Bagley College honors distinguished alumni

April 28, 2015

The Bagley College added 10 alumni to its Distinguished Fellows ranks. Front row from L-R: Charles Cascio, Stephen Cayson, and Brian Sabourin; Back row from L-R: Daniel Fordice, Damir Novosel, Charles Cumbaa, and J. Singh Sandhu. Not pictured: Tommy Joseph, Charles Stephenson, and Grace Comfort Strucko.

The Bagley College added 10 alumni to its Distinguished Fellows ranks. Front row from L-R: Charles Cascio, Stephen Cayson, and Brian Sabourin; Back row from L-R: Daniel Fordice, Damir Novosel, Charles Cumbaa, and J. Singh Sandhu. Not pictured: Tommy Joseph, Charles Stephenson, and Grace Comfort Strucko.

STARKVILLE, Miss. – The James Worth Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University honored 10 alumni for their accomplishments and commitment to engineering and their alma mater at its annual Distinguished Fellows ceremony.

“We are very proud of this year’s class of distinguished fellows,” interim dean Jason Keith said. “They have been successful in a wide range of careers and underscore the opportunities that an engineering degree from Mississippi State University can bring to our graduates.”

The Bagley College’s Distinguished Fellows program began in 1991 when 100 alumni were recognized in celebration of the college’s 100th anniversary. Each spring, new alumni fellows are inducted to recognize their demonstrated commitment and dedication to the engineering profession.

The 2015 Distinguished Fellows are (by location):

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charlie Cumbaa, a 1976 nuclear engineering graduate, is the executive vice president of corporate and product strategy for Blackbaud, a $650 million software company that focuses on fundraising and financial software for non-profit organizations.

Immediately following his graduation from Mississippi State, Cumbaa worked for AT&T Long Lines in a management development program. After three years, he left the company to continue his education at Harvard Business School and earn a Master of Business Administration. He then moved to Atlanta to work in telecommunications at McKinsey & Company, a global strategy consulting firm. Later, he joined the startup company Sales Technologies, a platform for sales force automation. He then founded Cognitech, a customer relationship management software company. After its sale he joined Intertech, a software company in Atlanta.

Cumbaa and his wife Maryileen enjoy visiting their home in Big Sky, Montana. They have two children, Chelsea and Alex. He is a member of the Southeast Software Association and is active in his community as a board member of the Charleston Symphony and Habitat for Humanity.

CLEVELAND, Miss. – After 35 years with Baxter Healthcare, Charles Cascio serves as the manger of business development at the company’s Mississippi manufacturing location.

Cascio graduated from the industrial engineering department at Mississippi State in 1979 and continued his education by earning a Masters of Business Administration from Delta State University. Since joining Baxter Healthcare, he has held seven positions and been recognized for his accomplishments with several awards.

Cascio has served on both the local and national alumni boards for Mississippi State University. In 2009, he was selected to be MSU’s 90th National Alumni Board president. He is also active with his local United Way, where he served as campaign chair and president. He enjoys spending time in his hometown of Leland, Mississippi, and is a member of the Cleveland Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church.

GERMANTOWN, Tenn. – As the senior vice president of manufacturing; technology; environment, health, safety and sustainability; and global sourcing for International Paper, Tommy Joseph implements the company’s global initiatives in those areas.

After graduating from Mississippi State in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, Joseph began his career as a process engineer at the International Paper Natchez mill. In 1986, he earned an executive Master of Business Administration from Louisiana State University. He then moved to the Riverdale mill in Alabama before becoming manager of manufacturing technical services for P&C Papers in Memphis.

In 1996 Joseph worked as the mill manager at the Camden, Arkansas mill and two years later began serving as the mill manager in the Mansfield, Louisiana. In 2001, he became manufacturing director of Containerboard and Kraft and then business manager of the Specialty and Kraft Paper business. In 2004, he was named International Paper’s vice president of the former specialty papers business in Wisconsin. He later became vice president of technology in Ohio.

Joseph is a leader in several professional organizations and is the lead director of the Ilim Pulp and Paper board of directors, a Russian company and joint venture with International Paper. He and his wife Andrea have two sons.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A 1983 graduate in aerospace engineering, Brian Sabourin serves as the deputy project manager for the U.S. Army’s Fixed Wing aircraft programs. He has more than 34 years of program experience in the Department of Defense.

Following his graduation from Mississippi State University, Saborutin began working as a civilian for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army conducting specialized work as an interior ballistician, missile lethality expert, senior systems engineering and weapon system manager. In 2000, he joined Army Aviation and was promoted to deputy project manager for aviation systems in 2005.

Sabourin has authored several Army Aviation articles and is a member of the Army Acquisition Corps, the Army Aviation Association of America and the American Helicopter Society. He has served on the board of directors for the Redstone American Helicopter Society chapter, the Huntsville/Decatur Mississippi State Alumni Association, as well as its national board.

Sabourin has been married for over 29 years to fellow Bulldog Jean Hosch Sabourin. They have three daughters: Mississippi Stater alumna Jennifer, current Mississippi State student Kaitlyn, and Allison.

