eight years on ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). He has also served on boards at Columbia Basin College, Northwest College and university Association for Science, Pacific Science Center Foundation, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and Ohio Wesleyan University. Ambrose received the U of I’s Hall of Fame award in 1980, the Oregon State University College of Engineering Hall of Fame award in 2001 and the Idaho State University College of Engineering’s Professional Achievement award in 2000.
- B.S. Chemical Engineering 1950
- M.S. Chemical Engineering 1951
- Ph.D. Chemical Engineering 1957
- Honorary Doctorate, Idaho 1981
Thomas L. Anderson
Tom Anderson was born in 1936 and raised in Everett, Wash., by his Scandinavian parents who married in Sandpoint, Idaho. Anderson loved skiing, fishing, building model airplanes and constructing objects with his Erector Set. He was active in many extracurricular activities in school including being an algebra tutor and class president. He attended Everett Junior College and later transferred to the University of Idaho on a skiing scholarship. He helped to pay for his tuition and expenses by working for the Engineering Experiment Station. He was vice president of his fraternity and a three-year member of the varsity ski team that placed among the top teams annually at the NCAA National Ski Championships.
Anderson earned his bachelor's (’58) and master's (’61) degrees in civil engineering at U of I and a doctorate (’67) in civil engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award from CU in 1994.
Anderson taught in the department of civil engineering at U of I from 1958 to 1970, where he also coached the U of I varsity ski team for three years. At this same time he worked at Boeing Airplane Company and attended the University of Colorado at Boulder.
In 1970, Anderson took a position with Battelle Memorial Institute in Richland, Wash., and after four years, joined Fluor Engineers and Constructors in Los Angeles. He spent 27 years with Fluor in a variety of assignments of increasing responsibility that provided an opportunity to make contributions to structural dynamics applications. Anderson was general manager of engineering services for Fluor’s southern California operations center where he directed $250 million in engineering design services annually. His first assignment at Fluor was responsibility for the seismic design of the Alyeska Pipeline pump stations and Valdez marine terminal, including all structures and equipment. He later designed the seismic base isolation system for the 911 Emergency Response Center for dispatch of all Los Angeles County fire and medical assistance which was the first seismically isolated building for Los Angeles County that ensured continuity of operations during and following destructive earthquakes.
When on sabbatical leave from Fluor in the mid ‘90s, he completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at RAND’s Critical Technologies Institute in Washington, D.C., where he worked with the Office of Science and Technology Policy in improving science and technology policy formulation in the Executive Office of President Clinton.
In 2000, he was appointed program officer at the National Science Foundation (NSF) where he managed the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) Program involving project management for all NEES experimental equipment awards to major research universities across the nation. Anderson continued as a consultant for a number of years after retiring from NSF, providing engineering, management, policy and advisory assistance to a range of clients. His technical specialty is earthquake engineering and structural dynamics, and he has published extensively in these fields.
Anderson still skis the black diamond runs, enjoys the theater, cooking, gardening and travel. Anderson has three sons, Steven, David and Eric and two stepdaughters, Wendy and Jill, and 14 grandchildren! He and his wife, Elizabeth, reside in Arlington, Va.
- B.S., Civil Engineering, 1958
- M.S., Civil Engineering, 1961
- Ph.D., Structural Dynamics, 1967
Clayton D. Boyce
Clayton (Clay) D. Boyce was born and grew up near the mountain town of St. Maries in northern Idaho. His parents were of modest means; he attended the local schools and graduated from high school in 1947. By working after school and vacations he pursued his hobby of model airplanes and earned a student pilot’s license at the local wheat field/airport.
In 1948, he enrolled at the University of Idaho and graduated with a bachelor's in mechanical engineering in 1953. While in school he participated in the AFROTC Program and was commissioned as a second lieutenant after graduation. His first job as an engineer was with Cessna Aircraft in Wichita, Kan., where he worked as a design engineer on the USAF T-37 jet trainer program.
