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Engineering alumni honored with Distinguished Achievement Awards

October 23, 2014 By Scott Gordon

Photo: Engineers’ Day

The University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Engineering will honor the achievements of eight distinguished alumni during the 67th annual Engineers’ Day celebration Friday, Oct. 24.

From early-career entrepreneurs to established government officials and executives, the recipients of the annual College of Engineering Distinguished Achievement Awards and Early-Career Achievement Awards illustrate the impact of Badger engineers in multiple fields and across international boundaries. Their accomplishments range from leading a Wisconsin-based packaging company to improving health care to shaping policy as part of President Barack Obama’s administration. Read more about the individual honorees below.

Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients:

  • Ryan T. Bennett (1990 graduate): Bennett is a senior partner at Resource Capital Funds in Denver, Colorado. He was among the first to earn a geological engineering degree from UW–Madison and has used his technical expertise to lead a private equity firm to sustained success in its mining investments.
  • Bryan C. Hanson (1988): Hanson is chief operating officer at Exelon Nuclear in Chicago, Illinois, and has spent his entire career participating in the growth of one of the world’s leading nuclear power plant companies. He now oversees the largest nuclear fleet in the United States.
  • Edward F. Kopetsky (bachelor’s degree 1978, master’s 1981): The chief information officer at Stanford Children’s Health in Palo Alto, California, Kopetsky has spent his career using industrial engineering to improve systems in the health care industry. In his current role, he has overseen major technological overhauls.
  • Michael F. Molnar (bachelor’s 1985, master’s 1987): Molnar is the director of the U.S. Department of Commerce Advanced Manufacturing National Program in Washington, D.C. He spent 25 years in advanced manufacturing before going into public service. He currently leads federal efforts in advanced manufacturing.
  • Winslow L. Sargeant (Ph.D. 1995): As the chief counsel for advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C., Sargeant draws on his experience co-founding a successful company and managing a National Science Foundation program in his current role advocating for small businesses before Congress and the White House.
  • Henry J. Theisen (1975): Theisen is the executive chairman of the board at Bemis Company Inc. in Neenah, Wisconsin. He has contributed to an array of advances in making packaging industry materials more effective, efficient and environmentally sound.
  • Peter W. Trelenberg (1980): Trelenberg is corporate manager of environmental policy and planning at Exxon Mobil Corporation in Irving, Texas. He has spent nearly 30 years with the world’s largest publically traded energy company, with assignments around the world. Currently, he advises Exxon leaders on the company’s response to environmental issues, sustainability and regulatory reform.

Early-Career Achievement Award Recipient:

  • Michael T. Casper (2004): The president and founder of Flex Lighting, Chicago, Casper became a lighting entrepreneur as a mechanical engineering undergraduate student and has since built on his early successes with two innovative lighting-related companies.

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