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Oct. 26: Carnegie Mellon To Present Alumni Awards During Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 29-Nov. 1


Abby Houck      

Carnegie Mellon To Present Alumni Awards
During Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 29-Nov. 1

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University will honor 15 alumni, students and faculty for their achievements and service to the university as part of its Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 29-Nov. 1. The Alumni Awards ceremony and reception will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30 in the University Center's Rangos Hall. The following are brief descriptions of the award recipients.

Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award

William L. "Red" Whittaker (CIT'75, '79): Whittaker, the Fredkin University Professor of Robotics, has led Carnegie Mellon's Field Robotics Center since 1982 and founded the National Robotics Engineering Center in 1996. Whittaker and his colleagues have created several spinoff companies and developed more than 60 robots for hazardous environments, agriculture, autonomous vehicles and space exploration. In 2007, Whittaker led Carnegie Mellon's Tartan Racing Team to victory in the DARPA Urban Challenge with the autonomous Chevy Tahoe "Boss." He currently is working with a team of researchers from Astrobotic Technology Inc. to compete for the Google Lunar X Prize. To win the $20 million grand prize, a team must land and operate a robot on the moon and transmit images back to earth by 2012. Whittaker has received many honors, including Carnegie Mellon's Teare Award for Teaching Excellence. He also is a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the National Academy of Engineering.

Alumni Distinguished Service Award

Wayne S. Balta (CIT'82): This Pittsburgh-based IBM vice president for Corporate Environment Affairs and Product Safety is recognized for his many contributions to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Balta has served on the President's Advisory Board for the department since its inception in the early '90s. In this role, he identified an opportunity to link IBM resources to a research initiative that eventually became the university's Green Design Institute. Balta currently serves as co-chair of the department's Alumni Advisory Council and as an advisor to the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research.

Deborah C. Kelly (HNZ'94): The Andrew Carnegie Society (ACS) has benefited from more than 10 years of contributions from this Heinz College alumna and founder/principal of the Creative Marketing Strategies firm in Pittsburgh. Kelly has served on the ACS Executive Board since 1998, holding multiple leadership positions, including scholars program chair, annual celebration chair, president and liaison to the Alumni Association. As marketing chair, she coordinated production of the video "A Conversation with Herb Simon," which is screened at annual university events such as Orientation and Family Weekend. Kelly also established programs to engage ACS student scholarship recipients in philanthropic projects benefiting the university community.

William Thomas Wood II
(CIT'74): Wood is widely recognized as the behind-the-scenes hero of Carnegie Mellon's Buggy Sweepstakes tradition. He has collected stories, photos and videos from Buggy alumni throughout the decades, making significant contributions to the University Archives and presenting his "History of Buggy" talk at Homecoming and Spring Carnival. In 2008, Wood founded the Buggy Alumni Association and currently serves as its advisor and historian. The Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKA) fraternity also recognizes Wood for teaching brothers the value of teamwork and perseverance, while assisting the fraternity in becoming a consistent record-breaking Buggy organization.

Alumni Achievement Award

Carol A. Dudley-Williams (CIT'80): After graduating from Carnegie Mellon's Department of Chemical Engineering, Dudley-Williams began a career at Dow Chemical Co. that now spans 29 years. At present, she is the senior vice president of the Basic Chemicals Division. Dudley-Williams is highly regarded as a change agent and mentor to women at Dow, serving as the executive sponsor of the company's Women's Innovation Network. She has been a consultant to numerous universities on enhancing opportunities for female faculty members. Dudley-Williams also has been a dedicated member of Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering and Department of Chemical Engineering advisory boards.

Ralph Guggenheim (H&SS'74, MCS'79): Guggenheim began exploring the interplay between computer science and film-making as a Carnegie Mellon undergraduate, when he was one of the first students in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences to create his own major. Early in his career, Guggenheim worked at the New York Institute of Technology's Computer Graphics Lab. He then led work in digital film editing at LucasFilm, which eventually became Pixar Animation Studios. While at Pixar, he won numerous awards for co-producing "Toy Story," the first feature-length, computer-animated film. Guggenheim currently is chief executive officer of Alligator Planet, a San Francisco-based film production company, and is involved with Climate Cartoons, a project led by Al Gore.

Edwin Mieczkowski (CFA'59): This Pittsburgh native has been recognized as an Op Art pioneer for five decades. After completing his master's degree in fine arts at Carnegie Mellon, Mieczkowski moved to New York and founded the Anonima group with fellow alumnus Frank Hewitt (CFA'58) and Ernst Benkert. In 1964, TIME magazine featured the group's exploration of the interplay of color, intensity, and geometric form and their effects on human visual perception, introducing the term "Op Art" to the world. Mieczkowski later taught at the Pratt Institute and Cooper Union, followed by 39 years at the Cleveland Institute of Art. In 1998, Mieczkowski and his wife and fellow fine arts graduate, actress Chloe Pollock (CFA'52), moved to California, where he is creating representations from the new sciences, especially biomedicine and biotechnology.