Boyce was called to active duty by the U.S. Air Force in late 1953 and assigned to Patrick AFB, Fla. (Atlantic Missile Range/Cape Canaveral). He served as a guidance systems officer in the 1st Pilotless Bomber (Matador) Squadron first-of-a-kind for the Air Force. The Matador carried a 40 kiloton nuclear warhead and in 1954, the squadron was deployed to Germany as part of the Cold War/NATO arms buildup in Europe. Subsequently, he was assigned to the USAF Active Reserve and currently holds a commission as captain in the USAF Retired Reserve.
When released from active duty in 1955, he accepted employment with Aerojet Engineering Company (later Aerojet-General Corp). He remained employed by Aerojet for 36 years until retirement in 1991. While at Aerojet he held various positions in engineering and management. The highlight of his career was participation in mankind’s greatest adventure, the Apollo Moon Program. In 1962, NASA/NAA awarded Aerojet the contract to develop and qualify the Apollo Service Module Main Engine-the first rocket engine with the goal of putting men in orbit around the moon and then bring them home again. Boyce was assigned as the engineering manager for this rocket program and every engineering discipline learned from University of Idaho provided him the competence and confidence to successfully resolve the myriad of technical challenges that he encountered.
In 1969, prior to Neil Armstrong’s historic Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, NASA requested his relocation to the Manned Space Center (later the Johnson Space Center) in Houston, Texas, for on-site technical support of the mission. He was honored to sit in the Apollo Mission Control Center during all the Apollo moon landings.
He enjoyed other exciting assignments worldwide by providing technical and marketing support to Aeroject’s customers in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore. His final assignment for Aerojet was with USAF Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio where he provided on-site technical support for Aerojet’ s Scramjet Propulsion Contracts related to The National Aerospace Plane Program-better known as President Reagan’s Hypersonic Orient Express.
Prior to retirement in 1991, Boyce created Clay & Associates, a company that provided technical consulting activities to the Aerospace Industry. Clients included Aerojet, USAF, Johnson Space Center, Stennis Space Center, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Johns Hopkins University/Chemical Propulsion Information Analysis Center, Aerospace Corporation and the Joint Army Navy NASA Air Force Propulsion Technology Conference.
Boyce and Carol, his wife, currently reside in Gold River, Calif., and have three children. Dianne Boyce ’70, Boyce’s daughter, and William Boyce ’84, son, are both University of Idaho graduates. Terri Wyels, Carol’s daughter, graduated from USC. They have four grandchildren — Cassandra Boyce, Brad Boyce, Kenda Wyels and Kyler Wyels. Since retirement, they have enjoyed extensive world travel with a goal to stand on all the continents. Only Antarctica remains to be achieved!
- B.S., Mechanical Engineering, 1953
R. James Coleman
Jim Coleman was born and raised in southern Idaho. He earned a bachelor's (’75) and a master's (’76) in civil engineering at the University of Idaho. Coleman started his career with J-U-B Engineers, Inc. in Nampa, Idaho as a design engineer and then moved to Twin Falls, Idaho in 1978, and continued to perform engineering work as a project engineer and project manager. For the next six years he served as the city engineer for eight communities in the Twin Falls area. In 1980, Coleman was named assistant regional manager and in 1984, he was named the regional manager for the J-U-B Coeur d’Alene office.
In 1986, regional manager duties were expanded to include oversight of the Kennewick, Wash., office and Coleman’s responsibilities grew to include personnel management, business development as well as project management. Coleman was elected to the J-U-B Engineers, Inc. Board of Directors in 1985, elected to be president of J-U-B in 1990 and subsequently assumed the role of president/CEO. Under Coleman’s leadership J-U-B grew from 70 employees in five offices to 300 employees in eleven offices.
In 2005, after working for J-U-B for 29 years, Coleman started his own firm, Coleman Engineering, Inc. (CE). Coleman Engineering is a civil engineering consulting firm specializing in value analysis on engineering projects, water and wastewater projects, commercial and residential development, infrastructure design, project management and public relations on community development projects. Coleman Engineering is located in North Idaho and serves Idaho and Wyoming private and public clients of all sizes.
