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​2001 Alumni Achievement Awards

Lilia A. Abron

Lilia A. Abron
MS SanE & EnvE '68
Alumni Achievement Award

Lilia A. Abron, Ph.D., P.E., is the first African-American woman and the third woman at the University of Iowa to receive a doctorate in chemical engineering (1971). She received a Masters of Science Degree in Sanitary Engineering from Washington University in 1968 and a Bachelor of Science degree from LeMoyne College in 1966.

After a 12-year teaching career, Lilia founded PEER Consultants, P.C., an environmental engineering consulting firm headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. She is president and chief executive officer of PEER, which has branch offices in six U. S. cities. PEER is one of the largest African-American woman-owned environmental and sanitary engineering consulting firms in the country.

In 1987, Lilia started PEER Environmental and Occupational Medicine Services. The company provides environmental and occupational medicine services to public and private clients requiring medical monitoring and testing for employees involved in the mitigation and clean up of toxic and hazardous wastes.

PEER Africa, located in Johannesburg, was founded in 1995. The company provides support in municipal and environmental engineering, including planning design and implementation of sustainable communities. PEER Africa built the first energy-efficient home in a black township. The United Nations has recognized PEER Africa's work in South Africa as an example of a "no regrets" case study. These are projects, which support a country's growth, while simultaneously enhancing the environment by not contributing to the increased emission of Greenhouse Gases.

Lilia is a member of several professional and technical societies. She also serves on the Engineering Advisory Boards for the National Science Foundation, University of Iowa, University of South Florida, and Minority Programs for the University of South Florida. Lilia is actively involved with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Corporate Council on Africa, and serves on the European Sustainable Business Development Council.


C. Baker Cunningham

C. Baker Cunningham
BSCE '64
Alumni Achievement Award

A native of St. Louis, C. Baker Cunningham received his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1964. He earned his Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1966. Following graduation, Baker served in the United States Army Corps of Engineers for two years and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service. Upon discharge from the Army, he attended Harvard Business School earning the degree of Master in Business Administration in 1970.

After receiving his M.B.A., Baker joined Cooper Industries in Houston. After a series of planning and financial management assignments, he was named Vice President, Planning and Development in 1978. He became Vice President, Operations in 1980, and served as Executive Vice President, Operations from 1981 to 1993 where he was responsible for several operating divisions of Cooper including Wagner Electric, Champion Spark Plug, and Moog Automotive. In 1993, Baker was named Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Belden Inc., a subsidiary of Cooper Industries. Later in 1993, Belden became an independent publicly owned company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Headquartered in St. Louis, Belden has expanded the scope of its business under Baker's leadership to become a leading global supplier of specialty wire and cable for the electronics and communications industries with annual revenues of more than $1 billion. Belden products are specified by many of the world's technology leaders including Allen-Bradley, Cisco Systems, NBC, CBS, IBM, General Electric, Honeywell, Emerson, Sony, Disney, SBC Communications, and British Telecom among others.

Baker is married to Georganne Rose Cunningham, Ph.D. They have two grown children, Barclay and Charles.


Donald F. Essen

Donald F. Essen
BSME '43
Alumni Achievement Award

Don Essen received his Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1943. Following graduation, Don joined the U.S. Army and received the Bronze Star from the United States, the Military Cross of Great Britain, the Croix de Guerre avec Palme, Fourragère 1940 and Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Couronne avec Palme from Belgium for his service in World War II.

In 1946 Don joined Monsanto. Circumstances later required him to take direction of the family business. For the next 36 years, Don served as General Manager and as President of Don Essen Chevrolet. The dealership developed into one of the community's outstanding automobile retail establishments with an enviable reputation for honesty and integrity.

Don is also a dedicated volunteer. He is an active member of the Ballwin/Metro West Rotary Club and is founder of the West St. Louis County Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the President's Advisory Council of Concordia Seminary. Don chaired the St. Louis County Planning and Zoning Commission and the Pond-Grover study committee. This study became the basis of the new City of Wildwood. Don was named 1979 Business Person of the Year by the West St. Louis County and St. Louis County Chambers of Commerce. Other contributions include President and Rotarian of the Year of the Ballwin/Metro West Rotary Club, Board Member of the West County YMCA, President of the Missouri Gideons and lifetime member of Gideons International, Rockwood School District Strategic Planning Committee, and Ballwin Historical Society Log Cabin Restoration Committee. Four generations of the Essen family have belonged to St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, where Don served as President, member of the Board of Elders, first Adult Bible Class Leader, Sunday School teacher, and choir member.

Don has been a devoted and tireless volunteer for Washington University. He and his wife, Pat, a 1944 graduate of Arts & Sciences, have four daughters.


