Santa Clara University


2006 Distinguished Engineering Award Recipients

Mark E. Boitano 2006 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award

Mark E. Boitano

Since 2004, Mark Boitano, BSCE ’71, has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Granite Construction, Inc., one of the largest heavy civil contractors in the United States. He joined Granite Construction in 1977 as an estimator and project engineer after receiving his MBA from California State University, Fresno.

As COO, Boitano contributes greatly to his firm’s efforts to build the character of the workforce and the company. He takes pride in building quality projects for his customers while providing an opportunity for his employees to enjoy rewarding careers. As a true reflection of Santa Clara University values, Boitano heads a firm that is committed to ethical business practice and environmentally responsible building. Under his leadership, the core values of honesty, integrity, fairness, accountability, consideration of others, pursuit of excellence, reliability, and good citizenship are not simply buzz words, but are part of a Code of Conduct that is embraced and put into practice.

Aside from his contribution to the ethical practice of engineering, Boitano and his wife, Patti, ’71, have also been champions of Santa Clara University. They are active alums who have worked closely with the SCU Alumni Association for years to develop and support connections between local Monterey alumni and incoming students and their families, opening their home each summer for a reception welcoming new students.

Gilberto Guardia 2006 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award

Gilberto Guardia

Gilberto Guardia was born in Panamá. He attended the University of Santa Clara from which he received his B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1950. Two years later, he founded and became President and Chief Executive Officer of the Diaz & Guardia Group, an architecture, engineering, civil construction, and land development firm.

In 1990, Guardia was designated by the government of Panamá to be appointed by the United States as the first Panamanian Administrator of the Panama Canal Commission. The Panama Canal operates under the supervision of the Commission, whose role is to oversee the multitude of tasks associated with transporting an ever-increasing volume of marine traffic.

In 1996, Guardia retired from the Canal Commission and resumed his private business and professional activities, as well as his active membership on the board of directors of the various businesses and civic enterprises in which he is involved.

Living with purpose and acting on his strong values, Guardia gives generously of his time to causes that foster a more humane and just world, serving on the board of trustees of the National Association for Nature Conservancy and as a member of the board of directors of the Latin American Institute for Advanced Studies. He is also a member of the advisory committee of Transparency International, a global coalition focused on raising awareness and diminishing apathy and tolerance of corruption around the world.

Robert W. Peters 2006 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award

Robert W. Peters

Robert W. Peters received his BS in electrical engineering in 1961. Though he claims his only true engineering job was aligning and testing klystrons at Varian Associates that summer, he knew that understanding the language of engineering would serve him well in the years to come.

Following his studies at Santa Clara, Peters was an officer in the U.S. Army Signal Corp, received his MBA from Harvard Business School, and spent ten years at Stanford Research Institute before joinging the semiconductor industry. He eventually managed the sales of the custom circuits and memory chips used in the original Atari game console, the Apple IIe, and the Apple MacIntosh.

He went on to participate in the founding of several start-up companies before being recruited in the late 80s as the Vice President of Marketing for Cisco Systems (when there were only 25 employees). There, he left his mark by improving the profitability that continues to fuel the company’s growth and prosperity to this day.

Since the early 1990s, Peters has been a private investor in a variety of ventures. Ever mindful of the values of ethical behavior, morality, and community involvement inculcated during his education at Santa Clara, he has been active in Catholic Charities, and has served as regent for Bellarmine College Preparatory School and SCU, and most recently has become a member of the University’s Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Carol, endowed the Robert W. Peters Professorship within the School of Engineering for a faculty member in the area of advanced technology.

Peters’ life exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley, and the conscience, competence, and compassion held in such high regard here at Santa Clara University.

John Hopkins 2006 Outstanding Service Award

John Hopkins

John Hopkins MSPWA ’74, has provided exemplary public service during the past forty years as both a registered Civil Engineer and as a registered Quality Engineer in the State of California. Continually striving to provide ethical value through support and assistance, he has accomplished much.

From managing the City of Sunnyvale’s Building Safety Division, to incorporating cost-saving innovations and fire safety measures into Sunnyvale’s Municipal Code, Hopkins has dedicated his life to service to his community and to the betterment of society.

He organized a Public Service Department for the City of Belmont, and was instrumental in the implementation of the Storm Drainage Improvement District that has since reduced flooding there to insignificant levels. As Sunnyvale’s Assistant Director of Public Works, he administered the construction of a major new Senior Center, incorporating innovative construction techniques that garnered awards for both architecture and energy conservation.

Hopkins has also responded to natural disasters, assisting with earthquake response throughout California and El Salvador, and consulting with local governments and school districts on improved design and methods for reconstruction following hurricanes in Florida.

