Zsolt Rumy receiving his Outstanding Achievement Award from Eric Kaler.

Alumni win top University awards

Three CSE alumni honored for accomplishments and leadership

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (09/10/2019) — Each year, University of Minnesota alumni are recognized for their professional contributions. Three College of Science and Engineering Alumni received top honors in 2019: Zsolt Rumy, Julie Stein, and Haakon Fossen.

Outstanding Achievement Award

CSE alumni Zsolt Rumy and Julie Stein were recognized by the University of Minnesota with the Outstanding Achievement Award. The award is presented to graduates or former students who have attained unusual distinction in their chosen fields or professions or in public service, and who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership on a community, state, national, or international level.

Zsolt Rumy, who graduated with a chemical engineering degree in 1966, was the founder and CEO of Zoltek Corporation. The company began in 1975 as a manufacturers’ representation and distribution business in St. Louis, Missouri—and became one of the world’s leading carbon fiber makers in the world. Rumy’s leadership of a team of chemists and chemical and mechanical engineers led to new chemistry and spinning technology that provided a low-cost polyacrylonitrile precursor fiber capable of producing high performance carbon fiber.

“He revolutionized the $3 billion carbon fiber industry, an industry that continues to have tremendous promise for construction of energy efficient, lightweight vehicles and high performance sporting equipment (e.g. bicycles, canoes, skis, etc.), in addition to wind turbines and aircraft brakes,” wrote Daniel Frisbie, Distinguished McKnight University Professor and head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science (CEMS) in his nomination letter.

Rumy accepted his award at the CEMS Centennial banquet on June 22. Read more about Rumy in a story from the Winter 2018 issue of the Inventing Tomorrow magazine.

Julie Stein is the executive director of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington. She earned her master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the college in ancient studies in 1976 and 1980 respectively. (The ancient studies program was once part of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.) As museum director, she has overseen a nearly $100 million fundraising campaign and the planning for a new facility that will open next month—with a focus on teaching students and community members about science, nature, and culture.

“She is particularly known for her work on sites in the Pacific Northwest and for tracing the archeological record of the path of the Lewis & Clark expedition (via the innovative method of searching for their latrines), the subjects of many publications and scientific and public lectures,” wrote Donna Whitney, Distinguished McKnight University Professor and head of the N.H. Winchell School of Earth and Environmental Sciences in her nomination letter.

Recently, Stein was a recipient of Seattle Business Magazine’s 2019 Executive Excellence Award for making the groundbreaking vision of the New Burke Museum a reality. She will receive her University of Minnesota award this spring.

Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals

The Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals is a University-wide award for alumni, former students, and friends of the University who have distinguished themselves in their post-university work as leaders in their professional careers.

Haakon Fossen, who earned his Ph.D. in geology in 1992, is a professor at the University of Bergen, Norway. He is a global leader in structural geology research and education. His research career includes significant contributions to topics that have fueled debate in the Earth Sciences over the last couple of decades: the mechanisms and consequences of the oblique motion of tectonic plates and the collapse of mountain belts when extension follows contraction.

Fossen has also had an incredible impact on how educators teach structural geology. He has reached a worldwide audience through his two richly illustrated textbooks and an extensive website, which includes video tutorials and other teaching materials. His commitment to bridging academic knowledge and industry needs is evident as well. He has developed many ties with industry, including those he has developed through the annual field course he runs in Utah.

Fossen will receive his award at the University of Minnesota Alumni Association’s Alumni Awards Affair on October 3. 

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