And the Award Goes to…

Auburn Alumni Engineering Council Awards

At the fall meeting of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council, four alumni were recognized for their engineering contributions, while long-time mechanical engineering professor and associate dean Nels Madsen was honored for his service to the college.

Distinguished Auburn Engineer

Wayne Owens, 1964 Mechanical

Owens began his career as a student with co-op assignments at NASA and Marshall Space Flight Center. After graduation, he worked at Kennedy Space Center as a design engineer for high-pressure pneumatic and cryogenic systems in support of the Saturn V launch vehicle in the Apollo program. He then moved to the space shuttle program, designing ground support facilities and equipment for processing payloads scheduled to fly aboard STS missions. He was selected as the point person for the shuttle payload contractors, from arrival at the space center, to the installation of the payload into the shuttle, and on to launch logistics. After being assigned to the Payloads Operations Directorate, Owens served as the launch site support manager, and was subsequently selected by NASA to spearhead classified military payloads being assembled at Vandenberg Air Force Base. He processed the Department of Defense payload for STS-33, for which he was awarded the National Medal of Achievement by the National Foreign Intelligence Community. Owens also served as the ground operations manager for the International Space Station project office, and was responsible for all ground-based operations for both launch and landing sites. In 1997, he retired from NASA and joined Boeing in its operations at Kennedy Space Center to work on projects related to the Shuttle Space Operations Directorate. His decades-long knowledge of payloads has been relied on heavily in both the public and private sectors to move the space program to new levels. He continues to serve as a representative for the NASA public affairs office as liaison to VIP guests. He also holds the National Intelligence Certificate of Distinction.

Hal Pennington, 1959 Industrial Management

Pennington began a five-decade long tenure with retailing giant Genesco Inc. in 1949 as an industrial engineer trainee. In 2000, he was named president and chief operating officer of Genesco, which has sales in the $1.6 billion range. Genesco has more than 2,000 retail outlets in the sporting fashions and footwear markets, including Johnston and Murphy, Dockers, Journeys and Hat World. Pennington has held 18 positions at Genesco encompassing distribution, manufacturing, materials management, operations and wholesale. He was particularly adept in Genesco’s role as a pioneer in the modernization of information systems — leading Genesco’s efforts in everything from marketing to distribution, acquisition to manufacturing, and information technology to capitalization. In 2004, he was named chairman and CEO of the company, and in 2008, he moved into the chairmanship. He has retired from the company, but still remains active in a consulting role. Pennington has been recognized by many organizations, and received Auburn’s 2010 Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Outstanding Alumnus Award. He serves on a number of industry and community boards, including the Nashville Symphony Board of Directors, and his past activities include service to Nashville’s Chamber of Commerce, the Boy Scouts and the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art.

Dick Quina, 1948 Mechanical

Following graduation, Quina worked his way through the pulp and paper industry, spending much of his professional life in south Alabama. He is known by his colleagues for his work with Jefferson Smurfit Corporation, where he was named to the board of directors in the late 1980s. He was also vice president and general manager of the company’s containerboard mill division located in Jacksonville, Fla., as well as its affiliate, Container Corporation of America. Although he retired in 1993, he has retained many ties to the industry. Quina has served as a leader of the Longleaf District (Monroe, Conecuh, Escambia, Covington, Butler and Crenshaw counties) and of the charity group Log-a-Load, helping raise funds from loggers, foresters, mills and landowners for Children’s Miracle Network affiliated hospitals. Quina has also made significant contributions to Auburn Engineering, including a professorship through the Auburn Pulp and Paper Foundation and an investment in the Shelby Center for Engineering Technology to name the Quina Atrium in the central building.

Outstanding Young Engineer

Stephen Franklin, 1998, 2000, Civil

Franklin began his career with LBYD in Birmingham as a structural engineer. In 2004, he joined Brasfield & Gorrie as an operations manager, and this year was named by the firm as vice president and division manager of facilities. His colleagues note that Franklin has become a well-respected and increasingly knowledgeable expert in the field, not only at Brasfield & Gorrie, but in the civil engineering field as a whole. He served as a member of the test group that took the final version of the National Construction Professional Engineering exam before its release. He was the only one in the group to successfully pass the exam, and as a result, was asked to join the board of the National Council of Engineering Examiners. In addition, he is associated with a number of other professional groups in the construction engineering trade and has been actively involved with the construction of several projects on Auburn’s campus, including  veterinary medicine’s small animal hospital which is under construction, the planned Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce, and Auburn Engineering’s own MRI center. He was also the lead engineer on a $65 million football expansion project that faced challenges associated with cost, quality and coordination, and an aggressive schedule that involved 200,000 man hours of construction, a land-locked site with little room for materials storage, and an anxious client — the University of Alabama. Franklin’s success with that project earned him considerable respect and acknowledgement of his credentials as an Auburn engineer.

Superior Service 

Nels Madsen holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in mechancial engineering from the University of Iowa. He came to Auburn in 1978 as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, moving into his current position as Thomas Walter associate professor in mechanical engineering. He serves as the associate dean for assessment and special programs for the college, ensuring that the college is prepared for, and efficiently moves through, the accreditation process, on which Auburn Engineering stakes its fundamental credibility. Through the years, Madsen has done a remarkable job in this area resulting in his being called on more than once to lead national presentations on the ABET accreditation process, and how to successfully prepare for it. With the recent retirement of Joe Morgan, he has also accepted the role of interim associate dean for academics. In addition, Madsen serves the university in a variety of other roles, including chairing the Program Review Committee, serving on the Retention Committee, Graduate Council, and Mechanics Division of the American Society for Engineering Education. He is vice chair of engineering’s faculty council, and is active in a number of areas related to administration and university governance. He remains one of Auburn Engineering students’ favorite professors, finding time to counsel and provide additional instruction when needed. It is a frequent occurrence to see students in his office, around his table, or more commonly, solving problems at his white board. Madsen is also vice president for research and development for Motion Reality Incorporated, and the College of Engineering’s singular academy award winner — having picked up this distinction in Hollywood for his work on motion capture in films such as the Orient Express and Lord of the Rings, as well as video games and sports conditioning.

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