Alumni Receive Awards at WPI's 2000 Reunion

Contact: Arlie Corday, WPI Media & Community Relations

WORCESTER, Mass. - Worcester Polytechnic Institute has conferred honors on a number of its alumni at the 2000 Reunion Awards June 3. The following WPI graduates were recognized for their outstanding achievements.

The Ichabod Washburn Young Alumni Awards for Professional Achievement were given to:

  • Paul Bergantino of Lexington, Mass., vice president of technology and architecture at Conexant Broadband Internetworking Systems. A member of the class of 1985, he is co-founder of Maker Communications in the electronic communications industry. His designs have earned five patents, putting his company at the forefront of the marketplace.

    "From the start, Maker Communications was clearly a company to watch," reads the award citation. "Maker went public in May 1999 and not long after was acquired by Conexant Systems Inc. Your innovative microchip architecture has set a new benchmark for success in the field of network communications."

  • Edward Cheung of Mitchelville, Md., chief engineer of the Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. A member of the WPI class of 1985, he joined NASA in 1991, after completing master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at Yale University.

    "You have solved in-flight problems in the telescope's cooling system, gyroscopes and vital data-recording devices," reads the award citation. "Working within a tight time frame, you designed and installed the HOST Controller-an elegant, low-cost computer to command all of these instruments and provide a data link to ground control. But even as you have worked long shifts at mission control, you always made the time to share your experiences with family and friends."

  • Jonathan Bird of North Reading, Mass., founder and president of Oceanic Research Group Inc. A member of the WPI class of 1990, he earned a master's degree in ocean engineering at the University of New Hampshire and began a crusade against threats to the aquatic ecosystem. He has received two Emmy awards for television and film work and a host of other prestigious awards, including those from educational and environmental organizations.

    "Your spectacular photography has touched millions of viewers and readers and taught them to treasure the beauty that lurks beneath the sea," reads his award citation. "Your scientific programs for schoolchildren and your captivating television specials have entertained and educated viewers of all ages." Bird's articles have appeared in scholarly journals and popular magazines. In 1996 his hardcover book, "Beneath the North Atlantic," was published by Tide-Mark Press.

WPI's 2000 Robert H. Goddard Awards for Outstanding Professional Achievement were presented to:

  • David Cyganski of Holden, Mass., professor of electrical and computer engineering at WPI and a member of the class of 1975. "After earning your bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at WPI, you joined the faculty full-time in 1981," reads the award citation. "As a teacher, you are renowned for your enthusiasm and your dedication to helping students develop a passion for learning. As a researcher, you are known for your wide-ranging interests and for the elegance of your methods.

    "Over the years, you have made fundamental contributions to such fields as automatic object recognition, distributed and fault-tolerant computing, and Internet security. As a member of an advisory committee in the early 1980s, you helped computerize the campus. As chief information officer and vice president for information technology, you oversaw the creation of the campus computer network and laid the groundwork for a modern, integrated administrative computing system." Cyganski also has served as vice provost and has won numerous awards including the first Joseph Samuel Satin Distinguished Fellowship, the Trustees' Award for Outstanding Teaching, the Trustees' Award for Outstanding Research and Scholarship and the Weston Hadden Professorship in Electrical Engineering.

  • Edward Sydor of Logansport, Ind., retired president of National Friction Products and a member of the WPI class of 1950.

    "You developed a niche market: friction products for washing machines and clutches for the mining industries," reads the award citation. "Your purchase of the (National Friction Products) company in 1984 and its subsequent sale in 1989 marked the pinnacle of your career. You have supported WPI through the years and have been a strong advocate of the educational experience it provides. Presidential Founders since 1992 and lifetime members of the President's Advisory Council, you and (your wife) Milly established the Edward J. and Mildred P. Sydor Scholarship Fund, which has helped some 35 students further their education."

Hebert F. Taylor Awards for Distinguished Service to WPI were presented to:

  • Anne McPartland Dodd of Mont Vernon, N.H., a member of the class of 1975. In 1989 she became the first woman to serve on the Alumni Fund Board, and in 1995, the first woman to assume the position of chair. A year later, through her leadership, the board implemented a strategic plan that laid the groundwork for the role the Alumni Fund plays today in The Campaign for WPI.

    "That same year was a record-breaker for the fund, a testimony to you leadership, dedication and perseverance," reads the award citation. "As a member of the Executive Committee, you chaired the 1988 Master Plan Committee. More recently, you have lent your energy and enthusiasm to the Alumni Master Plan Organization Task Force. Currently, you head the association's Operations Division, part of a new association structure. As chair of the Alumni Leadership Conference Planning Committee, you have been instrumental in shaping this first-of-its-kind event."

  • Alfred Green of Shrewsbury, Mass., a member of the class of 1945 and chairman and treasurer of Process Heating Corp. A volunteer with numerous Alumni Association programs and services, he has served as co-chair of the 40th Reunion Committee, has been a member of the Investment Committee and class representative to the Alumni Council.

    "As president of the Tech Old Timers, you guided this well-run organization during the past year, producing highly regarded monthly programs," reads the award citation.

