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Outstanding Alumni Awards 2011

College of Engineering 2011 Outstanding Senior Alumni Award Recipients

Recipients of this award have brought recognition and honor to the College of Engineering through their professional achievements, leadership, and service to the profession, university, and society.

College of Engineering 2011 Outstanding Junior Alumni Award Recipients

Recipients of this award are worthy ambassadors for the UMass Amherst College of Engineering and have shown extraordinary effort and notable success in their early careers.

Ruth M. Bonsignore
B.S. '83, Civil Engineering
Senior Vice President
Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.

Ruth Bonsignore has worked her way from staff engineer to senior vice president and transportation practice area leader at the Massachusetts-based consulting firm of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB). In this role, she currently oversees more than 300 transportation professionals across VHB's 21 offices.

Ruth's gift for developing strong personal and professional relationships, based on mutual trust, respect, and integrity, results in unparalleled client loyalty. Her dedication to the future of the engineering profession is evident in her ability to identify, develop, and mentor staff. Through her coaching relationships, her knowledge of the firm’s culture and the civil engineering industry are shared and passed on to new generations of VHB staff. Ruth's technical expertise and unwavering dedication have continued to pave the way for women in engineering.

Ruth has also helped shape the future of transportation throughout the east coast through her creative thinking, her strategic approach to our nation’s transportation and mobility challenges, and her continued search for the best possible solutions for VHB's clients and for the public. As an example, Ruth managed a groundbreaking effort to rewrite the Massachusetts Highway Design Guide — a process and document which redefined the Commonwealth's approach to transportation projects, emphasizing multimodal accommodations (bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit users) and integrating context-sensitive design principles throughout the project development process.

Ruth earned her B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and her M.S. in Transportation from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During her undergraduate studies at UMass Amherst, Ruth benefited immensely from her involvement in funded transportation research, working with Professors John Collura and Paul Shuldiner. She is a strong advocate for public education and serves her alma mater as a member of the UMass Amherst College of Engineering Advisory Board and chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Advisory Board. She is also past president of the Needham Education Foundation.

Apostle G. Cardiasmenos
M.S. '76, Electrical Engineering, Ph.D. '78, Astronomy
(Posthumous Award)
Chief Technologist (Retired)
Lockheed Martin

Dr. Cardiasmenos, who died suddenly on June 4, 2011, was an alumnus, close friend, and ally of the College of Engineering.

After receiving his B.S. from the University of California Berkeley, Dr. Cardiamenos went on to earn his M.S.E.E. and Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He was the president and chief scientist of L-3 Communications Essco before he was chief technologist for Lockheed Martin. "Butch," as he was affectionately known by family and friends, was a published author and the recipient of several scientific achievement awards. He also holds several technological patents. He was the sitting chair of the UMass Amherst Electrical and Computer Engineering Department's External Advisory Board. Butch worked tirelessly to make research connections and was a cheerleader for the department and a proponent of the UMass Amherst Innovation Institute.

Butch was the husband of Joan (Friedman) Cardiasmenos, to whom he was married for 35 years, and father of Timothy and Caroline. Butch's family and friends remember him as a brilliant, creative, kind, gentle, and generous man, who loved dogs and was always busy at home tinkering with do-it-yourself projects. Butch’s family was the centerpiece of his life, and the time he spent with them is what he cherished most.

Thomas J. Lyden
B.S. '72, M.S. '73, Mechanical Engineering
Officer (Retired)
Procter and Gamble Company
Boston, Massachusetts

Tom Lyden is a retired officer of the Procter and Gamble Company. At the time of his retirement, he was the vice president for manufacturing for The Gillette Company's Manufacturing and Technical Operations. In that role, Tom led global operations for all of the Gillette businesses, including Blades and Razors, Oral-B, Duracell, Braun, and Gillette Personal Care.

