Class of 2014
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.
Donald E. Eddy
Don Eddy is a retired professional engineer and consults with the aerospace industry. Eddy graduated from the University of Idaho in 1955 in mechanical engineering. He went on to work for the Rocketdyne Division of Rockwell International Corporation for 37 years. Eddy’s expertise is in the design and development of liquid propellant rocket engine turbomachinery, hot gas turbine systems, axial and centrifugal flow pumps, and filter systems. While at Rocketdyne, Eddy worked on the design and development of the Navaho, Jupiter, Thor, Atlas, and Saturn rocket engines.
Eddy has many accomplishments in the rocket engine design and development field but he is most well-known for his work on NASA’s Space Shuttle Program at Rocketdyne. Eddy was the associate program manager for the production of the shuttle main engine. In this role he directed 250 engineers in turbomachinery. Eddy and his team were responsible for the gamut of shuttle main engine design and development including schedule, technical and cost performance, budgeting and all engine components. After retiring from Rocketdyne in 1992 Eddy spent time as an independent consultant for the newly formed Rocketdyne division of the Boeing Corporation. He continued to lend his expertise to the Space Shuttle main engine systems design, the Delta IV vehicle RS-68 engine, and design for advanced rocket engine systems of the RS-83 and 84 Lox-Hydrogen staged combustion cycle engines.
Eddy continues to consult in the aerospace industry. He has worked with Blue Origin, LLC the aerospace company formed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to develop technologies to enable human access to space at dramatically lower cost and increased reliability. Eddy most recently worked with Aerojet Rocketdyne as an independent review team member for United State Air Force’s Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator (HBTD) and Upper Stage Engine Technology (USET) programs. Eddy and his wife Dolores were married in 1957. They currently live in Woodland Hills, California have three adult daughters, Laura, Linda and Lisa, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
- B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1955
- M.B.A., Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 1988
Louis L. Edwards
Deceased July 25, 2016
Louis Edwards is a retired University of Idaho professor of chemical engineering. Recruited in 1961 by Mel Jackson, the founding chair of the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, “Lou” launched his career at the university as an instructor and also as one of the first doctoral students in the department’s burgeoning graduate program.
Although a rookie in the classroom, Edwards quickly emerged as a student favorite, earning the 1964 Associated Students of the University of Idaho Outstanding Faculty Award. It was the first of several awards professor Edwards received for excellence in teaching during his career. Edwards earned full professor in 1971 and continued to help build the graduate program as a mentor to many masters and doctoral candidates. Even as a full professor, Edwards remained a fixture in the department’s undergraduate program, teaching two of the program’s required courses for nearly five decades. His approach in the classroom has left a lasting impression on countless chemical engineering students.
In addition to Edwards’ teaching accomplishments, he is a two-time recipient of U of I’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship. Edwards has made several noteworthy contributions to the field of chemical engineering. He is an international authority in pulp and paper, authoring close to 120 publications on the subject and serving as a consultant to more than 30 companies worldwide.
In the 1970s, Edwards led the development of a computer software simulation program that became one of the first technologies of its kind in the pulp and paper industry. Today, companies around the world use versions of the program to model and design papermaking processes that are more efficient and environmentally friendly. In the 1980s and 1990s, Edwards spent his summers in Italy, where he continued to work developing a process for turning trash cardboard into new paper rolls. Edwards retired from U of I in June of 2012.
In recognition of his 50 years of inspiring scholarship and service, the College of Engineering has recently created the Lou Edwards Endowed Chair in Chemical Engineering. The fund supports the recruitment and retention of top faculty members who emulate Professor Edwards’s excellence in leadership, teaching and research in the field.
After 53 years of Idaho winters, Edwards and his wife Doris will be moving sunny Newport Beach, California to join their daughter, Katherine, granddaughter and great grandson. They also have a daughter, Elizabeth, who lives with her husband in the Seattle area.
- B.S., Chemical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1958
- M.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware, 1960
- Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1966
Robert M. Griffith
Deceased March 28, 2014
After graduating from the University of Idaho Robert "Bob" Griffith went to work for Kaiser Aluminum Corporation in Spokane as a design engineer and project manager. During his tenure at Kaiser, Griffith became the lead project engineer for Kaiser as they entered the aluminum can business. Griffith oversaw the team that implemented innovative design and precision manufacturing techniques to produce aluminum cans. Griffith was instrumental in developing and patenting such aluminum can production techniques. Griffith was at Kaiser until 1964 when he went to work for ASC, Inc. metal building manufacturers as division manager and then vice president of the international company. Griffith was in charge of the building products business that included overseeing 11 domestic manufacturing centers ranging from Florida to Washington. In this time he also managed ASC’s machine tools division.
