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UT Austin College of Engineering Names Distinguished Graduates, Outstanding Young Engineering Graduate

     Five alumni were recently selected as 1999 Distinguished Graduates and one alumnus was selected as the 1999 Outstanding Young Engineering Graduate by The University of Texas at Austin’s Engineering Foundation Advisory Council. The Council’s annual selections are based on outstanding professional records, public service, support of education, and other significant achievements. The six were honored during the College of Engineering graduation ceremony held at Gregory Gym.

The 1999 Distinguished Graduates and their degree(s) from UT are:

  • Kenneth E. Eickmann, B.S.M.E., 1969
  • John L. Gidley, B.S.Ch.E., 1950, M.S.Ch.E., 1952, Ph.D., 1955
  • Charles A. Machemehl, Jr., B.S.C.E., 1957, M.S.C.E., 1964
  • J. Winston Porter, B.S.Ch.E., 1960
  • Byron D. Tapley, B.S.M.E, 1956, M.S.E.M., 1958, Ph.D., 1960

     Jeff Davis Sandefer, B.S.P.E., 1982, was selected as the Outstanding Young Engineering Graduate.

Kenneth E. Eickmann, (Lt. Gen., USAF, RET), P.E.
B.S.M.E., 1969
Director, Construction Industry Institute, The University of Texas at Austin
Senior Lecturer, Civil Engineering, UT Austin

     After earning his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at UT Austin, Gen. Eickmann began a distinguished and highly decorated 31-year career in the U.S. Air Force.

     He entered the Air Force in 1967 as a distinguished graduate of The University of Texas' Reserve Officer Training Corps program. He earned his master’s degree in systems engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in 1968.

     Gen. Eickmann eventually completed 22 assignments, including a stint from 1994 to 1996 as Commander, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker Air Force Base, the largest military and industrial complex in the U.S. Department of Defense. During this time he led the federal rescue and recovery efforts following the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. His success inspired the governor of Oklahoma to declare July 11, 1995, as "General Ken Eickmann Day" in the State of Oklahoma. His last assignment on active duty was Commander, Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where he led the nation’s largest center of excellence for research, development, and acquisition of aircraft, aeronautical equipment, and munitions.

     Upon retirement from the U.S. Air Force, Gen. Eickmann was selected director of UT’s Construction Industry Institute, where he leads a collaborative effort by engineering and construction owners, contractors, and academia to improve one of the nation’s largest industries. As director of the Construction Industry Institute, he guides more than 700 individuals from the institute’s current 80 member-companies in research projects involving more than 30 of the nation’s top universities. In addition, he serves as a senior lecturer in civil engineering at UT Austin.

     Gen. Eickmann is a recognized expert in propulsion technology and has published several technical papers in the United States and abroad. He has received many awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, all from the U.S. Air Force. Upon his retirement, his enlisted troops honored him with the Order of the Sword, the highest honor that enlistees can bestow upon a leader.

Dr. John L. Gidley, P.E.
B.S.Ch.E., 1950; M.S.Ch.E., 1952; Ph.D., 1955
President, John L. Gidley & Associates, Inc.; Houston
Retired Visiting Professor, Department of Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M University

     After earning three chemical engineering degrees from UT Austin, Dr. Gidley joined Humble Oil and Refining Company’s Production Research Division in 1954. His 31-year career with Exxon was highlighted by many professional publications and the awarding of eight patents.

     From 1968 to 1981, Dr. Gidley supervised Exxon’s Subsurface Engineering Group, which was responsible for applying new techniques for well stimulation, cementing and sand control. In 1969 he invented, patented and fostered the application of a sandstone acidizing process which, within the first three years of its use, increased daily oil production at Exxon by more than 25,000 barrels. The Acid Mutual Solvent Method was widely applied throughout the oil industry, and royalties earned on the patent by Exxon’s research affiliate more than covered Dr. Gidley’s salary and benefits during his last 17 years of employment.

     Dr. Gidley managed Exxon’s engineering training program from 1971 to 1981. From 1982 to 1985, he oversaw collection of detailed engineering data on more than 2,000 acidizing and 500 fracturing treatments. This formed the basis of Exxon’s detailed knowledge of well stimulation processes.