Coleman Engineering has been active in conducting value engineering studies for schools, infrastructure facilities and public buildings throughout the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West. For the Wyoming School Facilities Commission they provided value engineering and analysis on their new and renovated schools throughout the state. CE developed a team of professionals from various disciplines to carefully evaluate each new and renovated school to find solutions to reducing capital and long term costs for school facility. This work has resulted in many projects being completed below budget with lower life cycle costs while providing the projects with high performance and sustainable design features.
In 2007, Governor Otter appointed Coleman to the Idaho Transportation Board as the District 1 representative and his knowledge and expertise in civil engineering, as well as extensive experience in aviation have contributed to its success. The board is concerned with Idaho airports, ports, roads, bridges and railroads. Coleman also sits on the Inland Pacific HUB which promotes international trade through airports, ports, and railroads. He is also a governor-appointed member of the Idaho EPSCoR Advisory Committee.
Throughout his career, Coleman has also volunteered his time on local and state committees and boards. These include having served as chairman, Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce, chairman U of I College of Engineering advisory board, Rotary Club of Coeur d’Alene board of directors, Coeur d’Alene/Spokane regional chair, U of I Cornerstone of Innovation Campaign, president, North Idaho College (NIC) Foundation, Excel Foundation board of directors, chairman Idaho Engineering Education Advisory Board, president, Idaho Youth Soccer Association, member, Governor’s Science & Technology Committee and University of Idaho North Idaho Advisory Committee, tri-chair, NIC Foundation Community Campaign and cabinet member, Kroc Community Center Capital Campaign. Coleman’s community service also includes water and wastewater projects completed through Rotary International in Central America and Africa.
Coleman is married to Jerre (Clayton) Coleman (B.A., French, ‘76 U of I), also an Idaho native. They have two children, Courtney and Vincent, and reside in Hayden, Idaho.
- B.S., Civil Engineering, 1975
- M.S., Civil Engineering, 1976
Stanley P. Desjardins
Stanley Palmer Desjardins was born to Samuel Morgan and Stella Ethel (Palmer) Desjardins in a farm town in northern Minnesota in 1930. His family followed his father to a U.S. Army base in Idaho during World War II. Desjardins later joined the National Guard and served active duty in the Korean War. In 1954, he enrolled at the University of Idaho with GI Bill® benefits studying mechanical engineering and developing an interest in solid-propellant rocketry.
Desjardins earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1958 and after graduation took his first engineering job at Thiokol Chemical Corporation in Utah, working on the nozzle design for the U.S. Air Force Minuteman program, that in the late 1950s, was working on advances in solid-fuel propellants. The Minuteman is a three-stage, solid-propellant, rocket-powered ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) with a range of approximately 5,500 nautical miles.
Ten years later, Desjardins accepted a job offer from a small Arizona company to study crash safety and airline security. After working there for several years, Desjardins founded Simula, Inc. in 1975, to further the research, technology, and produce components incorporating that expertise into systems for improving occupants’ chances of survival in vehicle crashes. The company’s first big break was to supply energy-absorbing, crashworthy seats to the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. Later, federal regulators contracted with Simula to study jet airliner crashes, and the company’s research determined stronger seats were necessary to improve safety. The company went on to design and produce crashworthy seats for military and commercial airplanes and helicopters and side-airbag systems for aviation and automobiles.
Desjardins was president and CEO of Simula for 20 years, president for 25 years and chairman of the board of Simula Inc. for 26 years. During that time, Simula developed and/or produced crash-resistant seats for the UH-60A Black Hawk and derivatives, SH-60B Seahawk, AH-64A Apache, SH-3 Sea King, CH-53 Sea Stallion, V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor, RAH-66 Comanche, UH-1Y, UH-1Z and several foreign aircraft including the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), the Westland/Agusta EH101, and the Royal Australian Air Force S-70-A9. Simula has developed and produced crash-resistant seats for several commercial aircraft as well, including the Bell 212, 412, 230, 430, 427, the new 607 tilt-rotor, and the Kaman K-MAX, helicopters. Working with Japanese engineers from Tenyru, Simula developed seats for the new OH-1 and MH2000 helicopters. Simula also developed and built all of the sidewall and centerline troop seats for the US Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft. The performance record for these seats is outstanding including “saves” in crashes of energy levels far exceeding the specified design environment.
