Tag Archives: awards

With Wisconsin engineer at the helm, San Diego company earns NASA award

Mary Baker

Mary Baker (BSEM '66)

ATA Engineering Inc., of San Diego, is one of two companies to receive the George M. Low Award, the premier NASA honor for quality and performance. ATA, whose president is Mary Baker (BSEM ’66),  supported development of the Mars Science Laboratory and its robotic rover, Curiosity, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

With 93 employees, this small business played a key role in the mission by conducting detailed mechanical simulation work to support spacecraft’s challenging entry, descent and landing at Mars in August 2012.

Evaluators cited ATA’s problem-solving ability, demonstrated with the design of Curiosity’s sampling scoop; its emphasis on contracting with small business and hiring young talent with high potential; and its strong culture of teamwork.

URS Federal Technical Services Inc. of Germantown, Maryland, earned the Low award in the large business award category.

The Low award demonstrates NASA’s commitment to promoting excellence and continual improvement by challenging its contractor community to be a global benchmark of quality management practices. The award was established in 1985 as NASA’s Excellence Award for Quality and Productivity and renamed in 1990 in memory of George M. Low, an outstanding leader with a strong commitment to quality products and workforce during his 27-year tenure at the agency. Low was NASA’s deputy administrator from 1969 to 1976 and a leader in the early development of space programs. Read the full NASA news release here.

Read a 2001 profile of Baker in the UW-Madison Department of Engineering Physics newsletter for alumni and friends.

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PerBlue founders among Forward Under 40 honorees

Justin Beck (left) and Forrest Woolworth (right)

Justin Beck (left) and Forrest Woolworth (right)

Justin Beck ’09 and Forrest Woolworth ’09 (both computer engineering and computer sciences) are among the nine exceptional young University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni honored with the 2013 Forward under 40 awards, presented by the Wisconsin Alumni Association. All recipients are living examples of the Wisconsin Idea, the guiding philosophy upon which this award is based, and honorees were featured in the sixth edition of Forward under 40, a publication distributed in March 2013 to UW-Madison alumni and WAA members.

For those still stuck in the Pac Man era, video games may seem like nothing more than child’s play. But these days, video games are big business.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, computer and video game sales topped $16 billion in 2011. And thanks to Justin Beck and Forrest Woolworth, Wisconsin is a major player in the industry.

Their company, PerBlue — a mobile and social gaming company based in Madison — created Parallel Kingdom, the world’s first location-based role-playing game that uses GPS locations to place players in a virtual world on top of the real world. It now has more than 1 million registered accounts and helped PerBlue become the third-largest video game company in the state.

“We started small,” recalls Beck, “a team of six squeezed into every inch of my 700-square-foot apartment in downtown Madison. Today, three years after the founding of PerBlue, we now employ over 30 full-time employees.”

And while Parallel Kingdom remains PerBlue’s primary focus, in 2012, the company launched Parallel Mafia and Parallel Zombies, two more location-based games. PerBlue also ventured into casual games this past year with Bugduster, Bob vs. Bear, and Boardtastic.

For Beck and Woolworth, though, the game they’re really in to win is the entrepreneurial one. And both owe their business ambitions to UW-Madison. Read more about the duo here.

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Three Engineering Alums Named to WAA’s ‘Forward Under 40′

Three of the 13 UW-Madison alumni recognized in the 2011 “Forward Under 40″ awards, which recognize early-career achievement, are Badger engineers. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Alumni Association, “Forward Under 40” shines a light on alumni who are making a difference both professionally and in the lives of others. Included in this year’s winners are 1997 Chemical and Biological Engineering alumnus Dalia Mogahed, a Senior Analyst and Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies; 1996 Mechanical Engineering alumnus Anthony Eggert, the Deputy Secretary for Energy Policy at the California EPA; and 2009 Master of Engineering Professional Practice alumnus Rudy Quiles, a Civilian Affairs Officer with the United States Marine Corps.

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