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Kansas State University engineering alumni honored for career success 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


MANHATTAN — The Kansas State University College of Engineering will honor 11 alumni for professional career accomplishment during the first 20 years following their graduation. The honorees will be recognized at ceremonies on the Manhattan campus March 28.

Recipients of the college's Professional Progress Award were nominated by their respective department heads and confirmed by Darren Dawson, dean of engineering.

The following are the 2015 Professional Progress Award honorees:

Andy Buessing, Colwich, graduated from Kansas State University in 1977 with a degree in civil engineering. He is the industrial division manager for Hutton Construction where he oversees a $30 million division of approximately 80 employees. The company's primary client base consists of oil and gas refineries, nitrogen plants, pharmaceutical plants and other industrial construction units. Before joining Hutton five years ago, he managed the construction of ethanol plants across the U.S. and was a practicing design engineer. Buessing is a licensed professional engineer, and has served on the Colwich City Council and as president of the local ball club association.

Dave Chaffee, Leawood, graduated from Kansas State University in 1996 with a degree in construction science and management. He currently serves as president of E&K companies, providing general oversight of all its construction locations in Kansas City, Omaha, Denver, Chicago and Phoenix. He began his career with E&K in 1996, moving up the ranks from project manager to senior project manager to unit manager to president, always integral in the company's ongoing focus on internal development, innovation and safety. Chaffee has served with various local community organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, CRASH and Rebuilding Together.

Brian Rempe, Manhattan, graduated from Kansas State University in 2003 with a bachelor's in computer information systems and also went on to earn an MBA. He is serving as chief operating officer at CivicPlus in Manhattan after previously holding positions of chief strategy officer, chief technology officer and director of technology with the company. Currently, Rempe leads more than 200 employees, including more than 100 Kansas State University graduates. His primary responsibilities are managing day-to-day operating activities of CivicPlus, including revenue and sales growth; expense; cost and margin control; product development; and monthly, quarterly and annual financial goal management. Rempe serves on the executive board of the local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club, and is a member of the computing and information sciences advisory board at the university.

Casee Eisele, Olathe, graduated from Kansas State University in 1998 with a degree in biological and agricultural engineering. She also has a master's degree in systems engineering and an MBA, both from the University of Iowa. Currently a project manager for John Deere, she has been with the company for 17 years, progressing through multiple design, test and manufacturing engineering positions in Waterloo, Iowa, and Mannheim, Germany. She holds the John Deere Simple & Elegant Design Award and a patent for "Method of Making a Casting Assembly," and was honored as the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers' Young Engineer of the Year for Iowa and the Mid-Central section in 2009. Eisele has served on the biological and agricultural engineering advisory council at Kansas State University and as chair for John Deere's Society of Women Engineers. She mentors junior First Lego League teams in her community.

Gabriel Hernandez, Overland Park, graduated from Kansas State University in 1995 with a degree in electrical engineering. He is a vice president in the transmission and distribution group at Burns & McDonnell, acting as its director of substation projects. Hernandez has more than 18 years of experience in the electrical transmission, distribution and substation industry in design, project management and business development. Hernandez will receive his executive MBA, or EMBA, from the University of Missouri, Kansas City in May. He is a current member of the electrical engineering department's advisory council at Kansas State University.

Mark Swanson, Overland Park, graduated from Kansas State University in 1995 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He also has an executive MBA from Washington University. Swanson is vice president of business development for the process and industrial division of Burns & McDonnell, a company he joined in 2000, moving up the ranks to client manager, project manager and business development manager. During his tenure, he has contributed greatly to the success of the oil and gas market, and the food and consumer products business at Burns & McDonnell. Swanson has been a member of the mechanical and nuclear engineering department advisory board at Kansas State University for the past 10 years.