In a related field, Simula developed and produced air bag restraints. Examples include the Cockpit Air Bag Systems (CABS) for the U.S. Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk and OH-58 Kiowa Warrior as well as side airbags for several automobiles including BMW. Desjardins retired from Simula, Inc. in 2001 when Simula was a publically traded company with twelve facilities worldwide with approximately 1400 employees.
In 2002, Desjardins founded a new company, Safe, Inc., to continue research to advance the state-of-the-art in crashworthy seats, as well as other interests. Early work has centered around SBIR projects including development of a ballistic armor covering for aviators’ helmets, development of a new lightweight crashworthy troop seat for Navy helicopters, a seat for Army and Marine ground vehicles that limits the impulsive loads imposed on the occupant as a result of a mine blast under the vehicle, new tie-downs for equipment carried in Navy helicopters, a loading device that allows passengers, both ambulatory and those in wheelchairs, to board railcars from either high or low platforms, as well as other related projects.
In a very recent project, Safe developed and delivered energy absorbing struts to NASA. The struts will be used to connect the Orion crew-carrying pallet to the outer structure of the crew capsule. If the load magnitudes during reentry and/or splash down are extreme, the energy absorbing struts will stroke limiting the loads exerted on the crew to tolerable levels. Safe’s staff now includes 14 people of which ten are engineering.
Desjardins was responsible for three major revisions of the U.S. Army’s Aircraft Crash Survival Design Guide, which is widely recognized as the authority on crash-resistant aircraft design criteria. He is the inventor or co-inventor of six patents, and his many awards include recognition from the American Helicopter Society in 2003 for his contributions that increase aircrew and passenger safety. He has been nominated for induction into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and was selected as a U of I Hall of Fame recipient in 1996 and as the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship Entrepreneurial Fellow by the University of Arizona in 1996. He is an Outstanding Alumnus, a former member of the College of Engineering Advisory Board and has served as an EXPO judge many times.
In recognition of his leadership in and contributions to the field of aviation safety, U of I honored Desjardins an Honorary Doctorate degree in 2010.
Desjardins resides with his wife, June Rudyk, in Scottsdale, Arizona. They have one daughter, Sandra.
- B.S., Mechanical Engineering, 1958
- Honorary Doctorate, Idaho 2010
Robert R. Furgason
Robert Furgason earned a bachelor's (‘56) and a master's (’58) in chemical engineering at the University of Idaho. In 1961, he received a doctorate in chemical engineering from Northwestern University and an Honorary Doctorate degree from the University of Idaho in 2006.
Furgason began his distinguished academic career as an instructor in the department of chemical engineering at the University of Idaho in 1957. In the early sixties he served as an assistant professor, then as associate professor, and in 1967, became professor of chemical engineering. He served as chairman of the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1965 to 1974.
In 1974, Furgason was named dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Idaho and in 1978, vice president for academic affairs and research. Furgason moved to Lincoln, Nebraska in 1984, to take on the role as the vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Nebraska.
In 1990, Furgason became the first president of Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC). His 13-year tenure was marked by unprecedented growth in enrollment, programs and facilities as well as numerous awards for the University’s academic programs. Over $185 million of construction occurred on the A&M-Corpus Christi campus during his tenure as president.
Furgason became the first executive director of the Harte Research Institute (HRI) in January 2005. While at the HRI, Furgason oversaw the development of the new Institute, from the earliest planning stages through the construction of the state-of-the-art facility. He also played a key role in bringing the endowed chairs and other personnel onboard. Since its inception in 2004, the HRI has become the premier research institute for advancing the long-term sustainability and conservation of the Gulf of Mexico. Through its trilateral relationship with Mexico and Cuba, the HRI has established and activated an agenda to promote excellence in conservation, research and innovative public policy.
Philanthropist Edward H. Harte, whose $46 million endowed gift paved the way for the Institute’s creation, said that Furgason, while president of A&M-Corpus Christi, participated actively in the incubation of the ideas behind the Harte Research Institute.
