2010 Alumni Award Winner Bios

The Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Association is pleased to announce the 2010 recipients of its Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award and Young Alumnus/Alumna Achievement Award.  The Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award recognizes professional accomplishments or unique contributions to society by alumni of the department.  The Young Alumnus/Alumna Achievement Award recognizes a recent graduate who has achieved distinction in his or her field and reached a level of accomplishment significantly greater than that of other recent graduates.  The honorees will be recognized at the Chicago Regional Dinner Meeting on Feb. 11.

The 2010 Distinguished Alumni are: 

Walter D. LinzingWalter D. Linzing, P.E., (BS 49) Consulting Engineer, Park Ridge, Illinois

For dedication to developing increased public awareness about the contributions engineers make to our standard of living, public health and safety; for service to the engineering profession through practice; and for assuming leadership roles in major professional engineering organizations.

After graduating with his B.S. from the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1949, Walter D. Linzing worked for the State of Illinois making hydrologic and flood routing investigations throughout the state.  He served as a consulting engineer on water supply and water management projects for many years, including service with Harza Engineering Company (now part of MWH) and HDR Engineering Company.  He served as the Chief Hydraulic Engineer on the Karadj hydroelectric project in Iran and lived in Tehran for two months, heading up planning studies which led to the establishment of the 600-foot-high Karadj Dam and Hydro project as part of the then highest double curvature arch dam in the world.  His role in project planning studies and engineering reports and designs involved extensive traveling to more than 30 counties.

Linzing’s extensive involvement and leadership in professional engineering societies have included serving for the last 17 years as Executive Director of the Illinois Engineering Council.  He has been State President of the Illinois Society of Professional Engineers and a National Director of the National Society of Professional Engineers.  He has also been an active member of the American Public Works Association, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Water Works Association, and the Western Society of Engineers.  He was the winner of the Daniel W. Meed ASCE prize paper and has served on a number of ASCE committees.  He was chairman of the Younger; Viewpoint column feature appearing monthly for many years in Civil Engineering.

Linzing has been very involved in National Engineers Week activities over a 30-year span, including active membership on the Engineers Week Committee.  He has encouraged young people to seek careers in engineering and given many talks over the years to emphasize the role that engineers have in promoting and protecting the public health, welfare and safety.

He lives in Park Ridge, Ill., with his wife, Joann.  They raised six children and have seven grandchildren.

Doris I. Willmer, P.E., LEED AP, (BS 72, MS 73), Founder and President, Willmer Engineering Inc., Doraville, Georgia

For exemplary performance and outstanding achievement in the consulting engineering profession; for extensive service to civic, humanitarian and professional organizations; for strong commitment to encouraging women to join the engineering field; and for enduring support of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois. 

Doris I. WillmerDoris I. Willmer earned her B.S. (1972) and M.S. (1973) degrees from the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  As founder and president of Willmer Engineering Inc., she brings 37 years of professional civil engineering consulting experience in design and management to Willmer Engineering as a Principal Consultant for environmental engineering projects. She is involved in all aspects of the company’s management and administration.

Willmer began her consulting career in Atlanta, Ga., with the design consortium for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit System. She was a civil engineer project manager and designer for major commercial development, shopping malls and transportation projects throughout the southeast.  She also conducted applied engineering research, developing public productivity improvement programs for local governments, energy conservation programs for schools and hospitals, and evaluating regulatory impact on small businesses. In 1976, Willmer won an internship to serve on Senator Sam Nunn’s staff in Washington, D.C.  During that time, she prepared white papers and speeches for the Senator on energy conservation and fuel alternatives.

She is a Past President of the American Council of Engineering Companies/Georgia and is currently serving as Georgia’s National Director. She recently completed a five-year term on the Georgia State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors and served two years as chair. She is actively involved in middle school and collegiate mentoring programs and served five years as chair of Georgia Engineers Week Introduce a Girl to Engineering luncheon.

Her numerous awards include the 2009 ACEC/G President’s Award, 2004 Georgia Engineering Alliance Engineer of the Year in Private Practice, May 2002 Competitive Edge Magazine Woman in Business Profile, and 1983 GSPE Young Engineer of the Year.

She is married to Jim Willmer (BS 71, MS 72).  Their two children are also Illinois graduates: Sabrina (LAS 02) and James Carl (LAS 02).  Willmer’s sister is U of I alumna Brenda Ludowig (AHS 81).

M. T. Geoffrey YehM.T. Geoffrey Yeh (BS 53), Chairman of Hsin Chong Construction Group Ltd., Hong Kong

For management of construction and property development companies instrumental in rebuilding Hong Kong after WWII; for development and application of innovative construction tools; for outstanding civic leadership; and for long-standing philanthropic support to several universities including  the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering  at the University of Illinois.