     Dr. Gidley also contributed to oilfield technical literature. From 1969 to 1986, he chaired the American Petroleum Institute Subcommittee on Well Completion Materials, which produced several recommended practices on the evaluation of materials used in well simulation and sand control. In 1979, he co-authored the Society of Petroleum Engineers monograph Acidizing Fundamentals, which became the industry reference. He organized and became editor-in-chief of the Society of Petroleum Engineers monograph Recent Advances in Hydraulic Fracturing, published in 1989. Written by 23 industry experts, it has become the authoritative work on this subject.

     Upon retiring from Exxon in 1986, he organized a petroleum engineering consulting firm specializing in well stimulation and has been awarded six more patents on the processes he has developed. He was named a distinguished member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers in 1990 and received the Society’s Distinguished Service Award in 1990 and its John Franklin Carll Award in 1992. In 1994, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He is a member of the UT System’s Chancellor’s Council

Charles A. Machemehl Jr., P.E.
B.S.C.E, 1957; M.S.C.E., 1964
Executive Director, Georgia Crushed Stone Association; Atlanta, Ga.

     Mr. Machemehl received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UT Austin, where he played varsity football and completed ROTC. Upon graduation, he spent three years of active duty as a civil engineering officer with the U.S. Air Force at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin and at Thule Air Force Base in Greenland.

     In 1960, Mr. Machemehl entered civil service at Bergstrom, where he was responsible for all civil engineering projects at the base. He joined the staff of the Portland Cement Association in Austin in 1964 as a field engineer and became director of marketing. During this time he also served in the Air National Guard as a civil engineer in Austin, attaining the rank of major.

     In 1968 he became a research engineer at the Vulcan Materials Company in Birmingham, Ala., the world’s largest producer of crushed stone. He retired from Vulcan in 1995 as vice president for marketing and business after 27 years of service. During this time, he also served in the Alabama Air National Guard, rising in the ranks to brigadier general in 1987 before retiring in 1988 with 31 years of service.

     Mr. Machemehl assumed his present position as executive director of the Georgia Crushed Stone Association in Atlanta in 1995. He promotes acceptance and use of crushed stone and disseminates information on its correct usage to the public. He has published numerous articles and makes presentations nationwide on using crushed stone to its best advantage in the construction of pavement, structures, and drainage facilities. He helped organize UT’s International Center for Aggregate Research and served on its board of trustees.

     Mr. Machemehl has received numerous awards, including the Legion of Merit (1988), the CIT Group/Industrial Financing "Rebuilding America" Award (1992), the National Stone Association’s State Association Executive of the Year (1998), and the Metro Atlanta E-Week Engineer of the Year Industry Award (1999). He is a member of many professional societies and associations, including the National and Georgia Societies of Professional Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers, the Society of American Military Engineers, and the National Crushed Stone Association. Mr. Machemehl has served on the UT Austin Engineering Foundation Advisory Council since 1989.

Dr. J. Winston Porter, P.E.
B.S.Ch.E., 1960
Environmental and management consultant and president of the Waste Policy Center; Leesburg, Virginia

     After receiving his bachelor’s degree from UT Austin, Dr. Porter went on to earn his Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1965 from the University at California at Berkeley. After chairing the Chemistry Department during 1965-66 at the University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, Dr. Porter worked the next 10 years for the Bechtel organization. He managed Bechtel’s environmental department and later served as project manager for the master plan of the $20 billion Jubail Industrial City in Saudi Arabia. He also served as a vice president of several Bechtel affiliates in the Middle East.

     In 1976 he created the management and engineering consulting firm of Porter & Associates in Leesburg, Virginia, specializing in environmental issues, regional planning, and Middle Eastern business consulting.

     In 1985, Dr. Porter was appointed by President Reagan as assistant administrator for solid and hazardous waste at the Environmental Protection Agency, where he managed the Superfund and other related programs, with an annual budget of $2 billion. Among his accomplishments was the establishment of a national goal for recycling 25 percent of the country’s municipal solid wastes, which was reached in 1995. Statutory deadlines were also met for permitting more than 500 waste management facilities. Under his direction, a joint EPA-state mechanism was developed to remediate federal facilities such as nuclear weapon sites.