Tom joined Gillette in 1979 as a project engineer in the Engineering and Implementation Group. Over the next eight years, he served in a number of engineering positions of increasing responsibility. From 1997 to 1999, Tom led Gillette's Program Management group as a director and, in that role, successfully managed Gillette's new product portfolio in all aspects, from advanced R&D programs to new product launches and expansions. Following that assignment, Tom was appointed vice president engineering for Gillette in 1999. As part of his engineering and program management assignments, Tom was involved in the development and launch of three of the Company's most outstanding product lines: Sensor, Mach3 and Venus.

Presently, Tom is active in several endeavors:

  • Consulting in the areas of manufacturing, engineering, lean, leadership, strategic planning and cost control. He works both independently and, at times, through Your Encore Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Volunteering in the Massachusetts Prison System at MCI Norfolk teaching and mentoring men on the inside and also working with parolees and ex-offenders to help them gain employment and to successfully integrate back into society.
  • Member of the Board of Directors and treasurer of Bethany House Ministries in Millis MA. Bethany House is committed to the physical, emotional, and spiritual support of prisoners and their loved ones.
  • Member of the Advisory Board for Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Massachusetts.

Tom is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts.  He earned a B.S. in 1972 and M.S. in 1973 in Mechanical Engineering.

Vincent (Vince) Murphy
M.S. '67, Ph.D. '71, Chemical Engineering

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Vince earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from Manhattan College in 1965. That same year, he joined the relatively young Chemical Engineering graduate program at UMass Amherst. There he was fortunate to work under the guidance of Dr. John Eldridge studying the polymerization of ethylene on supported chromium oxide catalysts. Through an excellent seminar series and a course taught by Dr. Stanley Middleman, he also developed what would become a career long interest in problems at the interface between chemical engineering and biological science.

After receiving his PhD from UMass in 1971, Vince accepted a postdoctoral position at the USDA Southern Regional Research Laboratory in New Orleans where he worked on several projects dealing with conformational analysis of polysaccharides. In 1973 he began a second postdoctoral appointment at the Columbia campus of University of Missouri where he worked with a team developing implantable oxygen-sensing electrodes for clinical use and physiological research. He also taught a course for the Chemical Engineering Department, which strengthened his growing interest in an academic career. This experience led to a two-year (1975-1977) stint as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Iowa State University where he was given the opportunity to teach a wide range of chemical engineering courses.

In 1977 Vince was hired as an Associate Professor at Colorado State University to help launch newly established degree programs in Chemical Engineering. During the succeeding 28 years at Colorado State, he became a Full Professor (1981) and served as Department Head (1983-1990, 1999-2001) and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies (1998-1999). He also served as Co-Director of the Colorado Institute for Research in Biotechnology (1987-2001) and Director of the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates Program in Bioprocessing (1996-2005). In recognition of his contributions to the university he received the Oliver P. Pennock Distinguished Service Award (1989), the Jack E. Cermak Outstanding Advising Award (1993), the Abell Faculty Teaching Award (1996), and the Alumni Association Best Teacher Award (2005).

Much of the research that Vince conducted with his graduate students at Colorado State was supported by grants from federal agencies such as NSF, DOE and USDA. This work has led to advances in several areas including sucrose crystallization, bioconversion of cellulosic materials to fuels and chemicals, solid-state fermentation, and biodegradation of hazardous chemicals. Five of Vince's former students now hold faculty positions at universities in the United States and abroad.

Retired since 2005, Vince was married for 38 years to Kathleen Kelley (deceased) whom he met at UMass. They had one son, Christopher, who now has two children of his own. Vince continues to live in Colorado but travels frequently, especially to Wisconsin where his son and family now reside. An avid cyclist, he also participates in bicycling events around the United States and makes annual trips abroad for bicycle tours. On the professional side, he maintains close ties with Colorado State University and has helped establish the John W. Eldridge Fellowship in Chemical Engineering at UMass Amherst and the J. Meric Pessagno Scholarship at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn.