John M. Morgan

John M. Morgan
BSCE '52
Alumni Achievement Award

After serving in the U. S. Marine Corps, John Morgan began his studies in Civil Engineering in 1948 at Washington University. Following graduation, he worked for the Illinois Highway Department and the A. M. Kinney Corporation. In 1958, John joined Smith-Brennan Pile Company and oversaw the expansion of the company. He became President in 1966. Today the company is known as Subsurface Constructors and is a recognized leader in the foundation industry. Completing approximately 200 projects per year, Subsurface Constructors continues to grow and excel in its specialized area. Recent projects include the TWA Dome, Kiel Arena, seismic retrofitting of Interstate 64/Highway 40, the Anheuser-Busch School of Law and the Alvin Goldfarb Hall at Washington University.

Active in the industry, John is past president of the St. Louis Post of the Society of American Military Engineers, the St. Louis Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the St. Louis Chapter of the Associated General Contractors Construction Crime Prevention Committee.

John continues to serve as a member of several labor negotiating committees and as trustee of two union training and welfare funds. The industry has recognized his contributions by naming him the St. Louis Committee Chairman of the Year in 1981 and 1984. In 1989 John received the Association of General Contractors of St. Louis Award for Service to the construction industry and community.


Robert E. Myers

Robert E. Myers
BSCE '52
Alumni Achievement Award

Robert E. Myers has a reputation for developing innovative programs to improve the location of land boundaries. In addition to being the first Missouri State Surveyor, he has been recognized by state and national surveying professionals for his service and dedication. Bob graduated from Washington University with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1952. He received his registration as a professional surveyor in 1955 and as a professional engineer in 1957. In 1958 Bob joined, and later served as president of Myers, Keller and Byers Co.

In 1971, Bob was selected to become the first State Land Surveyor for the newly created Missouri Land Survey Program. He established a Land Records Repository, housing and instituting programs to restore over 75,000 corner positions of the original United States Public Land Survey System in Missouri. Bob also promoted the use of the state coordinate system for the location of boundaries. He instituted programs to integrate the global positioning system into the precise determination of these coordinates. Bob directed the surveying of many disputed county and state boundaries. He was the primary author of the Missouri Minimum Standards for Property Boundary Surveys, which was used in numerous other states as the modern day standard for surveys. He served on the Missouri Boundary Commission and led the work that eventually settled the Missouri – Nebraska boundary that had been in dispute for over 70 years.

He is still active in professional surveying organizations and as a consultant and teacher. He represents the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping on the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), where he is currently serving on its National Board of Directors.

Bob and his wife Virginia Peterson Myers reside in Rolla, Missouri where he is active in community and church. They have four married children.


Dinesh S. Bhatia

Dinesh S. Bhatia
BSCS, BSEE'90
Young Alumni Award

Dinesh if the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of EdgeMatrix. His unbridled creativity, diverse abilities and keen ambitions have set the technical, business and creative directions for EdgeMatrix since its establishment in 1996. The company has clients ranging from multinationals, airlines, cellular operators, financial institutions and SMEs.

At the helm of EdgeMatrix, Dinesh has steered the company from a small startup into a global corporation employing more than 200 employees in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia.

He now leads EdgeMatrix with the vision of fusing different communications platforms together. He has begun by initiating the convergence of the wireless and Internet worlds. Towards this, EdgeMatrix has built a unique blend of Internet and wireless products that include browsers, gateway servers, and portal content enhancers, in addition to various hardware industry innovations.

As an IT visionary, Dinesh regularly addresses IT professionals on the road ahead for the development of e-businesses and mobile services at trade conferences and seminars around the world.

Dinesh holds double Bachelor of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Washington University in St. Louis, USA; minor in musical composition, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA; and a Master of Science in BioMedical Engineering from Imperial College, London.


Gene K. Beare

Gene K. Beare
BSME '37
Dean's Award

In a career that has spanned more than 50 years, Gene K. Beare has led and directed a score of companies. He combined undergraduate education in engineering from Washington University with a degree from Harvard's graduate School of Business, to pursue engineering administration. Over the next 33 years, interrupted only by Navy service during World War II, Gene used his blend of engineering skills, management know-how, and initiative to plot a direct route to career success in the telecommunications, electronics, and aerospace fields.

Gene joined Automatic Electric Company, a manufacturer of equipment for independent telephone companies in Chicago. He then progressed quickly through a succession of executive positions at affiliated and parent companies including presidencies of Automatic Electric, Sylvania Electric Products, Inc., and General Telephone and Electronics (GTE). In all, he has been president of six companies, including their international divisions. Gene helped set up factories, established sales offices, and used his ingenuity, initiative, and some of his connections to grow the companies and expand their markets. His career culminated in General Dynamics' invitation to become executive vice president, a post that he held for five years. Gene's contributions in electronics manufacturing have been widely recognized and he is listed in Who's Who in the World. In his retirement, Gene is active in countless community activities, as a corporate director, and trustee of various companies.

Born in Chester, Illinois, Gene moved to St. Louis as a child and never thought of going to college anywhere but Washington University. Since his return to St. Louis, he and his wife, Lee, have been restoring old connections and making new ones. One of the most important is Washington University. He has provided an Endowed Chair plus additional endowment for the School of Engineering and Applied Science.