Alumni and department chair honored at college banquet
Five Clemson University alumni and a department chair were honored at the 19th annual College of Engineering and Science banquet.
Three of the honorees were inducted into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineering and Science, the college’s highest honor. Three others were recognized as Outstanding Young Alumni.
Honorees were selected by a review committee made up of college Dean Anand Gramopadhye, two senior faculty members from the college, two of the college’s alumni and two college advisory board members. The banquet was at the Madren Center on April 24.
New inductees into the academy were:
James Albritton: He graduated from Clemson’s engineering mechanics department with a master of science degree in 1988.
His professional career began at the Fort Worth Division of General Dynamics where he was involved with materials research and development.
Albritton nurtured a keen interest in highway safety product design, and in 1991 won a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. His project was called “Low cost guardrail end treatments with innovative designs and new materials”.
With the SBIR award, Albritton founded Exodyne Technologies, and won a $300,000 SBIR phase II award for full-scale development. He began working with Trinity Industries to improve the design of guardrails.
Over the past 14 years, Albritton has been awarded 16 U.S. patents and more than 50 foreign patents related to optimized design of highway guard rails, crash cushions and end terminals.
His application of the engineering principles he learned at Clemson has resulted in products that save lives every day.
After founding Exodyne, he took over an ACE Hardware store. He is now growing the enterprise with two more ACE hardware stores.
Albritton continues to be involved with Clemson through hardware donations to mechanical engineering’s undergraduate laboratories, and he has shared his successful professional career story with our undergraduate students.
He and his wife, Jill, a 1988 Clemson biological Sciences graduate, have two children, Sara and Aaron, who are currently students in the College of Engineering and Science.
Mark Leising: He is the current chair of Clemson’s physics and astronomy department.
A highlight of his career was the discovery of gamma-ray line emission from radioactive cobalt-56 and cobalt-57 nuclei in supernova 1987A. This event provided the first explicit proof of explosively-produced radioactive nuclei in supernova explosions.
The proof that chemical elements were created in exploding stars had been sought since Fred Hoyle created the theory of nucleosynthesis in stars. Since 1969, the technique for doing this was agreed to be the identification of newly created radioactive nuclei within supernova explosions by the characteristic gamma-ray lines that are emitted by them.
In February 1987, when supernova 1987A exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud, Leising was already at work at NRL converting the sun-viewing gamma-ray spectrometer on Solar Maximum Mission to function as the detector of 56Co gamma rays from astronomical objects.
This event provided the first explicit proof of explosively-produced radioactive nuclei in supernova explosions.
Leising’s name will live in history as a member of that discovery team and of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory discovery team that found the evidence for a second radioactive isotope, 57Co.
He remained a part of the Compton team even after accepting an assistant professorship at Clemson. He and his students have published some 60 papers using CGRO data.
As Clemson professor, Leising has advised eight Ph.D. students, supervised eight masters theses, and was research advisor for 20 undergraduate students. He directed the recent renovation of the Clemson University Planetarium.
Robert Skelton: He is professor emeritus of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of California, San Diego. At UCSD he was the inaugural Daniel L. Alspach Professor of Dynamic Systems and Controls.
Skelton earned his bachelor degree in electrical engineering in 1963 from Clemson, where he won the Walter Merritt Riggs Award as the most outstanding senior in electrical engineering.
He went on to earn a master of science from the University of Alabama-Huntsville and a Ph.D. in mechanics and structures from University of California, Los Angeles in 1976.
Skelton began his career in industry, where his work in systems control contributed both to the success of SKYLAB and later, the Hubble Space Telescope.
He joined the faculty of Purdue University, and enjoyed a two-decade career before moving to the University of California, San Diego.
Skelton’s research focused on the design of dynamic feedback control systems for a variety of applications.
His most recent work has integrated system and materials science to develop innovative applications of the tensegrity paradigm.
Based on the ·molecular structure of a spider’s fiber, these devices can change shape by modifying string tension, allowing materials systems to be created that can modify their acoustic, electromagnetic, and mechanical properties.
Skelton has published more than 140 journal papers and has authored three books. In 2012, He was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering. Skelton is the only known Clemson graduate to ever attain this high honor.
Outstanding Young Alumni awards went to:
Mathew Kuttolamadom: He was the first interdepartmental Ph.D. student in materials science and automotive engineering. Kuttolamadom completed two comprehensive U.S. Department of Energy projects on lightweighting components for automotive design.
Texas A&M later invited him to become a new faculty member for the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution. His recently formed research group focuses on exploring the fundamental nature and interaction of different wear mechanisms in manufacturing systems.
In addition to his research, he is developing materials for his courses on engineering mechanics and design, which are used at Texas A&M and are shared with members of the American Society of Engineering and Education.
Two of his publications are among the Top 10 Most Downloaded Articles in the ASME Journal of Manufacturing Science Engineering.
Jeffrey Plumblee: He was founding member of Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries.
CEDC began in 2009 when Plumblee began looking for a service-learning project. His search led him and six other civil engineering students to the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, which had a mission to upgrade the 30-year-old water system in Cange, Haiti.
Five years, and some $1.5 million dollars later, the project is providing clean water to 10,000 residents of Haiti’s Central Plateau.
Since 2009, some 375 Clemson students representing 30 different majors have experienced service work on a global scale. In January, the Institute of International Education recognized the CEDC with a 2014 Andrew Heiskell Award. It’s one of the top awards in the world of international education.
As a Business Continuity and Disaster Management (BCDM) Specialist with Fluor Enterprises Plumblee is continuing his personal global outreach, but he still volunteers with CEDC.
Keisha Walters: She is an associate professor at Mississippi State. Her department chair calls her one of the most balanced faculty members at MSU for balancing accomplishments in teaching, research and administration.
Walters’ research in nanoparticles and stimuli-responsive materials has led to more than 120 presentations at major national and international conferences, companies, national labs, and academic institutions. She has authored or co-authored 23 publications and book chapters and she has generated more $1.7 million in research support.
Walters has graduated three Ph.D. and five master’s students in the Swalm School of Chemical Engineering and has mentored more than 50 undergraduate and high-school students in her labs.
She has won numerous teaching and research awards. They include the National Academy of Engineering and the 2012 Raymond W. Fahien Award from ASEE, a national award that recognizes the outstanding chemical engineering educator under 40 years old.
Walters was recently selected to serve on Clemson University’s Alumni Council.