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SEAS Inducts Six Alumni and Faculty into GW Engineering Hall of Fame
Astronaut, Academy Award winner and long-serving professor emeritus are among the inductees.
October 29, 2012
By Jay Conley
An astronaut, an Academy Award-winning visual effects artist and a professor emeritus with more than a 50-year connection to the school were among six GW alumni and faculty inducted Thursday night into the GW Engineering Hall of Fame.
The annual dinner and induction ceremony was held at the Fairmont Hotel near GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus. The Hall of Fame was established by the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) in 2006 and now has 40 members. It was established to recognize and honor distinguished SEAS alumni, faculty, staff and friends who have contributed to engineering, technology or management in a sustained and significant way during their careers.
“As I read the biographies of our 2012 inductees, I couldn’t help but notice that this distinguished group of alumni we’re honoring are really living proof of something that I’m always telling our students, that a degree in one of the engineering disciplines or computer science opens doors that others can only dream of. And for proof of that, we can look at tonight’s honorees.,” said SEAS Dean David Dolling at the awards ceremony.
Charles Camarda was already working for NASA’s Langley Research Center when he received his master’s in engineering science from GW in 1980. Selected as an astronaut candidate in 1996, he flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2005. It was known as the “Return to Flight” mission for being the first shuttle flight following the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003.
“I’ve lived a charmed life. I’m very blessed,” said Dr. Camarda, who received his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech and is currently the senior adviser for innovation to the Office of Chief Engineer at NASA Headquarters in Houston, TX.
Dr. Camarda said his passion now is education. “I applaud what they’re doing here at GW. I would love to come back and help in any way I can. We need to inspire the next generation of leaders and innovators.”
Bill Westenhofer earned his master’s in computer science from GW in 1995, and used it to enhance his creative talents working in the film industry.
“Long before I was interested in computer graphics, I was an artist,” said Mr. Westenhofer.
Beginning as a technical director at Rhythm & Hues Studios in Los Angeles, he worked his way up from a digital artist and computer graphics supervisor to his current position as a visual effects supervisor. In 2008, Mr. Westenhofer received an Academy Award for achievement in visual effects for his work on “The Golden Compass.” He had previously been nominated in 2005 for his work on “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
Mr. Westenhofer is currently finishing work on the film adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel “Life of Pi.”
“I attribute a lot of the success in my career to what I learned here at GW,” he said.
After graduating from high school, Douglas Jones recalled he hadn’t prepared for college and his goal was to be a machinist. “But somewhere down the line, machinist became engineering, and engineering became a bachelor’s degree.”
From his days as an undergraduate student at GW to retiring in 2004 as professor emeritus of engineering and applied science, Dr. Jones has been affiliated with SEAS for more than 50 years. He earned a bachelor’s in 1963, a master’s in 1965 and a doctoral degree in 1970 in mechanical engineering, and later joined the SEAS faculty as an assistant professor. Dr. Jones went on to serve as the associate dean of academic affairs.
Among his many contributions to GW, Dr. Jones directed 25 master’s theses and doctoral dissertations, co-authored an engineering textbook, dozens of journal articles and conference proceedings, and helped establish a computer-aided design program in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
“It’s a great honor and I’m very pleased,” he said of the Hall of Fame induction.
Other inductees included:
--Amr ElSawy, president and CEO of Noblis, Inc., a nonprofit science, technology and strategy organization headquartered in Falls Church, Va., that has consistently ranked as a “Best Small & Medium Workplace” by Great Places to Work. Mr. ElSawy also served for seven years as director of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Federally Funded Research and Development Center. Mr. ElSawy received his master’s in electrical engineering from GW in 1981.
“It is indeed an honor, and I’m grateful for the recognition,” he said.
--Donald Dinger, who spent his career with the U.S. Army Civilian Service, using his engineering expertise to guide the Army in establishing and operating critical military technologies. Mr. Dinger earned a master’s degrees in engineering science in 1964 and the applied scientist degree in 1978 at GW.
“It’s been a thrill and a wonderful career. And I think my continuing education at George Washington University has been a big part of it,” he said.
--Howard Tischler, an entrepreneur with more than 30 years of experience in software product development and business start-ups. Mr. Tischler is the immediate past chairman of the SEAS National Advisory Council.
“I want to thank SEAS for teaching me to think outside the box,” said Mr. Tischler.
Dean Dolling thanked the inductees for the honor and recognition their accomplishments bring to the school.
“By your example you are helping to build the SEAS history that future classes of SEAS students will inherit and we hope be challenged by and use as a measure for calibrating their own success,” he said.