Shree K. Nayar (CIT'91): Nayar became a faculty member in Columbia University's Department of Computer Science after completing his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon. He was recently named department chair, and the Society of Columbia Graduates has honored him with its Great Teacher Award. As an instructor, Nayar is noted for his emphasis on writing about and presenting research well. He has earned an array of patents and honors, including election to the National Academy of Engineering "for the development of computational cameras and physics-based models for computer vision and computer graphics." Nayar is the undisputed leader of the extremely difficult area of physics-based computer vision, and his work has spawned entire research fields and a host of industry applications.

Benjamin A. Pontano (CIT'65): Pontano was a Carnegie Mellon undergraduate electrical engineering student when President Kennedy and Congress created the private Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT). After completing a Ph.D. at The Pennsylvania State University, he worked for COMSAT Laboratories until 1974, when he began a 10-year stint as manager of communications systems for the International Telecommunication Satellite (INTELSAT) consortium. He returned to COMSAT in 1984 and was named company president in 1996. In this role, Pontano was involved in designing and building a digital voice transmission system and devising methods to transport Internet traffic over satellites. Now retired, he is remembered for mentoring young engineers and fostering cultural diversity in the workplace. Pontano was elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2000 and holds several patents on interference measurement and cancellation.

Jeffrey L. Zaslow (H&SS'80): A senior writer for The Wall Street Journal, Zaslow launched fellow Carnegie Mellon alumnus and Professor Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" into the international spotlight through his "Moving On" column and subsequent book. He has returned to Carnegie Mellon on many occasions to share his "Last Lecture" experiences with the university community. In 2000, Zaslow received the first Will Rodgers Humanitarian Award while at the Chicago Sun Times for raising millions of dollars for local children in need. He followed Ann Landers as the Sun's advice columnist, a position he won when, to get a story angle, he entered a competition with 12,000 other applicants. The National Society of Newspaper Columnists named "Moving On" the nation's best general-interest column in 2003 and 2005, and the New York Newspapers Publishers Association awarded Zaslow its Distinguished Column Writing Award in 2008. His most recent books include "The Girls from Ames" and "Highest Duty" with co-author and pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger.

Recent Alumni Award

Markus Klausner (CIT'98): While an industrial engineering Ph.D. student, Klausner invented the electronic datalogger, a device that now monitors the sustainability of all power tools produced by German corporation Robert Bosch GmbH. Following his graduation, Klausner established Bosch's Research and Technology Center in Pittsburgh and served as an adjunct faculty member at the university. He initiated numerous joint research projects between Bosch and Carnegie Mellon, including work on wearable computers and embedded systems. Klausner later returned to Germany to lead product development in Bosch's motor vehicle sector, including a new generation of antilock braking and stability control systems. He was recently named vice president to the chairman of Bosch Automotive Group. Klausner serves on the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Advisory Council and received the department's Recent Alumnus Award in 2008.

Ram Kumar Krishnamurthy (CIT'98): This senior principal research engineer with Intel Corp.'s Microprocessor Technology Labs is an expert in the field of high-performance digital circuit design. He has received many honors from Intel, including the company's highest achievement award in 2004 and 2008. Krishnamurthy, also an adjunct professor at Purdue and Oregon State universities, is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and was named to MIT's Technology Review list of best young innovators under 35 in 2006. He serves on the Semiconductor Research Corporation's (SRC) Design Sciences Task Force and was named a SRC Outstanding Industry Mentor. In addition, he advises projects supported by the Center for Circuit and System Solutions, a consortium of universities with headquarters in Carnegie Mellon's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

Faculty Service Award

Chris T. Hendrickson: Hendrickson, the Duquesne Light Company Professor of Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), is recognized for ongoing mentorship of both students and alumni since joining the faculty in 1978. He has received College of Engineering awards for both teaching and research. Hendrickson has hosted a CEE alumni reception and dinner at the annual Transportation Research Board Conference in Washington, D.C., for 30 years. On a recent sabbatical, he traveled across four continents and met with CEE alumni in nearly every country he visited. Hendrickson, author of more than 200 articles and co-author of five books, is co-director of the Green Design Institute and co-principal investigator of a National Science Foundation grant that funds the Center for Sustainable Engineering.

Student Service Award

Saad Rashid Al-Matwi (TPR'10): As student body president of Carnegie Mellon's Qatar campus, Al-Matwi, a senior business administration major with minors in English and history, is recognized for his work to unite students across Education City's six colleges and universities. He helped found two intercollegiate groups — an Education City-wide student government and the community service organization Neo Motion. In addition, he was a founding member and instructor of the Computer Literacy Instruction Program for local security guards and cafeteria staff. Al-Matwi has served as an orientation leader, undergraduate researcher, debate team member, Habitat for Humanity International volunteer and Carnegie Mellon Business Association leader.

Sarah Sheikh (TPR/H&SS'10): Sheikh, a senior majoring in business administration and political science on Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus, is recognized as an advocate for human rights both domestically and internationally. Sheikh has served as president of Amnesty International and Mayur, the South Asian Student Association. In the summer of 2008, she was an education consultant for Sardar Bahadu Khan Women's University in Pakistan, where she delivered lectures on leadership and helped establish the university's first student newspaper. Sheikh is a student ambassador for Carnegie Mellon's Career Center and is involved in the University Student Advisory Council, Initiating Meaningful Pittsburgh and Qatar Transactions (IMPAQT), Highland Ambassadors, Delta Gamma sorority and Greek Council.

More information on Homecoming Weekend events is available at