UCLA Engineering honors top alumni, teachers, students at 2016 awards dinner
Structural engineering innovator Robert Englekirk MS ’65, PhD ’70 was named 2016 UCLA Engineering Alumnus of the Year. Internet pioneer and longtime faculty member Leonard Kleinrock was honored with the Lifetime Contribution Award. Dan Goebel ’77, MS ’78, PhD ’81, who has done groundbreaking work in space propulsion technologies, received the Alumni Professional Achievement Award.
More than 450 people attended the gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. UCLA Engineering Dean Jayathi Murthy, who joined the school in January, outlined her vision to add 50 faculty and 1,000 students in the coming years, expand the school’s research enterprise, bring in more women and underrepresented minorities and increase the school’s global presence.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block offered welcome remarks. Hollywood writer and producer Justine Bateman, who is also studying computer science and digital media management at UCLA, served as emcee.
The 2016 Engineering Awards winners:
- Alumnus of the Year: Robert Englekirk has had a profound impact on structural engineering and has made significant contributions to the University of California. The founder and chairman emeritus of the Englekirk companies, he developed an innovative and constructible design of reinforced concrete and has overseen construction of more than $100 billion worth of projects, including the Getty Center in Los Angeles, several buildings on the UCLA campus, and roughly 100 malls across the United States. He has taught structural engineering at UC San Diego and UCLA, and is the author of texts on structural engineering. In 2015 he and his wife Natalie established the Englekirk Presidential Endowed Chair in Structural Engineering at UCLA.
Upon receiving the award from UCLA Engineering Dean Jayathi Murthy, Englekirk thanked his wife, family and colleagues. “An award like this doesn’t belong to one person,” he said. “I have lived my dream, and it is my goal that as many people live their dreams as possible.”
- Lifetime Contribution Award: Leonard Kleinrock is recognized around the world for his seminal contributions to computer networking and creation of the Internet. Kleinrock joined the UCLA Engineering faculty in 1963, and in 1969 his innovations in the fundamental mathematical principles of packet switching led to his lab sending the first ever message over what was then the ARPANET, predecessor to the Internet. Kleinrock’s numerous awards include the National Medal of Science, as well as election to the Internet Hall of Fame, the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of six books and has supervised 48 doctoral students.
Upon receiving the award from former master’s student Ben Horowitz, co-founder of the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Kleinrock expressed gratitude to UCLA and his family, praised the virtues of a life in academia and downplayed the description of him and others as Internet pioneers for their work in the 1960s and 1970s. “If none of these ‘pioneers’ had ever been born, it still would have been invented,” he said. “It was in the air.”
- Alumni Professional Achievement Award: Dan Goebel is a senior research scientist at JPL and an adjunct professor at UCLA and USC. He is internationally recognized for his expertise in electric propulsion and developing thrusters for deep space exploration. His inventions have been used in the NASA Dawn missions to Mars and Jupiter, as well as other spacecraft. He is currently working on NASA’s asteroid redirect and retrieval mission. Goebel holds more than 40 patents, and in 2015 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
Upon receiving the award from JPL Chief Scientist Dan McCleese, Goebel thanked UCLA for providing the foundations of his success, his first encounter with his wife, Nancy, and much more. “UCLA is what my career is built on,” he said. “It has been a wonderful part of my life.”
- The Lockheed Martin Excellence in Teaching Award: Amit Sahai is a professor in the Computer Science Department. An expert in cybersecurity who has helped many former students obtain high positions in academia and industry, Sahai revamped and invigorated the curriculum for a challenging undergraduate computational theory course, among other classroom contributions. Sahai joined the school in 2004.
- The Northrop Grumman Excellence in Teaching Award: Todd Millstein is a professor in the Computer Science Department. Millstein has earned accolades from students and colleagues for his interactive teaching methods and dedication to undergraduate and graduate students learning about software development and programing languages. He joined the school in 2004.
- Edward K. Rice Outstanding Doctoral Student: Chanfanfu Jiang MS ’12, PhD ’15. Jiang’s innovations in computer graphics and animation have already been put to wide use in animated films and advanced medical imaging. His faculty advisors were Demetri Terzopoulos, distinguished chancellor’s professor computer science, and mathematics professor Joseph Teran. Jiang is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, the co-founder of a start-up company and a researcher at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
- Edward K. Rice Outstanding Master’s Student: Jean Paul Santos MS ’15. While at UCLA, Santos designed, simulated and prototyped a novel antenna array for Direct-to-Earth communications from a Mars rover, technology that may be used in NASA’s Mars 2020 Project. His faculty advisor was Northrop Grumman Chair in Electrical Engineering/Electromagnetics Yahya Rahmat-Samii. Santos is currently an avionics engineer for the U.S. Navy at Point Mugu.
- Edward K. Rice Outstanding Bachelor’s Student: Kathryn Dern ’15. Dern earned a 3.96 GPA while studying bioengineering at UCLA. She conducted experiments for nano-scale chemotherapeutics under Professor Dan Kamei, helped develop a rapid-response diagnostic device to detect malaria and was an active volunteer in several organizations. Dern is now enrolled at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
Sponsors of the awards dinner include Ralph Crump ’50 and family; Vinton MS ’70, PhD ’72 and Sigrid Cerf; Raytheon; Tesoro; Northrop Grumman; Symantec; CTS Cement; Aerospace, Lockheed Martin; TMX Engineering and Manufacturing; Broadcom; Englekirk; and RAND Corporation.