A pioneer in stealth technology and a prominent Houston businessman will receive this year's honors as 2002 Engineers of Distinction at Tennessee Tech University.
Allen R. Atkins, vice president of technology and define process for Boeing Co.'s Phantom Works, and Ashraf Islam, president and founder of AIA Engineers Ltd. in Houston, will receive awards at the College of Engineering's annual Engineering Week banquet Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the Roaden University Center Multipurpose Room.
The Engineers of Distinction program honors alumni and others whose careers have contributed to or reflected credit on the college's academic program. The banquet serves as the culmination of the week's events highlighting TTU engineering students and faculty.
"The success our country experienced during Desert Storm can be directly attributed to the technical leadership that Dr. Atkins provided," said Gen. Joseph Ralston, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Atkins began honing his technical expertise at Tennessee Tech, earning a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1970, a master's degree in systems engineering in 1971 and a doctorate in 1975. He also holds an MBA from San Diego State University.
At Ohio's Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, he worked on mini-remotely piloted vehicles. He helped develop the first electric RPV, the first solar powered version, the smallest RPV, and the first one that was truly "stealthy."
Success led to further development of other low-observable technologies and stealth vehicles, including the demonstrator that became the F-117 Stealth Fight. Atkins' work was not limited to aircraft; he was the first chief engineer on the Sea Shadow, a first-generation stealth ship. In 1981, he received the Department of Defense's second-highest civilian award, the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Award.
He then moved to the private sector as vice president and general manager with the McDonnell Aircraft Co., then to McDonnell Douglas Technologies and McDonnell Douglas Aerospace Co. After the McDonnell Douglas-Boeing merger in 1997, he became vice president for technology and define process for Boeing's advanced research and development unit, Phantom Works, in St. Louis, Mo.
At Phantom Works, he oversees teams dealing with mission avionics technology, open systems architecture, software and information, communication, sensors, and electronics.
An advocate of educational opportunity, Atkins has served on the TTU Electrical and Computer Engineering Department's Industrial Advisory Board for the past five years, serving as joint chair of the board since April 2000. He also serves on the Board of Engineering Advisers for the College of Engineering where he has helped set goals for academic programs.
Atkins and his wife, Natalie, have four children and six grandchildren.
Since graduating from Tennessee Tech, Islam's 34-year distinguished career includes technical achievements and management in various capacities for the civil engineering industry.
Islam, a 1968 civil engineering graduate, came to TTU from Bangladesh on a Dawood Foundation Grant. After graduation, he worked as a project engineer/manager for A.G. Lichtenstein, Brown and Root, and Demopolis and Ferguson for 17 years. In 1985 he founded A.I. and Associates Engineers Ltd., headquartered in Houston, Texas.
The firm celebrates its 17th anniversary this year, having grown to a 95-member international professional organization with branches in Dallas, Texas; Virginia Beach, Va.; Hoboken, N.J.; New York City, N.Y.; Dhaka, Bangaladesh; and Lagos, Nigeria. In 1993, AIA was ranked 24th among the 100 fastest growing small businesses in Houston.
Islam, active in numerous local and international community organizations and philanthropies, serves on TTU's Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Industry Advisory Board. He was founder and contributor of the first major endowment in the CEE Department, the Asia Khatun Civil and Environmental Engineering Endowment. Last year, he additionally pledged a sizable endowment to the CEE Department.
Throughout his career, Islam has demonstrated leadership in his profession and provided services to his community. Generous with his time, leadership and financial support, he credits TTU with the quality of his education.
Islam is actively involved in the daily operation of his consulting firm. He and his wife, Nasren, live in Houston with their three children.