    "As chair of your 50th Reunion Anniversary Gift Committee, your leadership inspired the generosity of your classmates, who made the third largest 50th Reunion Gift in WPI history, up to that time. Your contributions as a member of Reunion program committees, the Nominating Committee and the Worcester County Alumni Club have made WPI and the association stronger."

  • F. David Ploss III of Shrewsbury, Mass., a member of the class of 1970 and director of safety and health at PCC Wyman-Gordon Co.

    "As an alumnus and a coach, you have been a staunch ally, working to uphold the quality of WPI's crew program," reads the award citation. "From 1972 to 1987, your coaching career at WPI was nothing short of inspired. From humble beginnings you built a Division III sports program through which young men and women have competed respectably with the best in the world. As a coach and a mentor, you have taken crews as far as they can go-to become national champions and to compete in Canadian championships, world championships and the Henley Regatta. Instrumental in the recent transition of crew from a club sport to a varsity sport, your continued involvement and philanthropic support is testimony to your ongoing commitment to the future of crew and the University."

    Ploss has volunteered on several Reunion committees, as a class agent, as a member of the Citations Committee, and as a Poly Club officer and Executive Committee member.

  • Lester J. Reynolds Jr. of Old Lyme, Conn., a member of the class of 1950 and the retired manager of planning and business development at American Cyanamid Co.

    "You enrolled at WPI at the encouragement of your uncle, the late Herbert Ferris, class of 1899, a WPI trustee," reads the award citation. "After receiving your degree in chemical engineering, you continued your uncle's legacy of support by becoming an active member of the WPI Alumni Association, serving in a variety of capacities that included class secretary, class Reunion chair and Alumni Council representative." He also served on the Executive Committee, chairing regional club and leadership training programs, and on the Nominating Committee and the Steering Committees for 40th and 50th Anniversary Gift campaigns. He also is a member of the Alden Society.

    Reynolds served as the founding president for three non-profit organizations: the North American Society for Corporate Planning, the Somerset County Jail Chaplaincy in New Jersey, and the Old Lyme Affordable Housing Corp.

  • Harlan Williams of Pittsfield, Mass., a member of the class of 1950 and retired project manager for General Electric Co.

    "As a class representative to the Alumni Council and a member of your Class Board of Directors, you have given generously of your time and energy in service to the Class of 1950," reads the award citation. "As chair of your 45th and 50th Reunion committees, you've gone the extra mile to ensure that these important events were enjoyable and successful. A strong proponent of class communication, you have engaged many of your classmates in the publication of a class newsletter. In everything you've done, you've set an example for other class volunteers to follow."

    As chair of the ad hoc Alumni Computer Network Committee and the Alumni Online Committee, he helped establish the Alumni Gateway, a Web-based service that provides a new way for alumni to interact with one another and their alma mater. He has served as chair and Executive Committee representative for online alumni services and has been a member of the Career and Lifelong Learning Task Force and the Alumni Association Communications Committee.

The John Boynton Young Alumni Awards for Service to WPI were given to:

  • Kimberly Lemoi Bowers of Harvard, Mass., a member of the class of 1990 and senior manager of production planning at Rockport Co. Inc. Chair of the class Board of Directors, the WPI Regional Club Program and the 10th Reunion Committee, she has been an ambassador for WPI by sharing her experiences with prospective students through the Alumni Admissions Program. She also has served on the Alumni Association's Communications Committee and has been a representative on its Executive Committee, participating in the master planning process.

    "As chair of the Global Programming Task Force, you were instrumental in developing a guide book to help geographically diverse alumni coordinate alumni events," reads the award citation. "Your ideas and sense of direction continue to shape the association's future, and we welcome your continuing commitment to your alma mater."

  • Janet Hammarstrom of Auburn, Mass., a member of the class of 1980 and a research associate with Saint-Gobain/Norton Co.

    A volunteer for the past two decades, she has served as class agent and a class representative to the Alumni Council. After receiving a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, she went on to complete a 1982 master's degree and a 1987 Ph.D. She has participated in the Career Networking Program and the Alumni Admissions Program and has recently volunteered as a corporate agent, helping to secure corporate matching gifts.

    "You have also leveraged your professional knowledge for the benefit of your alma mater, helping strengthen the ties between WPI and Saint-Gobain/Norton by fostering alumni communications within the corporation," reads the award citation.

The Award for Outstanding Service to WPI by a Non-Alumnus/a has been given to John Nelson of Worcester, Mass., director of Eaton Vance Corp.

Nelson has been chairman and CEO of Norton Co. and Wyman-Gordon, chairman of the TJX companies and is current chairman of Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Co.

"You are a true community leader," reads the award citation. "Whether serving local government, Memorial Hospital, the Worcester Art Museum or many other organizations in and around Worcester, you have inspired your fellow volunteers to look upward and achieve great things. Perhaps no organization has benefited from your involvement as much as WPI, which you have served as a trustee for 13 years-the past five as chairman. Your years as chairman have been marked by extraordinary advances for WPI, including a significant growth in recognition worldwide."

Founded in 1865, WPI enrolls 2,700 undergraduate and 1,000 full- and part-time graduate students in science, engineering, management, the humanities and arts and the social sciences. Under the WPI Plan, undergraduates complete three projects that focus respectively on humanities and arts, on the student's major field, and on the interactions among science, technology and society.

For more information, please visit the Alumni Awards website.

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