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​2015 Alumni Achievement Awards

Harry Cheung

Harry Cheung
Young Alumnus of the Year Award

After earning a bachelor's degree in computer science in 1998, Harry Cheung immediately became one of Google's original engineers, responsible for scaling Google's index from 50 million to more than 2 billion documents. Cheung also launched Google's enterprise search product for company intranets, Google News, and unified search that optimized queries into vertical search categories.

Cheung also has ventured into new territories as an angel investor for startups while serving as president of HNK Ventures. His dynamic portfolio of companies includes Media Spike, QWIKI, Badgeville and PrePay.

With a classmate and fellow Washington University engineering alumnus, Cheung co-founded Roostify, a platform for enhancing home financing for borrowers and lenders, in 2012.

Outside of work, Cheung competes in Global Rallycross (GRC) racing. In 2014, he earned two first-place finishes in the Trofeo Pirelli division of the North America Ferrari Challenge races.

Cheung and his wife, Sandra, are members of the Eliot Society Danforth Circle level and reside in San Francisco.


Suren Dutia

Suren Dutia
Alumni Achievement Award

Dutia is a senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. He is an investor in a number of ventures and serves as a board member in three startup projects.

After holding a number of leadership positions with Boston‐based Dynatech Corp., in 1981 Dutia became president and CEO of Xscribe Corp. in San Diego. He recently completed four and a half years as CEO of The Indus Entrepreneurs Global (TiE), one of the largest nonprofit organizations involved in fostering entrepreneurship globally through mentoring, networking and education.

Dutia serves the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies as a senior fellow and a member of its National Council. He and his wife, Jas Grewal, established The Suren G. Dutia and Jas K. Grewal Global Impact Award in the Skandalaris Center. This competition is designed for entrepreneurs who are using technology to develop products and services to spur economic growth.

Dutia and Grewal are Eliot Society Life Patron Members and reside in Del Mar, Calif. Both currently serve as co-chairs for the San Diego Regional Cabinet. Dutia also is a member of the WU Alumni Board of Governors.

Dutia earned bachelor's degrees from WashU in chemical engineering and political science in 1963 and a master's degree in chemical engineering in 1967. He also earned an MBA from the University of Dallas.


Marvin Gibbs, PhD

Marvin Gibbs, PhD
Alumni Achievement Award

Marvin Gibbs, an engineer and entrepreneur, is the retired chairman and CEO for Red Lion Beef Corp., the parent company of Lion's Choice, a St. Louis-based restaurant. Before leading the local chain, Gibbs served in a variety of management positions with Monsanto as the director of process technology and director for the research and development unit.

Following his undergraduate years at Washington University as a full tuition scholarship recipient, Gibbs pursued his doctorate and received a fellowship from Shell Oil and NASA to study high temperature, homogeneous decomposition of gases through a chemical shock tube technique. This grant enabled him to begin a professional role at Monsanto.

In 1967, Gibbs co-founded Red Lion Beef Corp. and the Lion's Choice chain of restaurants. Lion's Choice produces more than $20 million in annual sales with 23 locations.

Gibbs also established Environmental Recycling Inc., a startup business that produced plastic timbers from recycled plastic waste, mostly polyethylene, to use in landscaping and appropriate decking.

Gibbs and his wife, Christine, are members of the Eliot Society and reside in Vero Beach, Fla. He earned a bachelor's and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from Wash U in 1956 and 1960, respectively. Gibbs also earned executive MBA from Stanford University.


Hanford Gross

Hanford Gross
Alumni Achievement Award

After earning a mechanical engineering degree from Washington University in 1970, Hanford Gross joined Gross Engineering Co. (GECO), a small construction company specializing in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) institutional facilities founded in 1960 by his father, Lester, a 1935 School of Engineering graduate.

After 15 years at GECO, in 1985, Gross founded Gross Mechanical Contractors (GMC) as a successor company to GECO. In 1991, he converted the GMC project portfolio to one comprised of power and process projects. The Mechanical Contractors Association of America awarded GMC for its project management system the prestigious E. Robert Kent Award.

Gross retired in 2012, and his four sons now manage the company. Gross and his wife, Kitty, are members of the Eliot Society Benefactor level and reside in St. Louis. Gross is an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at Washington University where he has taught a graduate level course "Engineering Project Management" since 2001. He currently chairs the School of Engineering & Applied Science Eliot Society and is a member of the WU Construction Industry Advisory Council, the External Advisory Board for the UMSL/WU Joint Engineering Program, and is a member of the Engineering Alumni Advisory Council.


