Raymond Thompson, Ph.D., was named the Engineering Council of Birmingham’s Engineer of the Year at the organization’s 55th annual awards banquet.
Thompson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the School of Engineering, went to Vanderbilt for his Ph.D., then returned to UAB where he taught engineering for nearly 20 years. In 1998 he founded Vista Engineering, a research, development, and consulting firm specializing in materials design and application.
“Ray Thompson is an excellent example of the convergence of scientific knowledge, engineering know- how, business acumen and a can do attitude, all adding up to a UAB engineer,” says School of Engineering Dean Iwan Alexander, Ph.D., who was on hand at the event to present student awards to SOE graduates and undergraduates.
Thompson himself is a former student of the year winner, winning the undergraduate award in 1973 and the graduate award in 1974. Incidentally, Thompson, his brother Neil, and UAB President Raymond Watts, M.D., were undergraduate student engineer of the year winners in consecutive years.
Thompson’s connection to UAB goes beyond his and his wife’s experience. The son of a machinist who spent just one year in engineering school before being called into WWII, Raymond Thompson was one of five siblings all of whom earned degrees from UAB. Raymond and Neil Thompson earned degrees from the School of Engineering; Joe Thompson earned a degree in medical physics and a master’s in materials science; sisters Lynn and Janine earned degrees in nursing and modern dance, respectively; and his wife Pam earned her UAB degree in mathematics.
“I had never been much outside of Birmingham as a kid, so UAB seemed like a natural opportunity,” Raymond Thompson recalled in a 2005 UAB Magazine article. “Turned out, it was the opportunity for all of us.”
In addition to managing Vista Engineering, Raymond Thompson also works as a consultant in materials science and engineering. He is a licensed professional engineering in four states, and is a fellow of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers, the American Society of Materials, and the American Welding Society.
He holds three patents, is the author of numerous papers, and one book.
Thompson is one of a long line of ECOB Engineer of the Year Award winners with strong connections to the School of Engineering—either having graduated, served on the faculty, or served as adjunct faculty to the school.
1978—Edwin M. Hardin