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Ultrasound pioneer receives highest award in engineering profession

WASHINGTON (20 April 2010) -- Ultrasound pioneer Gerald J. Posakony was honored with the John Fritz Medal -- the highest award in the engineering profession on Monday night by the American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES).

Posakony's pioneering contributions to the fields of ultrasonics, medical diagnostic ultrasound and nondestructive evaluation technologies were recognized during AAES' 31st annual awards ceremony at the Great Hall of the National Academy of Engineering. He was one of six engineers honored.

Posakony's work on medical ultrasound technology began in the early 1950s when he was the lead engineer on an ultrasonic diagnostic imaging system for investigating human disease processes. His efforts, particularly in the development of ultrasonic transducers -- the "eyes" of an ultrasound system -- have contributed greatly to modern ultrasound technology. The medical imaging of muscles, tendons and internal organs is used to gauge their size and structure and determine if pathological lesions are present. Obstetric sonography is important in monitoring the health of a pregnant woman and her unborn baby.

Posakony also designed, fabricated and tested an ultrasonic phased array system for the Electric Power Research Institute to conduct inspections of nuclear power plant components. The transducer he developed to test for aging in the Sparrow solid rocket motor enabled the U.S national inventory to be screened, and aged motors to be removed.

A former senior research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., Posakony graduated from Iowa State University in 1949 with a degree in electrical engineering. He holds 13 patents and became an honorary IEEE member in 2009.

The John Fritz Medal is presented each year for scientific or industrial achievement in any field of pure or applied science. It was established in 1902 as a memorial to the engineer whose name it bears. Past recipients include Alexander Graham Bell (1907), Thomas Edison (1908), Alfred Nobel (1910), Orville Wright (1920) and Guglielmo Marconi (1923).

National Engineering Award

Dr. Charles M. Vest received the National Engineering Award for his long and distinguished career as a leader in engineering education, his strong advocacy for the engineering profession, and for strengthening national policy on science, engineering and education. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and a former president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

After graduating from West Virginia University with a degree in mechanical engineering, Vest began his tenure at Michigan by earning his master's and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering. He taught courses in heat transfer, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, and conducted research in heat transfer, laser optics and holography. He concluded his 27-year Michigan career as dean of engineering.

During his 14 years as MIT president (1990-2004), Vest was active in science, technology and innovation policy; building partnerships among academia, government and industry; and promoting the importance of open, global scientific communication, travel and sharing of intellectual resources.

Vest was awarded a 2006 National Medal of Technology -- since renamed the National Medal of Technology and Innovation -- from former President George W. Bush. The award is the highest honor for technological achievement bestowed by the president on America's leading innovators. Vest became NAE president in 2007.

The National Engineering Award is presented for inspirational leadership and tireless devotion to the improvement of engineering education and to the advancement of the engineering profession, as well as to the development of sound public policies as an engineer-statesman. Previous recipients include IEEE Fellow and former Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine (1991) and former astronaut Neil Armstrong (1979).

Norm Augustine Award

IEEE Fellow Dr. Karen Panetta, a Tufts University professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received the Norm Augustine Award for communicating the excitement of engineering through outreach activities that promote careers in science and engineering, and encourage youth to improve the environment and change the lives of individuals and communities.

Panetta, who founded and serves as editor-in-chief of the IEEE Women in Engineering magazine, has devoted much of her energy toward encouraging young women and minorities to become engineers. She developed the highly successful international program "Nerd Girls," which challenges women engineers to complete interdisciplinary projects and connect with K-12 girls to generate interest in the profession. By demonstrating how engineering helps society and improves the quality of life for humans and wildlife, she has motivated thousands of girls to pursue engineering careers.

Panetta also developed India's "Health and Human Information System," a database program used to track and analyze disabilities in young children. It has been accessed by more than four million users and provides reliable data for medical doctors and the government to identify the causes of several disabilities. The Indian government of Tamil Nadu recognized her with an Award for Outstanding Contribution.

The Norm Augustine Award is presented to an engineer who has demonstrated the capacity for communicating the excitement and wonder of engineering. The award is conferred on those rare individuals who can speak with passion about engineering -- its promise as well as its responsibility -- so that the public may have a better understanding of engineering and a better appreciation for how engineers improve our quality of life.

