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Home : Volume 22 : Fall 1995 :
Distinguished Service Award for Donald E. Cheney

Donald E. Cheney

Donald E. Cheney
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From the Midwest to the Indian Ocean, Donald E. Cheney has proven himself a leader in communication technology and fiber optics.

In 1959, after working 11 years in private industry, Cheney established Finley Engineering Company, Inc., a consulting engineering firm primarily serving Rural Electric Association (REA)-financed telephone companies in Wisconsin. For 22 years he served as president of Finley, overseeing its efforts to completely rebuild more than 100 telephone exchanges. Additionally, the corporation took on projects in Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Cuba and the Indian Ocean region.

From 1981 to 1989, Cheney was managing partner of the firm, which by that point had five Midwest offices and another in Guam. During this period, he supervised numerous telephone construction projects for the REA, Wisconsin Bell, General Telephone and North-West Telephone.

Cheney's Eau Claire, Wisconsin, office was completely responsible for the new design of telephone exchanges serving more than 100,000 customers in Puerto Rico. Additionally, in Wisconsin, Cheney oversaw the design and construction of Trempealeau County's first cable television system.

Since 1989, Cheney has served as an executive board member of Finley Engineering. He has directed the design and construction of more than 1,000 miles of fiber-optic toll cables across Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa for AT&T Communications, Wisconsin Bell and US Sprint. His firm is currently involved with fiber-to-the-home technology, computer-aided telephone facilities management, and right-of-way acquisition.

Prior to starting his own company, Cheney was a field engineer for General Telephone Company of Wausau, Wis.; a contract communications engineer for USAF in the western U.S.; and a communications products designer for Reliable Electric, Franklin Park, Ill. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1944-46.

A 1948 UW-Madison graduate with a degree in electrical engineering, Cheney was presented the university's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Centennial Medal in 1991.



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