Class of 2015
The University of Idaho recognizes these individuals for their personal contributions to engineering achievement, leadership, engineering education, and service to the profession and society.
We salute engineering leaders for their lifetime commitment to advancing the quality of life through achievement, high ethical standards, innovation and commitment.
Don F. Kopczynski
Don Kopczynski earned a bachelor's in electrical engineering from the University of Idaho in 1979. He has 36 years of experience leading engineering and construction activities for Avista Utilities. His experience covers design and construction of gas and electric transmission and distribution, fiber optic networks, and fuel cells. His work ranges from engineering network design, financial analysis for acquisitions, marketing, and customer service. Kopczynski began his career working as an area engineer for the Pacific Power and Light Company. In 1979, he was hired as an assistant electrical engineer at the Washington Water Power Company (now Avista) where he designed distribution facilities including the Spokane downtown underground network.
From 1981 to 1988 he served as a district manager. During this time he managed gas and electric construction crews first in St. Maries, Idaho, then Othello, Wash., and finally in Clarkston, Wash. In 1988, he was asked to lead a team to restructure the gas and electric operations at Avista in an effort to save money. His team conducted a comprehensive survey of activities throughout the company and made recommendations that resulted in approximately $10 million of annual savings. The recommendations streamlined the operation by eliminating layers of management and centralizing activities.
Kopczynski became manager of customer service where he focused employees on providing excellent customer service and continued to drive costs out of the operation. He implemented the first incentive plan for employees and the first quality survey focusing on how customers were treated when they called Avista. During this time, Kopczynski conducted financial analysis and negotiations to lead Avista through expansion of its territory by acquiring other service areas. Kopczynski then became director of Gas Supply and later Power Supply. He and his team led the effort to divest of Centralia coal generating station, construction of a gas turbine at Rathdrum, Idaho and successfully negotiated a “living license” for Avista’s hydroelectric operations on the Clark Fork River.
By the late 1990’s Avista had created 13 subsidiary companies in an effort to diversify its earnings. Kopczynski became president of Avista Fiber. A fiber optic infrastructure company focused on delivering high speed Ethernet service to hospitals and schools. Its first project was to interconnect the Greek houses at Washington State University to the internet — a project funded by Paul Allen. Avista fiber built out 250 miles of fiber throughout the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area. This effort was successful and quickly sold to another communication subsidiary. By early 2000, an energy crisis in the western United States brought Kopczynski back to the Avista Utilities.
- M.B.A., Whitworth University, 2011
- M.A., Organizational Leadership, Gonzaga University, 2004
- M.S., Engineering, Washington State University, 1993
- B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1979
Charles C. Mitchell
Charles Cleon Mitchell was born in Drury, Missouri in 1937. He moved with his parents to Marsing, Idaho, in early 1938 where he graduated from Marsing High School as valedictorian in 1955. Mitchell earned a bachelor's in electrical engineering in 1959 and graduated with high honors from the University of Idaho. In 1959 he was also designated a distinguished military graduate and commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
From June 1959 through December 1979, Mitchell served as a U.S. Army officer in a wide range of tactical unit and high-level staff positions, including command of a field artillery battalion and service in the Pentagon as a member of the Army Staff. He had four overseas tours of duty, he spent five years in Germany during two tours and two one year combat tours in Vietnam. His military training included: Artillery Officer Basic and Career Courses, he was the honor graduate of both; Airborne; Ranger; and, Armed Forces Staff College. The Army sponsored his attendance at Arizona State University where he earned a master's and doctorate in engineering in 1966 and 1968 respectively. In December 1979, Mitchell retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel.
After his military service Mitchell spent 23 years working in the Los Angeles area. The first 21 years with Litton Data Systems and Integrated Systems Divisions, in 2001 Northrop Grumman purchased Litton, and he was assigned to their Navigation Systems Division. Over the years, Mitchell served as principal system engineer (PSE) or engineering lead for the development of several strategic and tactical command, control, communications, and intelligence systems for the U. S. military and foreign governments. In addition, he was a key technical participant in activities associated with securing new business, which included extensive global travel.
Mitchell retired from Northrop Grumman in January 2003 as senior scientist/technical director. Mitchell is a member of several scholastic and engineering honor societies: Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Tau, Alpha Pi Mu, and Tau Beta Pi. His military service is also the source of many honors: Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with three oak leaf clusters (i.e., four awards), Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster (i.e., two awards), Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze stars for combat campaigns, Republic of Vietnam (RVN) Staff Service First Class Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, RVN Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab, US Army General Staff Identification Badge, and four Army Overseas Combat Service Bars. In 1993 Litton presented Mitchell with the prestigious Sam Sternbach Memorial Award for Technical Excellence. A Vietnam veteran, Mitchell is a member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and the American Legion. Mitchell married Leota Jeanne McCullough in June 1965, and they now reside in Valencia, California. Together Mitchell and his wife have four daughters and seven grandchildren living in southern California.
