Some of the most outstanding alumni from Clemson University’s largest college gathered in downtown Greenville on Thursday to welcome three of their own into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists and to honor three others as Outstanding Young Alumni.
Induction to the academy is the highest honor bestowed by Clemson’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Scientists. The honor recognizes alumni and special friends who have made major contributions to their professions and have brought significant distinction to the college and university.
The new members are Rebecca Copenhaver DeLegge, Craig Fallon and Robert Fjeld.
The newest crop of Outstanding Young Alumni are Diana Chen, Adam Kirn and Mary Katherine Watson. The award goes to graduates of the college who are 40 years old or younger and whose achievements have been significant to their profession or to the welfare of society.
Anand Gramopadhye, the college’s dean, thanked the night’s honorees and said each is leaving his or her unique mark on the world.
“We will always cherish the fact that your Clemson education may have had a small role to play in your success,” he said. “To paraphrase the Dalai Lama, we hope we have given you wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to give.”
Below is a brief description of each honoree. You can also hear directly from their nominators in a series of videos that will be posted on the college’s social media channels: Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists
Rebecca Copenhaver DeLegge: As the co-founder of two businesses and chief operating officer of a third, DeLegge is leading the charge to break the glass ceiling for girls and women who are interested in STEM disciplines and entrepreneurship. One of the companies she co-founded, DeLegge Medical, is among the nation’s premier medical device engineering, educational and consulting firms. Its customers have included major technology and medical companies, such as Boston Scientific, Corpak, Olympus, Covidien and Monteris Medical. DeLegge also co-founded Bella Veterinary Medical Solutions, a women-owned start up that creates top-quality veterinary equipment. In addition to co-founding two companies, DeLegge serves as COO for ArchCath, which was a finalist for a 2021 InnoVision Award in the Technology Development category. She was also among the original founders and leaders of South Carolina’s life sciences organization SCbio.
Craig Fallon: Fallon served in the U.S. Army with distinction. He received national recognition for his engineering and construction leadership and achievements from Alaska to Saudi Arabia, rising to operating vice president with Owens Corning. In 1987 he was part of an LBO spin off from Owens Corning forming a private company, Performance Contracting Group (PCG). PCG has since grown significantly to become one of the largest commercial and industrial mechanical insulation, interiors, cleanroom, and industrial service contractors in the nation with more than 50 offices across the United States and Ireland, having more than 8,000 employees, and an annual revenue approaching $2 billion. He is credited with ensuring the company today remains entirely employee owned, a move that secured the financial future for the company, its employees, and their families. Fallon retired as the company’s CEO and chairman in 2004.
Robert Fjeld: As a faculty member, Fjeld founded the Nuclear Environmental Engineering and Science (NEES) educational and research program within the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in 1976 and after a short period at Texas A&M, began his career at Clemson in 1980 to build the NEES program. His research focused on the environmental aspects of nuclear technologies. He did pioneering work in the area of risk assessment, and he is the lead author of a widely used textbook, “Environmental Risk Analysis for Human Health.” Fjeld held the Jerry E. and Harriett Calvert Dempsey Professorship of Waste Management from 1996 until he retired in 2009. He is now a faculty member emeritus. Fjeld endowed a professorship now held by Clemson’s Brian Powell, who studied under Fjeld as a Ph.D. student.
Outstanding Young Alumni
Diana Chen: Chen’s Clemson degrees include a Master of Science and a Ph.D., both in civil engineering. In 2016 she accepted a position as a founding faculty member of the Integrated Engineering Department in the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering at the University of San Diego, where she contributed to the school’s National Science Foundation Revolutionizing Engineering Departments project entitled, “Developing Changemaking Engineers.” Her work on this has helped to create a program that focuses on the sociotechnical aspects of engineering and the impact engineers have on society.
Adam Kirn: Kirn, a 2014 graduate of the engineering and science education Ph.D. program, currently serves as associate professor of engineering education in the Department of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. Kirn is having a profound impact on the field of engineering education as the founding faculty member for the program in Reno and is establishing national prominence for his research in the field.
Mary Katherine Watson: Watson holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in biosystems engineering from Clemson. As an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at The Citadel, she has been recognized for her teaching excellence and her prowess as a researcher, developing scholarly contributions to the field of engineering education. Supported by the National Science Foundation, Watson is building regional and national programs for supporting advancement of diverse faculty and students in STEM fields.