Richard E. DeVor and Tom Mohs were honored with Distinguished Service Awards on Engineers' Day, November 7, in ceremonies at the new Monona Terrace Convention Center.
Richard E. DeVor
DeVor, who is currently a member of the ME Board of Visitors, received three degrees from the ME Department: his BS in 1967, his MS in 1968, and his PhD in 1971. After graduation, he joined the mechanical and industrial engineering department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus where he continues to serve.
He has earned eight teaching awards and has twice received the Blackall Machine Tool and Gage Award from the American Society for Mechanical Engineers, in 1983 and again this year. He is currently director of the National Science Foundation/Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Machine Tool Agile Manufacturing Research Institute at U of I, and he is also the president of a tool and die and production machining company in Lake Mills.
"My most important and positive recollection of my years at Wisconsin in the ME Department," he said, "is my association with my graduate studies advisor, the late Professor S. M. Wu. No other person, except for my parents, had a more profound and significant influence on my life. `Sam' Wu was a great teacher whose mentorship of students was driven by the example he set--imagination, determination, hard work, and high standards. It has been more than 26 years since I left Wisconsin to embark on my own career, yet even today, hardly a day goes by that I do not think of Sam."
DeVor added some advice for today's students. "Get to know your professors and engage them at a personal level whenever possible. Having great labs, computer facilities, etc., is important to your education, but as the years go by, it will be the people--professors and fellow students--who you will remember as having the major impacts on your life."
Tom Mohs received his BS in mechanical engineering from UW-Madison in 1962, and he is now chairman of the board of the company he founded, Placon Corporation, based in Madison. Placon, a name derived from "plastic conversion," is a leader in creating and producing packaging for customers in food service, household, hardware, personal care and medical industries.
Mohs began Placon in a rented garage 31 years ago. Then 27 years old, Tom Mohs had returned to his hometown of Madison after four years as an engineer in the packaging division of Monsanto Company in Connecticut.
Key to the company's success is that Mohs didn't just manufacture parts for other companies; he solved their packaging problems as well. Today, they continue that approach, designing packages that are cost-effective for their customers and that can be used effectively in their manufacturing environment. The company ranks among the top 20 packaging thermoformers in North America, according to Plastic News magazine and it serves Fortune 500 clients throughout North America.
Mohs himself holds four patents related to thermoformed packaging and machinery. He serves on numerous boards of directors and committees, and he has been a generous contributor to the UW hybrid electric vehicle challenge fund.
Recalling his days as a student in the ME Department, Mohs said, "I
remember interviewing for my first real job. It seemed like
interviewers always asked how I decided to go into mechanical
engineering. I hated that question. Truth is, all I could answer is
that I never gave it any thought at all. I went to high school at
Madison West just a few blocks away from the engineering campus.
Going into mechanical engineering at the UW was something that I
always knew I would do, like going from kindergarten to first grade.
I never really considered any other option. I feel best when I am in
the company of other engineers. That's when I really know that I made
the right choice."
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NOVEMBER 1997 Contents