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From left, Bill Crane, Holly E. Ridings, John “Lindsley” Ruth and Kenneth Washington stand in front of Texas A&M backdrop and balloon display
The recipients of the 2022 Outstanding Alumni Awards were honored for their achievements at a recent banquet. From left: Bill Crane, Holly E. Ridings, John “Lindsley” Ruth and Kenneth Washington. | Image: Michael Kellett

The Texas A&M University College of Engineering honored four former students during the 2022 Outstanding Alumni Awards Banquet, which was held on April 7. The Outstanding Alumni Award is the most prestigious honor given by the college, and it recognizes the professional accomplishments of its awardees.

Recipients of the Outstanding Alumni Award were Bill Crane ’83, Holly E. Ridings ’96, Lindsley Ruth ’92 and Ken Washington ’82.

Outstanding Alumni Awards

Bill Crane ‘83
Computer Science and Engineering
Chief Executive Officer, Red Crown Adventures

Bill Crane ’83 is the chief executive officer of Red Crown Ventures, an engineering management and early-stage investment company. His career as an engineer and businessman has been marked by his mastery of soft skills and his expertise in technology.  

Crane started as a software developer at IBM in the San Francisco Bay Area and then worked for Sun Microsystems as an engineering manager. Since then, he has been the vice president of engineering at Network Computing Devices, E-LOAN, Redline Networks and Proofpoint. He also joined LinkedIn as vice president of engineering during its early high-growth period.

Since 2011, Crane has served as interim chief technology officer and vice president of engineering at Red Crown Ventures and is an early-stage investor for a variety of startup companies in the Silicon Valley and Europe. Additionally, he is a founding board member of Women Who Code, an organization dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology, with over 290,000 members located in 134 countries.

Over the years, Crane has been committed to bolstering fellow Aggies’ educations. Having seen the rise of computer science education’s importance in the workforce, he supported the inclusion of computer programming courses in the College of Engineering’s general engineering curriculum. In 2014, Crane received the Distinguished Former Student Award from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and in 2020, Crane and his wife, Lynn ’84, established the department head chair for the department.

Holly E. Ridings ‘96
Mechanical Engineering
Chief Flight Director, NASA

Holly E. Ridings ’96 is NASA’s chief flight director, responsible for safely and successfully leading human spaceflight missions to the International Space Station, Artemis missions to the moon and future missions to Mars.

Ridings began her career at NASA at the start of International Space Station assembly, working in the Mission Control Center while the orbiting laboratory was being constructed. She learned a vast array of technical systems and formed lasting relationships with the human spaceflight community. 

Prior to her selection as chief flight director, Ridings served many years as a flight director for Expedition 16 in 2007-08, Space Shuttle Program mission STS-127 in 2009 and the SpaceX Dragon — the first commercial vehicle to visit the International Space Station — in 2012.

Ridings is the first female to hold the position of NASA’s chief flight director, a position held by just over a dozen individuals. This distinction has provided her with opportunities to serve as a role model for fellow female engineers, share the excitement of human spaceflight and interact with the global leadership community. 

She serves on the J. Mike Walker ‘66 Department of Mechanical Engineering Industry Advisory Council and was inducted into the department’s Academy of Distinguished Graduates in 2019 for her extraordinary professional accomplishments.

Lindsley Ruth ‘92
Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution
Chief Executive Officer, Electrocomponents PLC

John “Lindsley” Ruth ’92 is the chief executive officer of Electrocomponents PLC in London. Since being appointed CEO in 2015, Ruth has been responsible for improving the financial performance of the group and instilling a renewed focus on putting the customer and supplier back at the heart of the business.

Ruth began his distribution career in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1994 at TTI Inc. He served as regional manager and then general manager for northern California before returning to the Fort Worth headquarters to serve as the director of global accounts.

In 1999, Ruth joined Solectron, a large contract manufacturer, as vice president of materials. In 2002, he joined the fourth largest global electronics distributor, Future Electronics, as vice president of sales and global accounts. He was a vital member of the core leadership team, which transformed the organization’s performance and expanded its global reach.

Throughout his master’s program, he worked as a lecturer for the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution. He often references his teaching experiences when voicing support for Texas A&M and notes the importance of understanding students’ needs and the benefits that industry alliances can bring to Aggies’ educations.

Ken Washington ‘82
Nuclear Engineering
Vice President, Consumer Robotics Software and Product Management Teams, Amazon

Ken Washington ’82 is Amazon's vice president of the consumer robotics software and product management teams. In this role, he leads the development and scale up of the home robot, Astro.

Washington began his career at Sandia National Laboratories in a number of management and engineering positions, and later became their chief information officer. His accomplishments at Sandia include leading the development of the world's first cluster-based supercomputer, sponsoring the establishment of the Distributed Information Systems Lab at their California site and leading the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's primary severe accident analysis code for containment buildings.

In 2007, Washington joined the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company Advanced Technology Center, where he served as vice president and led his team in developing first-of-a-kind payloads and technology solutions for space science and defense missions.

After working at Lockheed, Washington went on to serve as chief technology officer at Ford Motor Company, where he oversaw the development and implementation of the automaker’s technology strategy.

Washington received the 2012 Black Engineer of the Year Award in Research Leadership and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2020.