Engineering school honors alumni

The School of Engineering & Applied Science will honor six distinguished alumni at the annual Engineering Alumni Awards banquet at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton. The school also will present the Dean’s Award to two individuals and one Young Alumni Award.

Dean’s Award

Stephen F. and Camilla T. Brauer will receive the Dean’s Award in recognition of their philanthropy and service to the school and the University.

Stephen Brauer, current vice chair and chair-elect of the Board of Trustees and chair of the School of Engineering’s National Council, joined the board in 1991. He has championed WUSTL’s ascent among the world’s premier universities and helped build a leading engineering school.

Stephen Brauer is a former U.S. ambassador to Belgium and chairman of St. Louis-based Hunter Engineering Co., a leading manufacturer of computer-based, automotive service equipment for the global market. Camilla Brauer is a prominent figure in local cultural and civic organizations and has been recognized nationally for her volunteer work as a fund-raiser.

In October 2008, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton announced that the University had received a major commitment from the Brauers to help implement the long-range, strategic plan of the School of Engineering.

A new building, scheduled for completion in 2010, will bear the name “Stephen F. and Camilla T. Brauer Hall.” The commitment was made in the form of a challenge grant, which will match all gifts and commitments from alumni, parents and friends up to the maximum of the commitment by the Brauers.

Young Alumni Award

Lt. Col. Robert Behnken, Ph.D., (BSPhy ’92, BSME ’92) has logged more than 1,000 flight hours in more than 25 different aircraft. Behnken was selected as a mission specialist by the National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA) in July 2000, and, in March 2008, completed his first spaceflight mission as Mission Specialist 1 on the space shuttle Endeavor. His next space flight is scheduled for December 2009.

Behnken’s journey to space began as an Air Force ROTC student. His exceptional performance at WUSTL earned recognition as Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Senior in 1992 and then catapulted him into work as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at the California Institute of Technology.

There, Behnken earned master’s and doctoral degrees and conducted research in nonlinear analysis, including software implementation development and hardware construction.

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Dev A. Banerjee, DSc., (MSSSM ’74, DScME ’77) began his career with McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems and worked his way up in the company to chief of Aeromechanics Research and Development. In 1989, Banerjee was named director of research and technology. After more than two decades of leadership in Rotorcraft Division that included stops in Mesa, Ariz., and Philadelphia, Banerjee was appointed division director of Systems and Flight Engineering for Boeing Aircraft and Missiles in St. Louis.

During his 31-year career, Banerjee has established a record of sustained technical and leadership excellence, rising from an entry-level engineer to his current position as director of systems engineering for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, responsible for technical excellence of approximately 6000 engineers across Boeing. He has published 18 technical papers and holds two patents.

George P. Bauer (BSIndE ’53, MS ’59) wrote his master’s thesis on the first IBM computer and thus was a natural for a job at IBM.

He joined IBM as an account manager and rose to executive positions, moving 18 times in 25 years. He spent four years in Paris as group director of business systems for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. An early pioneer, he launched IBM into the consulting and services business in the United Kingdom in the mid-1980s.

Upon retirement from IBM, Bauer was named executive professor of information systems at Georgia State University in Atlanta, where he taught for three years before beginning his third career as an investment banker.

Today, Bauer is chairman and CEO of the GPB Group Ltd., an investment banking company headquartered in Wilton, Conn.

Victor Hermelin (BSChE ’36) is founder and chairman emeritus of KV Pharmaceutical Co., a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange with more than 1,000 employees.

Hermelin was an originator of the concept of time-release pharmaceuticals. His innovative work in pharmaceutical dosage design has made drug products easier to take and reduced side effects, thereby increasing compliance by the patient.

His first company was based on his invention of lanolin-enriched permanent wave, a solution he sold to local beauty salons.

In 1944, he developed a unique process for producing multivitamins called spheroids. This medical breakthrough was used by the U.S. Department of Defense to prevent night blindness in World War II soldiers. Hermelin also invented the skinless frankfurter while working at Swift & Co.

At age 90, Hermelin continued to play an active role in the research and development of innovative drug delivery technologies. His latest patent is used in Ther-Rx Corp.’s PrimaCare prenatal vitamins.

Anna L. Patterson (BSEE ’87, BSCS ’87) has built a career on searching for a better way for users to interact with the Internet, and her work has revolutionized Internet search engines. In 2004, Patterson joined Google after designing and eventually selling Recall — the largest search engine in existence at the time with 12 billion pages.

At Google, she was the technical lead of one of the two Web ranking groups, in charge of GoogleBase and the manager for the core piece of Google’s ad-matching technology. She is the architect of Google’s largest search index, TeraGoogle, consisting of 30 billion pages.

In 2006, Patterson left Google to help create Cuil (a Gaelic word for knowledge). Cuil is the largest search engine currently available.

John C. Sommerer (BSSSM ’79, MS ’79), is chief technology officer and director of science and technology at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

The lab provides the U.S. Department of Defense and NASA with essential capabilities in combat and guided missile systems, air and missile defense, space science and exploration, strategic systems test and evaluation, information technology and communications systems and research and development.

Sommerer serves as primary technical liaison with the academic divisions of the university. Since August 2008, he has served as head of the lab’s space department, which is responsible for executing NASA’s mission to Mercury (in transit), the mission to Pluto (in transit), the Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission to explore the Van Allen Belts (in spacecraft development), and the Solar Probe mission to explore the Sun’s outer atmosphere (in engineering and mission design).

Gerald J. Williams (BSME ’70, MSME ’72) began work for McClure Engineering Associates in St. Louis in 1974, advancing to president in 2000 — an office he held for eight years until his recent retirement.

As president, he is credited with increasing the staff from 35 to 51 and revenue from $3.1 million to $6.8 million. He also lectured at WUSTL as an affiliate professor from 1973-1980.

Williams has many national awards, including the Technology Award in 2002 from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers for the energy retrofit of the Clin-ical Sciences Research Building at the School of Medicine.

Williams has served as principal engineer on numerous other energy conservation projects for the medical school.

He is on the HPAC (Heating/Piping/Air Conditioning) Engineering Editorial Advisory Board, a registered professional engineer in six states and a LEED Accredited Professional.