Profiles in Engineering, July 2014

The Washington Post recently profiled Thomas J. Burns, Ph.D. (OH G ’86), as he was recently chosen as president and chief executive at ENSCO, a Virginia-based defense, transportation, aerospace and intelligence company. Dr. Burns has previously founded two companies, Object Video and Science Engineering and Technology (SET) Corp. Most recently he was a senior vice president and manager at Science Applications International Corp., the company which purchased SET in 2010.

According to the article Q&A, he earned two undergraduate degrees from Ohio State University, in electrical engineering and philosophy. He received his advanced degrees from the Air Force Institute of Technology and was assigned to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) before leaving the military. The best advice he has received is, “Learn the lessons from your failure and apply them in your next stat-up.”


Michelle M. Foster, Ph.D. (NY H ’90), is CEO of KIRSA (Kanawha Institute for Social Research and Action) in Charleston, West Virginia. KIRSA is “a faith-based nonprofit that provides day care, employment and housing help, family planning, counseling and all sorts of other resources aimed at bettering borderline lives.” Dr. Foster now considers herself a social engineer.

Previously, she was a chemical engineer with BP and Carbide. Originally, she is from Guyana and immigrated to New York as a teenager with her family. She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from CUNY (NY). Read the full article to find out the path she took from being an engineer, to starting a youth program, to running KIRSA, and now she is using her engineering again in the form of converting greenhouses to hydroponics.


Purdue University has announced that E. Daniel Hirleman, Ph.D. (IN A ’73), will return to the university as its chief corporate and global partnerships officer, effective August 18. Currently, Dr. Hirleman is dean of the School of Engineering at the University of California, Merced. He received his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Purdue and spent almost 11 years there as a professor and head of mechanical engineering.

His responsibilities will include “advancing research and education partnerships with the private sector and building partnerships with institutions of higher education, nongovernmental organizations and companies globally.” Read the news article for more biographical information on Dr. Hirleman.


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