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ACCOMPLISHED ENGINEERS ARE INDUCTED
INTO ENGINEERING HALL OF DISTINCTION

By George Lewis

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The 2001 inductees into the UK Engineering Hall of Distinctions are James R. Boyd, James B. Day,  Maj. Gen. Earnest O. Robbins II, William R. Sims and James L. Wyatt.

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April 25, 2001 – (Lexington, Ky.) – In an example of the wide ranging effects University of Kentucky engineering graduates have on society, inductees into this year’s UK College of Engineering Hall of Distinction include a former Disney World designer, the highest-ranking civil engineer in the U.S. Air Force and experts in jet propulsion, nuclear bombs and oil exploration.

The Hall of Distinction recognizes and honors UK alumni who have demonstrated distinguished engineering accomplishments, outstanding character and commitment to community service, said Tom Lester, dean, UK College of Engineering.

This year’s inductees, all native Kentuckians, are:

        James R. Boyd, who spent his formative years in Lexington and who graduated from UK in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Boyd’s professional career has taken him from high-ranking positions with Westinghouse Electric Co., to senior vice president for oil exploration with Ashland Oil Co., to his current position as senior vice president and group operating officer for Ashland Exploration, Ashland Services, Arch Mineral Corp., and APAC, where he is responsible for the nation’s largest asphalt and concrete paving company.

        James B. Day, who was born in Kings Creek and who received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UK in 1961. Through his employment at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Day became one of the nation’s leading experts on jet propulsion. His engineering and managerial leadership resulted in unprecedented jet engine advances that more than doubled power output per unit weight. These advances are said to have positioned the United States for world preeminence in military and civilian aviation.

         Maj. Gen. Earnest O. Robbins II, who was born in Maysville, Ky., participated in UK Air Force ROTC and received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UK in 1969. Called to active duty shortly after graduation, he has had an illustrious military career by anyone’s standards, serving in various civil-engineer positions at home and abroad. He is currently assigned to the Pentagon as the Air Force’s highest-ranking civil engineer. His numerous responsibilities include policy, planning, development, construction and maintenance of all Air Force bases and installations.

        William R. Sims, a Lexington, Ky., native who received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UK in 1958. A former member of the UK Air Force ROTC, and subsequently an Air Force officer, he at one time headed the largest community and environmental planning effort ever undertaken by the federal government. He retired from the military in 1986. His civilian career includes being Vice President of Architecture and Facilities Engineering for Walt Disney Imagineering with World-Wide theme park design responsibilities, and then Senior Vice President for Walt Disney Imagineering-Florida, until his retirement in 1996.

        James L. Wyatt, born in Williamsburg, Ky., was a photoreconnaissance pilot with the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II prior to earning his bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering from UK in 1947. After receiving his doctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he became one of the innovators of an electrochemical technique that led to potential fuel sources for nuclear bombs. Commercially, he developed a photosensitive product used in labels and photographs. In 1970, Wyatt founded a company that grew into a significant manufacturing venture before his retirement in 1990.


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