Famous Alumni

Iowa Alpha Famous Alumni

As part of the 150th Anniversary of Iowa State, a number of extraordinary individuals associated with the College of Engineering were identified. They include visionaries who built the rich foundation for the college as well as students, faculty, and alumni who helped improve the world as inventors, business leaders, and academicians. Of the 55 men and 1 woman identified as People of Distinction in Engineering, 35 were Tau Beta Pi members. The Tau Beta Pi members are shown in the following list with the Tau Beta Pi Chapter and year of graduation shown in parenthesis at the end of the text.

People of Distinction in Engineering

 Thomas R. Agg  Thomas R. Agg served as dean of engineering from 1932 to 1946. Agg, who joined the Iowa State faculty in 1914, earned degrees in electrical engineering in 1905 and civil engineering in 1911. The author of several pioneering books on highway development, Agg is recognized for his contributions to the highway system. (IA A 1905)
Clayton C. Anderson Clayton C. Anderson, who graduated with his MS in aerospace engineering in 1983, is the first Iowa State alum to become an astronaut. In June 2007, Anderson began a five-month assignment onboard the International Space Station, participating in construction of the station and conducting experiments. (IA A 1983)
 Arthur Bergles  Arthur Bergles, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1972 to 1983, is an authority in the enhancement or augmentation of convective heat transfer. His pioneering work led to considerable energy and cost savings for industry. At Iowa State, he established and directed the Heat Transfer Lab and played a key role in raising support for the construction of the Black Engineering Building.(MA B 1957)
 James Bernard  James Bernard, Anson Marston Distinguished Professor of Engineering, founded the Center for Emerging Manufacturing Technology in 1990. The name was changed to the Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC) in 1999. Under Bernard’s direction, VRAC became a world leader in virtual reality technology by opening the C6, the country’s first six-sided virtual reality environment, in 2000. (MI A 1965)
 Henry M. Black  Henry M. Black received his BS in mechanical engineering in 1929. He served as professor and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1946 to 1972. In 1987, the Iowa Board of Regents approved naming the building the Henry M. Black Engineering Building on the Iowa State campus, honoring Black for his dedication to good teaching and the success of students and for building the university’s mechanical engineering program into one of national prominence. (IA A 1929)
 Edward Bock  Edward Bock was an All-American football player who earned his BS in mechanical engineering in 1938. Turning down an opportunity to play professional football, Bock completed his MS in 1940. He joined Monsanto Chemical Company in 1941 and stayed for 31 years, rising to become president and CEO in 1968. (IA A 1938)
Robert C Brown Robert C Brown, the Bergles Professor in Thermal Science and professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, chemical and biological engineering, and mechanical engineering, is the founding director of the Office of Biorenewables Programs (OBP) at Iowa State University. OBP coordinates research, educational, and outreach activities related to biobased products and bioenergy. (IA A 1977)
 Paul F. Bruins  Paul F. Bruins, who earned his PhD in chemical engineering in 1930, co-invented the basis for improved plastic composites and taught the world’s first graduate course in plastics. (NY Z 1927)
 Henry John Brunnier  Henry John Brunnier, a 1904 civil engineering graduate, was a leader in earthquake- resistant structural design. He set up a structural engineering practice in San Francisco in 1908. In the 1930s, he was a consultant to the construction of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. (IA A 1904)
 Paul Spencer Clapp  Paul Spencer Clapp, who earned his BS in electrical engineering in 1913, was an engineer on the first transcontinental telephone line. Following the First World War, he led efforts to re-establish telephone and telegraph communications in all of central and southeastern Europe. The Romanian government knighted Clapp for his work. (IA A 1913)
 John (Jack) Cleasby  John (Jack) Cleasby, who earned his PhD in civil engineering in 1960, is a distinguished professor emeritus of civil and construction engineering and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. (WI A 1950)
