2005's highest engineering honors awarded


WASHINGTON -- The engineering profession's highest honors for 2005, presented by the National Academies' National Academy of Engineering (NAE), recognize three achievements that have altered the course of world history, improved the quality of life for millions, and created educational experiences that have transformed hundreds of engineers into community leaders.

MINORU S. "SAM" ARAKI, FRANCIS J. MADDEN, EDWARD A. MILLER, JAMES W. PLUMMER, and DON H. SCHOESSLER will share the prestigious Charles Stark Draper Prize -- a $500,000 annual award that honors engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society -- "for the design, development, and operation of Corona, the first space-based earth observation system."

LELAND C. CLARK JR. will receive the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize -- a $500,000 biennial award that recognizes bioengineering achievement that significantly improves the human condition -- "for bioengineering membrane-based sensors that benefit humankind in medical, food, and environmental applications."

EDWARD J. COYLE, LEAH H. JAMIESON, and WILLIAM C. OAKES will receive the Bernard M. Gordon Prize -- a $500,000 award issued annually that recognizes innovation in engineering and technology education -- "for innovations in the education of tomorrow's engineering leaders by developing and disseminating the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program."

The prizes will be presented at a gala dinner in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 21.


"The Corona project is notable not only for its many engineering breakthroughs but also because its technological achievements have impacted world peace," said National Academy of Engineering President Wm. A. Wulf. The Corona satellite was the first operational photo reconnaissance satellite; this top secret project was designed to observe Soviet missile capabilities during the Cold War.

Since the 1960s, the diverse applications of Corona's remote sensing technologies have improved the quality of life worldwide. Images of the Earth from space are now used for mapping unexplored regions, evaluating natural resources, and uncovering archaeological data. Continuous imaging from space enables analysis of environmental/weather patterns, ocean temperature variations, and changes in landmasses and their features. More than 800,000 Corona photographs, declassified in 1995, are the only source of such data from the 1960s and early 1970s.

MINORU S. "SAM" ARAKI was the Lockheed lead engineer for the new gyro-stabilized spacecraft. From Earth orbit, the craft had to serve as a stable platform for camera operation and position itself for recovery of the film capsule (see below). It used a three-gyro guidance and control system with correction inputs from horizon sensors that enabled precise, cold-gas valve firings for stabilization on three axes. Gyros and cold-gas thrusters like Corona's are still the standard for space systems today.

FRANCIS J. MADDEN was the chief engineer of Itek Optical System's camera design group. His team developed a panoramic camera that doubled the previous best focal length and improved resolution. The camera had an elaborate film path to handle the film as it traveled from the supply spool through the exposure frame, paused for exposure, and resumed transport to a spool -- all at 18 inches/second. Ground control operated the camera remotely.

DON H. SCHOESSLER was lead engineer of the Kodak film design and production team. The newly invented thin-based, polyester film had to endure the harsh space environment, withstand temperature variations of 800 degrees Fahrenheit, and survive atmospheric radiance. The 2.5-mils-thick (63.5 microns) film also required strength to rapidly move through the camera.

EDWARD A. MILLER of General Electric Co. was the lead developer of the satellite recovery vehicle -- the first man-made object to return from Earth orbit. The design had to withstand many known and unknown difficulties: hostile loads during launch, acoustic noise during exit from the atmosphere, vacuum and low temperatures in orbit, and high temperatures and vibrations during re-entry. Above all, the re-entry vehicle had to overcome these technical hurdles well enough to protect the precious film canister it carried. The vehicle's final feat was to deploy its parachutes, jettison the heat shield, and transmit its location so that an aircraft could snatch it in midair and bring it safely to Earth.

JAMES W. PLUMMER was the Corona Program Manager at Lockheed and the leader of the engineering effort and its management process. The Corona project represented a heroic achievement that was executed within 16 months, with great national urgency, and in extreme secrecy, by a multidisciplinary, multiorganizational engineering team.


LELAND C. CLARK JR., former University Distinguished Service Professor and Professor Emeritus, University of Cincinnati, was one of the founders of Synthetic Blood International Inc. Considered the "father of biosensors," he invented the first device to rapidly determine the amount of glucose in blood. Today many of the 18.2 million Americans with diabetes rely on Clark's original glucose sensor concept for self-monitoring. In the future, an implantable biosensor -- newly patented by Clark -- could make blood glucose monitoring even easier by sending readings whenever needed.

The Clark oxygen electrode, which he invented in 1954, remains the standard for measuring dissolved oxygen in biomedical, environmental, and industrial applications. The electrode quickly measures blood oxygen levels, enabling doctors to perform 750,000 open-heart surgeries each year. Oxygen monitoring is now a requirement for hospital accreditation. It is also used to measure oxygen levels in rivers and oceans to protect wildlife populations.

Clark's nontraditional, interdisciplinary approach to problem solving has led to many breakthroughs. In addition to the implantable glucose electrode, his recent work has included research on a blood substitute and a breathable liquid.

"There is no prize that I would be prouder to win," said Clark.


The Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program at Purdue University creates partnerships between undergraduates and nonprofit organizations to solve engineering problems in the local community. Multidisciplinary teams involving freshmen to seniors perform hands-on work for multiyear projects. Each team functions as a small engineering design firm, responsible for choosing leaders, self-evaluation, and training new members. With input from their community partners, students design, develop, test, deploy, and support their products. Projects range from constructing wetlands to mitigate farmland runoff, to designing environmental controls for an art museum, to making toys for preschoolers with special needs.

EPICS was founded in 1995 at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue by LEAH H. JAMIESON and EDWARD J. COYLE. Since its inception, EPICS has appealed to a broad range of undergraduates and to other universities. Under the National EPICS program Jamieson and Coyle began in 1999, 14 additional EPICS sites have been established in the United States and Puerto Rico. More than 3,500 students have participated; there are currently over 140 active community partnerships. Coyle and WILLIAM C. OAKES have led the dissemination of EPICS, sharing Purdue's expertise and resources.

Jamieson is the current director of EPICS, associate dean of engineering for undergraduate education, and Ransburg Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. She has had principal responsibility for the institutionalization of EPICS at Purdue, including the creation of new academic structures and the building of university-community partnerships.

Oakes is co-director of EPICS and an associate professor of engineering education at Purdue University. Based on his industry experience, Oakes has sharpened the engineering design content, integrated leadership training into the program, and built a strong network of local community and corporate partnerships.

Coyle, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University, is director of the EPICS Entrepreneurship Initiative. The initiative fosters commercial development of products designed by EPICS teams so that the products may benefit other communities, and it provides students with entrepreneurial experience.

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