Career Achievement Award
The Class of 2003
Beginning this year the
Distinguished Young Alumni Award has been renamed the Career Achievement Award.
This change was made to reflect more accurately the reason the award is given.
The criteria for the award remain the same. The committee, which is made up of
long time faculty and staff as well as a few retired faculty, endorsed the
change and encouraged the Alumni Affairs staff to look for other ways to honor
alumni from different eras. Plans are under way to add additional awards for
young alumni, those out ten years or less, and also possibly alumni who have
This year’s Career
Achievement Award winners come from different career fields, but each is making
an impact in his respective area. This year’s award group consists of Andrew
Meyer, director of world wide consumer support and customer relationship
management, Hewlett-Packard Co., San Jose, Calif.; Stephen Nowak, vice president
and controller, Owens Corning Composites Systems Business Plymouth, Mich.; Lt.
Col. Jeffrey Trang, United States Army test pilot, Yorktown, Va.; and Ralph
Wagle, principal in charge, Hannum, Wagle and Cline Engineering, Terre Haute.
All four are members of the Class of 1983
Working for one of the world’s leading technology companies, Andy Meyer has had
a front row seat in the heart of the Silicon Valley to sit back and enjoy the
explosion of the high-tech industry during the past two decades.
And, he has liked the ride, so far.
As director of worldwide consumer support marketing and
customer relationship management for Hewlett-Packard Company, Meyer is
responsible for directing the development of HP’s award-winning support
solutions, providing self-help and assisted-help for consumers responsible for
about one-third of the $72 billion in corporate revenues for the 2002 fiscal
The 1983 computer science and electrical engineering
double-major oversees a 20-member HQ team with extended teams in three regions
(Americas, Europe-Middle East and Africa-Asia) that define the next generation
of capabilities to support HP customers. These include self-diagnostic
solutions on HP products, troubleshooting provided via the Internet, and chat
and e-mail communications with support contact centers.
Meyer’s team is also driving the development of HP’s consumer
registration solutions, customer information management (protecting customer
privacy) and outbound marketing communications systems (customer e-mail alerts
about new products or services and special HP product offers).
“There is a delicate balance in supporting consumers in
the most cost-effective manner possible, while enhancing customer loyalty,” said
Meyer of the value-added communications process. “Technology opens new ways to
maintain and build relationships with customers.” (Web-based solution systems
are less than five percent of the cost of conventional telephone help centers.)
Seeing things from the customers’ perspective has been a big
part of Meyer’s role throughout most of his 20 years at HP. He began as a sales
support engineer for the company’s real-time manufacturing control systems
before moving into a variety of software and hardware product marketing roles,
including involvement in the launch of HP’s entry into the commercial Unix
“My engineering background provides the technical knowledge
to understand new product innovations, while my marketing role keeps me close to
the customer. I love seeing and understanding how technology provides benefits
to people,” Meyer said.
A series of roles in Information Technology followed,
including director of engineering and chief technology officer for
hpshopping.com, HP’s internet sales subsidiary, at the height of the dot-com
“Being in the Palo Alto (Calif.) area, there were
opportunities for me to go and explore the great start-up environment.
Fortunately, hpshopping.com came along at the right time,” said Meyer, who lives
in San Jose, Calif., with his wife, Maureen, and their two children.
“hpshopping.com allowed me to experience a start-up environment without leaving
the large safety net of HP.”
The career challenges continued in 2001 when Meyer was asked
to join the integration team responsible for planning the merger of HP and
Compaq Computer Corporation, the largest ever in the technology industry. He
was part of the team analyzing and recommending HP’s go-forward strategy for
consumer e-Commerce (Internet and contact center purchasing) as well as systems
to support retail sales partners.
The HP-Compaq collaboration has forged a dynamic, powerful
team of 140,000 employees with capabilities in 160 countries. The company has
the No. 1 global market share in imaging and printing products, personal
computers, UNIX and Linux servers, enterprise storage and management software.
“HP is large enough (four divisions) that I can move around
in many areas, stretch myself professionally and feel that I’m making a
difference,” said Meyer, who returned to Rose-Hulman for the first time since
graduating to accept the Alumni Career Achievement Award. “I look for things I
enjoy and learn from. I haven’t enjoyed every spot along the way, but I believe
I made a positive impact in everything that I have done.”
by David Piker
Most people don't look forward to job assignments that take them outside their
comfort zone. Steve Nowak is different. He seeks that kind of experience.
As an executive with Owens Corning, Nowak pioneered the
development of the company's first composites plant in India and expanded its
commercial efforts in other Asian countries. He helped develop the company's
Plan of Reorganization that was presented to the United States Bankruptcy
Court. And, Nowak led the process of creating the strategic blueprint for the
future of the company's 28 business units.
