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01-03-2011

Five Receive Clarkson University's Top Alumni Honor

Stub E. Estey of Washington, D.C.; Douglas L. Kieta of Spring, Tex.; Kenneth R. Baker of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; Kenneth C. Thode of Scituate, Mass.; and Thomas R. Baum of Little Falls, N.Y., have all received the Golden Knight Award from their alma mater, Clarkson University. Presented each year during Reunion Weekend, Clarkson's most prestigious alumni award is given to alumni who have distinguished themselves either by service to Clarkson through Alumni Association activities or have demonstrated outstanding career achievement, bringing distinction to themselves and to Clarkson.

Estey graduated from Clarkson in 1964 with his bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He left Clarkson briefly to assume a position as process planning engineer at United Aircraft. He returned to Clarkson on a fellowship and was a member of the first class of business graduates to complete the requirements for the master of science degree in Industrial Management in 1966. For his thesis, he documented the development of a business simulation game, on which he had collaborated with fellow graduate student Ell Vines and Professor Nye Smith. That game was later published as "integrated simulation," and used in business curricula for several years. Estey remained at Clarkson one additional year to teach statistics and operations research to Clarkson undergraduates.

In 1967, Estey began a career with AT&T that would span 30 years. He held numerous positions with increasing responsibilities, including employment manager for the northeastern region, district operations manager, district personnel manager, district engineering manager, and operations manager, with responsibility for the international operator service center of New York City. Estey spent the last half of his career at AT&T in the federal government affairs department, retiring in 1998 as vice president for government affairs.

In 1998, Estey founded a consulting firm, Triple E & Associates, which includes as clients the IRS and the Social Security Administration in the State of Iowa. From time-to-time, he has served as a part-time instructor at the New York Institute of Technology, George Washington University and the University of Virginia.

He served as national Clarkson Fund chair for two years where he led an alumni effort to raise $1.5 million in 1997, the most ever raised by the Clarkson Fund to date in a single year. Estey is a member of the board of directors at the Delta Upsilon Alumni Corporation and will serve as second vice president of the Alumni Association this year.

Kieta received his bachelor of science degree in Civil Engineering from Clarkson in 1964. He remained at Clarkson for two years, serving as an instructor in Statics and Dynamics, and Soil Mechanics. In 1967, he began a 16-year relationship with the Dravo Corporation, where he was involved with numerous domestic and international heavy construction projects, and rose to the position of manager-new ventures. Kieta left Dravo to become president and chief executive officer of Century Contractors West, Inc., and was eventually named president and chief executive officer of CNF Industries, Inc. when that corporation took over Century. Today, Kieta serves as senior vice president of construction for Calpine Corporation, a leading independent power producer, located in Sacramento, Calif., where he is responsible for construction of all electrical generating plants.

Along the way, Kieta earned a master's degree in Civil Engineering at Cornell University, and has been involved with a number of professional and civic affiliations, while also giving Clarkson much of his attention. He has volunteered as a referee and coach for both youth soccer and hockey, and while living in Brazil, was president of the board of the Escola Americana School, one of the first schools in the world to embrace the international baccalaureate program. Kieta has been a member of the board of directors and chair of the Houston Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

An avid Clarkson hockey fan, Kieta has hosted the Clarkson Hockey Telecast in Houston for the past six years. He has also been a regional phonathon volunteer and has helped to recruit new students as an alumni admission volunteer. Despite living in Texas, Kieta returned to campus regularly to fulfill his obligation as a member-at-large of the Alumni National Executive Council, and to speak at Alumni Career Programs on campus. In 1989, he served as his class reunion gift chair for the 25th reunion celebration.

Baker began what would become a 30-year career with General Motors after graduating from Clarkson with a bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1969. He advanced rapidly through a number of increasingly responsible positions in the engineering and research areas before becoming director of Advanced Vehicle Engineering in 1985. He subsequently served as director, Vehicle Engineering-GMCPC Group, director of the Service Technology Group, and in 1990 was appointed program manager for the GM Electric Vehicles Program. In that position, he directed the development and launch of the General Motors EV-1 electric vehicle. During this period, he also served as chairman of the United States Advanced Battery Consortia and chairman of the Electric Transportation Coalition.

In 1993, Baker was named vice president for General Motors Research and Development. In this position, he was credited with transforming one of the world's largest technology research organizations to re-orient the research and development goals to focus on customer solutions and commercial value.

Baker has served in many civic and professional capacities such as the Advisory Board of the University of Michigan College of Engineering and the Cranburke Institute of Science and is co-chair of the management board of Sunrayce. A. D. Little has recognized him as one of the top twenty-five R&D leaders in the world, and the City of Los Angeles recognized him for outstanding engineering contributions to the environment.

Despite his many career accomplishments, Baker has always found time to serve Clarkson. A member of the Clarkson Roundtable, Baker has been a member of the Clarkson University Engineering Advisory Council, and has just completed one term as an alumni elected-trustee. During his tenure as a trustee, Baker has been responsible for attracting significant support for the University from General Motors, which led to such programs at Clarkson like the Student Projects in Engineering Experience and Design (SPEED), and was instrumental in promoting the move of the Engineering School from the Clarkson campus downtown, to the hill.

Thode's contributions to his alma mater have been exemplary. He completed his term as president of the Clarkson Alumni Association one year ago after spending seven years as a member of the Alumni National Executive Council serving three years as a vice president. While employed at Procter & Gamble, he was responsible for recruiting dozens of Clarkson graduates into employment with this company and for organizing the first corporate support for Clarkson's Minority Student Development Programs, through Procter & Gamble. He initiated and was instrumental as a coach and mentor to students who organized Clarkson's chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. His other alumni involvement has included serving as an alumni admission volunteer and class reunion gift chair. For nine years, Thode served as the coordinator for the Boston chapter regional alumni phonathon.

Baum graduated from Clarkson in 1969 with a bachelor of science degree in Industrial Distribution. Upon graduation, he joined Empire Fibreglass Products, Inc. in Little Falls, N.Y., as production manager and became president of his family business in 1984. Empire Fibreglass Products has been in the fiberglass industry for almost 40 years, and provides custom fabrication in manufacturing of fiberglass products from canoes to corrosion-resistant chemical storage tanks primarily for markets in the northeastern United States and southern Canada.

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Little Falls Family YMCA, the Herkimer Chamber of Commerce and the Little Falls Municipal Golf Commission, Baum has always maintained a close relationship with his alma mater. He has coordinated the Alumni Association Mohawk Valley chapter annual golf outing for many years and has served that organization hosting numerous other events as a chapter board member. Most recently, Baum served the Mohawk Valley chapter as its president. Baum returns to campus for many of the Golden Knight's home hockey games and recently began a five-year term as a member-at-large on the Alumni National Executive Council. A member of the Clarkson Roundtable, Baum has been a regional phonathon volunteer and assisted the Admission Office as an alumni admission volunteer. Through his efforts, Empire Fibreglass Products, Inc. has been a sponsor for both the Solar Knights and Formula SAE racing teams since their inception.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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