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May 11, 2006
Contact: Jill Hummels, School of Engineering, (785) 864-2934.

Three alumni to receive top honor from KU School of Engineering

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Engineering and its advisory board will honor three of the school’s alumni for careers that exemplify professional achievement.

J.B. “Bert” Ladd of Los Angeles, Rear Adm. Michael K. Loose of Washington, D.C., and Paul H. Mitchell of Bonita Springs, Fla., will receive the Distinguished Engineering Service Award today at the Kansas Union. The award was created by the advisory board in 1980 to honor engineering alumni, or engineers who have maintained a close association with the school, for their outstanding contributions to the theories and practices of engineering research and development in new fields of engineering or directing an organization that has made exceptional contributions in design, production and development.

“The School of Engineering and its advisory board are pleased to recognize these three individuals who’ve had extraordinary impact on people, programs and places both near and far,” said Stuart R. Bell, dean of the School of Engineering. “J.B. Ladd, a 1949 petroleum engineering graduate, has led a remarkable career as an independent oil and gas producer. Rear Adm. Loose, a 1975 civil engineering alumnus, now commands the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and oversees a budget of more than $10 billion in U.S. Naval installation projects and services.”

No less significant is the career of Mitchell, a 1962 mechanical engineering alumnus who recently retired as vice president of advanced research and development for Nike.

“Paul’s vision and innovative skills were essential in the development of the highly successful Nike Air line of athletic shoes,” said Bell. “These three engineers are extraordinary role models of personal and professional integrity for our students to emulate.”

Ladd, Loose and Mitchell will each receive a bronze sculpture acknowledging the achievement. Portraits of the honorees and highlights of their professional accomplishments also will become part of the permanent Distinguished Engineering Service Award display in Eaton Hall, home of the School of Engineering.

J.B. “Bert” Ladd is the retired founder and CEO of Ladd Petroleum Corp. He earned a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from KU in 1949. Ladd enrolled at KU in 1942 but placed his college aspirations on hold during World War II. After being honorably discharged as a first lieutenant from the U.S. Army Air Corps, he returned to KU to finish his degree. Upon graduation, Ladd found employment with a firm that would later become Texaco. In 1957, Ladd joined Consolidated Oil and Gas as its vice president of operations but left to spend a year working in Citibank’s new loan group that served the international and domestic petroleum industry. In 1968, he formed Ladd Petroleum Corp., which by 1973 had achieved significant industry stature and about 5,000 shareholders. Ladd Petroleum merged with Utah International, which subsequently was acquired by industry giant General Electric in 1976. Ladd continued to work as president and chairman of Ladd Petroleum until he resigned in 1979. He has remained active in the petroleum industry and corporate world and serves as a director of Whiting Petroleum Corp., which he helped found 25 years ago.

Rear Adm. Michael K. Loose is commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Command and chief of civil engineers for the U.S. Navy. He earned a bachelor’s in civil engineering from KU in 1975. Loose, a native of Albuquerque, N.M., attended KU on a Navy ROTC scholarship and was commissioned as an ensign upon graduation. He has spent more than 30 years in significant positions in the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps. In 2003, Loose assumed leadership of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and became chief of civil engineers. As such, Loose leads the command’s 15,000 personnel in providing a diverse array of engineering, planning, public works, construction management, environmental, real estate and contracting services for Navy installations around the world. The effort represents more than $10 billion annually. As chief of civil engineers, Loose leads more than 2,000 Civil Engineer Corps officers and is responsible for all aspects of the community’s training and development and employment in support of the Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and Department of Defense objectives.

Paul H. Mitchell is the retired vice president of advanced research and development for Nike Inc. He earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from KU in 1962. After completing the ROTC program and graduating from KU, Mitchell worked at Eastman Kodak for a few months before serving two years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 1970, he was offered a position as engineering manager at Tetra Plastics near St. Louis. In 1980, Tetra began working with the sporting equipment giant Nike to develop uniquely engineered cushioning systems for the Nike Air line of shoes. In 1988, Mitchell was promoted to president and COO of Tetra and assumed general management responsibilities. In 1991, Mitchell negotiated the sale of Tetra Plastics to Nike and was named the president and CEO of the new Nike IHM subsidiary. In 1993, the plant was flooded with 7 feet of water when the Missouri River breached its levees. The plant employed about 250 people and was Nike’s only Air technology materials and components manufacturing plant. Mitchell quickly moved the operation to a nearby dry location. Twenty-seven days after the flooding, damaged equipment had been rebuilt, workers were back on the line and Nike IHM averted an international shortage of soles. In January 2000, Mitchell was named vice president for advanced research and development for Nike Global Footwear. Mitchell holds 11 patents. He has been active in the Society of Plastic Industry Sheet Products, serving as its president for two years, and on the national Board of Directors of the Society of Plastic Industry.

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