- Ph.D., Engineering Science, Arizona State University, 1968
- M.S., Engineering, Arizona State University, 1966
- B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1959
Burch Roark graduated from the University of Idaho in 1955 with a B.S in mechanical engineering. He received a football scholarship to the U of I and played all four years at the position of tackle and guard. Roark was very involved in campus activities while at U of I he is a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, was the president of the student chapter of the Society of Engineers (SAE) and served all four years in ROTC. Upon graduation Roark was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.
Lt. Roark was honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force in 1958 at the rank of Captain after serving both as a pilot and instructor pilot.
After his military service Roark went to work for the Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, where he remained employed in several roles for 37 years. He worked at the Trentwood rolling mill facility in Washington State as junior engineer, engineer, staff engineer, plant engineer (chief), maintenance superintendent and production superintendent. He served as project manager from 1974-78 for the first phase of a $45 million modernization project of the Trentwood facility. And then reassumed the project manager position in 1980-85 for the larger second $230 million modernization phase of the facility. Roark then transferred to Kaiser’s Ravenswood, West Virginia plant in 1985 where he served as Manager of Manufacturing and Technology, Fabrication & Reduction and as Plant Manager from 1989-1992. Roark returned to Trentwood in 1992 to take on the role of Engineering & Maintenance Manager. Roark retired from Kaiser in 1995.
After retiring from Kaiser, Roark traveled the U.S., Russia and Venezuela working as an independent consultant on large engineering projects involving the aluminum industry.
Roark is an avid antique car enthusiast, he has organized antique car shows in Spokane and owns a 1912 Baker and 1911 2-cylinder Maxwell among others. He enjoys building scale model engines in his machine shop at home.
Roark is an elder in the Opportunity Presbyterian Church of Spokane and serves as Board President of the Church’s 40 unit low income housing complex.
Burch Roark has been married to Marjie Roark for 32 years, they have a combined family from previous marriages of six children, sixteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
- B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1955
Keith Van Scotter
Keith Van Scotter is currently president and CEO of Maine’s Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC (LP&T). He has served in this role since 2004. Van Scotter earned his bachelor's and master's in chemical engineering from the University of Idaho in 1977 and 1979 respectively.
As president and CEO he is currently responsible for the overall direction of $150 million annual revenues in specialty tissue and paper manufacturing. LP&T is a single mill operation that is the leading manufacturer of specialty napkin parent rolls and specializes in uncoated freesheet printing papers. LP&T’s deep-dyed and pastel tissue is used by party goods producers, airlines and food service companies to create napkins, towels, table covers and other specialty tissue products. LP&T produces 33,000 tons per year of commodity white towel and napkins and 80,000 tons a year of specialty high bulk uncoated freesheet printing paper.
LP&T’s success under Van Scotter has not been without significant challenges and what many considered against formidable odds. The Lincoln mill that is at the heart of LP&T’s success was idle in 2000 when then owner Eastern Pulp and Paper filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and remained idle until 2004, when Van Scotter was brought in by creditors to help turn the mill around. When a deal to turnaround Eastern Pulp and Paper fell through Van Scotter formed a partnership that lead to the creation of Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC. On May 28, 2004 with employees waiting at the gate LP&T opened the mill. Van Scotter noted at the time that there was “no margin for error,” and felt that if the mill could survive operationally and financially for 90 days they would be successful. In fact after nine weeks the mill was cash flow positive.
Prior to heading the management team at LP&T, Van Scotter served as vice president and general manager of Michigan Operations for Mead (now Mead Westvaco.) He also served as vice president for Edmundston Operations for Fraser Papers, vice president for Corporate Planning for Fraser Papers, and held positions at Boise Cascade, Union Camp and Weyerhaeuser.
Van Scotter has served on several industry and regional boards of directors including Michigan Forest Products Council, Wisconsin Paper Group, Michigan State Chamber of Commerce New Brunswick Manufacturers Association and the American Forest and Paper Association.