Furgason has been pivotal to the establishment and success of the Harte Research Institute,” said Harte. “He has been part of everything we have done, and we owe him a great debt.
He stepped down from his post as executive director of the Harte Research Institute in 2008.
Within the Corpus Christi community, Furgason and his wife, Gloria, have been tireless champions for the performing arts. They led fundraising efforts to expand the South Texas Institute for the Arts, build the University’s $18 million Performing Arts Center and bring internationally-known artists to Corpus Christi through the Gloria and Robert R. Furgason Bravo! Series for the Performing Arts.
Furgason is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Beta Delta and the Phi Eta Sigma honor societies. He has received over 25 awards including the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Grinter Award, the American Society of Engineering Education Centennial Medalist, the University of Idaho Alumni Hall of Fame award and the University of Idaho Outstanding Teaching Award to name a few. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and is a Fellow of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and served as its president.
Furgason and Gloria, his wife, reside in Corpus Christi, Texas. They have two sons, Steven and Brian.
- B.S., Chemical Engineering, 1956
- M.S., Chemical Engineering, 1958
- Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, 1961
- Honorary Doctorate, Idaho, 2006
John R. Marks
Deceased May 16, 2014
John R. Marks, Jr. was born and raised in Wisconsin. In 1966, the Marks family moved to Boise, Idaho where he attended and graduated from high school. Marks earned a bachelor's degree in mining engineering at the University of Idaho in 1973 and began his mining career as a junior engineer at Hecla Mining Company in the Silver Valley of north Idaho. He did surveying, mine planning and design at the Star Mine and ventilation engineering for the Star and Lucky Friday mines.
From 1975 to 1977, he continued his education at the University of Idaho as a graduate student and served as an instructor and tutor. Marks completed his thesis, “Computer-Aided Design of Large Underground Direct-Contact Heat Exchangers” in 1990 and earned a master's in mining engineering.
In 1977, Marks returned to Hecla Mining Company as a mining and ventilation engineer where he was responsible for all ventilation and refrigeration at the Star, Lucky Friday and Con Sil Mines. He Became a senior mine engineer in 1980 and was responsible for all mine engineering functions at the Lucky Friday Mine.
For the next 19 years, Marks worked for the Homestake Mining Company in Lead, S.D., as a ventilation engineer, then as the chief ventilation and health engineer. The former Homestake mine is 8,000 feet deep and contains 370 miles of tunnels. Between 1876 and 2003 the Homestake Mine produced 42 million ounces of gold worth about $3.5 billion. Marks was responsible for all ventilation and refrigeration at all levels of the mine. He designed and installed a 3,000 horsepower (hp) surface fan, a double 1,000 hp underground booster fan and a 2,300 ton refrigeration plant utilizing controlled recirculation. In 1996, he worked on assignments including shaft design, strategic planning, pumping, ore haulage, waste rock removal and refinery ventilation.
In 2001, Marks worked at Stillwater Mining Company in Nye, Mont., as a consulting engineer planning ventilation requirements and designing a $10 million system upgrade for the Stillwater platinum/palladium mine. A year later he joined the engineering transition team for the National Underground Science Laboratory facilitating the conversion of the Homestake Mine into a science laboratory. Plans are now under way to turn Homestake into the first national laboratory for underground science in the United States — and the largest and deepest facility of its kind in the world. Scientists hope to use the lab in the mine for an experiment to find out what role neutrinos played in the evolution of the universe. It is one of more than 40 scientific experiments scientists already have proposed for the new laboratory.
From 2002 to present, Marks has been a mine ventilation consultant. He is presently consulting for the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority on the conversion of the Homestake Mine into the National Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) and has consulted with, and/or continues to work with many other mines in South Africa, Bulgaria, three Canadian provinces, and U.S corporate offices for mines in Guatemala and Indonesia.
