The 2013 Alumni Association award winners, left to right: Amy Clarke, Bob and Ruth Nara, Paul Fernstrum, Jim Trethewey, and Dick and Stasi Gray.
The 2013 Alumni Association award winners, left to right: Amy Clarke, Bob and Ruth Nara, Paul Fernstrum, Jim Trethewey, and Dick and Stasi Gray.

The 2013 Alumni Association Award Winners

Outstanding Young Alumni

Amy J. Clarke '00

Amy J. Clarke has built upon her bachelor's in materials science and engineering to achieve great success.

After earning master's and PhD degrees from the Colorado School of Mines, she became a research and development scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she works in the Materials Science and Technology— Metallurgy Group. Her research focuses on materials synthesis and processing to control the microstructure and properties of important materials for energy, defense, and industry. She received a five-year US Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences Early Career Research Program Award in 2012.

Her work led her to be honored with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2012 and included a trip to the White House to meet President Barack Obama. This is the highest honor bestowed by the US government on scientists and engineers in the early stages of their research careers.

The Houghton native received the Willy Korf Award for Young Excellence in 2007 for her PhD research. She was honored with a TMS (The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society) Young Leader Professional Development Award in 2008 and was the TMS Young Leader International Scholar in 2010.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Paul Fernstrum '65

Paul W. Fernstrum, a mechanical engineering alumnus, is chairman and past president of Menominee-based RW Fernstrum & Company, a thirdgeneration, family-owned company that invented and continues to manufacture and market the Gridcooler keel cooler.

Paul began his career at RW Fernstrum as a draftsman. In 1975 he designed the first engineering program for the Gridcooler. Today, Gridcoolers are used to cool hydroelectric stations, engines, offshore wind and tidal generators, pump stations, and electronics on tsunami early-warning buoys and ROV submersibles. In 1995, he became president of the company.

Paul is a Michigan Tech Fund trustee, has sponsored Senior Design teams, and most recently helped equip two new, high-tech classrooms.

He has been a director of the Stephenson National Bank & Trust, past president of the Rotary Club, past commander of the US Power Squadron, elder at the Presbyterian church, and past scoutmaster and district chairman for the Boy Scouts of America. He has received the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award.

Paul and his wife, Sandy, have two sons, Sean and Todd, who are also Tech alumni and work with their father. They also support various Michigan Tech initiatives.

Lisa, Sean's wife, is a Tech alumna. The couple are parents of the family's third generation at Tech, Jeremy and Rachel, who are attending Michigan Tech this fall.

Outstanding Service Award 2013

Richard '82 and Stasia '82 Gray

While working toward his degree in geological engineering, Dick Gray spent one summer as a roughneck on the north slope of Alaska. He must have liked it, because he spent most of his career in the oil and gas business. After graduating,he took a job with Amoco Production Company and rose through the ranks until he ended up as exploration manager in Denver. While Dick was climbing the ladder, Stasi was also launching her successful career, raising their three children.

Dick left Amoco to became president of the oil and gas company Presco Western. When the company was sold in 2005, he launched a new venture, this time in Houghton. With a colleague from Denver, he started the Keweenaw Brewing Company (KBC). With distribution across Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, the KBC has grown to one of the fifty largest microbreweries in the US.

Stasi supports all of the KBC functions and is responsible for designing and purchasing the KBC t-shirts. In addition to the sixty-plus students they have employed, the Grays have become deeply involved with the community, hosting countless events and supporting student and alumni activities. The KBC has become a vital community resource, especially for Michigan Tech students, faculty, and staff.

Honorary Alumni Award

Robert and Ruth Nara

Bob and Ruth Nara have done so much for the University, one could assume they already were alumni. Coming from a family with deep roots in the Keweenaw, Bob launched a successful career as a dentist and founded Oramedics International preventative dentistry system. For more than fifty years, Bob and Ruth have been married and partners in the dental business, in addition to their myriad philanthropic projects.

The Naras practice "catalyst philanthropy" through the Nara Foundation, encouraging others to build on the gifts they have created. They have championed the Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Collections and have brought the University and community together through presidential lunches.

The Naras are best known for Nara Nature Park and Trails. Located near the Pilgrim River just outside of Houghton, this beautiful tract of land makes nature available to everyone, including the Michigan Tech community.

In fact, Michigan Tech students helped to develop Nara Nature Park. The Forestry and Environmental Resource Management Enterprise team helped with property assessment, timber inventory, marking of trails, and making recommendations for cutting. The Naras continue to support the University for many good reasons, they once said, including the fact that they know their gifts will be cared for wisely.

Distinguished Alumni Award

James A. Trethewey '67

Switching from mechanical engineering to business worked out very well for Jim Trethewey. The Ironwood native was inspired to switch by legendary accounting professor Sam Tidwell and never looked back. Beginning his career with local mining company Copper Range, he soon joined Cleveland-Cliffs (now Cliffs Resources) and advanced through management positions over the years, becoming vice president-controller and chief accounting officer. Along the way, he earned his MBA from BaldwinWallace College.

Before his 2007 retirement, Trethewey was senior vice president of business development. He was also a member of the American Mining Association, the Society of Mining Engineers, and other professional organizations.

He's been on the Advisory Board for the School of Business and Economics since 1994 and has served as a trustee for the Michigan Tech Fund. He and his wife have funded the James and Dolores Trethewey Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP) Professorship, given to APMP creator Dean Johnson, and have also supported students through scholarships.

Trethewey serves on the board of two charities, participates as a member and CEO of the limited partnership DJD Investments, and is a board member of Steel Dynamics, chairing the Audit Committee.

Editor's note: Michigan Tech lost a very good friend October 13, when Jim Trethewey passed away unexpectedly at the age of 69. His obituary is posted online.