Among his numerous other contributions to the community, Hopkins has generously shared his expertise and wisdom with the University’s Board of Fellows and the School of Engineering’s Alumni Board. Throughout his life, he has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to the service of the engineering profession and to society.

Mahmudur Rahman2006 Researcher of the Year

Mahmudur Rahman

Professor Mahmudur Rahman of the Electrical Engineering Department is named the 2006 Researcher of the Year in recognition of his consistently outstanding record of scholarship and research which represents a major contribution to the field of electrical engineering.   

Professor Rahman joined Santa Clara University in January 1986, and was granted tenure and promotion in 1992 in response to his excellent credentials in scholarship, teaching, and service to the University. Since then, he has maintained a consistent record of scholarship throughout his tenure, particularly over the last five years. During this period, he has initiated research in the new and burgeoning area of modeling and technology computer-aided design (TCAD) simulation and virtual fabrication of nanoscale devices. An exemplary teaching scholar, he displays a unique ability to guide his research students toward productive scholarly achievements.

Professor Rahman is a prolific researcher, and has made numerous contributions to scholarly journals and presentations at prestigious conferences and symposia. He has also mentored highly successful Ph. D. and M. S. students, supervised undergraduate research, and has received over $75,000 in research grants in the last several years, ensuring sustainability of his scholarly activities into the future.

Silvia Figueira 2006 Teaching Excellence Award

Silvia Figueira

Silvia Figueira is an Associate Professor in the Computer Engineering Department, and was the David Packard Fellow from 2003-2005. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego.
During her time here at SCU, Professor Figueira has particularly distinguished herself through her commitment to engaging students in research, and by her creative collaborations with Silicon Valley companies to fund these students’ efforts. To support her goal of encouraging student research, she took the initiative which led to the creation of the Summer Research Group and the Research Option, two programs that have been invaluable to this cause.

In delineating her teaching excellence, students note Figueira’s thorough knowledge of her subject matter, her choice of interesting projects, and her deep interest and concern for her young scholars. Time and again, she is lauded for her patience and caring attitude. She is devoted to helping her students succeed, and makes herself available to answer questions and discuss coursework or future study.
Personifying the ideal of the teaching scholar, Professor Figueira has brought honor to the School of Engineering through her extensive list of publications and paper presentations, while also instilling in her students a desire for higher learning.

Aaron Melman 2006 Gerald E. Markle Award for Teaching Excellence

Aaron Melman

Professor Melman, who received his BS in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Louvain (Belgium), his MS in Applied Mathematics from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the California Institute of Technology, joined the Department of Applied Mathematics as Lecturer in September 2005. Prior to this, he taught at St. Mary’s College, the University of San Francisco, and Ben-Gurion University in Israel. He also performed research at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, on the implementation of a nonlinear optimization method for linear programming as part of the Optimization Subroutine Library (OSL). Aside from speaking mathematics, Professor Melman is fluent in English, Hebrew, French, and Dutch, and has a good understanding of Russian and German.

Here at SCU, Professor Melman teaches differential equations, probability and statistics, and numerical methods. This summer, he worked with a student as part of the Kuehler Undergraduate Research Program on a project entitled “Polynomial Zerofinders and Extremal Properties of Polynomials.” He has published his research in journals in pure and applied mathematics, numerical analysis, scientific computation, and operations research.

Professor Melman is committed to the success of his students and gives freely of his time helping those who are interested in preparing for the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination and in learning mathematical typesetting. His comprehensive knowledge, his enthusiasm for learning, and his zest for life are infectious and make him a favorite in the School of Engineering.

Octave V. Baker 2006 Adjunct Lecturer of the Year

Octave V. Baker

Octave V. Baker, Ph.D., a partner with Communication Training Consultants in Oakland, California, has served as Adjunct Lecturer in the Engineering Management and Leadership Program at Santa Clara University for 21 years, teaching about human interaction. A psychologist, Baker brings 20 years of experience as an internal and external organizational development consultant and as a cross-cultural and communications trainer to the classroom.

Professor Baker specializes in helping communities, organizations, groups, and individuals enhance their effectiveness. He consults on team building, organizational change, and strategic planning. He also helps organizations value and effectively manage cultural diversity in the workplace, and has trained hundreds of managers and individual contributors in interpersonal skills, cultural competence, and effective communication.

Baker began honing his interpersonal skills as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia, serving under the Ministry of Community Development. Then, as now, his compassion and social conscience benefited those around him.

In selecting Baker as Adjunct Lecturer of the Year, students praise his interactive style, his interesting subject matter, and excellent communication skills. They say he is extremely knowledgeable and encouraging, and that the material they cover in class helps them in their daily work.

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