ME Society of Distinguished Alumni

The Mechanical Engineering Society of Distinguished Alumni

The ME Society of Distinguished Alumni is an honorary society open to qualified graduates, of the ME Department at Virginia Tech (at bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels). The fundamental purpose of the Society is to provide a formal means of recognition of those alumni who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in their careers. A major objective of the Society is to promote greater interaction between ME Alumni and ME faculty, staff, and students.


Legacy Members

Eligible ME alumni who have distinguished themselves by being named to the College of Engineering Academy of Academic Excellence through 2017, are inducted into the MESoDA as Legacy Members.
Inductees with an asterix (*) are deceased.

Mr. Jerry H. Ballengee, 1962, Retired President and CO, Union Camp Corp.
* Mr. R. Sidney Barrett Jr., 1962, Retired General Partner, B&H Enterprises
* Mr. Edgar Boynton, 1921, Former Partner, Wiley and Wilson
Mr. David A. Christian, 1976, Executive Vice President and CEO, Dominion Resource
* Mr. William A. Cox Jr., 1934, Retired, William A. Cox Consulting
Mr. Nicholas H. Des Champs, 1962, 1967, Founder, Retired President, Des Champs Technologies
Ms. Regina E. Dugan, 1984, 1985, Head of Building 8, Facebook
Mr. Elmer R. Easton, 1947, President and CEO, Three D Graphics
Mr. Robert C. Gibson, 1961, Past Chairman, Clark, Nexsen
Mr. George R. Goodson Jr., 1949, Founder, Retired Chairman, Warwick Plumbing and Heating
* Mr. J.B. Jones, 1945, Retired, Professor and Department Head
Mr. John R. Jones III, 1967, Retired President, American Electric Power Pro Service
Ms. Mary “Prim” Jones, 1962, Retired Executive Director of Engineering, Aerojet General Corporation
* Mr. E. George Middleton Jr., 1950, Retired President, E.G. Middleton, Inc.
* Mr. Hobart A. Weaver, 1950, Retired Director, Lucent Technologies
Mr. William K. Wells, 1966, Former Partner, Kenyon and Kenyon


From Left: Sarah Mayer, Michelle Grieshaber, Walter O’Brien, John Sparks, Keith Van Houten

Class of 2018

MICHELLE M. GRIESHABER, 1985, 1986, 1991, Chief Marketing Officer, Silicon Labs

Michelle was a member of the first class of four seniors to participate in a student exchange program with the Universite de Technologie de Compiegne (France). She graduated with honors in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree and earned a Fulbright Scholarship to spend a year in France as she worked on her Ph.D. In 1995 she started a career with IBM that would last nearly 19 years, culminating in her role as Vice President of Demand Programs. In 2014, she became the Chief Marketing Officer for Silicon Labs.

WALTER F. O’BRIEN, 1960, 1968, J. Bernard Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Walter’s contributions to turbine engine, hypersonic, and rocket propulsion span 58 years, including 50 at Virginia Tech where he began as an assistant professor. He was awarded the J. Bernard Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering chair in 1985; became Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies for the College of Engineering from 1990-1993; and started an 11 year term as ME Department Head in 1993. He founded and continues to serve as Liaison Professor to the National Institute of Aerospace, a consortium of nine universities involved in a range of disciplines including propulsion and hypersonics. He is a Fellow of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

JOHN F. SPARKS, 1974, 1976, 1981, Director, Program Management, Aerojet Rocketdyne

An expert in solid propellant rockets, John is the Director of Program Management at Aerojet Rocketdyne, a company he has been with since 1981. An ardent supporter of both mechanical engineering and Virginia Tech, John was named the 201 College of Engineering’s Distinguished Alumnus. He is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

KEITH VAN HOUTEN, 1991, Manager, ADAS/Autonomous Vehicle Performance Simulation, General Motors

A vocal champion for Virginia Tech engineering in general and mechanical engineering specifically, Keith has worked closely with senior design capstone teams and has mentored students. Keith’s 27+ years with General Motors has seen him lead a variety of teams and he is now the Manager, ADAS/Autonomous Vehicle Performance Solutions. He also continues his 22+ years as the University Relations Team Coordinator/Lead Talent Scout for GM, hiring many Hokie engineers. Since 2014 Keith has also been a consultant of robotics and technology to Solid Ventures LLC.

SARAH J. MAYER, 1988, Senior Director, Architecture, Capabilities & Systems, BDS Operations and Quality, Boeing

Since 2011 Sarah has been the Boeing executive focal for Virginia Tech and she has served on the Mechanical Engineering advisory board, including a term as the board’s chair. For nearly 30 years, Sarah has worked for Boeing in positions of increasing responsibility, most notably with the F/A-18 program. Since 2017 she has been the senior director of architecture, capabilities and systems for Boeing Defense Space and Security Operations and Quality.