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UM honors engineers, students

Two University of Mississippi School of Engineering alumni were given prestigious awards and six outstanding students were recognized at the annual Excellence in Engineering honors banquet. The Engineer of Distinction award went to 1984 master’s graduate Thomas Zacharia, deputy director for science and technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This is the highest award given by the school to recognize professional accomplishment.

Zacharia, whose UM master’s degree is in materials science and engineering, also holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Regional Technical College in Karnataka, India, and a doctorate in engineering science from Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y. He holds two U.S. patents and is author or co-author of more than 100 publications on high-performance computing for manufacturing processes.

He joined the ORNL in 1987 and oversees one of the nation’s largest research and development programs, with annual expenditures of $1.3 billion in materials and physical sciences, energy and engineering sciences, computing and computational sciences, life and environmental sciences, neutron sciences and national security. Before his present appointment, he served ORNL as associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences from 2001 to 2009. He is a professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the University of Tennessee.

Zacharia is on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Science Advisory Board, the NSF’s Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure and the High Performance Computing Advisory Board of the Council on Competitiveness. He also is a member of the advisory board for the Forschungszentrum Jülich research center at Julich, Germany, and of the High End Computing steering committee of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the United Kingdom.

For the first time, an Engineer of Service Award was given. The dean and the Engineering Alumni Chapter created this award to honor an individual who has gone beyond the call of duty for the School of Engineering and made a mark in their career.

David W. Arnold of Yazoo City, a 1958 chemical engineering bachelor’s graduate, was chosen to receive the inaugural award.

In addition to his UM degree, Arnold holds master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from Iowa State University. He was named the UM Engineer of Distinction in 1989 and received a Professional Achievement Citation in Engineering from Iowa State University in 1994. He was inducted into the UM Alumni Hall of Fame in 1995 and received the inaugural Alumni Service Award in 2002.

A Tunica County native and U.S. Navy veteran, Arnold retired in 2001 as senior vice president of the Technical Group at Mississippi Chemical Corp., one of Mississippi’s largest industries. He was responsible for the company’s research and development, engineering, construction and environmental programs. During his career at Mississippi Chemical, Arnold directed engineering and construction of more than $900 million in new plants and facilities, primarily in Mississippi.

Also this year, six outstanding seniors are to be recognized. The awards were based on the students’ academic records, along with their involvement in service and their leadership qualities.

They are: Maria Theresa Brown, a geological engineering major from Brandon; Hannie Quay Parker Capps, a civil engineering major from Sunflower; Anna Kathryn Hailey, a chemical engineering major from Muscle Shoals, Ala.; Chiedozie Tony-Jude Ibekwe, an electrical engineering major from Lagos, Nigeria; Jonathan David Jones, a chemical engineering major from Long Beach; and, Mark Wesley Phillips, a civil engineering major from Madison.


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