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School of Engineering honors 8 with Distinguished Alumni Award

November 5, 2020 - by Kim Delker

The University of New Mexico School of Engineering honored eight of its graduates as recipients of the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Honorees are from each of the School’s six departments and one young alumnus, which can be from any department. Each honoree was nominated, then selections were made by a committee of alumni, faculty, and past winners of the award.

This year, due to public health restrictions on mass gatherings, honorees are being recognized via a website, which contains a full event program with profiles of each winner, acceptance videos, and photo slideshows.

An in-person celebration is tentatively planned for fall 2021, at which both the 2020 and 2021 honorees will be recognized.

The 2020 honorees are:

Chemical and Biological Engineering: J.T. Michelson, who received his bachelor’s in chemical engineering from UNM in 1962. He also earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1964. He has been a business owner and manager for more than a half-century in various companies.

Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering: Phillip L. Melville, who received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UNM in 1945; and Thomas L. Paez, who received a bachelor’s and master’s in civil engineering from UNM in 1971 and 1972, respectively. Melville was a longtime professional engineer in the Virginia area and received a master’s in civil engineering from Purdue University in 1946. Paez earned a Ph.D. in engineering from Purdue University in 1973 and was a member faculty of the UNM Department of Civil Engineering from 1977-84 before joining Sandia National Laboratories, retiring in 2009.

Computer Science: Barbara Lopez, who received a bachelor’s in computer science from UNM in 1986. She has worked at PNM Resources for almost 20 years and is currently program manager of IT.

Electrical and Computer Engineering: Atul Bhatnagar, who received a master’s in electrical engineering from UNM in 1982. He is president and CEO of Cambium Networks, a Chicago-based company. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science in India.

Mechanical Engineering: Andrew Halasz, who received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UNM in 1981. He is founder and CEO of Vizzia Technologies, a Santa Fe-based healthcare technology business he founded in 2005. He completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.

Nuclear Engineering: Jim E. Morel, who received a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from UNM in 1980. Morel is the director of the Center for Large Scale Scientific Simulations, as well as the director for the Center for Exascale Radiation Transport, both at Texas A&M. He earned a master’s degree in nuclear engineer in 1974 and a bachelor’s in mathematics in 1972, both from Louisiana State University.

Young Alumni Award: Joseph Costantine, who received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from UNM in 2009. He is currently an associate professor of electrical engineering at the American University of Beirut, where he has been since 2017. Costantine earned a master’s degree in computer and communication engineering from the American University of Beirut in 2006 and earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical, electronics, computer, and communication engineering from the Lebanese University in 2004.