TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama College of Engineering recently honored six alumni and one former department head by inducting them into its 2024 class of Distinguished Engineering Fellows.

Each year, the College of Engineering inducts a select group of alumni and friends as Distinguished Engineering Fellows. Recognition as a Distinguished Fellow is the highest commendation given to graduates and others who have strengthened the reputation of the College through their efforts.

The 2024 class includes Dr. Gary April, of Northport; Artis Brown, of Spring, Texas; Rodney Chester, of Brentwood, Tennessee; Jeff Gronberg, of Huntsville; J. Gaston Large III, of Tuscaloosa; Yvonne Thomas Stevenson, of Tuscaloosa; and Sandy Stimpson, of Mobile.

The inductees were honored at a banquet at the Bryant Conference Center in Tuscaloosa on April 27. For complete biographies of this year’s Distinguished Engineering Fellows, visit the event page.

Dr. Gary April

Dr. Gary April is a former head of The University of Alabama College of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. He first joined the College as an assistant professor in 1969 and went on to serve the department for more than 40 years. During that time, he ascended into numerous leadership roles within the University and externally. Most notably, he served as the state of Alabama’s director of the DOE/EPSCoR program from 1992 to 2008.

Artis Brown

Artis Brown is the vice president of ExxonMobil’s Global Basestocks and Waxes business. Throughout his 28-year career with ExxonMobil, he has demonstrated his ability to successfully run multi-billion-dollar businesses and held assignments across the United States and Asia Pacific. He has experience working across a broad range of fields, including engineering, sales, marketing, supply chain, strategy, planning, manufacturing, organizational behavior, and diversity.

Rodney Chester

Rodney Chester is the chief executive officer of Gresham Smith, a leading architecture, engineering, and design practice that provides creative solutions for clients. As CEO, Chester is responsible for the alignment of Gresham Smith’s leadership in order to execute the overall strategy and operations of the firm in pursuit of smart, sustainable growth that provides opportunities for employees and value to its clients.

Jeff Gronberg

Jeff Gronberg is the chief executive officer of deciBel Research, a small business based in Huntsville, Alabama, that specializes in the research, development, and advancement of weapon systems and sensor technologies. The company designs, develops, integrates, tests, and fields advanced system concepts, algorithms, and applications. During his career, Gronberg has worked on defining and implementing advanced technical solutions for various commercial and government customers to solve challenging problems.

J. Gaston Large III

J. Gaston Large III has spent his entire career with Alabama Power and is currently the distribution engineering supervisor in Hueytown, where he manages operations including system improvements, installations, reliability, engineering, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers crew personnel. Before this role, he worked as the distribution engineering supervisor in Haleyville, where he managed operations and system improvements.

Yvonne Thomas Stevenson

Yvonne T. Stevenson is the president and chief executive officer of Jackson Business Consulting, an acquisition and program management consulting firm supporting the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA, and federal government civilian agencies. She previously served as the associate chief officer for information resource management at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for seven years, where she led numerous divisions and provided executive oversight of the department’s $2.6 billion information technology investments.

Sandy Stimpson

William “Sandy” Stimpson is the 108th mayor of Mobile, Alabama. Stimpson’s four decades of experience in the private sector and extensive community service provide a solid foundation for the type of practical change he has generated in just 10 years in office. Stimpson’s tenure has been marked by major achievements, such as the Map for Mobile initiative, that stand to make a lasting impact for all citizens of Mobile.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s College of Engineering has more than 5,200 students and more than 170 faculty. In recent years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz, Boren, Mitchell and Truman scholars.

Author: Anna Claire Toxey    /    Posted on: May 8, 2024    /    Posted in:   Alumni, Awards and Honors, Events, Faculty and Staff, Home Page Main Story