MSOE Alumni Wall of Distinction
MSOE is proud to announce that five alumni were inducted to its Alumni Wall of Distinction Nov. 1, 2019. Congratulations to Frank J. Bourbeau ’57, Ronald K. Cotton ’59, Honorable Dr. James I. Finley ’68, Dr. Joseph J. Rencis ’78, ’80 and Richard L. Sanquini.
Induction to the MSOE Alumni Wall of Distinction is a recognition of the professional contributions and dedicated service to their profession. In addition, their distinguished careers have contributed to, or reflect credit on, the various academic programs in the university.
Frank J. Bourbeau ’57
Frank J. Bourbeau currently serves as founder and president of Enerpro Inc. located in Goleta, California. Bourbeau graduated from MSOE in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering from UW-Madison. Bourbeau’s career began in 1958 when he joined AC Spark Plug in Milwaukee, developing an analog computer simulation of ballistic missile dynamics. He next worked at TRW Space Technology Laboratories in El Segundo, California, and then moved on to Delco Electronics in Goleta. At Delco, Bourbeau helped develop a variety of products including an undersea photometer for marine biology research, an underwater sound transmitter and receiver, an electro-magnetic exploder for the MK48 torpedo, and AC motor drives for space shuttle flight control, military vehicles and subway cars. In 1983, Bourbeau started Enerpro Inc., a design and manufacturer of power electronics equipment used in a variety of industries including wind turbines and rail locomotive power converters. He currently serves as the president of the company and has developed industrial products that are used all over the world, including a thyristor trigger circuit board that remains in continuous production after 36 years with tens of thousands sold, a thyristor controller for interfacing wind powered generators to the electric grid with minimum disturbance, a medium voltage (4160V) thyristor firing circuits and a 3-stage locomotive battery charging system now used in approximately 30% of the locomotives in the U.S. All new locomotives manufactured by General Electric and Caterpillar use this same charging method.
Ronald K. Cotton ’59
Ronald K. Cotton served in the U.S. Navy before enrolling at MSOE in 1956. He majored in electrical engineering and graduated number two in his class. He started his career as one of Cutler-Hammer’s leading designers of control systems for industrial equipment. Multiple patents were granted to his projects’ unique designs. His largest opportunity at Cutler-Hammer was a propitious engineering project in 1962 when he was asked to design a propulsion drive system which would move a missile service gantry tower for an Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle; essentially, a 20-story building (90 feet wide and about 210 feet tall) with two elevators. He designed the control system. After two more years at Cutler-Hammer and three months with Pan Am in Florida, he joined the Moon Landing Team at Kennedy Space Center. His first challenge at the Kennedy Space Center was the preparation of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) cranes, which were important for the assembly of the Apollo/Saturn launch vehicles. To launch on time, he had a mere five weeks to redesign the control systems, refit the electrical control panels, oversee the transformation of three cranes into precision performing machines and train the operators. Thanks to his hard work, there was no error and no loss in schedule for the entire tenure of the Apollo program. In 1992, Cotton was appointed deputy director of facility operations and received The Silver Snoopy award, a special honor awarded to NASA employees and contractors for outstanding achievements related to human flight safety or mission success.
Honorable Dr. James I. Finley ’68
Dr. James I. Finley is retired, most recently serving as the senior vice president of SecureRF Corp. where he focused on the aerospace and defense sectors. Finley earned his B.S in Electrical Engineering from MSOE in 1968 and his master’s degree from California State University Fresno in 1974. Finley most notably served as the U.S. deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology from 2006 to 2009 under President George W. Bush. In this role, he provided Department of Defense governance and oversight for program management, systems engineering, procurement, contracting and strategic sourcing, the Defense Acquisition University, the Defense Contracting Management Agency and Joint Advanced Concepts and more. Prior to that, Finley spent over 30 years in the aerospace and defense industry sector. In 2002, Finley founded The Finley Group LLC, a consulting firm with special interests in academia, cyber security and supply chain management, and specialized in strategic planning, leadership coaching and enterprise innovation. He also held a variety of management positions with General Electric, Singer, Lear Siegler, United Technologies and General Dynamics. His experience spans air, land, sea, space and C4ISR programs and includes LEO constellation design and development, the FAA’s automatic surface detection radar systems and the NASA Space Shuttle Program. In 2006 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor in Engineering from MSOE. He also earned the Medal for Distinguished Public Service from the Department of Defense.
Joseph J. Rencis, Ph.D., P.E. ’78, ’80
Dr. Joseph J. Rencis received his A.A.S. and B.S. degrees in architectural and building construction engineering technology from MSOE. In 1990 he was the recipient of the MSOE Class of 1980 Outstanding Alumnus Award. He earned his M.S. from Northwestern University in 1982 and Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in 1985, both in civil engineering. Rencis’ career began at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute where he served as assistant, tenured associate, a tenured professor of mechanical engineering, and director of engineering mechanics. In 2004 he joined the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville where he was department head and the inaugural holder of the 21st century leadership chair, and tenured professor in mechanical engineering. Rencis moved to Tennessee Tech University in 2011, serving as a tenured professor of mechanical engineering, the dean of the College of Engineering, and the inaugural holder of the Clay N. Hixson chair for engineering leadership. Since 2017, he has served as a tenured professor of mechanical engineering and dean of the College Engineering at Cal Poly Pomona. Rencis worked for the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, Flight Dynamics Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, NASA-Glenn Research Center, and Phillips Laboratory at Hanscom Air Force Base. He has published over 140 journal and conference articles. Rencis served as ASEE president and on the Board of Directors, and currently is a director of the Engineering Deans Council Executive Board.
Richard L. Sanquini ’59
Richard Sanquini is a partner at Lite-Cap, a private equity firm fostering the growth of next-generation technology companies. While serving in the U.S. Navy, Sanquini was trained as a fire control technician and assigned to the Destroyer, U.S.S. AULT. At the end of his tour, Sanquini enrolled at MSOE where he earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1959. After graduation, Sanquini joined RCA as one of its first integrated circuit design engineers. He became involved in many pioneering efforts, including the first microprocessors designed for the space program. He was promoted several times, ultimately to director of microprocessors and memories. Sanquini moved to California in 1980 where he grew National Semiconductor’s microprocessor business from a few million dollars in revenue to several hundred million. He was subsequently their chief technology officer and became an expert in intellectual property protection and business development. Since 2000, he has been investing in startups and helping entrepreneurs build value in their companies and prepare them for a public offering or acquisition. Sanquini was the chairman of PortalPlayer, the company that supplied the silicon and operating system for Apple’s iPod; a director at Synaptics, the supplier of the touch wheel and touchscreens; and the lead director for LitePoint, the developer of technology that tests mobile devices.