Marks served as an adjunct professor for the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, S.D., teaching mine ventilation. He has taught seminars at most western mining schools in mine economics and mine ventilation, air conditioning, computer applications and diesel use. He has authored or co-authored over 25 papers in mining, including chapters in ASHRAE’s 2003 & 2007 Applications Handbooks, a mining textbook, and the new Society of Mining Engineer’s (SME-AIME) 2011 Mining Engineering Handbook. In 1992, he was Chairman of Society of Mining Engineer’s (SME) Underground Ventilation Committee. He holds several professional memberships including Tau Beta Pi, the National Engineering Honor Society. He received the Black Hills Safety Professional of the Year honor and in 2008, was awarded the prestigious SME’s Hartman Award for excellence in mine ventilation.
- B.S., Mining Engineering, 1973
- M.S., Mining Engineering, 1990
Zimri E. Mills
Deceased Jan. 1, 2016
Zimri Mills was born in 1924 in Wilder, Idaho, and second in a family of seven children. His parents were part of the homestead movement of the early 1900's and became Idaho farmers. Mills lettered in football and basketball, was student body president and acted in school plays. He graduated in 1943 from Wilder High School.
Mills went directly into the U.S. Army and was assigned to anti-aircraft artillery basic training at Camp Callen, Calif., and then sent to the University of Oregon to become an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. However, in early 1944 with the warning of an imminent invasion of Europe, he was re-assigned to an operating unit at Camp Cook, Calif., the 11th Armored Division of the Armored Infantry Battalion. In December 1944, he was sent to France where he joined in the fight of the Battle of the Bulge under General George Patton. Mills was wounded by shrapnel in his legs and discharged in July 1945.
Upon returning to the states, Mills farmed briefly with his father, but his injuries made farming difficult and he decided to get an education. He attended the University of Idaho and became a member of the engineering honor society, Sigma Tau, and within three years completed a BS in agricultural engineering.
In the summer of 1949, Mills worked as a trainee of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service (now called the Natural Resources Conservation Service) and began his professional career as a soil engineer in Caldwell, Idaho, providing technical assistance to farmers and other private landowners and managers. In 1951, he was transferred to Shoshone, Idaho, and worked in Lincoln, Gooding, Blaine, and Camas counties. Two years later, he was transferred to Portland, Oregon, to work as a hydrologist for the western region. Mills was transferred back to Idaho after the Oregon offices closed and worked in irrigation and drainage work, eventually also working in hydrologic engineering for Idaho and Nevada.
In 1959, Mills was transferred to Amherst, Massachusetts, where he worked for the State of Massachusetts as an engineer working on watershed protection for small watersheds. His primary activity included the planning, design and construction of flood control dams, mostly earth-filled dams.
In 1963, a U of I college friend started the Trus Joist Corporation in Boise, Idaho, and persuaded Mills to join the group as a Trus Joist engineer. Trus Joist at the time specialized in light wood structural elements, primarily for roof and floor systems. The innovative design of the system was not governed by standard wood engineering criteria, so special approvals were required from regulatory bodies to use this pioneering technology.
Mills was part of the Trus Joist engineering team that developed unique (their own) grading guidelines for the wood, design values and manufacturing standards. This required the testing, analysis and defense of new standards to the building code authorities. Mills, together with his colleagues, developed the specialized manufacturing standards for the Trus Joist technology, including having to create the literature for engineers and architects and installation instructions for builders.
Trus Joist systems were primarily installed on roof and/or floor systems on spans of 28 to 100 feet. They continually upgraded their designs which again required additional proof of testing and evaluation for regulatory bodies to approve.
Over a period of several years Trus Joist developed a complete product line and sold it throughout the United States, Canada and, eventually in Sweden, Germany and England. The largest roofing system that they developed and installed, which won the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Outstanding Structural Achievement Award in 1976, was the indoor stadium at U of I, the Kibbie Dome, in Moscow, Idaho. This structure had a 400 foot clear span, with a clearance above the playing field equivalent to a twelve story building and at that time was the largest indoor college facility in the nation. Many recognized this achievement as a masterpiece where talent, technology, vision and commitment were manifest in a unique creation and Trus Joist’s barrel arch stadium cover received worldwide recognition.
Mills was active in the American Society of Testing Materials where he helped to develop many standards of wood design and fire prevention. He was also active in the Society of Professional Engineers and served on the U of I Engineering Advisory Board.
