Academy of Science & Engineering
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Pictured above (l. to r.): Dean Joshua Hamilton with 2016 Academy Inductees Dena VanDeVoort Ehrich, Dr. Mark Luker, Dr. Fawn Atchison, Robert Meierhoff, Tracey Dickinson and UMD Chancellor Lendley Black
The Academy of Science and Engineering was established in 2002 by Dean James P. Riehl to publicly recognize distinguished alumni and special friends of Swenson College who have distinguished themselves through commitment and leadership in their chosen profession. It is the highest honor bestowed by the Swenson College of Science and Engineering. We have more than 15,000 alumni and each year a handful are nominated by their departments for induction into the Academy of Science and Engineering. Since its inception, 68 members have been inducted into the Academy.
Dr. Fawn Atchison
Atchison has excelled in higher education and in her medical field. She graduated from UMD in 1998 with a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and was the fastest MD/PhD to graduate in her class at Duke University Medical Center because she published original research while completing her medical school curriculum. In 2008, she was elected Chief Resident by her faculty and peers while at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Another of her academic accomplishments was earning the highest score in the country on the American Board of Anesthesiology written examination in 2009. She eventually chose a career in rural and community healthcare and is now the anesthesiologist at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center as well as the Center’s Director of Education, Chief-of-Staff and board member. Upon receiving this award, Atchison said, “UMD is a special place. My experience here made me a better student, better citizen and a better human being. I will cherish this honor for the rest of my life.”
A 1997 graduate in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dickinson went on to earn an MBA at the U of MN Carlson School of Management. She started working as a development engineer at Multi-Tech Systems and in 2008 became a project manager there. Last year, she became Vice President of Engineering and in April of 2016 she won the prestigious Women of M2M (Machine to Machine) award from Connected World Magazine. The award recognizes the most powerful and influential women in the world of connected technologies for pushing advancement forward through their unique perspective. When she was inducted to the Academy of Science & Engineering, Dickinson said, “My time at UMD gave me the foundation I needed. It got me ready for my future education and I feel so honored to be getting this award.”
Dr. Mark Luker
Luker is a former faculty member and Department Head and spearheaded the formation of our Computer Science Department. He came to UMD in 1975 and held many leadership roles, serving as Acting Dean of UMD’s College of Science and Engineering at one time in addition to Chief Information Officer. He also managed grants and outreach in the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program of the Department of Commerce and finally worked for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in a Deputy Director role before retiring in 2016. “When I came to UMD, I was pleasantly surprised to hear faculty talk about students by name and everybody would know who they were talking about,” said Luker. “It was a sign of the personal attention students receive here. I think back on my years here fondly and I appreciate this honor.”
In addition to studying pre-engineering at UMD from 1961 to 1963, Meierhoff now employs UMD students and interns. He is the president and owner of BendTec Incorporated of Duluth. It is a business that has been in his family for generations and has grown under Meierhoff’s leadership both locally and globally. The company bends and coats large diameter pipe for oil and natural gas pipelines as well as high pressure steam piping assemblies and arches for bridges and other structures. His business also fabricated the Wild Ricing Moon sculpture on the UMD campus. “Right now we have six engineering grads and a business school graduate from UMD working with us and helping our business grow,” said Meierhoff. “Working with them and UMD over the years has been a great experience.”
Dena VanDeVoort Ehrich
A 1994 graduate with a Chemical Engineering degree, Ehrich started out at Cargill after graduation. She then worked at H.J. Heinz and Michael foods before returning to school to earn a Juris Doctorate from the William Mitchell College of Law and pursuing a new career in intellectual property law. She is now the Senior Intellectual Property Counsel for 3M. In addition to her career accomplishments, Ehrich has been active in her community providing pro bono legal work. She is co-creator of the Power of 100 Twin Cities Women Who Care group which has donated more than $270,000 to local charities. “The foundation I’ve built from UMD is relationships,” said Ehrich. “The power of UMD in business and the technical community is really profound. At 3M I work with fellow alumni and we share this great legacy of being Bulldogs.”
Dr. John Green is an emeritus professor from UMD’s Earth and Environmental Sciences department and is known for his collaborative work. Green graduated from Dartmouth College and received his Ph.D. in Geology from Harvard University. He joined the UMD faculty in 1958 and specialized in studying the rocks of the Midcontinent Rift which run through Minnesota. Green has enjoyed many honors and was awarded the Goldich Medal by the Institute on Lake Superior geology for contributing to understanding of the Lake Superior area’s geology. “A famous British scientist once said the best geologist is the one who has seen the most geology, and thanks to my time at UMD, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot,” said Green.
Dr. Mengtao He came to UMD as an international exchange student from China. Mengtao received a M.S. degree in Chemistry from UMD in 1989 and his Ph.D. from the U of M Twin Cities in 1993. Up until recently, he was a Senior Research Fellow at the Dial Corporation/Henkel Consumer Goods Inc. and focuses on corporate sustainability interests in North America. Over the years, he has received many corporate diversity and sustainability awards. “My commitment to helping other people is something I took from my time at UMD into my career,” said Mengtao He.
Phillip Powers is the founder of Lake Superior Consulting which provides engineering, design and integrity management consulting services to the oil and gas industry. Powers graduated from UMD’s Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering program in 1990 and has worked in the pipeline industry for many years. His experience covers all facets of pipeline integrity and he’s managed everything from small jobs to three billion dollar projects. Powers said, “I’m quite honored to be associated with such an esteemed group of people.”