Amy B. Cerato
M.S. '01, Civil Engineering, M.S. '04, Geoscience, Ph.D. '05, Civil Engineering
Rapp Foundation Presidential Associate Professor
School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science
University of Oklahoma
Norman, Oklahoma

Dr. Amy B. Cerato holds the Rapp Foundation Presidential Professorship in the Civil Engineering and Environmental Science (CEES) Department at the University of Oklahoma (OU). Dr. Cerato has worked within the Geotechnical Engineering group at OU since January 2005, after finishing her graduate studies at UMass Amherst. She received her B.S. in Civil Engineering from Lafayette College in 1999, her M.S. in Civil Engineering and M.S. in Geosciences from UMass Amherst in 2001 and 2004, respectively, and then her Ph.D. in 2005.

Her current external research projects at OU cover a wide range of topics within geotechnical engineering, including helical anchors as foundations for small wind turbine systems, soil stabilization in sulfate bearing soils, soil stabilization using alternative chemical stabilizers, compacted embankment collapse, predicting expansive soils using micro-scale soil properties, as well as understanding and improving the seismic behavior of pile foundations in soft clays.

Her research contributions have gained her much recognition, including a 2008 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, a 2009 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and a 2010 American Society for Civil Engineers Arthur Casagrande Professional Development Award. As has been nationally publicized, Amy was among 100 beginning researchers nationwide named by President Obama as a recipient of the 2009 PECASE award, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers starting their independent careers. She was the only civil engineer named in the 2009 competition and is the first OU faculty member to ever win this award.

Dr. Cerato is not only passionate about her geotechnical engineering research, but about her students and diversifying our profession. She has already graduated nine graduate students and is currently mentoring four graduate students, making a concerted effort to involve them in professional activities, including publishing papers and making professional presentations and contacts at annual conferences. Her teaching contributions in undergraduate soil mechanics, foundations, surveying, and statistics, plus a graduate course in engineering geology, have earned her several awards, including two 2008-09 Alumni Teaching Awards for course evaluations in the top 10 percent of all College of Engineering courses, as well as the 2008 George W. Tauxe Outstanding Professor Award, which is voted on by all CEES students. 

She has worked to promote research on problematic soils through her GeoInstitute (GI) committee, Engineering Geology and Site Characterization (EGSC), on a national level. Dr. Cerato is an active member and has proposed, organized, reviewed for, and moderated conference sessions. As part of her committee duties, she was asked to co-author a paper on sulfate induced heave for the Geo-Strata Magazine, published in March/April 2009. She is also on the organizing committee for the annual student GeoChallenge competition and acted as the lead judge at the IFCEE09, and as Emcee in the 2010 and 2011 competitions. 

On a personal note, Amy enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities, many of which she mastered while attending graduate school at UMass, including white water kayaking, mountain biking, and camping! She now adds gardening, waterskiing, and playing with her daughter, husband, and four dogs to her repertoire.

Brian Q. Huppi, B.S. '93, Civil Engineering, B.S. '98, Electrical Engineering
San Francisco, CA

Brian Huppi grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, attending the local public schools. In 1993 he graduated from UMass Amherst with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, and two years later he returned to UMass to get a second B.S. in electrical engineering. If asked why he decided to get the second degree he would tell you, "I wanted to add more tools to my toolbox." While getting his E.E. degree, Brian was an undergraduate teaching assistant and vice president of the local Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society chapter.

After graduating Cum Laude in 1998 with his B.S. in E.E., Brian was hired by Apple Computer, where he worked as part of the hardware design team developing the company's first iBook consumer laptop. During his eight plus years at Apple, Brian helped develop the touchscreen technology that is used in Apple's popular iPhone and iPad products and is a named inventor on numerous patents to date, including 13 issued and other patent-pending applications.

In 2006 Brian started Quentin Labs, an electrical and mechanical engineering consultancy catering to technology companies in the Bay Area and beyond. With a strong desire to be involved in the new "greentech" movement, Brian's first long-term consulting job was with Tesla Motors, the maker of the Tesla Roadster, an all-electric sports car. In November of 2010, Brian decided to hang up his consulting career to work fulltime for one of his clients, a stealthy green consumer company based in Silicon Valley.