M.T. Geoffrey Yeh received his B.S. degree with honors from the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1953 and his M.A. degree from Harvard University in 1954.  He holds an honorary doctorate from St. John’s University in Queens, NY, (1984).

Born in 1931 in Shanghai, China, Yeh is a Fellow of Chartered Institute of Building, UK; Fellow of the Hong Kong Institute of Directors; Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Construction Managers; and Honorary Fellow of the Asian Institute of Intelligent Buildings.

In addition to serving as Chairman of Hsin Chong Int’l Holdings Ltd., he holds directorships in numerous companies both public-listed and private.  During his career, Yeh pioneered various cost- and time-saving construction innovations in Hong Kong that are now in use by all construction companies throughout the region.

He was Chairman of the Hong Kong Construction Industry Training Authority in 1975 and Chairman of the Hong Kong Futures Exchange in 1998.

Yeh established the M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Graduate Research Fellowship in the department in 1994 and the M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Endowed Chair Fund in 1998.  In 2007, he pledged the lead gift for the Yeh Student Center in Newmark Laboratory.  His philanthropy has also included gifts to Harvard University, St. John’s University, Stanford University, Peking University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Hong Kong Baptist University.  Yeh is an Honorary Court Member of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Hong Kong Baptist University.  He is also a Member of the President’s Council of the University of Illinois Foundation.

In 1976 he was conferred Justice of the Peace and in 1981, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.  In 2000, he was conferred the Silver Bauhinia Star by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of PRC.  He was the Honorary Consul of Jamaica in Hong Kong from 1984-2002, and was awarded the Badge of Honor for Meritorious Services (BHM) by His Excellency the Governor-General of Jamaica in 2003.

Yeh and his wife, Helen, have a son, V-Nee; a daughter, Yvette; and three grandchildren.

Kathryn A. ZimmermanKathryn A. Zimmerman, P.E., (BS 83, MS 85), President, Applied Pavement Technology Inc., Champaign

For outstanding leadership in, as well as contributions to, pavement research, design, construction  and management  technology; and for extensive service and dedication to engineering education, particularly the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois.

After earning her B.S. (1983) and M.S. (1985) degrees from the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Kathryn A. Zimmerman worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign.   In 1987, she joined the staff of ERES Consultants Inc., where she was President of the company for three years before founding Applied Pavement Technology Inc. (APTech) in December 1994.  Throughout her career, Zimmerman has helped agencies improve the condition of their transportation assets through the use of computerized management systems.  In this capacity she has had the opportunity to work with federal and state transportation agencies, local governments, and airports.

Zimmerman has served in a leadership position for several professional organizations, including serving as current Chair of the Transportation Asset Management Committee of the Transportation Research Board and Chair of that organization’s Pavement Management Systems Committee from 1994 to 2000.  She was a member of the University of Illinois Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Board and served as President from 2002 to 2004.  Zimmerman has been recognized by the National Highway Institute with the Team Administrative Award in 2007 and 2008 and received the Young Alumni Civil Engineer Achievement Award (renamed the Young Alumnus Achievement Award in 2007) from the University of Illinois Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1992.

Zimmerman lives in Urbana, IL.  Her son, Michael S. Cation, is a 1999 graduate of the University of Illinois and the Assembly Hall Announcer for the University of Illinois Basketball Team. 

The 2010 Young Alumnus is:

Kurt A. KeiferKurt A. Keifer (BS 97, MS 99, PhD 06), Project Engineer, Dynatest Consulting, Chicago

For business development of infrastructure design and analysis approaches, and particularly for the implementation of pavement management systems for roadways, parking lots, and airfield pavements.

Keifer holds B.S. (1997) and M.S. (1999) degrees in structural engineering and a Ph.D. (2006) in transportation engineering, all from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

While earning his doctorate, Keifer helped develop a waterfront facility management system and a method for assessing the condition of pile-supported concrete structures for the U.S. Navy. His career has also included working for Applied Pavement Technology Inc. of Champaign and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  In his current position at Dynatest Consulting, he is opening the firm’s new Chicago office and implementing a pavement management system for Cook County.

He has been actively involved in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) since 1993.  He is the 2009-10 Chair of the ASCE Illinois Chapter Younger Member Group.  He also serves on several technical committees for ASTM, the Transportation Research Board and ASCE.

He and Masha, his wife and also three-time University of Illinois alumni, now reside in the West Loop of Chicago.