Van Scotter won the Paper Industry Management Association (PIMA) Executive of the Year in 2007. He received the Maine Biz Magazine “NEXT” award in 2005 as one of the ten people shaping the future of Maine’s economy, specifically for his efforts in restarting the Lincoln mill and he is also recipient of the 2009 Herman Louis Joachim Award for Excellence in Management from Syracuse University College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
- M.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1979
- B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1977
George M. Simmons
George Simmons is professor emeritus at the University of Idaho and dean emeritus of Seattle University’s College of Science and Engineering. After graduating from Stanford University with his doctorate in 1970 Simmons went to work for NASA as a postdoctoral research associate and later as a senior engineer at Cal Tech-JPL.
In 1975 Simmons returned to U of I where he spent twenty-three years serving as faculty member and chair of the Chemical Engineering department and in several key university administrative positions. Simmons served as assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and Research, vice provost for Academic Affairs, Teaching and Undergraduate Studies, interim provost and assistant vice president for Research, before moving to Seattle University in 1998.
As an administrator at U of I, Simmons concentrated efforts on student retention and success. He also drafted policies on patent and copyright, and new admission standards consistent with requirements of State Board of Education.
Simmons is author of publications primarily in the areas of geothermal energy utilization, pyrolysis, high pressure kinetics, and student retention. He holds a patent in solid fuel propulsion.
Over the course of his career Simmons has received several national honors and awards. He is a national honoree of Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Sigma Nu and the Golden Key societies. Simmons was selected in 1993, 1984, 1983, and twice in 1981, by senior recipients of the U of I Alumni Award for Excellence as “most influential” faculty member. Simmons is also a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, National Society of Professional Engineers and is a retired Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Idaho.
He also has a long record of public service. Simmons has served on the advisory board for the Martin Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution at the U of I since 2014, he is a longtime member of Kiwanis International, served on the Board of Directors for the Washington Idaho Symphony Association and he committed close to a decade of service to the Associated Western Universities Board of Directors and related committees and activities. He currently serves on the advisory board for Washington State PLTW, Project Lead the Way, engineering curricular program for high school students.
Simmons retired from Seattle University as the Howard Wright Chair & Dean of the College of Science and Engineering in 2007. He currently spends his time developing new skills and expertise in renaissance and baroque music. He plays in two renaissance performing groups in Seattle, and Columbia, Maryland. He recently published four complete sets of modern transcriptions of renaissance consort music from the early 1600s.
- Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, 1970
- M.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1966
- B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1965
Allen R. Stubberud
Allen Stubberud is currently professor emeritus in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine. He graduated from the University of Idaho as an undergraduate in 1956 with a bachelor's in electrical engineering.
Prior to his accomplished academic career, Stubberud was employed in industry first at General Electric Company as a test engineer, at the Garrett Corporation as an engineering assistant and at both Hughes Aircraft Company and Aerospace Corporation as a member of their technical staffs.
After receiving his master’s and doctorate from the University of California at Los Angeles, Stubberud went to work for the then School of Engineering and Applied Science at UCLA as an assistant professor. In 1969 he took an associate professor position in electrical engineering at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). While at UCI he has served in many administrative positions, notably chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, associate dean and dean of Engineering.
Stubberud is a registered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Control Systems Engineering (California). His academic interests lie in the areas of control systems, estimation theory, neural networks, and fuzzy logic. He is author of over 170 books, book chapters, and technical publications and over 50 technical reports on advanced signal processing techniques, including stochastic processes and estimation, neural network algorithms, genetic programming, adaptive signal processing. He also served on the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and on two committees of the NATO Advisory Group on Advanced Research and Development. He has served in numerous positions with several professional/technical organizations, notably as the director of IEEE Region 6, a member of the IEEE Board of Directors.
Throughout his career Stubberud has been engaged in defense related consulting. For forty years he has worked as a consultant for companies such as McDonnell-Douglas Corporation, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Northrop Corporation to name only a few.
In 1983 Stubberud was appointed by the President of the United States as chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force. He also served as the director of the then ECSE (currently the Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems) Division of the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C.
Stubberud is recipient of numerous awards honors and recognition: he is a Fellow of IEEE, IAE, AAAS, AIAA and The New York Academy of Sciences. He has received both the IEEE Centennial and Millennium Medals. He also has twice received the highest decoration U.S. Air Force bestows on a civilian, the U.S. Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Decoration in 1985 and 1990.
Stubberud is a prolific researcher receiving over $1.5 million in extramural grant funding to serve as primary investigator (PI) and/or co-PI on 27 research projects. As a faculty member, he was dissertation chairman for 46 Ph.D. students and thesis chairman for 56 masters degree students.
- Ph.D., Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, 1962
- M.S., Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, 1958
- B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Idaho, 1956