Look College honors four outstanding alumni

The Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University and Dr. M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering, honored four outstanding alumni April 12 at a private banquet at the Miramont Country Club in Bryan, Texas.

Tom Cogan ’77, Frosty Gilliam Jr. ’80, Dr. G.P. “Bud” Peterson ’85 and Charles W. “Bill” Soltis ’55 were recognized for their contributions to the engineering profession and to Texas A&M Engineering.

Photo of Tom CoganTom Cogan ’77 earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M. He is currently director of Airplane Product Development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. In this role, he is responsible for the development of all new and derivative airplanes. Named to this position in July 2008, Cogan is also responsible for advanced concepts and competitive analysis. Prior to this assignment, Cogan was the chief project engineer for the 787 Dreamliner during the initial development. Assigned to this role in March 2003, he was responsible for the definition and product integrity of the airplane. He was named Engineer of the Year for 2007 byDesign News for his work in leading the 787 engineering team.

Previously, he served as the chief project engineer for the Sonic Cruiser, 747-X and 757 programs. He has also held positions as the manufacturing business unit leader for Developmental Manufacturing; Integrated Product Team leader for the 757-300 program and 737NG program; senior manager in Payloads for airplane configuration definition and interior certification; and marketing manager for the 757 and 737 programs. During his first 12 years at Boeing, he worked in the aerodynamics staff on multiple programs. Cogan joined Boeing in 1977.

Cogan began serving on the Texas A&M Engineering Advisory Council in 2009 after spending 11 years serving on the Texas A&M Aerospace Engineering Advisory Board. In 2006, he was named the Boeing executive focal for Texas A&M where he has oversight responsibility for all interaction between the company and the university including recruiting, charitable giving, research and special projects. In

2011, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

Cogan lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, and enjoys fishing, skiing, hiking, photography and woodworking. He has served on the board of directors for a local non-profit organization, and is active in the preservation of endangered species in Washington State.

Cogan is being recognized “for his outstanding leadership, impact and innovations in the commercial aviation industry; for consistently providing the spark for collaboration between The Boeing Company and Texas A&M University; for his tireless commitment to higher education through his work as a corporate liaison, facilitating support for educational programs at Texas A&M; and for demonstrating integrity, principles and values consistent with the highest standards of Aggie character.”

Photo of Frosty Gilliam Jr.Frosty Gilliam Jr. ’80 earned a bachelor’s degree from the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering and is currently president of Aghorn Energy Inc. He began his career with Amoco Production Co. in 1980 as a production engineer in Odessa, and joined Amoco in Houston as a reservoir engineer in 1984. At that time he left to work for Oxoco Inc. in Houston as the production engineering manager and remained there until 1987. He left Oxoco in May 1987 and worked until March 1988 as the acquisitions engineer for an independent oil producer in Dallas immediately prior to founding Aghorn Energy Inc. in April 1988. Gilliam is a Registered Professional Engineer in Texas, a member of the Petroleum Engineering Industry Board and was inducted into the Texas A&M Petroleum Engineering Academy of Distinguished Graduates in 2009.

He and his wife, Rhonda, have supported Texas A&M through the funding of the Forrest “Frosty” Gilliam, Sr. Endowed Professorship in Petroleum Engineering in memory of his father. The Gilliams have endowed two scholarships for petroleum engineering students and made a significant contribution to the Association of Former Students alumni center remodel project. He has generously contributed to the 12th Man Foundation capital funding projects, namely the Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam Jr. ’80 Indoor Track in the McFerrin Athletic Center and the Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam, Jr. Plaza in the Cox-McFerrin Center for Aggie Basketball, as well as a lead gift for the Olsen Field renovation project. Gilliam served on the Olsen Field Renovation Committee and serves as captain of the West Texas Champions Council.

Locally, he is active at First Baptist Church as the director of the High School Youth Department. He serves on the boards of Ector County Independent School District Education Foundation, Permian Basin Mission Center and Lone Star State Bank. He and his wife actively support organizations that promote and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and were named Outstanding Philanthropists by the Permian Basin Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2008. He enjoys time with his family, working with youth, fishing, golfing and attending Texas A&M events. He and his wife have two children, Matt ’09 and Laura, and one granddaughter, Jaiden.

