ME Alumna Developed Northern Colorado’s First PV Solar Grids in ’87, Continues to Drive Sustainability on Campus

Carol Dollard has been involved in promoting renewable energy in Colorado for almost three decades.

A portion of the 10 kW solar plant at the Platte River Power Authority headquarters featured a two-axis tracking system that had both concentrating and flat plate solar panels.

Since 1999, she has been a CSU Facilities Management engineer; she also earned her mechanical engineering undergraduate and graduate degrees at CSU and co-chairs President Tony Frank’s Sustainability Commission. Most recently, in March 2018, Dollard was recognized by the Platte River Power Authority, where she worked for several years, for her role in pioneering the advancement of renewable energy in Northern Colorado.

Carol Dollard (right) and Bill Emslie (left) of Platte River Power Authority, co-instigated the 1987 PV solar grid project.

During her time as a student at CSU, Dollard took an interest in solar energy under the direction of Dr. Allan Kirkpatrick and Dr. Patrick Burns. “I chose CSU because it was one of just a few schools that were teaching solar engineering at that time,” said Dollard.

“Carol Dollard was one of my first graduate students in the early 1980s, and has been a leading voice in the sustainable energy area,” said Dr. Kirkpatrick.

Soon after graduating, Dollard put her passion and skills to work and engineered and managed Northern Colorado’s first PV solar grid in 1987 located at the Platte River Power Authority headquarters. “It was 10kW, which is small in comparison to our current projects. It really shows the progress being made.” She also focused on using that technology on campus. CSU’s first PV Solar Grid was installed on the engineering building in 2009, and since then, 13 additional solar systems have been installed. In total, CSU’s 14 solar systems provide well over 10 million kWh/year. CSU’s long-term goal is a campus that runs on 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2050. “We still have a long way to go to reach the 100 percent renewable electricity goal signed by President Frank in 2017, but are continuing to make strides.”

In addition to solar systems, Dollard was also involved in the development of LEED buildings on campus. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a scorecard for how well a building is minimizing its impact on the environment in terms of energy, water use, waste reduction, and the use of environmentally friendly materials.

Map indicating the locations of all solar systems, LEED buildings, and EV charging stations on CSU’s campus.

Along with robust goals for a greener campus, Dollard also helps promote a wider spectrum of sustainability issues, such as curriculum and research, and economical and social justice as part of the President’s Sustainability Committee. “It is important to remember that they are all equally significant.”

ME Ph.D. Graduate Selected for the John P. and Mary Jane Swanson Endowed Professorship

We are proud to announce that Bucknell University recently selected one of our outstanding Ph.D. graduates, Ben Wheatley, ’17, for the John P. and Mary Jane Swanson Endowed Professorship position.

Dr. Wheatley will begin at Bucknell University’s mechanical engineering department this fall as a tenure-track assistant professor. Along with his academic and research achievements at CSU, Dr. Wheatley was a Mechanical Engineering Graduate Ambassador, the vice president of finance for the Graduate Student Council, a Graduate Teaching Fellow in the CSU Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, and was published for his orthopaedic and education research. He was also highly involved in extracurricular activities throughout his undergraduate career, and he believes that these invaluable experiences contributed to his hiring at Bucknell.

Dr. Wheatley knew he wanted to pursue academia as a career during his time at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., as an undergraduate engineering student. “I always thought my professors had the best job – performing research, educating young minds, and having the freedom to define their own path in many ways,” he said.

When Dr. Wheatley was accepted into CSU’s graduate program, his research interests aligned with Dr. Tammy Haut Donahue’s and he began working in her lab, focusing on the characterization and modeling of the mechanical properties of skeletal muscle and understanding its function in the human body.

“Ben has truly been a pleasure to work with for the last fi ve years. He has excelled in research, teaching, and service. His scientific advances in the area of muscle mechanics and modeling will revolutionize the field and be cited as a major advancement in the understanding of skeletal muscle behavior in the 21st century. His contributions to the development of a flipped, active learning classroom for our Introduction to Mechanical Engineering freshman course will lead the way as the department continues to bring new education techniques into the curriculum. I have no doubt that Ben will be a leader at Bucknell University as he moves into an independent academic career,” said Dr. Haut Donahue.

The John P. and Mary Jane Swanson Endowed Professorship is designed to assist young faculty in both their research and teaching endeavors, and we have no doubt Dr. Wheatley will shine in this role, and continue to make an impact just as he did at CSU. “The commitment of the department, particularly by Dr. Haut Donahue, to my success has enabled me to take the next step in my career. If I had chosen another program, I am certain I would not be where I am today, and for that I am very thankful,” Dr. Wheatley said.

