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Batten College Honors Alumni, Friends at Annual Celebration

Four engineers with connections to Old Dominion University were honored Thursday night at the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology's Annual Engineering Celebration.

The dinner at the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club, attended by 150, was held to spotlight the achievements of the Batten College and distinguished ODU alumni. Four such graduates and friends were recognized.

David K. Edwards, senior vice president of WR Systems Ltd., received the Leadership Award. Chair of the Batten College Engineering Advisory Board, Edwards offers guidance to the college to make sure its curriculum is helping meet real-world needs. He also lectures on employee relations for the Defense and Homeland Security Consortium, is a Civic Leadership Institute graduate and serves with many local and international organizations.

The Pioneer Award was presented to W. Channing Blackwell, a 1999 ODU graduate, who received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. Blackwell was the first undergraduate in Virginia history to earn a U.S. patent. Since his graduation, he has continued his efforts to innovate, finding new approaches in the areas of civil and environmental engineering.

The Humanitarian Award went to David W. Plum. Plum, who received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from ODU in 1979, has been involved in municipal water and wastewater design and construction projects for many years. His expertise met his activism when he was asked to join an effort to build a system to move water more than two miles to a community in Haiti with no running water. Shortly after the system, which was built with volunteer labor and expertise, began operation, Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake. The water system survived. Now, its importance is even greater, as it supplies clean running water to a far larger population of Haitian citizens who desperately need it.

Robert G. Kal received the Service Award. Also a 1979 civil engineering graduate, Kal is senior vice president and member of the board of directors at Clark Nexsen. He serves as a trustee and chair of the development committee for the ODU Educational Foundation.

In his address at the dinner program, Oktay Baysal, dean of the Batten College, spoke about the challenges facing Virginia and the world - energy security, infrastructure, globalization - and how engineers are uniquely suited to tackle them. Baysal said the commonwealth of Virginia should consider investments in STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) as a way to create jobs, and in innovation to help the economy grow.

Awards were also presented to recognize outgoing members of the Batten College Advisory Board, and major donors.

Resit Unal, professor and chair of the Batten College's Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering, received an award from his colleagues in the department, recognizing his 23 years at ODU.

This article was posted on: May 21, 2010

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