In 1947, he married Fidelia Zabala and they had a daughter and son. Fidelia passed away in 1955 and Mills a year later married Maizie McClaran Anno, whose husband, a mining engineer, had been killed in a mining accident. Maizie has a son. They started life together with three children, Bryan, Delynn and Robert, who all subsequently graduated from Borah High School in Boise. Delynn attended U of I, and Bryan and Robert attended Boise State University. They are all married now and Mills and Maizie have six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
As a family, they enjoy skiing, fishing, hunting and golf. They reside in Boise enjoy playing bridge. They have traveled worldwide to most continents, visiting many of the continent’s diverse countries.
- B.S., Agricultural Engineering, 1950
Albert F. Myers
Deceased Mar. 20, 2016
Albert Myers earned a bachelors (’69) and a master’s (’71) degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Idaho and was a Sloan Fellow at the Alfred P. Sloan School at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned a master’s degree in industrial management in 1992.
Myers served in the U.S. Army and was stationed at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC) located in Edwards, Calif., where he held a number of positions including chief of the flight control engineering branch. DFRC is NASA’s primary center for atmospheric flight research and operations, the primary alternate landing site for the space shuttle and the orbital support station for the International Space Station.
Myers joined Northrop Grumman in 1981 as manager of flight controls engineering for the B-2 program where he later held other leadership positions including chief project engineer, deputy program manager and vice president of test operations.
In 2006, Myers became an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering which is an honor among the highest professional distinctions accorded an engineer. The Academy recognized Myers for his contributions to the flight control systems for NASA research aircraft and for his leadership in the development of the B-2 stealth aircraft flight control system. “This honor recognizes Myers’ superb technical abilities, his hard work and his many innovations,” said Ronald Sugar, then chairman, CEO and president of Northrop Grumman. “In keeping with his engineering excellence, he also played an important role in making Northrup Grumman the leading company it is today.
This same year he retired as corporate vice president of strategy and technology and chief technology officer for Northrop Grumman Corporation. As vice president he oversaw the ongoing development of the company’s strategic framework responsible for facilitating company-wide initiatives in technology and program development. He also served on the company’s corporate policy council. Previously, he was vice president and treasurer for Northrup Grumman, responsible for the treasury, mergers and acquisitions, risk management, real estate, pension and savings investments and trust management.
During his tenure at Northrop Grumman, the company completed in excess of $25 billion in strategic acquisitions and divestitures. The company, a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif., had 125,000 employees and operated in all 50 states and 25 countries and served U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.
Myers served from 1989 through 1998 on the NASA Aeronautics Advisory Board. He received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the 1981 Dryden Director's Award. He was elected to the University of Idaho Alumni Hall of Fame in 1997 and was the 2009 recipient of the IEEE Simon Ramo Medal which cited his role in the development of the digital flight control system for the B-2 stealth bomber.
- B.S., Mechanical Engineering, 1969
- M.S., Mechanical Engineering, 1971
Ronald C. Olson
Ronald Olson was born in Sioux Falls, S.D., and raised in Everett, Wash. In 1958, he earned a bachelor's in electrical engineering from the University of Idaho. Olson attended the Defense Systems Management College located at Fort Belvoir, Va., chartered to provide executive-level international program management courses to defense contractors’ workforce across the globe. He also earned a certificate from the Senior Executive Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Olson began his career at the Boeing Company working as a program engineer on the BOMARC and HIBEX (High G Booster Experiment) missile programs. He subsequently held several positions on the Short Range Attack Missile (SRAM) program which included guidance and control design, missile design, carrier aircraft equipment design and senior engineering management.
Olson became the division’s chief engineer following a number of assignments in the business development arena. In 1985, Olson became a program manager and for many years provided leadership to the Small Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Mobile Basing program, the P-3 Update IV Anti-submarine Warfare program, and the FD-15 Air Launched Anti-satellite (ASAT) program.
