Recipients Recognized at Homecoming Gala
MELBOURNE, FLA. — Astronauts and admirals, executives and engineers – from varied fields and even different countries, seven Florida Institute of Technology alumni were honored on Saturday for what they have in common: excellence, dedication and passion.
At the university’s annual Homecoming Gala on Saturday, Nov. 7, graduates from each of Florida Tech’s five colleges and an international representative were recognized with Outstanding Alumni awards. A seventh alumna received the night’s top honor, the Jerome P. Keuper Distinguished Alumni Award.
Here are the honorees:
Jerome P. Keuper Distinguished Alumni Award: Sunita Williams, ’95 M.S. A Naval aviator and one of the nation’s most accomplished astronauts, Williams spent 322 days in space on two missions to the International Space Station. She holds the record for total cumulative spacewalk time by a female astronaut with 50 hours, 40 minutes. In 2015, she was chosen to be among the first group of astronauts to fly the next generation of commercial crew vehicles. Williams joins Eric Boe, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley as what NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden called “space pioneers.”
College of Aeronautics: Greg Donovan, ’91 B.S. Donovan is executive director of Melbourne International Airport, where he is responsible for overseeing the Airport Authority’s $28 million budget and operation of the 2,750-acre airport.
Nathan Bisk College of Business: Rick Rowe, ’11 MBA. Rowe is president and CEO of Think Tek, Inc. – Think Tek Globally. Over his career, he has been an engineer, manager and executive at a number of corporations.
College of Engineering: Rear Admiral Jonathan White (U.S. Navy, Ret.), ’81 B.S. After a distinguished U.S. Navy service in the U.S. and abroad, White promoted to the rank of rear admiral (upper half) in August 2012 as he assumed duties as director, Task Force Climate Change, and Navy deputy to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
College of Psychology & Liberal Arts: Manny Rodriguez, ’04 M.S. Rodriguez is the director of continuing education and product development for ABA Technologies, Inc., a leader in professional development, training and consulting in the field of behavior analysis. His experience spans various industries, working with organizations such as Chevron, Kraft Foods, Cigna, Heinz and ADM.
College of Science: Duane De Freese, ’82 M.S., ’88 Ph.D. De Freese was instrumental in helping to secure U.S. EPA National Estuary Program designation for the Indian River Lagoon in 1990. In September 2015, his career came full circle when he was named executive director of a new special district of the state of Florida, the Indian River Lagoon Council, which will serve as the host of a reorganized IRL National Estuary Program.
Outstanding International Alumni: Julian Field, ’84 B.S. Field, who was born in Argentina and raised in Venezuela and now lives in the United Kingdom, is a senior eCommerce advisor, working with businesses on their eCommerce strategy and implementation. He is currently director of a startup that is developing a solar-powered vehicle and is board advisor to a startup in the video commerce sector.