The College of Engineering marked its 100th Anniversary with an Alumni/Corporate Gala held at the Franklin Institute Science Museum on December 3, 2005. The gala showcased the College’s accomplishments over the past 100 years. It also provided a formal opportunity to recognize the contributions of key individuals and increase the College’s visibility to corporations and the community at-large. The event was attended by approximately 350 guests, including major donors, university dignitaries and members of the College’s Advisory Council. Alumni, students and representatives of approximately 30 engineering firms also attended. Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. is the Benefactor of the 100th Anniversary. The gala was also sponsored by nearly 20 corporate partners.
B. Gentry Lee, Chief Engineer for the Planetary Flight Systems Directorate, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA served as the gala’s keynote speaker. Lee is responsible for engineering planetary missions, including the Mars Exploration Rovers, and was instrumental in mankind’s first successful landings on another planet. As Chief Engineer for the Galileo Project, Lee partnered with Carl Sagan in the creation, design, development and implementation of Cosmos, a science documentary series from 1976-1981. Lee’s keynote address highlighted engineering’s vast contributions to society over the past 100 years and the innumerable opportunities for future advancements.
The College of Engineering presented an honorary medallion and award to 10 key alumni for their significant achievements in the field of engineering. Recipients included Andrew M. Allen ’77, Robert A. Bartolini ’64, James R. Birle ’58, Gerald S. J. Cassidy ’63, Nance K. Dicciani ’69, Donald P. Fusilli ’73, John L. Hennessy ’73, John P. Jones ’72, Edward H. Reese ’59, and John M. Robins ’70.
Dr. Barry Johnson, Dean, served as the gala’s master of ceremonies. Dr. Johnson emphasized the College’s continued mission to educate young people to solve problems, embrace emerging technologies and bring a humanistic approach to the field of engineering.
“Engineering, by its very nature, is about dealing with continuous change, and we strive to develop people who will be well equipped to solve new problems as they arise,” Johnson said. “ One thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to educate the whole person, to bring communication skills to the curriculum, and to instill an ethical perspective and sense of community that will impact how today’s graduates and those who graduate 25 or 50 years from now will bring a humanistic perspective to their work.”
Johnson also spoke on the significance of the 100th Anniversary theme, “Celebrating Our Past, Re-engineering The Future.”
“In celebrating our past, we recognize many people who have contributed to the College over the years. We celebrate the success of our alumni, many of whom are now leaders in the corporate, government and academic arenas…,” Johnson said. “In re-engineering the future, we are constantly finding ways to improve the educational process for engineers. Since 95 percent of our graduates will work in the corporate world, we need to understand business needs today and what the needs will be 20 years from now, so that we can deliver the kinds of individuals needed going forward.”
During the ceremony, Rev. Edmund J. Dobbin, O.S.A. offered remarks on the Augustinian tradition. Speakers at the gala also included Joan Chrestay, Associate Dean for External Relations, and Thomas Portland, Vice-Chairman of Global Edu-Tech Management Group and President of Executive Development Associates Consulting Division. Portland retired as Vice President of Air Products and Chemicals and currently chairs the College of Engineering’s Advisory Council. Dr. Helen Lafferty, Vice President, gave the invocation and John Karpowicz ’78, President of the Engineering Alumni Society, gave the benediction. The event also featured a commemorative 100th Anniversary video, dinner and dancing.