The Kenneth Andrew Roe Award

Daniel D. Clinton, Jr., P.E., was presented the Kenneth Andrew Roe Award for being an inspirational leader, ambassador and crusader for the advancement of worldwide unity among engineers throughout his more than 50-year career.

Clinton's leadership as a member of numerous international societies and federations has resulted in many successful initiatives, such as promoting the development of engineering capabilities in developing countries through accreditation, licensing and knowledge transfer, and the publication of a "Guidebook for Capacity Building in Engineering."

After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Clinton worked at the firm of Lockwood, Andrews and Newman, Inc. for 41 years. He retired as senior vice president, director and corporate secretary. He is a former president of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), the Texas Society of Professional Engineers, the Engineers Council of Houston, the Houston Engineering & Scientific Society and the Council of Engineering Companies of Texas.

Clinton has served as a member of the United States Council of International Engineering Practice, and as the NSPE representative to the Union Pan American de Asociaciones de Ingenieros and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO). He is currently president of the WFEO Committee on Engineering Capacity Building and has organized and participated in capacity building sessions in India, Brazil and Kuwait.

He received civil engineering degrees from Texas A&M University and Stanford University.

The Kenneth Andrew Roe Award is presented on behalf of the engineering community to recognize an engineer who has been effective in promoting unity among the engineering societies.

Joan Hodges Queneau Palladium Medal
Clifford W. Randall, Ph.D.

Dr. Clifford W. Randall received the Joan Hodges Queneau Palladium Medal for leading the cooperative efforts of engineers, scientists and environmentalists to create innovative solutions to environmental problems specific to estuaries like the Chesapeake Bay.

Randall, who has devoted decades of service to improved water quality throughout the world, was a key member of the Chesapeake Bay Project team that identified and quantified pollution sources; developed, promoted, and negotiated solutions with the stakeholders; and significantly improved the bay's water quality. His work has also led to innovative approaches to nutrient removal in wastewater treatment plant discharges -- improvements which were imperative to meet the water quality goals of the project.

Randall's contributions throughout his career have had a major impact on hundreds of wastewater facilities around the world, allowing them to greatly reduce nutrient releases without incurring major increases in treatment process costs. He has worked tirelessly with environmental engineers and scientists to improve treatment facilities in South Africa, India, China, Canada, Puerto Rico and South Korea. The cost-effective solutions he promoted and implemented bridged the gap between engineers and environmentalists, while satisfying the demands of regulators and those being regulated.

After earning his bachelor's and master's degree from the University of Kentucky in the field of civil/sanitary engineering, Randall completed a doctorate in environmental health engineering from the University of Texas in 1966.

The Joan Hodges Queneau Palladium Medal honors an engineer's outstanding achievement in environmental conservation. The medal underscores the vital importance of mutual understanding between conservationists and engineering professionals.

AAES Chair's Award

Dr. John S. Mayo, a veteran designer of advanced communications and computer systems, and former president of Bell Laboratories, received the AAES Chair's Award for leading the development of the digital technology foundation for the Internet age, from early PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) transmission systems to later broadband optical transmission systems and advanced digital switching systems.

An IEEE Fellow, Mayo received a National Medal of Technology from former president George Bush in 1990.

Mayo began his career with Bell Labs -- now Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs -- in 1955. He worked on the design of the first transistorized digital computer, Tradic, a military development project. He then became supervisor for the T1 carrier project, a time-division multiplexed digital transmission facility capable of supporting 24 voice channels. Mayo also contributed to the development of the Telstar satellite communications system, electronic systems for ocean sonar and the world's first long-distance digital switching system.

After serving as Bell Labs' director of Ocean Systems Laboratory, executive director of the Ocean Systems division and the Toll Electronic Switching division, and vice president of Electronics Technology, Mayo became Bell Labs president in 1991. He served until mandatory retirement age in 1995. He is credited with globalizing Bell Labs and forging closer ties between its research and development and business units.

Mayo earned his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University.

Dr. Ralph W. Wyndrum, Jr., who worked with Mayo at Bell Labs and served as AAES chair last year, nominated him.


Contact: Chris McManes

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