Olson then became the Missile Systems program manager, Boeing Defense & Space Group, Missiles & Space Division, where he led the development and manufacture of strategic and tactical missile systems. Under Olson’s purview were such strategic programs as the Minuteman missile, the Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) and its variants, Boeing’s highly successful AVENGER air defense system, the U.S. Army’s Airborne Surveillance Test Bed, and developmental efforts like the Enhanced Fiber Optic Guided Missile (EFOG-M) weapon system.
In 1998, Olson became president of Sea Launch Co., LDC, a Boeing-led multi-national corporation, which was developing a sea-based commercial satellite launching service. In this role Olson oversaw the activities of the Sea Launch Co. partners in a unique commercial launching service that was contracted to place satellites in orbit in the summer of 1998. The international industrial partners, comprising three major aerospace companies and Europe’s largest ship builder, were Boeing (U.S.), Kvaerner a.s. (Norway), RSC Energia (Russia) and NPO-Yuzhnoye (Ukraine). The Sea Launch partners established a U.S. home port for their unique new operation, which launched satellites from a sea-based pad operating in international waters in the Pacific. Boeing had overall responsibility for development of the Sea Launch system and operation of its business.
The College of Engineering is thankful to Ron Olson who is currently the chairman of the $2 million John C. Wahl Think Tank Campaign to raise funds for the student services project. Olson has a distinguished history of volunteer leadership at the college. He was instrumental in the 1990’s Engineering Physics Building campaign, served many years on the College of Engineering Advisory Board and as many times as an EXPO judge. Olson received the Alumni Hall of Fame Award as well as the Outstanding Alumni Award from U of I.
Ron and Barbara Olson, his wife, currently reside in Seattle. They have a daughter Jodi, son Bradley and daughter-in-law Tracey DiRameo, and two grandsons Collin and Duncan.
- B.S., Electrical Engineering, 1958
Bess L. Vance
Bess L. Vance earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1955, the first woman to do so at the University of Idaho. On December 8, 1954, a junior at the time, Vance was the second woman in the nation to become a member of Sigma Tau, the national engineering honorary.
Vance’ father, James M. Vance, also studied engineering at the university in the 1920's. She belongs to a long-time Vance family tradition of three-generations of U of I chemical engineers including her uncle Bob Vance (’30), cousin San Vance (’40) and brother John (Jack) Vance who graduated in chemical engineering in 1964 and several cousins (Bob and Jim Vance) and then Bob Vance’s sons. Vance remembers Dwight Hoffman, chair of the department of chemical engineering, as her most influential professor.
After college, Vance went to work in the research department of the Anaconda Mining Company at their milling and smelting operations located in Anaconda, Mont., and later at the relocated research facility in Tucson, Ariz. While in Tucson, she joined a new data processing group as a systems analyst. Vance spent two years with this group developing an economic evaluation program which led to construction of a new copper/zinc mine and milling operation near Tooele, Utah. Returning to metallurgical extraction, she worked on processes for recovery of a variety of metals ranging from aluminum and beryllium to uranium and zinc. Subsequently, Vance moved to Darwin, Calif., a mining town on the western outskirts of Death Valley, and became the plant metallurgist at the Anaconda’s Darwin Silver Mine and Mill.
The Davy McKee Corporation, a multinational engineering corporation known for its chemical engineering operations now located in Houston, Texas, then hired Vance. She worked on a variety of projects, including the training of staff and the start-up of a grass roots gold mine in Nevada. She also oversaw plant expansions at several soda ash recovery facilities in Wyoming.Vance is currently enjoying retirement in El Sobrante, Calif., near San Francisco. She has taken up whaleboat rowing and single scull rowing for exercise. She does volunteer work for the Friends of the El Sobrante Library, the Oakland Museum of California and the San Leandro Monarch Butterfly Program.
The College of Engineering is honored to acknowledge the first inaugural gift to the college's Chemical Engineering Endowed Chair Campaign given by Bess Vance. Vance says, "My education at Idaho made a major difference in my life and I feel good about giving to a public university. I'm pleased that I can contribute money that will go to set up an endowment for the college to use for a worthy cause forever."
Vance enjoys regular visits with Jack, her brother, as he travels through the Bay Area on his many return flights from China to his home in North Palm Springs, Fla.
- B.S., Chemical Engineering, 1955