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School of Engineering honors distinguished alumni

November 6, 2019 - By Kim Delker

The University of New Mexico School of Engineering celebrates its 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award winners at a Nov. 7 dinner at Embassy Suites in Albuquerque.

Honorees are from each of the School’s six departments and one young alumnus, which can be from any department. There is also a special award given by the Alumni Leadership Board to honor someone connected with the School who has demonstrated exemplary service.

This year’s theme is “The Celebration of Art and Science.” The featured speaker is Drew Trujillo, director of technology for Meow Wolf, and the program featured displays and demos that feature how art and science intersect.

A special feature during the event gave guests an opportunity to see the Electric Playhouse, an Albuquerque-based interactive, immersive art and technology experience. Electric Playhouse was founded by John-Mark Collins, who received a computer engineering degree from UNM, as well as an MBA from UNM.

The honorees are:

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Chemical and Biological Engineering

Karen M. Douglas. Douglas is a nuclear engineer at the National Nuclear Security Administration in Albuquerque, where she has worked since 1990, and a nuclear quality assurance mentor at Longenecker & Associates since June of this year. She received a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from UNM in 1979.

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Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

William M. Brown III. Brown has been a principal at Sage West Consultants in Taos since 2008 and is also a principal and a member of the board of directors at Renewable Taos Inc. He received his bachelor of science in civil engineering from UNM in 1967 and his master’s in civil engineering from Stanford University in 1968.

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Computer Science

Brad Key. Key is director of software and systems for Perspecta and has been a software development group manager for more than 30 years. He received his bachelor of science degree in computer science from UNM in 1986.

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Electrical and Computer Engineering:

Gilbert (Gil) Herrera. Herrera has been with Sandia National Laboratories from 1981-1997 and from 1999 to the present and is a Laboratory Fellow. He received his bachelor of science degree in computer engineering from UNM in 1981 and his master of science in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1982.


Mechanical Engineering:

Michael Emerson. Emerson is vice president of Valencia Solutions and has 30 years of experience in engineering and management consulting in the governmental and commercial sectors. He received his bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from UNM in 1986 and his master of science in nuclear engineering from the University of Washington in 1988.


Nuclear Engineering

Bret E. Simpkins. Simpkins is associate laboratory director of facilities and operations for Los Alamos National Laboratory. He received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in nuclear engineer from UNM in 1983 and 1988, respectively.

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Young Alumni Award

Kelly D. Hahn, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Hahn works at the National Ignition Facility – Implosions and Stagnation (Nuclear) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. She received three degrees in electrical engineering from UNM: a bachelor’s (1999), master’s (2002) and Ph.D. (2006).

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The School of Engineering’s Alumni Leadership Board is also honoring a former faculty member with the Alumni Leadership Board Exemplary Service Award. Edward Angel, a former professor in the Department of Computer Science, joined the UNM faculty in 1978, working in the School of Engineering in the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering as well as Computer Science, in addition to Fine Arts. He was instrumental in forming the ARTS Lab at UNM in 2003, as well as Computer Science for All, which has reached hundreds of teachers across the state to educate them about how to incorporate computer science and computational thinking into the classroom.