 Vance Coffman  Vance Coffman, who earned his BS in aerospace engineering in 1967, joined Lockheed Missiles and Space Company immediately after graduation. During his 37-year career, he worked on such notable projects as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Milstar communications satellite program. Coffman was named president of Lockheed Martin Corporation in 1996 and chairman and CEO in 1998. He retired in 2004. (IA A 1967)
 Mervin Sylvester Coover  Mervin Sylvester Coover served as associate dean of the division of engineering from 1935 to 1954 and as acting dean of the college from 1957 to 1959. The electrical engineering building was named in Coover’s honor in 1969. (CO B 1914)
 Roy W. Crum  Roy W. Crum, a 1907 civil engineering alumni, taught in the department for 12 years and served as structural engineer for the Engineering Experiment Station, where his research on the use of local gravel on Iowa roads proved to be of great economic and practical value. After he left Iowa State, he served more than 20 years as the director of the Highway Research Board of the National Research Council. (IA A 1907)
 Jay Brownlee Davidson  Jay Brownlee Davidson, who joined the faculty in 1905, created the first agricultural engineering department in the world. He served as professor and head from 1907 to 1915 and from 1919 to 1946. Davidson was the force behind the formation of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers and served as its first president in 1907. (IA A 1907)
 John S. “Jack” Dodds  John S. “Jack” Dodds, faculty member in civil engineering from 1912 until his death in 1950, established Camp Marston, a field camp for civil engineering students, in northern Minnesota. (IA A 1912)
 Abdel-Aziz Fouad  Abdel-Aziz Fouad, who earned his PhD in electrical engineering in 1956, joined the Iowa State faculty in 1960 and helped build the power systems engineering program. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1996 for his contributions to the analysis of the dynamics, stability, and control of electric power systems, ultimately helping utility companies prevent large-scale electrical blackouts. (IA A 1950)
 Herbert J. Gilkey  Herbert J. Gilkey, who headed the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from 1931 to 1955, served as consultant to the construction of the Hoover Dam. A plaque commemorates his contributions. (CO B 1916)
 Stanley M. Howe  Stanley M. Howe earned an engineering degree at Iowa State in 1946. He joined HON Industries in 1948 and was named president in 1964. He helped build the Muscatine company into a Fortune 500 company. (IA A 1946)
 Mary “M.K.” Hurd  Mary “M. K.” Hurd, was a 1947 graduate in civil engineering. In 1963 she wrote the book, widely known as the green bible of the formwork industry, which is used as a textbook at universities, colleges, and professional schools and as a reference book throughout the industry. In 2005, she became the first female to receive the Anston Marston Medal, the highest award bestowed by the College of Engineering. (IA A 1947)
 Allen Jacobson  Allen Jacobson, who earned his BS in chemical engineering in 1947, joined 3M’s Scotch tape laboratory that same year. In his many years with 3M, he encouraged research and innovation and developed 3M’s presence in such new fields as magnetic media. He served as 3M chairman and CEO from 1986 to 1991. Jacobson was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1991. (IA A 1947)
 Jerry Junkins  Jerry Junkins earned his BS in electrical engineering in 1959 and immediately joined Texas Instruments (TI) as a manufacturing engineer in the company’s defense business. In 1985, he became TI president and chief executive officer, a position he held until his death in 1996. Junkins was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1988. (IA A 1959)
 Thomas MacDonald  Thomas MacDonald earned his degree in chemical engineering in 1904. He served as commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads from 1919 to 1953. He led the design of an integrated system of 3.5 million miles of interlocking hard-surface highways that crisscrossed America (IA A 1904)
 Anston Marston  Anston Marston was the first dean of engineering, leading the program to national prominence. He established the first Engineering Experiment Station and helped develop Iowa’s early road system. Marston and civil engineering professor Merlin G. Spangler were international authorities on underground conduits and sewer system design. The Marston-Spangler Theory, developed in the 1930s, became the basis of culvert design throughout the world. (IA A 1889)