Welcome Back, Dr. Quinn

Dr. Jason Quinn rows a boat for Holiday Expeditions through Warm Springs at 27,000 CFS on a five-day Yampa River float through Dinosaur National Monument. Dr. Quinn is pictured in the orange hat.

“I’m a long time Rams fan!” said Dr. Jason Quinn. “It is great to be giving back to a community that has supported me in achieving my goals.”

Life kept bringing him back to CSU, not once, not twice, but three times! A Colorado native, Quinn applied for his undergraduate degree at CSU, among other schools, and was accepted in 1998. During his undergraduate years, he majored in mechanical engineering and picked up diverse interests while working for residence life, participating in the President’s Leadership Program, and working as an orientation leader. He was also on the first place SAE Human Powered Vehicle team for his senior design project.

Following graduation, Dr. Quinn attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, after graduate school, he decided to travel the world and explore the outdoors. “I spent this time doing everything but what I had spent six years training for, and it was one of the best decisions I made. To be successful, you have to be able to communicate and network, and this is when I honed those skills.” He did everything from working the front desk at a lodge in Alta, Utah, to raft guiding in Utah, Patagonia (Chile), and New Zealand.

Dr. Jason Quinn performs graduate school research at the Solix algae pilot plant.

In 2008, the stars aligned, and Dr. Quinn was once again accepted into CSU, but this time for the mechanical engineering Ph.D. program, where he later studied as a research scientist under adviser, Dr. Tom Bradley. Under Dr. Bradley, he had the opportunity to be a researcher, teacher, and mentor.

In 2012, Dr. Quinn accepted a position as an assistant professor at Utah State University, where he performed research and taught for four years. But Colorado had other plans for him. He applied for a mechanical engineering assistant professor opening at CSU, and was hired as faculty in late 2016. The rest is history

“CSU has been very good to me, and I am grateful for that. It is a place with people who care.” We are thrilled to have Dr. Quinn back; life not only came full circle for him, but for the department too.

Niki Singlaub, Class of 1997

Niki Singlaub graduated from the CSU mechanical engineering program in 1997 and has been designing, developing, engineering, and launching new products ever since. He currently resides with his family in Bend, Oregon.


His current and first independent project is the Hydaway Bottle. It is a BPA-free, collapsible water bottle that conveniently fits into a pocket, portable for usage anywhere at any time.

Singlaub came up with the Hydaway concept while traveling as a freelance product developer. “Trying to stay hydrated in different countries, climates, and elevations, while spending time both in business meetings and in the mountains inspired this water bottle concept. I was looking for a durable, stable, fully-functioning water bottle that collapsed enough to fit in my back pocket. I was really surprised I couldn’t find anything like the Hydaway bottle out there.”

The popularity of the Hydaway Bottle became evident when its Kickstarter campaign successfully climbed to the top 0.7% of all-time Kickstarter fundraising. “So much of my ability to problem solve the product design and manufacturing I attribute to my CSU ME education.”

Jaime Urban, Class of 2015

Jamie Urban, is a brand-new 2015 graduate. A mechanical engineering bachelor’s degree propelled Urban to fulfill her dreams of making the world a better place through engineering.

Earlier this summer, she began interning in New Delhi, India, with Engineering Ministries International, an organization that provides engineering services for those with ministries in developing countries. Urban is also pursuing an opportunity with the International Justice Mission starting in January 2016, in Kampala, Uganda where she would be working with the country’s investigations team to help widows and orphans who are victims of injustice. During her undergraduate career, Urban volunteered yearly at Hope Mission Home, a children’s home in southeastern India, and took numerous mission trips to India, Guatemala, and Mexico. She was on the board for a new nonprofit organization whose mission is to serve the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of highly marginalized and destitute subpopulations in underdeveloped and developing nations. In addition, Urban continuously raised money in collaboration with her sorority sisters, for a Kolkata, India-based company that employs survivors of sex trafficking, teaching them how to create sustainable incomes for themselves.

When asked why she chose to pursue mechanical engineering, Urban shared a memory of when she and her family visited a children’s home in India and her dad, a mechanical engineer, designed and installed a solar-powered system for the home, providing on-demand lighting. That was when she decided to pursue engineering and to use her degree to directly help the world.

Lt. Col. Andy Burroughs, Class of 2000

Lt. Col. Andy Burroughs, a 2000 mechanical engineering graduate, and a member of the United States Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment 090, was recently promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Burroughs was rated as a pilot on the RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft and is currently working a joint staff assignment at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. He is married to Cathy Burroughs, a 2002 CSU College of Business graduate, and they have two daughters, Megan, 3, and Brooke, 1. As an undergraduate in the mechanical engineering department, Burroughs was a member of Pi Tau Sigma, and in the Air Force ROTC program. He was also a member of the Wing Walkers Drill Team and Arnold Air Society (Mark Giles Danielson Squadron). Congrats, Colonel!

