WashU Engineering honors distinguished alumni

WashU Engineering alumni, ranging from civil engineers to aerospace engineers to entrepreneurs were among those who received Alumni Achievement Awards from the School of Engineering & Applied Science March 30 at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

L to R: Michael Lefenfeld, David Gast, Peter Young, Libby Allman, Carol Gast, Raghu Sugavanam, Brian Hoelscher

Libby Allman

As vice president of manufacturing and product procurement at Hallmark Cards, Libby Allman leads domestic manufacturing and direct global sourcing activities in support of the greetings, home décor, gifts and retail businesses. Results of her leadership and expertise include growth in revenue, leading more than 1,000 employees through major operational change and effective budget management. She led the creation of Hallmark's first collaborative corporate process for IT prioritization and co-founded the Hallmark Women's Network.

A Kansas City resident, Allman earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at WashU in 1991, a bachelor's degree in physics from William Jewell College, and an MBA from Rockhurst University.
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Brian Hoelscher

Leveraging a 30-year career with engineering and management experience, Brian Hoelscher has led the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) since 2013. As executive director and CEO, he is responsible to execute more than $3 billion in capital improvements while servicing 1.3 million people. Hoelscher has been a steadfast leader, notably driving MSD's Capital Improvement Diversity program. His advocacy for minority- owned and women-owned companies has resulted in more than $43 million in completed construction projects.

Hoelscher earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from WashU in 1985 while breaking records on the baseball and football teams.
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Raghu Sugavanam

In 2014 Raghu Sugavanam co-founded Interpreta, an analytics company that updates, interprets and synchronizes clinical and genomics data by creating a personalized health-care roadmap. These real-time insights provide physicians, care managers and clients with the patient specific information needed for quality improvement, prioritization, population management and precision medicine. Within two years of its founding, Centene Corp. acquired 19 percent of Interpreta.

A resident of San Diego, Sugavanam earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, a master's in chemical engineering from WashU in 1978 and a master's in computer science from Rutgers University.
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Peter Young

Peter Young's first position was with Allied-Signal Aerospace as a materials and process engineer. In 1983, Young returned to Hong Kong and founded Chemcentral Group, which provides raw materials and equipment for manufacturers in China. Chemcentral Group has grown into an international trade and investment organization with branches specializing in paper industry products, chemical materials, real estate, ecotourism and recreation. With offices worldwide, Young's companies have remained the largest supplier of coating clay in China since 1984. Young holds stock in PURE brand whisky, brandy and scotch and investments in a hotel and spa property, the Lihua International Hotel & Spa, in Longjing, China.

A resident of Hong Kong, Young earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from WashU in 1980. He also attended the University of Southern California for graduate work in plastics and engineering.
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Engineering Entrepreneurship Award, Michael Lefenfeld

Michael Lefenfeld is co-founder and chief executive officer of New York City-based SiGNa Chemistry, a global manufacturer of highly-active, environmentally friendly chemicals. SiGNa's products are used to improve production processes in the energy recovery, petrochemical refining and chemical manufacturing industries. His work has led to safer industrial environments, better medical technologies and more effective, affordable energy solutions. Prior to SiGNa, Lefenfeld developed and commercialized several new technologies, launching and selling three companies by age 30. Lefenfeld holds more than 50 patents in medical devices, controlled release, electronics, chemical reactivity and information technology.

After earning a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at WashU in 2002, Lefenfeld, a resident of New York City, earned a master's in chemistry at Columbia University and an executive education certificate at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.
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Dean's Award, David & Carol Gast

As undergraduates and St. Louis natives, David and Carol Gast met at a football game. David made a business of installing sound systems around campus, including the first system in Graham Chapel. David continued his entrepreneurial streak after a stint in the U.S. Army, where then-Lieutenant Gast was an instructor in the Guided Missile School. He later joined the electrical and mechanical industrial equipment sales firm Carl F. Gast Co., which his parents had founded in 1935. After starting as a salesman, he became CEO. Carol later became the bookkeeper for the firm. Since Gast's retirement in 2005, the company is managed by third-generation owners.

The Gasts have generously supported annual engineering scholarships and the Gast Window in Preston M. Green Hall and have made an estate commitment to endow a professorship in the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

David earned bachelor's degrees in physics and in electrical engineering in 1953 and a master's in electrical engineering in 1954 from WashU. Carol was in the Liberal Arts class of 1956.
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