Stephen Cayson has almost 30 years of experience serving the aerospace and defense industry in technology, system development and leadership roles. He is the chief scientist and vice president for technology at Sigmatech, a company that provides technical services and support to the aerospace and defense companies.

After graduating from Mississippi State in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Cayson worked worked for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center as a technologist for control systems and leader in weapon systems technology development. After 21 years, he left federal service to be director of innovation and realization for Ducommun Technologies. He returned to federal service in 2008 at the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command as deputy director for space and cyberspace technology.

Cayson is a deacon at Mayfair Church of Christ and serves on the advisory board for the mechanical engineering department at Mississippi State. He also serves on regional and local boards of directors. He is married to Polly Ann Watt, Mississippi State class of 1989, and they have one child, Emma.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sukhwinder Johnny Singh Sandu works at the University of Florida in Jacksonville as the chief of neuroradiology and an assistant professor. He is a clinical investigator and mentors residents caring for trauma, stroke and cancer patients.

After he earned a bachelor’s in biological engineering from MSU, Sandu attended the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where he researched brain tumor immunotherapy with three fellow Mississippi State University alumni. In 1999, he began a neurosurgery residency at the University of Miami, but later switched to radiology. He then completed a neuroradiology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School where he remained as a faculty member until 2010.

Sandu shares his alma mater with his father, brother, sister and oldest daughter. He is married to Kirsten Patricia Manning Sandu, and they have four children. He supports the Sikh Society of Northeast Florida and St. Paul’s School and Parrish, where his younger children are enrolled. He is a member of the Bulldog Club and a devoted college football fanatic.

RALEIGH, N.C. – National Academy of Engineering member, Fulbright scholar Damir Novosel is the president of Quanta Technology, a subsidiary of Quanta Services.

After earning a doctoral degree in electrical engineering from Mississippi State University, Novosel worked for ABB Ltd., a global power and automation technology company where he served as vice president of ABB Automation Products. He then worked as president of KEMA Transmission and Distribution Consulting U.S. In addition, he has worked as an adjunct professor at North Carolina State University, where he serves two advisory boards.

Novosel is active in the Power Energy Society and the Council on Large Electric Systems, where he has held several leadership roles and received awards for his publications. He participates in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the North American Synchrophasor Initiative. He has published more than 100 articles in transactions, journals and proceedings. He holds 16 U.S. and international patents.

Grace Comfort Strucko has worked in software development management for International Business Machines (IBM) for more than 30 years.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from Mississippi State University, Strucko joined an IBM team working to integrate Rolm telephony products into the company. Throughout her career with the company she has had the opportunity to manage several teams in almost every aspect of software development. She has been recognized in the company as a distinguished team contributor.

Strucko’s husband Mark also attended MSU and was a member of the track and field team. They have two daughters, Lindsey and Jenna. In her spare time, she enjoys watching sports, cooking, traveling and attending country music concerts.

TULSA, Okla. – In the last 18 years, Charlie Stephenson has founded five private equity-backed upstream energy companies with Natural Gas Partners. He is the CEO and director of Angus Natural Resources and Bravo Natural Resources.

After graduating Mississippi State in 1981 with a bachelor’s in petroleum engineering, Stephenson worked for Conoco as a drilling engineer in four locations worldwide ending with a position as drilling manager in the Netherlands. Following Conoco, he began working for privately held Samson Resources in Tulsa as a drilling manager. He then transferred to Unit Petroleum Corporation to work as the manager of drilling and production operations before beginning his partnership with Natural Gas Partners.

In addition to his engineering career, Stephenson also owns a power sports dealership in Louisiana and an online business, Two Wheel Parts Supply. He and his wife Dana have six children. He enjoys spending time at their family’s ranch and is a member at Southminster Presbyterian Church and the Summit Club.

VICKSBURG, Miss. – Daniel Fordice is the vice president of his family’s construction company Fordice Construction Company in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and president of Southern Delta Construction LLC in Houma, Louisiana.

After graduating from MSU in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering technology, Fordice went on active duty with the U.S. Army in the 10th Engineer Battalion in Kitzingen, Germany. In 1987, he left active military service to return to his hometown and the family construction business. He also joined the Mississippi National Guard with the 2/20 Special Forces Battalion. He resigned his commission with the rank of captain in 1994. In 2008, Dan and his brother, Hunter, founded Southern Delta Construction LLC.

Fordice is active in the Associated General Contractors of America and has held several leadership roles in the organization both locally and nationally. He enjoys flying for business and pleasure and participating in air shows. He was an MSU Glider and often participates in flyovers at Mississippi State University home football games. He founded two local nonprofit foundations, the Southern Heritage Air Foundation and the Warrior Bonfire Project. He and his wife Ann Claire Roesch, Mississippi State class of 1987, have three children and are active members of St. Paul’s Catholic Church.

For more information about the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University, visit

By: Erin Boozer