Nine named BCoE Distinguished Alumni Fellows

March 31, 2014

Distinguished Fellows

Back row from L-R: Michael Illanne, Timothy G. Usey, Matthew Ramsey and William Botts. Front row from L-R:Richard Mills Jr., Martin F. Jue, Catherine McKee Ertz, Veronica Leigh Hill, and Michael Herfurth.

STARKVILLE, Miss. — The Bagley College recognized nine alumni for their professional accomplishments and dedication to engineering and Mississippi State during its annual Distinguished Fellows ceremony.

“The Distinguished Fellows event is always great for the college because it allows our students to see the success of our alumni and be inspired to pursue their careers with the same level of excitement and enthusiasm,” said interim dean Jason Keith. “It is also wonderful to see the alumni re-connect with their favorite faculty members and catch up.”

The Bagley College’s Distinguished Fellows program was started 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 2014 Fellows class includes (by location):

BOULDER, Colo. – A 1975 graduate of the computer science program, Catherine “Katie” McKee Ertz is currently chief financial officer of the National Center for Women and Information Technology at the University of Colorado.

Following her graduation, Ertz began working as a programmer for Lockheed Electronics Corporation at Johnson Space Center in Houston. In 1977 she left Lockheed to pursue a master’s degree in computer science at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She then became a technical staff member at Bell Laboratories in Denver, where she specialized in telecommunications software development. During her career, she won the Trailblazer Award for her work on the AT&T Telephony Server Application Programmer Interface and the Lucent Technologies Multimedia Internet Telephony Communications Exchange System. She later received the Bell Laboratories President Silver Award for development in creation of the Lucent Technologies Internet Call Center.

Ertz is a third generation MSU graduate and the daughter of former vice president for research, Chester McKee. She is involved with several community groups and has served as the volunteer coordinator at Boulder High School. She and her husband Douglas have two children.

COVINGTONG, La. – Continuing a 34-year career with Chevron, C. Michael “Mike” Illanne is vice president of Chevron North America Exploration and Production Company’s Gulf of Mexico business unit. He is responsible for Chevron’s offshore shelf and deep-water activities.

In 1980, Illanne graduated from the civil engineering department at MSU and began working for Chevron as a design and construction engineering in New Orleans. In 2004, following an assignment with the global power unit, he became general manager of corporate strategic planning in San Ramon, Calif. He has held positions internationally in Australia, New Guinea and Nigeria. He holds appointments with community partners of Chevron such as America’s Energy Coast of the America’s WETLAND Foundation, the Business Council of New Orleans, the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association, and the New Orleans Recreation Development Foundation.

Illanne is married to a fellow MSU graduate Julie Ryan Illanne. They have three children and five grandchildren.

FLORA, Miss. – Richard H. Mills Jr.,1980 petroleum engineer graduate, is manager and founder of Tellus Operating Group LLC, the largest oil and gas producer with headquarters in Mississippi. It has exploration and production operations in Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Colombia.

After earning a master’s degree in business administration from Millsaps College in 1988, Mills began a career at Cities Service Oil and Gas Company’s southeast regional office in Jackson, Miss. In 1991, he began acquiring oil and gas fields and built several production companies. Eleven years later, the companies merged to form Tellus Energy, LLC.

Mills is a second-generation MSU engineer and is a member of the MSU Foundation Board and MSU’s Research and Technology Advisory Council. He is on the board of trustees at Millsaps College, the board of directors of the Mississippi Energy Policy Institute, and the executive committee of the U.S. Oil and Gas Association.

Mills and his wife Mary live on a farm and have four children.

FULSHEAR, Texas – As chief operating officer of Wind Capital Group, Michael Herfurth spends most of his time traveling between Houston, Chicago and St. Louis. He oversees operations and developing construction and engineering projects.

In 1989, Herfurth earned a degree in mechanical engineering from MSU and began working for Florida Power & Light at Turkey Point Nuclear Plant in Homestead, Fla. Two years later, he joined Southern Company where he remained for the next 15 years. Veering from his coal, gas and nuclear background, he joined Horizon Wind Energy, now EDP Renewables, in the renewable energy sector.

The oldest of his four children is a senior at MSU. Herfurth is active in his local MSU alumni group and attends Second Baptist Church. He is also involved in little league athletics with his younger children and a member of Falcon Point Golf Club.

