March 12, 2007

Celebration Pays Tribute to Outstanding Engineers

The co-founder of an award-winning engineering and architectural firm, an outstanding research engineer and the inventor of the Segway® Human Transporter were honored Friday at the 2007 Hall of Leaders Award Celebration, hosted by the School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University.

Robert L. Zollars

Robert L. Zollars - CEO and president of Huitt-Zollars Inc.
Robert L. Zollars

Receiving the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award was Robert L. Zollars, a 1972 graduate who is a civic leader and co-founder, CEO and president of Huitt-Zollars, Inc., a Texas-based engineering and architectural firm.

Some 32 years ago, Mr. Zollars and Larry Huitt formed Huitt-Zollars, a civil engineering and architectural company, which is consistently ranked in the nation’s top 150 design firms by Engineering News Record magazine.  The firm now employs more than 500 employees and includes offices in six states.  Among the firm’s numerous honors are the Eminent Conceptor Award from Consulting Engineers Council of Texas, Excellence in Construction Award from Associated Builders and Contractors, and the Marvin M. Black "Excellence in Partnering" Award.

In addition to his role as CEO, Mr. Zollars has personally managed many of the firm’s largest and most difficult civil engineering projects, including the Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail system, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and the Stone Bridge Ranch planned community of McKinney.

Mr. Zollars also is a past chair of the Dallas Board of the American Diabetes Association and a member of the Executive Committee of “Stars of Texas,” an event raising money for diabetes research and education. In addition, he serves on the Executive Board of the SMU School of Engineering and has most recently supported the school with a contribution to the J. Lindsay Embrey Building to create the Huitt-Zollars Pavilion.

“Bob Zollars is truly an exemplary engineer and leader,” Geoffrey Orsak, dean of the SMU School of Engineering, said in presenting the award.  “He foresees a need and finds a way to fill it.  His attention to detail, his meticulous planning, and his commitment to the project no matter how challenging have made him one of the most successful and sought after engineers in the country.”

Elisabeth Marley

Elisabeth Marley - a research and development process engineer at TI's Silicon Technology Development
Elisabeth Marley

Also honored Friday was Elisabeth Marley, who earned her engineering degree from SMU in 1994. Recipient of the Emerging Leader Award, she works in the Silicon Technology Development organization of Texas Instruments Inc. where she has served as both a research and development scientist and an R&D manager and photonics strategy manager.

Ms. Marley was instrumental in organizing a number of major international conferences on high-speed digital systems. She holds several important patents and is the author of significant technical publications. In addition, she is an adjunct professor at SMU and has proposed and designed the recently approved Electrical Engineering Senior and Graduate level course entitled Introduction to Nanotechnology

Ms. Marley also is a passionate and active advocate for women in engineering and technology.  She is one of the founders of the Women of TI Fund, an organization that funnels money directly to underprivileged girls in Dallas to help provide math and science education.  She is involved in MentorNet, an online mentoring program for female graduate students. And she has served as a team leader for SMU’s Visioneering program.  

Dean Kamen

Dean Kamen - inventor of the Segway
Dean Kamen

Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway Human Transporter was the guest speaker and the Distinguished Service Award recipient at Friday’s celebration.

“He is a man who has devoted his career to improving the lives of people around the globe’” Orsak said. “Although he will deny it, Dean Kamen is truly a creative genius, whose purpose is to use and create technology to ease the burdens of life for those who are infirmed or are dealing with long term illness, to broaden the horizon of where technology can take humanity, to capture the spirit of all of us.”

Mr. Kamen is the founder of DEKA Research & Development Corporation, where he develops internally generated inventions and provides research and development for corporate clients. As an inventor and entrepreneur, he holds more than 440 domestic and foreign patents.

Mr. Kamen’s inventions include the first wearable insulin pump for diabetics and the Segway. Kamen also is founder of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization that inspires young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. However, he is probably best known for the invention of the Segway® Personal Transporter, the first two-wheeled, self-balancing, electric transportation device to use dynamic stabilization technology.

Segway® Winner

As part of Friday’s celebration, a drawing was held for a free Segway®. The winner was SMU graduate student Ross Anthony Gill of Ponder, Texas, an employee of American Airlines.

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