UMR to award honorary professional degrees

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On April 27, 2006

The University of Missouri-Rolla will award 11 honorary professional degrees during its spring commencement Saturday, May 13.         

Commencement begins at 11 a.m. in UMR’s Gale Bullman Multi-Purpose Building. About 700 degrees will be awarded.      

Preceding graduation, on Friday, May 12, the campus will hold its 2006 Spring Graduation Jubilee from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Havener Center on campus.        

The professional degree recipients are: 

Michael Roy Beckmann       

Mike Beckmann earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UMR in 1982. Beckmann’s wife, Karen, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UMR in 1981 and a master’s degree in chemistry from UMR in 1983. Beckmann’s first position was with Westin Engineering. Both Beckmanns then joined Riechhold Chemical in Pensacola, Fla. Later, they were both hired by PPG Industries, where Karen has risen to become an award-winning development chemist. Mike benefited from a range of experiences at PPG in various technologies and departments, including serving as a technical liaison to manufacturing processes. In 1992, Beckman purchased Bonstone Materials, a producer of high performance epoxy adhesives. While at UMR, Mike was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon. The Beckmanns live in Muskego, Wisc.                                               

Dean A. Berger         

Dean Berger of Chesterfield, Mo., earned a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering from UMR in 1970. Berger is the sales manager for the petrochemical products business unit of MetalTek International, formerly Carondelet Foundry. He joined the company in 1970. He was eventually promoted to sales manager at Carondelet, which was purchased by SW Centrifugal in 1997. In 2000, the company changed names and became MetalTek. During his career, Berger has become increasingly involved with the petrochemical side of the business, specializing in cast components in high temperature applications. He served on the American Petroleum Institute’s committee that developed fire heater standards for general refinery services. At UMR, Berger was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He has since served on the MSM-UMR Alumni Association Advisory Board.         

Thomas J. Buechler Jr.         

Thomas Buechler earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UMR in 1971. Buechler, who has 35 years of experience in civil and environmental engineering, is currently the chief engineer in the operations division of the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Mo. Buechler, of Raymore, Mo., is responsible for managing housing, facility engineering, natural resources and environmental programs for the ammunition plant. Previously, he was a vice president and partner with Black & Veatch in Kansas City, Mo. Among the other highlights in his career, Buechler prepared a solid waste management plan for the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission (Franklin Assoc., 1981-83). In addition to his UMR diploma, Buechler holds a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  He is also a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

Dr. John D. Cutler

Dr. John Cutler earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from UMR in 1976, after completing bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Tulsa. Cutler became a member of the UMR Academy of Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2002. He has four patents, including one for an oil drag reducer. Cutler started his career as a research engineer for Continental Oil Co. in Ponca City, Okla. After completing his Ph.D. at UMR, Cutler went to work for American Enka Co., where he helped develop polyester beverage bottle technology. In 1976, he joined St. Regis Corp. in New York as a manager of polymer and converting technologies. From 1984-97, he worked for General Mills Inc. as a senior principal scientist. At General Mills, Cutler headed a group concerned with advanced packaging design and materials technology. He has taught courses at Michigan State University and has also taught in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1988, Cutler became president of Advanced Materials Engineering Inc., a consulting corporation in Naples, Fla.

Dr. Raymond A. Fournelle        

After earning his bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering from UMR, then the Missouri School of the Mines, in 1964, Raymond Fournelle worked for Shell Oil Co. and then served two years in the U.S. Army as a platoon leader. Fournelle returned to UMR to earn a master’s degree in metallurgical engineering in 1968 and a Ph.D. in metallurgical engineering in 1970. After finishing post-doctoral research at Northwestern University, he joined the faculty at Marquette University, where he has served as interim chair of the mechanical engineering department and as associate chair and director of undergraduate studies. Fournelle was a Fullbright Senior Research Fellow twice and an Alexander Von Humboldt Fellow. He is also a fellow of the American Society for Metals and winner of the Max Planck Research Prize. Fournelle recently shifted his research efforts to soldering in electronics and dental biomaterials. He became a member of UMR’s Order of the Golden Shillelagh in 2001.

Michael A. Haas

Michael Haas earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from UMR in 1987. He also holds a master’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Stanford University. Following graduation, Haas worked for McDonnell Douglas Corp. He then took a position at Kenetech Corp., where he directed more than1,000 megawatts of contracted projects through various stages of development worldwide. He also served as general manager of a wind turbine division. In 1997, Haas founded Orion Energy LLC, a company specializing in developing and operating wind energy projects in the United States and abroad. He currently serves as president of the company and as director of Renewable Development Co., Orion’s affiliate in Great Britain. 

Stephen A. Lang             

At UMR, Stephen Lang earned a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering in 1979 and a master’s degree in mining engineering in 1980. Lang is now the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Stillwater Mining Co. in Billings, Mont. He is responsible for company operations, including the operations of two underground mines. Previously, Lang served in vice presidential capacities for the Barrick Gold Corp. in Elko, Nevada; for Rio Algom Ltd. in Santiago, Chile; and for Kingross Gold Corp./Amax Gold Corp. in Fairbanks, Alaska. 

Dr. Paul Stricker

Dr. Paul Stricker, a specialist in pediatric and adolescent sports medicine, earned a bachelor’s degree in life sciences at UMR in 1982. After receiving his medical degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Stricker completed a pediatric residency at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and then finished specialized training in sports medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles. In 1993, he became one of the first physicians to be board certified in both pediatrics and sports medicine. In 2000, he was a physician for the U.S. delegation at the Sydney Olympics. Stricker was the team physician for Vanderbilt University athletics for seven years, before starting his current sports medicine practice in San Diego. In May of this year,
he became president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. 


Gary L. Underwood

Gary Underwood earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UMR in 1975. Underwood joined Red Arrow Products Co. as a senior food chemist in 1977. He is now vice president and chief technology officer of Red Arrow. Underwood received his first patent in 1980 for an injectable smoke flavoring. He has authored a total of 15 U.S. patents. In recent years, Underwood has worked with industry peers and European regulatory scientists to develop guidelines for the evaluation and approval of smoke flavorings in the European Union. He is a member of the American Chemical Society and the Institute of Food Technology. He lives in Manitowoc,Wisc.                                    

John R. Weekley         

John Weekley,  president and chief executive officer of PROCONEX, graduated from UMR with a mechanical engineering degree in 1974. Weekly began his career with Fisher Controls/Emerson Process Management. After three years at the Fisher Control Headquarters in Marshalltown, Iowa, he held various positions of increasing responsibility within Emerson Process Management. These positions took him to Pittsburgh, Pa.; Seattle; New York City; Austin, Texas; and finally back to his hometown of St. Louis, where he was vice president of sales and marketing for Fischer Controls. In 1994, Weekley acquired PROCONEX. The company, in Royersford, Pa., supplies industrial automation equipment and related engineering services to pharmaceutical, chemical, refining and utilities markets. 

Ken Williams

Ken Williams received a bachelor’s degree in engineering management from UMR in 1971. Williams is currently manufacturing director of automatic transmission operations at Ford Motor Co. He has more than 34 years of experience in the automotive industry, including hands-on expertise in vehicle assembly, engine manufacturing and transmission manufacturing. He has managed operations in Canada, Europe and the United States. A member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, Williams received the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh Leadership Award for supporting minority fellowships in engineering and science in 2003.

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On April 27, 2006. Posted in People