“I don't have a problem dealing with change,” he said.
“Stepping outside your comfort zone is how you learn," says Nowak, vice
president and controller of Owens Corning's Composites Systems Business.
Nowak is responsible for all global financial, sourcing and
strategic planning functions of the division. At $1.6 billion in sales, the
Composites Systems Business is Owens Corning's largest and most global
division. It consists of 11 different business units and employs 6,000 people
in 53 manufacturing facilities around the world.
Nowak offers the following advice about handling change in a
business environment. “You've got to be good at adapting based on new
information,” advises the 1983 Rose-Hulman mechanical engineering graduate.
“Often, speed is critical. You've got to push for execution of a plan, then
adjust it responsibly as new information becomes available.”
Another rule he uses to succeed is straight forward, “It's
all about people. As a leader, you've got to be excellent at selecting the
right people at the right time for the right responsibilities,” he emphasized.
“Let people be accountable.”
He began his career as a manufacturing engineer with Delco
Electronics in Kokomo, Ind. After four years, Nowak decided it was time for
“At Delco I was involved with state-of-the-art
technology and multimillion dollar projects to develop new manufacturing
processes, but, I wanted to learn how to run a business, so I quit my job and
earned an MBA at the University of Michigan,” Nowak said. “All of a sudden I
had to prove myself all over again.”
After earning his MBA, Nowak went to work for Owens Corning
because the company offered him the opportunity to develop into a general
manager. Nowak's first assignment put him in a situation where he was again
facing new challenges.
“The company said my assignment would provide a
non-traditional learning curve, I forgot theory and learned how things work,”
said Nowak, who lives with his wife, Mara, and their three children in Plymouth,
“I worked with people on a production line and learned what
they needed to succeed. I discovered how decisions made by higher management
impacted those peoples' lives,” he said in recalling his assignment in an
Anderson, S.C., plant.
International experience would be the next thing to take
Nowak out of his comfort zone. He was sent first to India, and then to Hong
Kong with the charter to establish markets throughout Asia, and deal with
licensees and joint ventures in five different countries.
Three years later, he moved to California, and became
president of the company's Cultured Stone Division. He was also named an
officer and vice president.
Then it happened again. In 2001, Nowak found himself
confronted with change. He became restructuring chief of staff. A year later,
he was given a special assignment by the company's chairman. Nowak was asked to
lead the development of the company's long-range strategic business plan
ultimately approved by the Owens Corning board and used as part of the Plan of
Reorganization filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Nowak said competing in Rose-Hulman's rigorous academic
environment was one of the first experiences that took him out of his comfort
zone. There's no doubt he'll continue to find ways to expand his comfort zone.
Colonel Jeff Trang expected to begin his postgraduate career in the military
before making a transition into civilian life. Twenty years later, the
experimental test pilot continues to fly on the cutting edge of the United
Trang has logged approximately 3,000 flight hours in more
than 50 different models of United States and foreign rotary-wing and fixed-wing
aircraft. Trang, a 1983 graduate and one of this year’s Career Achievement
Award recipients, serves as an experimental test pilot at Fort Eustis, Va.,
where he evaluates emerging technologies for use in Army aircraft.
Some of his recent activities have included night-vision,
radar, communication and safety/survivability systems.
“My father served his country, so it just seemed right for me
to serve in the military. I thought that I work in the Army for four years, and
then go to work in industry. The timing has always worked out for me in the
military; I have always received what I’ve asked for,” said Trang.
A Distinguished Military Graduate and four-year Army ROTC
Scholarship recipient, Trang began his military career as a second lieutenant in
Field Artillery. The electrical engineering graduate then moved on to air
cavalry and attack helicopter assignments in Nurnberg, Germany and Fort Hood,
Texas. Trang met his wife Dianna while in Germany and the two were married in
In 1990, Trang deployed with his Apache unit to Saudi
Arabia during Operation Desert Shield. When he returned to the United
States, Trang was one of five aviators selectors to attend fixed-wing training
enroute to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland. The
year of training led to his first position as an experimental test pilot.
“I was nervous going into test-pilot school, because I had
received no hard-core engineering training in eight years. I was worried that
my skills were out of date, but I quickly realized that my skills from Rose-Hulman
had made me well-rounded,” said Trang.
For the next four years, Trang worked at the Edwards Air
Force Base in California, where he tested several of the Army’s new
helicopters. His job description included developing and testing the
airworthiness qualification for the Army’s newest attack, reconnaissance and
special operations helicopters.