Michael Holtz

Michael Holtz
Alumni Achievement Award

As an undergraduate at Washington University, Michael Holtz's innovative spirit compelled him to combine his lifelong love of travel with his school connections to found Fly High Travel, his first travel agency. Fly High Travel served fellow students flying home for the holidays or to more exotic destinations for spring break.

Holtz's success in the travel industry climbed after earning a bachelor's degree in engineering and public policy in 1987. He worked for the company whose founders went on to start hotels.com and inherited the airline portion of the business, launching SmartFlyer in 1990 in New York City. SmartFlyer has quickly climbed from 45 agents in 2012 to 110 in 2015. SmartFlyer has annual revenue of $80 million.

Holtz serves on his class reunion committee and as a volunteer for the regional Eliot Society committee and the New York Campaign committee. Holtz also supports a student scholarship in engineering, ensuring that the next generation of outstanding engineers has the opportunity to attend Washington University.


Michele Liebman

Michele Liebman
Alumni Achievement Award

Michele Liebman did not follow the traditional path of many Washington University students. Instead, she developed her professional career upon graduation from high school, then began working toward a degree while juggling a job and a family. She earned a bachelor's degree in technology and information management from WashU in 1986 and an MBA from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Liebman held a variety of sales support positions before joining Edward Jones, where she was named a limited partner in 1987 and a principal in 1994.

For 15 years, Liebman's responsibilities included leadership roles within the Information Systems division. She led the effort to evaluate, select and implement the St. Louis headquarters' first office automation software, satellite vendor and integrated usability lab techniques. When she retired from Edward Jones in December 2014, she was responsible for banking operations.

In the Edward Jones/Washington University scholarship sponsor program, Liebman's efforts helped raise more than $1.5 million.

An advocate of STEM education, Liebman has played an active role in Women & Engineering at WashU. She and her husband, Tim, reside in Kirkwood, Mo., and are members of the Eliot Society.


Richard Mattione

Richard Mattione, PhD
Dean's Award

Before retiring in 2013, Richard Mattione, PhD, was a partner at GMO LLC, in Boston. The company is a global money management firm with more than $116 billion invested worldwide for institutional and corporate clients.

At GMO, Mattione was responsible for the international equity investments in Japan, Hong Kong, and Latin America. Previously, Mattione worked as an economist and market strategist at J.P. Morgan in Tokyo and New York and was a research associate in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. A respected authority on international investment, Mattione has written or co-written books and papers on international financial issues.

Mattione serves WashU as a member of the Engineering National Council and Campaign Committee, as well as the chair of the Boston Regional Cabinet and a member of the Boston Campaign Committee. He received the Engineering Alumni Achievement Award in 2007. His daughters, Elena and Angela, earned their undergraduate degrees from WashU. Mattione and his wife, Yasuko, are Life Members of the Eliot Society and reside in Sudbury, Mass.

After earning a bachelor's degree in systems science and mathematics from WashU in 1977, Mattione earned two master's degrees in science and art, and a doctorate in economics from Harvard University.


Bruce Rittmann

Bruce Rittmann
Alumni Achievement Award

As director the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at the Biodesign Institute and a Regents' Professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and Built Environment at Arizona State University, Bruce Rittmann, PhD, has established a win-win partnership between the two missions.

An international leader in the study of microbiological systems, Rittmann leads research teams that combine engineering with microbiology, biochemistry and geochemistry to address fundamental and applied issues in the treatment of wastewater, bioremediation of contaminated environments and production of renewable energy. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Rittmann is known for pioneering the development of the Membrane Biofilm Reactor, which uses naturally occurring microorganisms to remove contaminants from water.

Rittmann is an inventor on nine patents, is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a recipient of the Clarke Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Water Science and Technology, and a winner of the Huber Research Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers. He has published more than 550 peer-reviewed papers and is one of the world's most highly cited researchers.

Rittmann, a member of the Eliot Society with his wife, Marylee, resides in Tempe, Ariz. He earned bachelor's and master's of science degrees in civil and environmental engineering from WashU in 1974 and a doctorate in environmental engineering from Stanford University.