May 13, 2002

Contact: Jill Hummels, School of Engineering, (785) 864-2934.

KU honors three engineers with university ties

LAWRENCE -- The University of Kansas School of Engineering and its advisory board recently honored two alumni and the current dean for careers that are sterling examples of professional achievement.

On May 9, Gregs G. Thomopulos of Iowa City, Iowa; Robert A. Kleist of Newport Beach, Calif.; and Dean Carl E. Locke Jr. received the Distinguished Engineering Service Award at the Adams Alumni Center. The award was created by the School of Engineering Advisory Board in 1980 to honor engineering alumni or engineers who have maintained a close association with the school. The award recognizes their outstanding contributions to the theories and practices of engineering research and development in new fields of engineering or direction of an organization that has made exceptional contributions in design, production and development.

"The School of Engineering and its advisory board are pleased to recognize three outstanding engineers," said Jim Adam, chair of the advisory board. "Each represents a different engineering discipline, but all have made outstanding contributions to society. Our three honorees demonstrate the breadth of accomplishment possible through an engineering education. Bob Kleist is a successful entrepreneur, Gregs Thomopulos, a talented business manager, and Carl Locke, an outstanding educator. Of course Bob and Gregs are KU alumni of whom we are very proud. Carl began his career as a Texas Longhorn, but I can assure you that today his blood runs crimson and blue, just like any other good Jayhawk."

Kleist, Locke and Thomopulos each received a bronze sculpture designed by Jon Havener, a faculty member in the KU School of Fine Arts. Portraits of the recipients also will become a part of the permanent DESA exhibit in the Spahr Engineering Library.

Complete biographical information is available at

Robert A. Kleist, a 1951 KU electrical engineering graduate, is president and CEO of Printronix Inc. in Irvine, Calif.

In 1974, after working for several years in technology companies, Kleist and business partner Gordon Barrus created a new type of printer that would be faster, more reliable and less costly than the cumbersome character printers on the market at the time. The duo envisioned a unique shuttle-based printer that would lay down a matrix of dots and be capable of printing bar codes and graphics as well as the usual characters.

Working out of a garage in Playa Del Ray, Calif., the Printronix team developed a revolutionary 300-line-per-minute prototype line matrix printer in just 90 days. The new printer technology, with its lower production costs and more reliable operation, was highly successful. The firm expanded and went public by 1979.

Printronix experienced significant growth in the '80s and early '90s, but Kleist continued to search for new opportunities for the company. With the eventual onset of recession and the associated printer-market consolidation, Kleist quickly seized the opportunity to take greater control of the technology and the market.

Printronix formed partnerships with many major systems companies to provide Printronix printers under their logo. The partnerships included industry giants such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Siemens-Nixdorf, Bull and Unisys. Kleist's vision and calculated risk -- increasing the investment in engineering as other companies laid off engineering teams -- paid off after the recession with an eventual doubling of the company's revenue.

In the mid '90s, the organization expanded its core technology into thermal printing and launched a new family of thermal printers, outfitted with revolutionary system features. Printronix has successfully pursued new innovations including global network management, remote diagnosis and maintenance, a common system architecture for all Printronix printers, along with automatic online validation of printed bar codes. From its original invention, line matrix technology has gone through five generations of improvements, each intimately overseen by Kleist, who holds 17 patents. Models now achieve print speeds in excess of 2,000 lines per minute.

As president and CEO of Printronix, Kleist leads worldwide sales, marketing, manufacturing and engineering organizations in the United States, Europe and Asia. Printronix's annual revenue exceeds $150 million. The company employs about 1,000 people worldwide and has sales and support offices in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria and Singapore.

In addition to his efforts at Printronix, Kleist, who earned a master's degree in electrical engineering in 1961 from Stanford University, has contributed his expertise to numerous corporate boards. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and is past chairman and director of the Orange County Council of the American Electronics Association. He is active in supporting the arts and environmental efforts. Bob also is committed to the successful future of engineering education, which he has repeatedly shown through his generous support of engineering programs at KU and in California, including a program to support future professors of manufacturing.

Robert and his wife, Barbara, have three daughters, six granddaughters and a grandson.

Gregs G. Thomopulos, a 1965 KU civil engineering graduate, is CEO of the Stanley Group, Muscatine, Iowa.

Thomopulos, who was born and raised in Benin City, Nigeria, was hired as a student intern with Stanley Consultants after graduating from KU. The internship was the beginning of a relationship that would span more than 35 years and benefit people around the world. Thomopulos attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a master's degree in structural engineering and structural mechanics. By 1966, it was back to work as a structural engineer-in-training at Stanley.