     Dr. Porter became president of the Waste Policy Center in Leesburg, Virginia, in 1989. The Center, a private research and consulting organization, provides a range of services to business and governmental organizations. Dr. Porter is also a frequent communicator on environmental issues through reports and speeches as well as op-ed articles in major newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. He has written about American and European waste management, federal facilities site remediation, and changes needed to reduce Superfund cleanup times dramatically. Since 1985, he has also testified at some 60 Congressional hearings.

     Dr. Porter is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemical Society, and Tau Beta Pi. He has also served on the advisory committee to the Department of Chemical Engineering at UT Austin and is a Friend of Alec.

Dr. Byron D. Tapley, P.E.
B.S.M.E., 1956; M.S.E.M., 1958; Ph.D., 1960
Professor, Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, College of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin;
Clare Cockrell Williams Centennial Chair in Engineering, UT Austin;
Director, Center for Space Research, UT Austin;
Director, Texas Space Grant Consortium

     After earning three degrees at UT Austin, Dr. Tapley joined UT’s aerospace engineering faculty in 1960, establishing the orbit mechanics program in the department in 1961. He served as the chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics from 1966 to 1977. In 1981, he established the Center for Space Research. During the next decade, he developed the orbit mechanics program and the Center for Space Research into internationally respected centers for study and research.

     Dr. Tapley’s research interests include orbit mechanics, nonlinear parameter estimation, and their uses in satellite measurements to study geodesy, geodynamics and oceanography. He has been a principal investigator for six NASA missions. He is currently in charge of a NASA project teaming up UT Austin researchers with German researchers in a satellite mission to be launched from Russia in 2001. The $125 million Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment will use highly accurate measurements between two satellites to sense variations in the Earth’s gravity field. Results are expected to have many implications for weather study and a variety of environmental issues, including improved long-range climate forecasts and a new perspective on global ocean circulation.

     Dr. Tapley has been very active in professional organizations, including the National Research Council, chairing the Geodesy Committee (1982-85), the Committee on Earth Sciences (1987-91), and the Geophysics Study Committee (1990-93).

     His honors include the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement (1983), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautic Mechanics and Control of Flight Award (1989), the Billy and Claude R. Hocott Distinguished Centennial Engineering Research Award (1991), the NASA Public Service Medal (1994), the AAS Dirk Brouwer Space Mechanics Award (1995), and the Joe J. King Professional Engineering Achievement Award (1997).

     He is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1987, he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering. He is a life member of Friends of Alec.

Jeff Davis Sandefer
B.S.P.E. ,1982
Lecturer, Graduate School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin
Founder and Director, Foundation for Entrepreneurial Excellence, UT Austin
President, Sandefer Capital Partners L.P.; Austin

     After receiving his bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering at UT Austin, Mr. Sandefer earned a master of business administration degree from Harvard Business School in 1986. Upon graduation, he founded Sandefer Offshore Company in Houston, which developed more than $500 million in oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico from 1986-1993.

     In 1990 he joined the UT Graduate School of Business faculty as a lecturer. He was selected by students three times as the school’s Outstanding Teacher and received the Eyes of Texas Excellence Award. Business Week named him as one of the top entrepreneurship teachers in the United States in 1996.

     In 1995, he formed Sandefer Capital Partners, an Austin-based company managing more than $500 million in equity capital for direct investments in the energy industry. Mr. Sandefer has also been instrumental in founding successful companies in oil field service, consumer products, consumer promotion and real estate.

     Mr. Sandefer is very active in a number of professional and civic organizations. He is chairman of the National Review Institute, a foundation associated with National Review magazine, and chairman of the Acton Institute, an organization dedicated to furthering the principles of free markets and morality. He has also served as director and secretary of Putting Children First, an organization that promotes public school scholarships, and is director of Operation Rainbow, a charity that provides surgery for needy children worldwide. In 1992, he founded the Freedom Exchange, a program that brought hundreds of young Russian entrepreneurs to America.

     He has contributed in many ways to The University. From 1992-95, he served as director of the UT Alumni Board and for the past six years, has been amassing material for the Frank Erwin History Project, which involves writing a biography of the former chairman of the UT Board of Regents. Thus far, he has conducted more than 200 interviews and established an extensive archive preparatory to writing the biography. In 1997, he established the Foundation for Entrepreneurial Excellence, which seeks to expand and enrich the entrepreneurship program within UT’s Graduate School of Business. Mr. Sandefer has also participated in the University’s Distinguished Lecture Series.