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College of Engineering announces Hall of Fame honorees

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Hall of Fame inductees

Hall of Fame inductees

By Jeff McLain

Office of Alumni Services and Giving

KINGSVILLE (August 11, 2020) - The Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2020 Javelina Engineering Hall of Fame Award. The Javelina Engineering Hall of Fame recognizes graduates of the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering who have made a significant impact in the field of engineering. The Hall of Fame designation is presented to alumni who have demonstrated a longtime and successful commitment to their careers and communities and have brought special honor to the College of Engineering because of their accomplishments. 

“We are proud of this year’s inductees,” said Dr. Mohammad S. Alam, Dean of the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering. “John, David and Ernest are Javelina engineers to emulate. They are graduates of a few of our historic academic programs and their dedication to the engineering profession is notable. They reflect the highest values of the teaching, research and public service mission of our university. We are honored to welcome them to the Javelina Engineering Hall of Fame. 

The honorees will be recognized at a ceremony during Homecoming, October 23, 2020, but the date and format are subject to change. For more information and see a list of past honorees, please visit us at


This year’s Javelina Engineering Hall of Fame recipients are:

John W. Ehlers - Class of 1958, San Antonio

David G. Ford, P.E. - Class of 1975, San Antonio

Ernest A. Franke, Ph.D., P.E. - Class of 1961 and 1963, San Antonio

Learn more about this year's recipients: 

John W. Ehlers, BS Natural Gas Engineering, 1958 (MBA, T.C.U.) 

Growing up in a farming family in Odem, Texas - a strong work ethic was central to John’s life. Before even graduating from Texas A&I, John worked as a jug hustler, roughneck and roustabout – a solid foundation for a career in the oil and gas industry. John’s work history includes management and leadership positions at Sunray Mid-Continent Oil, the Sid Richardson /Perry Bass Companies, Texas Oil & Gas Corporation, Gulf Energy and Development, and LoVaca Gathering Co. He began his long affiliation with Valero in 1980. John was an industry pioneer, introducing such things as commodity hedging, introducing the “economic out” contract clause in processing agreements, and eliminating “lost and unaccounted” products in NGL plant operations. John was an original member of the Propane Education and Research Council, and highly active in Gas Processors Association activities. (GPA is now GPA Midstream Association). John was one of GPA’s earliest and loudest voices that encouraged the association to be more proactive in legislative and regulatory matters, and is credited with getting a GPA budget line item increase from nearly nothing to more than $100,000 to help with lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. A crowning achievement in his career was being presented with the Gas Processors Association Hanlon Award. The award, considered the highest honor from the GPA Midstream Association, recognizes outstanding individual career achievements and contributions toward the advancement of the midstream industry. In 1997, John retired as President of Valero Hydrocarbons, culminating a long career that touched every aspect of the energy industry. Today, John serves on the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering Natural Gas Industry Advisory Board. 

David G. Ford, P.E., BS Electrical Engineering, 1975, Cum Laude

Upon graduation, David joined Union Carbide as a Control Systems Engineer. He led the installation of a microprocessor-based flow computer, the first of its kind in the Seadrift plant. In 1998, David served as the Y2K Project Manager for the Seadrift Plant and his location was the first of the Union Carbide Plants to declare “Ready for Y2K”. When the Union Carbide / Dow Chemical merger occurred, David was selected as a manager for the new Maintenance Shared Services organization and led the implementation of empowered workgroups. David became a Six Sigma Black Belt for Dow’s Global Maintenance and his global projects led to him collaborating with Dow engineers in Italy, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Thailand, and Australia. Upon retirement from Dow, David started a second career at USAA as a Senior Business Architect, and later as a Six Sigma Black Belt. Now in this second retirement, David works as a part-time Lean Six Sigma and business process engineering consultant for an intellectual property law firm in San Antonio. In 2017 David and his colleague, James T. White, established a Javelina Engineers Facebook group, which now has more than 715 members. While working with the TAMUK Tau Beta Pi Chapter and College of Engineering faculty, David and James re-established the annual College of Engineering dinner. David and his wife Donna, a 1975 Texas A&I graduate, have been married 38 years. They are members of the TAMUK President’s Circle, and David serves on the TAMUK Honors College Advisory Board.

Ernest A. Franke, Ph.D., P.E., BS Electrical Engineering, 1961; MS EE 1963 (Ph.D., Electrical Engineering, Case-Western Reserve, 1967) 

Following the completion of his doctorate, Ernest returned to Texas A&I to join the engineering faculty. Within a few short years, he became the youngest Dean of the Dotterweich College of Engineering. After ten years on the faculty, Ernest left for the private sector, joining Alpha Electronics Corporation as Vice-President for Research and Development. He developed a precision angular measurement transducer and led the development of a laser distance measuring system for surveying applications. This was one of the first microprocessor-based surveying. In 1983, Dr. Franke joined Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio. Ernest retired from full-time work in 2007 but continues part-time as a Technical Advisor in the Intelligent Systems Division. Ernest is a member of Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu and a Life Senior Member of the Institute of IEEE. Ernest led a team that received a grant to develop Cyber Security exhibits for the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology. He has numerous publications related to machine vision, robotics, manufacturing and inspection systems, holds eight patents and received an R&D 100 award for the development of the DSL 3-D Imaging System. He has been married to his wife Doris, also a Javelina graduate, for 55 years. He and Doris created the Emerson Korges and John R. Guinn Book Scholarship Fund to honor Professors Korges and Guinn, his University colleagues who brought the first computer to campus.

Category: Events , Awards/Honors , General Univ , Engineering

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