 Edward McCracken  Edward McCracken, a 1966 electrical engineering graduate, is former chairman and CEO of Silicon Graphics, Inc., which made the 3-D computers used to produce the special effects in such movies as Forest Gump and Jurassic Park. McCracken received the National Medal of Technology for his groundbreaking work in the areas of affordable 3D visual computing and supercomputing technologies. (IA A 1966)
 Conde McCullough  Conde McCullough, who earned a degree in civil engineering in 1910, was a bridge engineer and a professor of civil engineering at Oregon State University from 1919 until his death in 1946. He is considered one of the most important bridge designers in U.S. history. He supervised the design and construction of more than 600 bridges in Oregon. (IA A 1910)
 Otto Miller  Otto Miller earned his BS in chemical engineering in 1930. He had an illustrious 39-year career with Chevron (then Standard Oil of California), including eight years (1966–1974) as chairman and CEO. (IA A 1930)
 David Nicholas  David Nicholas earned all of his degrees in electrical engineering at Iowa State, completing his PhD in 1971. As a graduate student, he developed and patented the digital encoding process that is used in fax machines. He is an engineer at Rockwell International in Cedar Rapids, where he continues to achieve significant technical advances in telecommunications. (IA A 1967)
 Colonel Harold Pride  Colonel Harold Pride, a 1917 graduate in civil engineering, was called “Mr. Memorial Union” in recognition of his role as director from 1928 to 1959. A colonel in the U.S. Army, Pride served in both world wars. (IA A 1917)
 Ronald James Rockwell  Ronald James Rockwell earned his electrical engineering degree in 1927 and went to work for Crosley Corporation, where he pioneered radio, high fidelity, and television technologies. Nearly every car and airplane radio built between the late 1930s and early 1950s used his synchronous and asynchronous vibrators. He also designed the first high-resolution TV transmitter in the Midwest. (OH B 1927)
 Merlin G. “Ib” Spangler  Merlin G. “Ib” Spangler, who earned his BS in 1919 and MS in 1928, both in civil and construction engineering, was a member of the faculty until his retirement in 1965. He was an international authority on underground conduits and sewer system design. In the 1930s, Spangler and Anson Marston developed the Marston-Spangler Theory, which became the basis of culvert design throughout the world. (IA A 1918)
 Frank Harold Spedding  Frank Harold Spedding was an Iowa State faculty member from 1937 to 1968. He played a pivotal role in the Manhattan Project, the American effort to develop the atomic bomb during World War II. Harley Wilhelm and Spedding developed the process to produce highly pure uranium. More than two million pounds of uranium were produced at Iowa State for the secret Manhattan Project, advancing the nation’s wartime efforts.  A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Spedding was an Iowa State distinguished professor and professor of chemistry, materials science and engineering, and physics. He was nominated several times for the Nobel Prize in chemistry. (MI G 1925)
 O. R. Sweeney  O. R. Sweeney served as head of the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1920 to 1948. He remained on the faculty until his retirement in 1952. A pioneer in the commercial utilization of agricultural waste products, Sweeney developed methods for manufacturing paper and wallboards out of cornstalks and corncobs, researched the production of the industrial chemical furfural from oat hulls, and developed processing methods for soybeans. His research and inventions resulted in over 300 patents, which he held or co-held. (IA A 1909)
 Waldo Wegner  Waldo Wegner, who earned his BS in civil engineering in 1935, was Iowa State’s first basketball All-American. After his graduation in 1935, Wegner worked as a city engineer, director of public works, and city manager in several Iowa and Minnesota locations. In 1963, Wegner returned to Ames to become the first director of the Center for Industrial Research and Service. (IA A 1935)
 Thomas Whitney  Thomas Whitney earned his BS, MS, and PhD in electrical engineering in the 1960s. In the early 1970s, he led the Hewlett-Packard team that designed and built the first hand- held scientific calculator. The HP-35 was one-tenth the size of the smallest calculator previously available. (IA A 1961)