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Influential Alumni to Receive School of Engineering’s Top Honor

Friday, May 6, 2011

A retired top U.S. Navy researcher, an expert in the natural gas industry and the civic-minded leader of one of the most successful engineering firms in the United States are set to receive the highest honor bestowed by the University of Kansas School of Engineering.

Frank Gordon, Allyn Risley and Scott Smith will each receive the Distinguished Engineering Service Award in a ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 12, in the Kansas Union ballroom.

“These men have widely varying career paths, but are each a shining example of the great heights that can be reached with a KU engineering degree,” said Dean of Engineering Stuart Bell. “It is an honor to recognize these three great Jayhawk engineers for their outstanding career achievements. They have all shown wonderful support to the KU School of Engineering over the years.”


Frank Gordon
Frank Gordon

Gordon earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering in 1967 and a doctor of engineering degree in 1971, both from KU. He spent 38 years in the in the civilian ranks of the Navy, including the Research and Applied Science Department at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. In his leadership roles over the years, he oversaw cutting-edge research on the latest technology that provided tactical advantages to U.S. troops and improved protection for countless military personnel. Since retiring from the Navy in 2009, Gordon has led a team of scientists in researching low energy nuclear reactions, also known as cold fusion. His team developed experiments that have been successfully replicated by others, and the team’s results have appeared in 25 technical papers in peer-reviewed journals. He is a co-holder of five issued and one filed patent. He and his wife, Lynda, reside in San Diego, Calif., and have two children and three grandchildren.


Allyn Risley
Allyn Risley

Allyn Risley earned a bachelor’s in petroleum engineering from KU in 1972. In 32 years with ConocoPhillips, he earned a reputation as a top expert in the industry in Liquefied Natural Gas project development. He updated and modernized a strategy to recoup “stranded” gas and ship it to population centers in a cost-effective, environmentally safe way. He retired from ConocoPhillips in 2004 and now serves as vice president of global shipping for the BG Group in the United Kingdom. Risley has remained heavily involved in the School of Engineering and has funded a major gift that remodeled and renovated the petroleum engineering undergraduate lab. The renovation greatly enhanced the student learning experience through updated equipment and expanded space. Risley also serves on the School of Engineering Advisory Board and has been active in the KU Alumni Association. He and his wife, Jill, have four children and live in Houston, Texas.


Scott Smith
Scott Smith

Scott Smith earned a master’s in civil engineering from KU in 1981. He joined HNTB in Kansas City in 1985 and has served in a number of key positions, including president of HNTB’s Central Division and CEO of HNTB Corp. Smith is now HNTB’s director of strategic initiatives, overseeing infrastructure business for highways, bridges, rail, aviation and transit. Smith serves on the School of Engineering Advisory Board and is a licensed professional engineer in 10 states. His commitment to bettering the community has earned Smith widespread accolades from Kansas City civic leaders and engineering peers. Smith and his wife, Mary Beth, have two children and live in Kansas City, Mo.

The Distinguished Engineering Service Award has been given out annually since 1980. The award honors KU engineering alumni or engineers who have maintained a close association with the university and for outstanding contributions to the profession of engineering and society.

The award is made on the basis of an individual’s contribution to the theories and practices of engineering, research and development in new fields of engineering or direction of an organization that has made exceptional contributions in design, production and development.

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44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
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