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News|College of Engineering and Applied Science

College Honors Hall of Fame & Distinguished Engineer


October 9, 2011 — The UW College of Engineering and Applied Science will honor the recipients of the 2011 Distinguished Engineer and Hall of Fame awards during homecoming weekend October 14-15. Hank Swartout, Lyle Bjorn and Ted Gertsch will join 42 other alumni on the list of distinguished engineers and Hall of Fame inductees within the college.

Hank B. Swartout was selected to join the elite class of members of the UW College of Engineering and Applied Science Hall of Fame. Hank, P.E. has been Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Saxon Oil Company Ltd. since July 2010. He served as the president and chief executive officer at Precision Drilling Corp., (formerly, Precision Drilling Ltd.), an administrator at Precision Drilling Trust since January 1, 2007. He has over thirty years of experience in the oil and gas business. Hank earned his honours degree in petroleum engineering from UW in 1977 and is a 1972 graduate of the petroleum engineering program at Calgary's Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).

From 2005 to 2010, Mr. Swartout was involved in many Oil and Gas start ups. He served as Manager at Bawden Western Oceanic Offshore in Canada. He spent four years as vice president of Rig Design and Construction at Dreco and served as vice president of construction/manager of construction at Nabors Drilling Canada.

Hank has been chairman of BlackWatch Energy Services Corp. since June 10, 2009. He serves as the chairman of HFG Holdings, Inc. He serves as a co-chairman of Energy Alberta Corporation. He founded Precision Drilling Corp. and served as its executive chairman from January 1, 2007 to August 2007. Hank served as independent non–executive chairman of Highpine Oil & Gas Limited from May 15, 2007 to May 2009, and as chairman of Cequence Energy Ltd. from March 2009 to July 2009.

Further, Hank has been an independent non–executive director of Highpine Oil & Gas Limited since February 2000. He serves as an independent director of Escavar Energy, Inc., as a Director of North West Upgrading Inc., Temple Exploration Inc., Vaquero Resources Ltd., and Precision Drilling Technologies Services Group Inc. (formerly, Computalog LTD.). He served as a Director of Cequence Energy Ltd. from 2005 to December 17, 2009, Temple Energy Inc. since June 15, 2004 and Saxon Oil Company Ltd. since May 2010. He serves as a Non Management Director of Wave Energy Ltd.

"I believe this nomination to be long overdue. His national and international impact on drilling engineering and petroleum production in general is indeed very impressive," says O.A. "Gus" Plumb in his nomination supporting Hank for Hall of Fame membership.

Lyle Bjorn (1916–1983) is also a recipient of the 2011 Hall of Fame award. Lyle came from a pioneering family which homesteaded in Wyoming. His adventurous spirit carried into his love for flying. As a teenager, Lyle designed and built a glider which he tested from ski jumps.

Lyle worked in aircraft design and became a test engineer before working on missiles and rockets. After working in missile development, he tested Navaho and Hound Dog missiles before being assigned to the Saturn/Apollo Project. His career spanned the space program from its infancy to manned lunar landings.

As manager of testing and operations on Stage II of the Saturn V Rocket, Lyle led a team of 400 engineers and technicians. His overall responsibility was to prepare SII for launch. This included completion of test procedures and the prelaunch checklist which his team wrote. Over 1,000 parameters were measured and analyzed when engineering calculations were made by slide rule. The reliability of the five 80,000 RPM turbo pumps was critical to the rocket's thrust. Lyle was in the Launch Control Center and gave the OK that SII was ready.

"Lyle was one of those people who always had a positive attitude and outlook. At work or play he was always the same. Lyle's admission to the Engineering and Applied Science Hall of Fame should bring honor to the University and all those whose life he touched," says Donald Bower in his letter of support for Lyle.

Even though Lyle made significant contributions to the U.S. Space program, perhaps his greatest legacy was his ability to uplift and enrich the lives of those who knew him. That quality is still felt today.

The recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Engineer is Ted Gertsch. Ted graduated in 1951 from Loveland, Colo., high school and attended UW beginning fall 1959. He graduated with honors in 1962 with a B.S. in civil engineering with an architectural option. He is a registered Professional Engineer and Architect.

""Ted has always come up with sound and unique plans for his and our clients. He, along with his firm, have been invaluable to the Laramie Community as evidenced by his many projects," says Emory Spiegelberg in his letter of nomination. "These projects have certainly left the community a better place."

During his time between high school graduation and attending UW, he worked construction and served in the U.S. Army. He also studied one year in the school of Architecture at Colorado University. After graduation from UW, he served four years with the UW Physical Plant and four years as a full time instructor in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering. He served as an adjunct professor in the department from 1995-1998.

Ted cofounded Gertsch/Baker and Associates in Laramie, Wyo., in 1973 and has been actively involved in the company for 36 years. Along with consulting, he was involved with the Laramie City Council for six years, serving as mayor for two years during that same time. He was active with the Wyoming Senate for one year, Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts of America, and served as a board member for a local bank for fifteen years.

Currently Ted is a member of the City of Cheyenne Housing and Community Development Committee and the Parent Advisory Committee for Laramie County School District #1 of Cheyenne. Ted lives in Cheyenne with his long–time friend Sharon and they are proud grandparents of four.

 

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