Gilliam is being honored “for his 31-year career in the petroleum engineering industry and his outstanding leadership of a major independent oil and natural gas company; for his dedication to the principles of professionalism in engineering; for his volunteer service and support of educational opportunities through scholarship and fellowship endowments; for selflessly giving his time and support to his community; and for his commitment to excellence that can be seen in his love for Texas A&M University.

Photo of Dr. G.P. “Bud” PetersonDr. G.P. “Bud” Peterson ’75, who earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M, was appointed the 11th president of the Georgia Institute of Technology in April 2009. He was previously chancellor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, provost at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and director of the Thermal Transport and Thermal Processing Program at the National Science Foundation. He also has held various positions at Texas A&M, beginning in 1981 as an assistant professor of engineering technology. He was later head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1993 to 1996, and from 1996 to 2000 was executive associate dean of engineering associate vice chancellor for engineering for The Texas A&M University System. Before joining the Texas A&M faculty, he was a visiting research scientist at NASA Johnson Space Center; associate professor and head of the General Engineering Technology Department at Kansas Technical Institute in Salina, Kansas; and taught mathematics, physics and chemistry at two Kansas high schools.

Throughout his career, Peterson has played an active role in helping to establish the national education and research agendas, serving on numerous industry, government, and academic task forces and committees. He is currently serving as a member of the National Science Board, the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and was recently appointed by President Barack Obama as a member of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee.

Peterson’s research interests have focused on the fundamental aspects of phase change heat transfer. Early work focused on applications involving the thermal control of manned and unmanned spacecraft and progressed through applications of phase change heat transfer, to the thermal control of electronic components and devices. More recent investigations have included fundamental applications of phase change heat transfer to the field of biotechnology, including the in situ treatment of cancerous tissue using hypo- and hyperthermia to arrest epileptic seizures through the rapid cooling of localized brain tissue.

A Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Peterson is the author or co-author of 14 books or book chapters, 195 refereed journal articles, more than 150 conference publications and holds eight patents with three more pending. He is a member of several professional organizations and the recipient of numerous national and international honors and awards for both teaching and research.

Peterson is being honored “for his significant contributions to the engineering profession; for his innovative leadership in heat transfer technology; for his outstanding accomplishments in higher education; for his unique ability to inspire engineering students; for the time he continues to spend mentoring undergraduate and graduate students; for his numerous contributions to Texas A&M University; and for exemplifying the can-do Aggie Spirit in all his endeavors.”

Photo of Charles W. “Bill” SoltisCharles W. “Bill” Soltis ’55 received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University and went on to attend the Engineering Training School in Syracuse, N.Y. During his time at Texas A&M, he was in the Corps of Cadets, the Houston Club, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Pi Tau Sigma.

Following his military service, Soltis began a successful career in commercial heating and air conditioning with the Carrier Co., and then in air-filtration technologies and cleanroom design and construction for industry and the medical field. Today he is the president and managing partner of Soltis Enterprises in Houston.

Soltis’ passion for the preservation of the Costa Rica rainforest spurred him and his late wife, Wanda, to donate a research and education center in San Juan de San Isidro de Peñas Blancas, Costa Rica, to Texas A&M University to provide students with international experiences and to study topics related to sustainability in the tropics and community development. In addition to this state-of-the-art center, Soltis has given Texas A&M the long-term right to access and study a 250-acre rainforest adjacent to the center. Soltis was inducted into Texas A&M’s Department of Mechanical Engineering Academy of Distinguished Graduates in 1994 and he received the Cleanroom Hall of Fame Award in 1991.

Soltis is a member of the Houston A&M Club and The Association of Former Students Century Club. Soltis and his late wife, Wanda, have four children — Kim Soltis Hammer, Kay Soltis Devloo ’82, Karen Soltis Bednarz and Kyle William Soltis ’87 — and nine grandchildren.

Soltis is being recognized “for his innovations in the design and construction of clean-room facilities for use in industry and medicine; for his passion to preserve and protect the world’s diminishing rain forests; for his generous gift of an educational center in Costa Rica, which provides Aggies with important international experience while stressing the significance of giving back; and for his demonstration of professional ethics, which upholds and enhances the honor, integrity and dignity of the engineering profession.”