Contact: Debbie Dobson, 277-5539 or
Michael Padilla, 277-1816

Feb. 28, 2001

UNM Engineering Alumni Association Honors Six

The University of New Mexico Engineering Alumni Association board will honor six alumni at the Third Annual Distinguished Engineering Alumni Awards Banquet on Friday, March 23.

This year’s honorees are Nasir Ahmed (MSEE,1963, Ph.D.,1966), Kenneth Donald Hansen (BSAE,1955), Bijay Rajbajhbhandry (MSCE,1991), Randy Velarde (BSChE, 1981), James Ernest Warne Jr. (MSCE, 1957) and K. Dane Wittrup (BSChE, 1984).

Ahmed, former interim Associate Provost for Research at UNM, is internationally recognized for his contributions in digital signal processing research and textbook writing and is also recognized locally as someone who has brought high standards and excellent support from industry to electrical and computer engineering at UNM. Ahmed’s outstanding technical achievements were verified in 1985 by his appointment to Fellow in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the highest grade award the IEEE has to offer. Only a small percentage of its vast membership is given the Fellow award.

Hansen, principal and senior vice president of Schnebel Engineering Associates in Denver, Colo., is an internationally recognized consultant, lecturer and author on the design and construction of roller-compacted concrete (RCC) dams. He has consulted on 30 RCC projects in eight countries including the world’s highest RCC dam (630 feet), which is in China. He is also on the Board of Senior Consultants for the highest RCC dam in the United States. Hansen has given more than 350 lectures on the subject in nine countries and is co-author of the book “Roller Compacted Concrete Dams.”

Rajbajhbhandry, managing director for CE Construction Pvt. Ltd. in Kathmandu, Nepal, is the only person in Nepal to have a Construction Management degree from the United States, and the only CEO with this qualification. His most significant accomplishment is that, in a short period of time, he grew a successful major construction company in Nepal. He has had 52 projects in the eight years of his business. Rajbajhbhandry started his company April 22, 1992, shortly after completing his graduate work at UNM and spending a year working at Jaynes as an assistant project manager.

Velarde, president of The Plaza Group in Houston, Texas, has helped the Plaza Group to achieve phenomenal growth over the past three years. In 1999, Velarde received The Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Hispanic Business magazine, as well as the Entrepreneur of The Year Award from the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Warne, President of Western Technologies, Inc. (WTI) in Phoenix, Ariz., originally founded Engineers Testing Laboratories, Inc. in 1955. The company, now known as Western Technologies, Inc., specializes in geotechnical, construction materials and environmental engineering services. Services which were pioneered and first offered to the industry in Arizona by the company. Other service companies were derived over the years and are now owned along with Western Technologies, Inc., by WTI, Inc. of which Warne is Chairman.

Wittrup, J.R. Mares Professor of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is leading the attempt to make specific molecules to be used in new pharmaceuticals. He is currently working on cancer treatments with fewer side effects to make a patient’s last months more tolerable. He is developing new tools for protein engineering, and applying them both to particular disease targets and to better understand protein structure/function relationships.

The six alumni were chosen based on their demonstrated professional eminence and community service. As the nomination form states: “The UNM engineering program has produced outstanding, well-prepared engineers for almost a century. These graduates have gone on to serve their profession, communities, society and the university.”

For more information, contact Debbie Dobson at (505) 277-5539.

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