In 1979, as the consumer electronics industry was growing Griffith recognized the opportunity and need for precision sheet metal fabrication. After Hewlett-Packed built a plant in Liberty Lake, Wash., Griffith started Accra-Fab a sheet metal fabrication and manufacturing company. During Griffith’s time and founder and president of Accra-Fab, it became one of HP’s largest suppliers of thin gauge aluminum products. Accra-Fab’s success led to the construction of two plants one in Spokane and one in Vancouver, Wash. Accra-Fab grew to design and manufacture a number of products for clients around the world serving a variety of industries from Malaysia to Scotland including electronics, medical, aerospace, military, telecommunications and more. In 1994, Griffith sold Accra-Fab and to this day Accra-Fab is a thriving business.
Griffith was also an avid photographer. In his retirement Griffith pursued photography as a second career and had his work published in several books and magazines. Griffith and his wife Dolores took more than 35 excursions to all seven continents, including Antarctica where Griffith captured inspired photos of the continent’s six species of penguins. Griffith won both the prestigious Nature Slide of the Year and the Wildlife Slide of the Year in the Nature Division of the Photographic Society of America. Griffith allowed the College of Engineering to use his photos for the last five years as the cover photo for our holiday card, including this year.
Sadly Griffith’s health recently deteriorated and he passed away March 28, 2014. We thank Griffith and his wife Dolores for being major supporters of the College of Engineering. Our deepest condolences to the Griffith family.
- B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1951
James H. Milligan
Jim Milligan is a retired, chair, of the University of Idaho, Department of Civil Engineering. Milligan was a professor of Civil Engineering from 1972 until his retirement in 2001. During his tenure at the University of Idaho, Milligan served as professor, department chair, and associate dean of the College of Engineering. As department chair he established and accomplished the goal of having the entire civil engineering faculty registered as professional engineers.
Milligan has been very active on both the national and state boards of professional engineering. He has served on the Idaho Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors for several years and was the most recent board chair. He remains active on the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors by serving as a member of the Exams for Professional Engineers Committee and the Civil Engineering Examination Subcommittee.
Milligan is also a member of the Idaho Society of Professional Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Phi Kappa Phi, National Association of Groundwater Engineers and Scientists and the American Society for Engineering Education. In 1996, Milligan received the Governor’s State of Idaho Recognition Award for meritorious services rendered during the flooding disaster in North Idaho.
In 2004, Jim received the Idaho Excellence in Engineering Educator Award. His selection was made by consensus by the Idaho Society of Professional Engineers. This peer-nominated honor recognizes engineering educators who have had a significant impact on the engineering profession in Idaho.
Milligan and his wife Bonnie live in Moscow, Idaho and recently celebrated their 52 wedding anniversary. They have four children and fifteen grand-children who live across the globe. Robert, their oldest son is a chemical engineer, working as chief process engineer on an $8 billion plant being constructed in Saudi Arabia. Milligan’s two younger sons, Sean and Jarrod, are both civil engineers and work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Walla Walla, Wash., district. Janice their daughter is not an engineer, but coincidentally is married to one and lives in Utah.
- B.S., Civil Engineering, Utah State University, 1963
- Ph.D., Civil Engineering, Utah State University, 1969
James C. Okeson
Jim Okeson graduated from the University of Idaho as a chemical engineer in 1962 and not long afterwards received orders from the U.S. Navy to report to submarine school. At the same time Okeson earned a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the Netherlands. Okeson was able to postpone his orders, marry his wife Jean and study in Holland for a year, where they had their first son, Kevin.
After returning from the Netherlands Okeson began the “nuclear pipeline” submarine prototype training program near Idaho Falls. Upon completion of his training Okeson was assigned to the submarine USS Kamehameha. After completing two patrols with the Kamehameha (one was over 70 days continuously submerged and undetected, a personal record), Okeson was assigned to be engineer officer of the USS James Monroe, a ballistic missile submarine. But it was Okeson’s next commission as executive officer on the fast attack nuclear submarine the USS Barb, that he was involved in a plot straight out of Hollywood. In 1977, a long-range B-52 bomber caught in the path of a typhoon crashed off of the coast of Guam. The USS Barb already submerged raced to the location unaffected by the typhoon until it surfaced in waters with up to 40 foot swells. For almost 48 hours the crew of the Barb demonstrated superb seamanship to not only find but rescue all five B-52 crewmembers who were separated on three different rafts in violent waters.
After the leading a successful rescue, Okeson received his first commanding officer commission in 1979. Okeson was assigned the USS Billfish nuclear attack submarine. He served as the Billfish commander for five years until being assigned commander of the US Navy’s Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) in Idaho Falls in 1984. Okeson spent three years at NPTU before receiving his final commission as commander of Submarine Squadron Ten (SubRon 10) in New London, Connecticut. Okeson retired from the Navy in 1989. His distinguished 27 year career earned Okeson the Legion of Merit Award and commendation from President George H.W. Bush.
