Tuesday September 12, 2017

Two engineers receive UD Alumni Awards

By Adrienne Zandvoort '19, School of Engineering Communications Intern

Two engineering alumni, including an engineering legend who is credited with developing the first solid state computer, received Alumni Awards at a ceremony this past weekend.

The School Of Engineering is proud to recognize Joseph Desch '29 and John Beran '74 and '79 as 2017 recipients.

This year, the University of Dayton celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the awards program, which recognizes the professional and community service work by UD graduates.

John Beran received the Special Service Award for Volunteer Service to the University. After graduating in 1974 with a degree in industrial engineering technology, Beran continued his studies at UD and completed his Master of Science degree in management sciences in 1974. He is an active member of the School of Engineering’s Advisory Council and has served on the Reunion Committee and the Alumni Board. John was a key adviser involved in the creation of the Innovation Center, ETHOS, and the Center for Competitive Change within the School of Engineering.

Joseph Desch posthumously received the Distinguished Alumni Award this year for his many contributions to the field of engineering. Graduating in 1929 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, Desch worked for the National Cash Register Company building mathematical and computing machines. By 1940, his research was recognized by the U.S. government, who designated his lab at NCR as the Unites States Naval Computing Laboratory. His work led to the development of top-secret decoding machines that eventually cracked the Japanese communication’s code at the height of World War II.

Years later, Desch collaborated with his work partner, Bob Mumma, on patenting the first modern digital computer which eventually led to their creation of the first solid state computer. His role in the development of the first modern computer cannot be overstated. President Harry S. Truman awarded Joe Desch the Medal of Merit in 1947.

A formal dinner was held on September 9, 2017, to honor these alumni. Beran and Desch are joined by four other recipients: Christina Herod Hill, Christian Service Award; John Gravier and Molly MacCready, Joe Belle Memorial Young Alumni Award; and Jonathan Judge, Special Achievement Award. Congratulations to all award recipients on their great accomplishments.

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