He spent 10 years on various overseas assignments for Stanley in west and east Africa. The projects varied from basic school structures, to luxury housing, to design of petroleum storage tanks to highway projects, roads projects and bridges. His abilities were quickly recognized, and by 1972 he was named vice president of Stanley Consultants Ltd./Liberia. In 1976, Thomopulos was elected executive vice president of Stanley Consultants Ltd./Liberia.

Two years later he was elected vice president of Stanley Consultants Inc. and transferred back to the firm's headquarters in Iowa as head of the company's international division. In this position, he was responsible for all of the firm's operations outside the United States. This assignment took him to more than 35 countries, primarily in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. The projects have had global effects -- from construction of a deep-water port in Dintulu, Malaysia, to water-supply projects in Jordan, to rural electrification in the Philippines.

In 1981, Thomopulos was elected senior vice president of the firm and promoted to head of the project division with overall responsibility for all company business development, marketing and project management. In 1983, he was elected a director of Stanley Consultants Inc.

His outstanding leadership and performance led to many more promotions. In 1987, Thomopulos was elected president of Stanley Consultants. In 1991 he was elected chair of Stanley Environmental and in 1995, chair of Stanley Design-Build. In 2000, Thomopulos was elected CEO of the Stanley Group. He is the first non-Stanley family member to serve in the chairman/CEO position, and he has overall responsibility for the group's operations.

The Stanley Group has seen dramatic growth during his tenure. In 1987, when he was named president of Stanley Consultants, the firm had revenue of more than $17 million. By 2001, the firm's revenue had increased to more than $67 million. The firm has 14 domestic offices and five international offices. Thomopulos' dedication, vision and drive have led the company into the Engineering News-Record Top 100 engineering organizations.

Thomopulos is an active member of several professional and humanitarian organizations. He is a licensed professional engineer in 14 states. He is a fellow of both the American Consulting Engineers Council and the American Society of Civil Engineers and a member of numerous other organizations. He also has shared his time and talent with Goodwill Industries and Rotary International.

Thomopulos and his wife, Mettie, have three daughters, Lisa, Nicole and Euphemia.

Carl E. Locke Jr., the 11th dean of the KU School of Engineering, arrived at KU in January 1986. He earned the opportunity to lead the school by proving himself in industry and academia.

The Texas native received his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering in 1958, 1960 and 1972, respectively, all from the University of Texas, Austin. From 1973 to 1986 he served as a professor, associate professor and assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, and his work at OU took on special significance between 1980 and 1986, when he served as director of the School of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

Academic excellence has been the crucial component of Locke's work at KU. In 1991, the school began collecting from its students a per-credit-hour fee that continues to acquire, maintain and upgrade computers, software and equipment for use by engineering students. In 1995, the computer science department completed a transfer from the College of Liberal Arts into the School of Engineering. In 1998, the school increased its presence in the Kansas City area by offering three additional master's degree programs at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park. Meanwhile, the engineering management program has made significant strides in distance education efforts. Another major shift took place in August 2001, when architectural engineering, which had been jointly administered through the School of Engineering and the School of Architecture and Urban Design, was fully incorporated into the School of Engineering. KU engineering students have been encouraged and supported to take part in capstone design courses and national design competitions with impressive results.

Academic excellence wouldn't be possible without a committed faculty. Fifty-nine of the roughly 95 faculty at the school were hired during Locke's tenure. All nine of the female faculty on staff also were hired during this time. One of those women, Kim Roddis, is the first female faculty member to attain full professor status in the school's history.

Locke, who was director of the KU Center for Research Inc. until 1997, has worked vigorously to bring about the new engineering building, to be completed in June 2003. Locke had the vision and the drive to make the building a reality. The project, which will benefit engineering students and faculty for generations to come, is funded entirely through private gifts to the school.

Fund raising has been an integral part of Locke's efforts at KU. More than $40 million donated by engineering alumni and friends and earmarked for the school has been added to the KU Endowment Association's fund since Locke stepped on campus. Locke also encouraged the department chairs to raise funds for their individual programs. The vision helped raise additional millions of dollars for the engineering school.

Locke has been involved in numerous professional and civic organizations. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and its Engineering Deans Council. He also belongs to several professional engineers societies. He is president of the Lawrence Rotary Club and has assumed leadership roles in the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and his church.

Locke, who lives in Lawrence, and his wife, Sammie, have two children and eight grandchildren.


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