Following his service in the Navy, Okeson returned to Idaho to work for the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) now INL. He worked with defense contractors Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier (EG&G), Lockheed Martin and finally Bechtel. As general manager of EG&G, Okeson was assigned to managed the Advanced Test Reactor, the nation’s largest materials test reactor for two years. Okeson led the technical team which resolved the daunting political, technical, emotional, and legal task of recovery and removal of buried nuclear waste materials at INEL.
In 2004, Okeson completed his first marathon, since then he has finished 14 marathons all over the country and world, ranging from the eastern shore of Lake Michigan to the Great Wall of China. Okeson lives with his wife Jean in St. George, Utah. They are the parents of four children and 20 grandchildren, ranging in age from 25 to 4. Unfortunately, Okeson cannot attend the Academy of Engineers induction ceremony, he is busy traveling checking locations off his bucket list and is currently in South Africa.
- B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1962
- University of Idaho Fulbright Scholar
James H. Ritter
Jim Ritter is retired, president, chairman and CEO of Aviation Manufacturing Group LLC. Ritter currently is working with the Boise Angel Alliance to help fund “seed stage” startup companies.
After graduating from the University of Idaho with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1971, Ritter worked for General Electric as a manager in the manufacturing of engine parts in Seattle. Ritter became quality manager of the service shop facility that designed and manufactured components to support commercial aircraft production, cal-rod heating systems for domestic and international land and sea based nuclear reactors. In this capacity Ritter developed the first known quality operating manual for aerospace and nuclear regulatory agency controlled systems.
Ritter became the vice president for quality assurance at Teledyne CAE where he designed, manufactured, and tested un-manned engines for “black” programs used to support strategic “nuclear” delivery systems.
In 1987, Ritter became president, CEO of Teledyne Neosho which overhauled and repaired commercial-regional airline and military engines and components.
In 1992, Ritter became vice chairmen, CEO of FNMI of Columbia, South Carolina, a U.S. military small arms manufacturing company. His charge as CEO was to implement a financial turnaround by supporting the group to acquire weapons systems manufacturers or to develop joint co-production agreements. By 1993, under Ritter’s leadership FNMI established profitability and secured 90% of the U.S. small arms production contracts.
Ritter is most recently the chairman, CEO of Aviation Manufacturing Group LLC, out of Yankton, South Dakota. Aviation Manufacturing Group, LLC, manufactures flight safety and flight-critical parts, components, and assemblies for the aerospace industry. The company offers parts and component subassemblies for flight controls, thrust reversers, and airframe structures, assemblies used in flap and slat drives, fixed wing and rotary wing flight control assemblies, and tie and control rods for aircraft structures and sub-systems. It also offers non-standard products, including control tubes and assemblies, track liners, swaged tubes, and various precision machined parts for commercial aircraft applications. Ritter has grown Aviation Manufacturing Group’s customer base to include Boeing, Goodrich Aero Structures, Honeywell, Korean Air, Triumph-Vought Aircraft, Honda, and Bell Textron Helicopter, among many others. Ritter and his wife Susan Ritter have been married for 39 years. They live in Eagle and McCall, Idaho. They have two children. Son, Michael, is a graduate of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and daughter, Kathryn Anne, is director and technology transfer officer at Boise State University.
- B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1968
- M.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1971
Frank J. Thomas
Deceased April 20, 2019
Frank Thomas is founder and former president of the Pacific-Sierra Research Corporation. He is currently retired but continues to serve on Pacific-Sierra Research’s Board of Directors.
After graduating from the University of Idaho Thomas worked for the Sandia Corporation until 1956. In 1957 Thomas went to work for defense contractor Aerojet General Nucleonics, as a program manager, where he was responsible for the design of the ML-1 nuclear power plant, the first closed-cycle gas-turbine power plant in the United States.
Thomas served as an assistant director of research and engineering for the United States Office of the Secretary of Defense (ODDRE) from 1964-67 in which capacity he evaluated defense programs to ensure technical, schedule, and funding realism. In 1967, Thomas joined the RAND Corporation as the senior physical scientist working on research in nuclear physics and arms-control verification.
In 1971, Thomas founded Pacific-Sierra Research Corporation. As president he directed the company’s research in diverse scientific areas, including information technology, communications, software development, optics, epidemiology, and arms-control technology. After growing the company from three to over 300 people, Thomas retired in 1998 and has worked as an independent contractor up until recently.
During his career Thomas also served on a number of U.S. government technical and policy panels and committees. Of note are his chairmanship of the Department of Energy’s Hydrotest Program Assessment Panel and DARPA’s Panel on Evaluation of Treaty Evasion. For his service, Thomas was awarded the Secretary of Defense’s Meritorious Civilian Service award.
Thomas and his wife Carol Thomas recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. They currently reside in Malibu, California and have three children, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
- B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1952
- M.S., Nuclear Engineering, University of California at Berkeley, 1957