Justin Salmans, Wichita, graduated from Kansas State University in 1996 with a degree in industrial engineering. He has an MBA from Baker University. He is the vice president, supply chain management, for Textron Aviation, the world's leading manufacturer of general aviation aircraft, headquartered in Wichita. His responsibilities include sourcing and delivery for Textron Aviation, Textron Corporate Logistics and the Textron Corporate Indirect Center of Excellence. In this role, Salmans manages all aspects of direct and indirect strategic sourcing totaling $3 billion. He began his career with General Electric in its leadership development program and held various positions of increasing responsibility in the aircraft engine overhaul and maintenance business. Salmans is certified in both Six Sigma Black Belt and Lean Manufacturing. He has served on the industrial engineering advisory board at Kansas State University, having just completed a term as chair.

Chris Hansen, Denver, Colorado, graduated from Kansas State University in 1998 with a degree in nuclear engineering. He has a graduate diploma of civil engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, a master's degree in technology policy from MIT and a doctorate in economic geography from Oxford University. He currently leads a global portfolio of energy events and partnerships at IHS, including programs and communities for CERAWeek, a 3,000-person executive event focused on energy markets. In addition, he directs a social media analytics development team and is a co-creator of the OptGen analysis, IHS CERA's unique tool for applying financial portfolio techniques to power generation. Before joining IHS, Hansen was a research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, where he analyzed electricity and gas sector reform in India. His community involvement includes serving on the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation board, Denver Petroleum Club board, Central City Opera Board Executive Committee, Denver Kids Mentoring Program, UC-Denver Business School advisory board and as chair of the Colorado Energy Coalition.

Kent Nettleingham, Katy, Texas, graduated from Kansas State University in 1997 with a degree in chemical engineering. He serves as general manager for Texon LP, a midstream service provider of technology-based blending and niche marketing in Houston, Texas. Nettleingham currently leads Texon's butane blending business and is responsible for customer relationship management, commercial oversight, supply, logistics and growth. He also leads operations, optimization, field services, control systems and engineering shared services across all Texon technology-based blending operations. During the 15 years prior to joining Texon, he contributed to Phillips 66, ConocoPhillips and Flint Hills Resources in a variety of technical and commercial roles, including process engineering, economics and planning, business development, supply, origination and asset optimization.

Jonas McBride, Round Rock, Texas, graduated from Kansas State University in 1995 with a degree in architectural engineering. He is director of central U.S. engineering for Rosendin Electric, where he oversees engineering production, project management, and develops relationships with new customers on a regional and national basis. McBride is a registered professional engineer in Texas and 10 other states. During his career, he has worked for DBR Engineering Consultants, NSPOF, Smith Seckman Reid and M+NLB, focusing on development of vertical construction projects in North America, Hawaii, the Caribbean and Africa. In 2004, McBride organized a group of alumni at Smith Seckman Reid to support the renovation of Seaton Hall's west wing, resulting in completion of a faculty office. He has served on the advisory board for architectural engineering at Kansas State University, including time as chairman.

Nick Taluja, Southlake, Texas, graduated from Kansas State University in 1994 with dual degrees in computer engineering and mathematics. He also has Master of Science in electrical engineering from the university. Taluja is currently vice president of sales for SK Hynix, a global leader in semiconductor memory solutions, managing a team responsible for generating more than $3.5 billion in annual sales in the Americas. He has been with SK Hynix since mid-2013. He previously was vice president and general manager for the Americas for ST-Ericsson. Taluja holds three patents in the field of near-field communications for radio interference, security and power management used in mobile devices and credit cards for payment applications. For the past 18 years, he has served in various positions ranging from sales, business development, product management and general management with Texas Instruments, TranSwitch and ST-Ericsson in Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston, San Diego, San Francisco and Nice, France.


Professional Progress Award

News tip

Colwich, Leawood, Manhattan, Olathe, Overland Park and Wichita, Kansas; Denver, Colorado; and Katy, Round Rock and Southlake, Texas.

Written by

Mary Rankin

At a glance

Eleven alumni from the College of Engineering at Kansas State University will receive the college's Professional Progress Award for their career accomplishments.