Rick Buck, Class of 1987

Rick Buck, a program manager in Boeing’s Defense, Space and Security Business, started working for the company after graduating from Colorado State University’s mechanical engineering program in 1987. When asked how he got his job at Boeing, Buck responded, “After several months of sending resumes, I decided to get on an airplane to Seattle, and actually cold-called the Boeing switchboard. I finally got in touch with someone in human resources who had, coincidentally, also graduated from CSU. I found my way to the Boeing plant (without GPS), interviewed, and got the offer.” His first position was in Renton, Wash. as a 737/747 flight deck engineer. Twenty-eight years later, Buck continues to thrive at Boeing. He ended up developing cockpits for three different aircraft and rotorcraft and many other military work stations. Currently, he manages the development of some of Boeing’s surveillance aircraft programs with the U.S. and international military customers.

Years later, his CSU roots are stronger than ever. “My degree from CSU, and the career it allowed me to have, is an extraordinary experience. I really think we have one of the most exciting programs around.  It’s a proud life engineers live, because everything we use in our lives has been engineered in some way.  Along with the pride of building the world, comes the responsibility of keeping those who use our designs safe.  It’s a big responsibility.”

During his college days, his favorite ME professor was Dr. Charlie Mitchell. When Buck took Fluid Dynamics of Compressible Fluids, he connected to Dr. Mitchell’s practical physics examples from his time at NASA.

When asked what his fondest memories at CSU were, he responded, “We had ‘College Days’ in the early 80’s, and those were always fun times. I’m a big Rams fan, and I loved the opportunity to see so many events with the activity card.  I came from the small town of Fowler, Colo., so the campus was bigger than life to me at the time.  I really grew up in those years, and it was fabulous place to do that.  My two greatest friends are roommates I had at CSU, and those memories will be cherished forever.”

To this day, Buck remains a huge supporter of the mechanical engineering department. He currently serves on the Mechanical Engineering Advisory Boards and has been a key partner in the development of the department through the years.

Graham W. Howard, Class of 1932

Graham W. Howard, a 1932 mechanical engineering graduate from Gill, CO. (about 10 miles from Greeley, Colo.), attended CSU when it was Colorado A&M. Today, the legacy he left at the University and in the field of engineering continues to make a vital impact. At Colorado A&M, he was a member of the Engineering Society, Phi Kappa Tau, the National Journalistic Society, and he became the captain of the Aggie baseball team where he played third base and shortstop and was the lead off in batting position. Howard paid his way through college while helping his father on the family farm, dreaming of one day making an impact in the engineering field. After graduating in 1932, engineering jobs were few and far between, so Howard attended Colorado Teacher’s College in Greeley, Colo. In 1934, he was hired by United Fruit Co., a company that would eventually transfer him all around the tropics, from Honduras to Guatemala to Costa Rica, where he would design bridges, water tanks, buildings, irrigation systems, abaca stripping, and a variety of other systems. A few of his most notable accomplishments with United Fruit Co. included designing a banana-rinsing process using the Bordeaux mixture to kill black Sigatoka on banana leaves, and designing an abaca-stripping process that was used by United Fruit Co. to provide manila hemp rope for the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Additional accomplishments included:

  • building of a 40-mile mail railroad line and 300 miles of field-access railroad lines
  • building of two diesel power plants that provided electrical power for two main sisal processing facilities and all electricity support of the 40,000-acre sisel plantation
  • designing a preventive maintenance program for all factory facilities, marine-loading equipment, and water supply systems
  • designing a 15-mile, 8-inch pipeline through uninhabited wilderness to provide process water to the plantation

Howard brought his love for baseball to Haiti by starting a softball program. He taught the natives how to play and sponsored 24 teams. He would umpire while his wife, Dorothy, kept score. Softball became a means of appeasing labor tensions during difficult economic periods, and the Haitians ended up building “Stadium Howard,” a softball stadium dedicated to Howard.

After a variety of professional experiences in the tropics, Howard, Dorothy, and their three children, moved back to the states where he eventually started his own company, Howard Manufacturing Co., in Littleton, Colo.  He continued to develop products for his company until his passing in the spring of 1995. Today, the company exists as HMC International Division Inc. and continues to operate as a family-owned business that manufactures and markets belt-tension testers, slope-measuring devices, and door-pressure gauges, all of which were designed by Howard.

Two generations later, Graham Weaver, Howard’s grandson and namesake, started classes at CSU, with big shoes to fill. He entered this fall with an undeclared major, but has interest in the mechanical engineering field and may follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.

Today, Howard’s legacy lives on at CSU, and the fully endowed Graham W. Howard Memorial Scholarship assists in-need CSU students in the mechanical engineering program, the same program that gave him his start more than 85 years ago.