In 1995, Trang received an Army graduate fellowship to pursue
a master’s in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University.
“I reached a point where I felt like the only person without
a master’s degree,” said Trang. “The Army was willing to pay for a graduate
school program that concentrated on electrical engineering, aerospace and
computers. They wanted a test pilot that could help with hands-on research and
The major challenge of Trang’s military life is the constant
moving of his family. Jeff and Dianna have two children, Allen (14) and Amy
(12). The Trang family has moved 12 times in the last 16 years.
“It seems like every time that I am assigned a new role, it
takes a year to learn my responsibilities and then it’s time to move the family
again. Fortunately, we’ve been in Virginia longer than anywhere and maybe
that’s a trend,” said Trang.
In 1998, Trang was assigned to his current position in
Virginia. He continues to balance the challenges of working on the
technological edge with the fiscal realities of the 21st Century. “The best
part of my job is being able to make products that can make a difference. We
have recently completed air-bag installations and completed tests on a new
fueling system for some of our best helicopters. Making a product come from
start to finish in just two years has been especially rewarding.”
“Usually the process of developing a new product is
challenging. It can take from 10-15 years to develop a product, but here we’ve
seen a quick turnaround,” said Trang.
One trend that will continue is Trang’s enjoyment of a
cutting-edge military assignment.
“I can definitely wake up every day and say that I love my
by Bryan Taylor
Multimillion-dollar projects generate the revenue for Ralph Wagle’s company, but
he’ll be the first to tell you that people form the bottom line of success.
“If I have anything worth noting, it’s pulling together
talented people and providing them opportunity to do what they do to the best of
their abilities,” said Wagle, managing partner and principal in charge of Hannum,
Wagle & Cline Engineering. He is one of this year’s recipients of the Rose-Hulman
Career Achievement Award.
Based in Terre Haute, Hannum, Wagle & Cline Engineering is a
civil engineering consulting firm that plans, designs and sometimes builds
Samples of recent projects include:
as construction manager for the three new school projects for the Vigo County
whose construction cost exceeded $30 million dollars;
as program manager of a $50 million combined sewer overflow program; and
as one of six design consultants for a section of the new 160-mile I-69
“The type of work we do is very straight forward,” explained
the 1983 civil engineering alumnus. “There are many qualified consulting firms
that do what we do, so reputation is critically important to a firm’s continued
That’s where the people factor comes into play. “The market
and business we’re in is extremely competitive, and the best people are in great
demand,” Wagle said. “Our top objective and biggest challenge is to get the
most talented people available.”
One place to which the company continually turns is Rose-Hulman.
Of the company’s 14 engineers, 12 are Rose-Hulman graduates. “It is the caliber
of these people that has led this organization to the top of our field,” Wagle
Of the company’s six partners, five are Rose-Hulman
graduates: David Hannum (’81), Dick Weigel (’86), Eric Smith (’93), Cory
Whitesell (’95) and Wagle.
In addition to hiring Rose-Hulman graduates, Hannum, Wagle &
Cline has created a scholarship that is awarded to freshman, sophomore or junior
civil engineering students. The company also participates as a corporate
representative for civil engineering senior design projects, is a corporate
sponsor of the Rose-Hulman ASCE chapter, and has an extensive internship program
available to Rose-Hulman students.
As he discusses the firm’s history, people continue to be a
prime part of the story. “The business has evolved into much more than we could
have anticipated,” Wagle said. “I take personal satisfaction from helping
create and nurture a business from infancy to a point five years later when our
growth became exponential.”
Wagle’s engineering career started with W.D. Bartlett &
Associates, a building and bridge contractor in Indiana. In 1987, he returned
to Terre Haute as city engineer. His next career move came in 1990 when he
joined with Ken Hannum (class of ’56) and David Hannum (class of ’81) to form
Hannum and Wagle Engineering. The younger Hannum, and Wagle continue to manage
Hannum, Wagle & Cline along with Garmong Design Build Construction, and together
they own Hannum & Wagle Real Estate, LLC, a commercial real estate development
Day-to-day, Wagle’s job entails overseeing the company’s
three major functions: production, marketing, and human relations/finance. He
provides support and direction to supervisors in those areas, but one of his
most important responsibilities is the development of new business. That’s when
things get back down to the personal level. “It’s the talent of our staff that
continually sets us apart,” Wagle said.
The firm’s success has been recognized by others as it was
honored in 2000 and 2001 as one of Indiana’s rapid-growth, high-potential
entrepreneurial companies by the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and
Innovation at Indiana University.
For Wagle, the potential lies in the people.