Two BYU engineering professors awarded Governor’s Medals

On January 5, two BYU professors were announced as winners of the 2016 Governor’s Medals for Science and Technology. Gov. Gary R. Herbert, along with the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative and the Governor’s Office for Economic Development, announced 12 winners.

Timothy McLain, a mechanical engineering professor, and Kyle Rollins, a civil engineering professor, were two of the seven winners in the category of academic/research. The Governor’s Medals for Science and Technology are awarded to residents and companies who have provided distinguished service or made significant contributions to Utah’s advanced scientific and technological knowledge, education and industry.

McLain is an expert in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).  In 1999 and 2000, he was a visiting scientist at the Air Force Research Laboratory where he initiated research in the guidance and control of unmanned aircraft systems. Since then, his research has received the support of the Air Force, the Army, DARPA, NASA, NSF, ONR, and many companies. With Professor Randy Beard and students, McLain founded Procerus Technologies, a company that produces UAS autopilot, sensing and guidance technology. Procerus was acquired by Lockheed Martin in 2012. He has served as department chair at BYU and is now the director for the Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. He is also the co-author of the textbook "Small Unmanned Aircraft." He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BYU and a Ph.D. from Stanford University, all in mechanical engineering.

Rollins is a pioneer in the area of large-scale testing for improving bridge and foundation performance during earthquakes. He has developed techniques for simulating soil liquefaction in the field using small explosive charges, techniques that have been used in research projects around the world. As a BYU faculty member, Rollins has supervised 110 master's students and six Ph.D. students and has also published 122 peer-reviewed technical papers with external research support of $5.1 million. He has lectured around the world and has received many awards including the Utah Engineering Educator of the Year award, the Maeser Research Award from BYU, the Research Trailblazer Award from the Utah Department of Transportation, the Osterberg Award recognizing innovation in foundations, and was the Canadian Geotechnical Society Cross-Canada lecturer speaking in 14 cities across Canada. He has his bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering from BYU and a Ph.D. in geotechnical engineering from University of California, Berkeley.

Governor Herbert said in a press release that medal recipients are leaders in innovation that are serving as educators, mentors and influencers statewide.

“Innovation drives Utah’s thriving economy and unmatched quality of life,” Herbert said. “I commend the winners for excellence in their fields and for their important work, which will benefit Utah residents for generations.”

The medals will be presented at the 30th anniversary awards dinner on January 18, 2017.

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