Michigan Tech to Honor Alumni, New Grads at Midyear Commencement Dec. 15

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

Bhakta B. Rath, a 1958 graduate of Michigan Technological University, will deliver the commencement address at Midyear Commencement Friday, Dec. 15. Two other alumni, Kimberly L. Turner and Walter T. Anderson, will be honored during the ceremonies.

The university will recognize the achievements of more than 450 graduates. A total of eight associate's degrees and 354 bachelor's degrees will be awarded. In addition, 87 master's degree recipients and 17 PhD graduates will be honored.

Rath, who will receive an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering, is an internationally recognized scientist who has had a distinguished career in national security and in defense. He is head of the Materials Science and Component Technology Directorate and associate director of research at the Naval Research Laboratory, overseeing a staff of 720 with an annual budget of $280 million. At the NRL, he has served as the principal engineer in addressing issues of national importance, from the structural integrity of fighter aircraft to protecting soldiers against improvised explosive devices.

Following his undergraduate studies in India, Rath earned an MS in Metallurgy from what was then the Michigan College of Mining and Technology and went on to earn his PhD from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1961.

Rath is a prolific author, a prominent scholar, an award-winning researcher, and a speaker worldwide. He is a member of Michigan Tech’s Academy of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering and has also been honored by The American Society of Materials, the Naval Research Laboratory, the Department of Defense and numerous professional and scholarly organizations.

Turner, who earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1994, will receive the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

Turner went on to earn a PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Cornell University in 1999 and is now an associate professor and co-vice chair of the mechanical engineering department at the University of California at Santa Barbara, heading up the undergraduate program.

She studies microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and was honored by the National Science Foundation with a CAREER award in 2001. She also earned a distinguished teaching award at UCSB in 2005

Among her credentials, she is vice chair of the MEMS division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; she chairs the technical program for the 2008 Americas Workshop on Solid State Sensors and Actuators; and she is an associate editor of the IEEE Journal on Control Systems Technology.

Her father, Professor Chris Passerello, is on the faculty of Michigan Tech's mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics department. She continues her involvement with the University as a member of the Council of Alumnae.

Also at commencement, Anderson will receive the Board of Trustees Silver Medal. He graduated from the University in 1943 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and soon went to work on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tenn. After the Second World War, he returned to Michigan Tech to earn a master's degree and in 1954 came back to begin a long and productive career in the electrical engineering department and with the School of Technology, retiring in 1988.

Anderson earned a Distinguished Teaching Award in 1957, was assistant head of the electrical engineering department for 14 years, and served as its acting head three different times. In 1984 he became director of the School of Technology.

He served on the state licensure commission and was a leader in the National Council of Engineering Examiners, which honored him with a distinguished service award and an award of merit. The Michigan Society of Professional Engineers named Anderson Engineer of the Year in 1971 and a fellow in 1994.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.