Brian currently lives in San Francisco with his wife, Jessica, and newborn daughter. He continues to stay in contact with the ECE department at UMass and has supported the senior design project through donations and guest appearances via teleconference.

David A. Sturgis, B.S. '00, Chemical Engineering
Lead Formulator
Procter and Gamble Company
Cincinnati, Ohio

Following the footsteps of his father, Art ('65 EE), and his Uncle Paul ('71 ME), Dave graduated from UMass College of Engineering in 2000, with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Dave graduated as a Commonwealth Scholar with Magna Cum Laude Honors from the new Commonwealth College.

At UMass, Dave lived two years in Orchard Hill, followed by two years off campus in the Brandywine apartments. Dave played the trombone in the UMass Minuteman Marching Band for all four years, as well as playing Intramural Softball. Dave was a member of AIChE, and an officer in Tau Beta Pi.

His two favorite UMass memories include his 1997 Engineering Design Team, with his brother and a roommate, which won the Tau Beta Pi Regional Design Competition sponsored by Motorola, beating out other New England schools such as MIT. The second is rushing the field with the band, after the football team won the 1998 I-AA National Championship.

Upon graduation, Dave joined the Procter and Gamble Company in Cincinnati, Ohio as a R&D development engineer in the Beauty Care Antiperspirants and Deodorants division. Spending nine years as a process engineer, and the past two as a lead formulator, Dave has led the delivery of new products to the market including: Old Spice Red Zone Deodorant, Secret Natural Minerals, and Gillette Clear Shield Antiperspirant. His current research focuses on modeling and predicting perfume expression out of various chemical product compositions.

Since graduation, Dave has returned to UMass for homecoming to play with the Alumni Band. He and his brother have started an engineering scholarship to give back to the university.

Thomas A. Sturgis, B.S. '00, Chemical Engineering
Senior Engineer
Consumer Research R&D
Procter and Gamble Company
Cincinnati, Ohio

Tom graduated from the University Of Massachusetts College of Engineering in 2000, with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Tom also graduated as a Commonwealth Scholar with Summa Cum Laude Honors from the Commonwealth College. To this day Tom is proud to have graduated number one in his major with over a 3.8 GPA. During his senior year, Tom was a William F. Field Alumni Scholar, an award given to the Top 60 Seniors in the University. Tom (along with his twin brother) was part of the 1997 Tau Beta Pi Regional Design Competition team from UMass, which won the competition for the first time while also ending a six-year winning streak by MIT. Tom was also a member of AIChE and an officer in Tau Beta Pi.

During Tom's academic career at UMass, he received several scholarships, which helped prompt him to give back when he started working. Together Tom and his twin brother Dave have started their own engineering scholarship award, which leverages the Procter & Gamble's gift matching program to help future UMass chemical engineers!
Tom played the trumpet in the UMass Minuteman Marching Band for all four years and also participated in the Basketball "Hoop Band." Tom was with the marching band when UMass won the 1998 I-AA National Football Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and has returned to UMass to play in the alumni band during homecoming on several occasions.

UMass also helped Tom obtain two summer internships with Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio, before his junior and senior years. They not only gave him valuable work experience, but led to a fulltime offer that Tom accepted. Tom has now worked for Procter & Gamble for 11 years and continues to love what he does. Tom works in Consumer Research in R&D and has been directly involved in designing several products across the Head & Shoulders and Pantene shampoo brands, as well as the Gillette and Venus grooming brands. Tom's favorite project is always his most current one, in which he continues to work just three years ahead of the market. By the time the products hit the shelves, he is already on to the next thing. Currently Tom is working in emerging markets to help Procter & Gamble serve more consumers, more completely, in more parts of the world where simple conveniences can make huge differences.

Tom met his wife in Cincinnati and they just celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary. In December they are expecting their first child. Tom has taken on new hobbies such as training for and competing in Triathlons. Tom still finds time to return to Cape Cod to go sailing with his family and, of course, catch the occasional Red Sox game at Fenway. Tom has also been a proud member of DirecTV for 11 years and hasn't missed a Patriots game yet!