HOUSTON, Texas – William “Will” Botts is chief communication officer at Lynntech Inc. in College Station, Texas, and CEO and majority owner of KIN-TEK Analytical Inc. in Houston.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering in 1968, Botts began working for AMBAC Industries Inc. in Columbus, Miss., while continuing his studies at MSU. He received his master’s in business administration in 1971. Three years later, he assisted in the startup of Arvin Industries in Tupelo. He joined Sheller Globe Corporation in Kosciusko, Miss., in 1976 and became division general manager in 1978. Botts moved to Houston in 1980 to serve as chief operating officer of The Brandt Company. He assisted the owner in selling the company to TRW Inc. where he served as vice president and general manager until 1985.

For the next 21 years, Botts was CEO and chairman of the board of directors of OI Corp. This company manufactures scientific instrumentation and is traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Under his leadership, Forbes Magazine named OI Corp. to its lists of “Companies to Watch” and “The Best 200 Small Companies.” Business Week Magazine listed it as one of “The Best 100 Small Companies.”

Botts enjoys traveling with his wife Martha Hines Botts, and visiting their four children. He serves on the advisory board of the industrial and systems engineering department at MSU.

MADISON, Ala. – In 2007, Matthew Ramsey co-founded Willbrook Solutions and now serves as corporate vice president and project manager of Willbrook Solution’s NASA SLS SE&I SETA support contract.

After graduating from MSU with a master’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1993, Ramsey worked as a missile systems engineer for Sparta Inc., in Huntsville, Ala, for two years. He then led the tactile missile and system simulation activities at Dynetics Inc. In 1998, he began working at ELMCO Inc., as project manager for ground-based midcourse defense and ground-based interceptor system simulation development.

Ramsey was a member of the 1988-1991 baseball teams and a charter member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. He and his wife Rebecca Johnson Ramsey have four children. He is a youth leader and mentor in his community and at Ashbury United Methodist Church. He has served on multiple advisory boards in the aerospace industry and continues to support MSU athletics.

PLAQUEMINE, La. – Veronica “Leigh” Hill is the global supply chain director for chlorinated organics and environmental business of Dow Chemical, where she has participated in multiple projects for Dow with partners in China, India and Brazil.

Hill began her career as a production engineer with Dow after graduating from MSU in 1984 with a degree in chemical engineering. For the next 15 years, she held various positions in manufacturing including serving as a production supervisor and a global technology improvement leader.

Since 1992, Hill has served as the Dow team leader for recruiting at MSU. She mentors young engineers at Dow and tutors MSU students. She is a pilot and a member of the mechanical engineering advisory board. Hill is married to William Oliver Hill, who also works for Dow and is chief of staff of the Mississippi Air National Guard. They have six children and do mission work in Honduras every summer.

RIDGELAND, Miss. – Timothy G. Usey currently practices with the Radiological Group, PA at Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Miss.

After graduating summa cum laude from Mississippi State in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering, Usey attended the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, graduating in 1994. He then began residency training in diagnostic radiology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, completing his training in 1998. While at Emory, he served as chief resident of the department of radiology. Following his tenure at Emory, he completed a fellowship in vascular and interventional radiology at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Upon returning to Mississippi in 1999, Usey joined Baptist Medical Center and became a leader in the use of minimally invasive interventional techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. As part of a multidisciplinary group of physicians offering the most comprehensive oncology services in Mississippi, he has been able to provide some of the most advanced interventional procedures in the care of Mississippians with cancer.

Usey is married to Allison Fowlkes Usey. They live in Ridgeland with their four children and are members of Madison United Methodist church.

STARKVILLE – Martin F. Jue is founder, owner and president of MFJ Enterprises Inc. and owner of Hy Gain Antennas and Rotators, Cushcraft Amateur Antennas, Ameritron HF Amplifiers, and Mirage VHF/UHF Amplifiers and Vectronics.

After graduating from MSU in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, Jue earned a master’s degree from Georgia Institute of Technology. He then spent a year at Magnavox designing military electronics for the Vietnam War. He returned to MSU where he worked as an instructor for seven years. In 1977, he began his startup company, MFJ, which now manufactures more amateur radio products than any other company in the world. In 2007 and 2012, the company was named the Oktibbeha Industry of the Year.

Jue lives in Starkville with his wife Betty Quong Jue and daughter, Deanna. He is a member of the Starkville Rotary Club, board president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Golden Triangle, and board member of the Mississippi Children’s Museum in Jackson, Miss. He has been inducted into the CQ Hall of Fame and the QRP Hall of Fame. He continues to mentor and tutor students at MSU.

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By: Erin Boozer