JONESBORO — In fulfillment of a goal set by successful graduates and administrative leadership at Arkansas State University, the College of Engineering and Computer Science (CoECS) Alumni Academy has been launched. The inaugural cohort of 30 members was inducted during a banquet at Cooper Alumni Center.
The idea to launch the academy was conceived several years ago by Bert Parker, a leading business executive in the state and recently retired as senior vice president and chief administrative officer for Garver, a multistate engineering, planning, architectural and environmental services firm.
“A quick search provides information showing A-State engineering and computer science graduates being industry leaders in science, engineering and technology fields throughout the nation,” noted Parker, who is founding president of the Academy. “Graduates lead companies that have provided equipment to the International Space Station, helped design and build Navy and Air Force jet aircraft, are leaders in technological and medical education, and are even big players in Silicon Valley.”
The College of Engineering and Computer Science Alumni Academy not only will recognize these stars in industry, private enterprise, government and academia, but will reconnect these leaders back to A-State in the support of academic programs.
Planning for the academy’s launch gained momentum after the university appointed the inaugural CoECS dean, Dr. Abhijit Bhattacharyya, in 2019.
“Our goal is to celebrate their professional accomplishments and resulting positive reflection on their A-State experience. We want to involve them, not only through support to the college and its students with their time and expertise, but also to have them consider securing financial support to help grow the college and allow it to provide superior engineering and computer science education in the state of Arkansas,” according to Bhattacharyya.
“I consider it a privilege to have worked with a core group of alumni, Bert Parker, Jessie Jones (Arkansas Department of Transportation) and Jim Chidester (Batson Inc.), and my colleagues in the college to develop and launch the Alumni Academy,” Bhattacharyya added. “Anything we can do to help connect the academy members back to their alma mater is very fulfilling for us and is an excellent opportunity for our current students to learn from the alumni members. I cannot wait to see the growth of the academy in the years to come.”
Parker, Jones and Chidester, along with Bryan Melton and Natalie Rogers, comprise the Academy executive committee. Board members include Deric Wyatt, Evan Teague, Eric Farmer, Andrew Butler, Brandon Avant and Leigh Wineland.
The charter members of the Academy with professional affiliation and city of residence (by county and state) are:
(Benton) Charles Brinkley, Cree-Wolfspeed, Rogers;
(Benton-Washington) Bryan Melton, Garver, Springdale;
(Cleburne) Clint Bell, CWB Engineers Inc., Heber Springs;
(Craighead) Brandon Avant, Rural Sourcing Inc., Jonesboro; Andrew Butler, Autozone Inc., Jonesboro; David Handwork, A-State, Jonesboro; Rickey Jackson, R. L. Jackson’s Construction LLC, Jonesboro; Dr. Brandon Kemp, A-State, Jonesboro; Garland Martin, Hytrol Conveyor Co., Jonesboro; Jason Stewart, A-State, Monette;
(Grant) Deric Wyatt, Arkansas Dept. of Transportation, Sheridan;
(Greene) Brad Smithee, Arkansas Dept. of Transportation, Paragould; Leigh Wineland, Unilever, Paragould;
(Lonoke) Jim Chidester, Batson Inc., Austin;
(Pulaski) Todd Castleberry, Harrison Energy Partners, Little Rock; Eric Farmer, Garver, Sherwood; Jessie Jones, Arkansas Dept. of Transportation, Maumelle; Herbert J. (Bert) Parker, Garver (retired), Little Rock; Aaron Robinson, Bond Consulting Engineers, Jacksonville; Natalie Rogers, FTN Associates Inc., Little Rock; Evan Teague, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, Little Rock;
(Saline) Adam Roberson, Garver, Benton; Rex Vines, Arkansas Dept. of Transportation, Bryant;
(Florida) Ted Freeman, Velucidate Consulting, Niceville, Fla.;
(Georgia) Leon King, AECOM, Marietta, Ga.;
(Mississippi) Edith Martinez-Guerra, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Miss.;
(Pennsylvania) Dr. David Humble, Tower Health, Sinking Spring, Pa.;
(Tennessee) Rebecca O’Dell, U.S. General Services Administration, Portland, Tenn.;
(Texas) Keith Britton, Iconic Consulting Group Inc., Frisco, Texas; Adam White, Terracon Consultants Inc., Katy, Texas.A listing of the charter members, officials of the Academy, bylaws, and photographs of the celebration are also online.
Membership is only by invitation; prospective members must have been in the workforce for at least 10 years and have significant professional accomplishments to their credit. Members are either graduates of one of the academic programs in the college or are friends of the college.