2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards


The University of Utah Department of Chemical Engineering congratulates this year’s honorees for the Distinguished Alumni Award, given to those department alumni who have demonstrated a positive impact on the community and the department, College or university. The three recipients were recognized during a dinner event last month at the Natural History Museum of Utah.

The award recipients included:

Sara Dansie Jones, B.S., co-founder, Women Tech Council

Sara Jones (pictured, second from left) is a Partner at EnableMint, which provides a high-performing team platform with tools focused on team innovation, problem solving and execution. She frequently consults C-level teams on strategic growth, business strategy, strategic partnerships, and talent strategies and has coached hundreds of professionals on strategic career practices.

Prior to EnableMint, Jones was CEO of ApplicantPro, an HR SaaS company providing talent recruiting tools to over 3,000 clients. She was VP Strategic Development at Patent Law Works and head of business development at School Improvement Network. She started her career as a patent attorney at Workman Nydegger, practicing for almost a decade in software arts, where she became a shareholder and taught advanced patent law at Brigham Young University Law School.

Jones is founder of Women Tech Council, which has programs and platforms for driving women’s impact in the technology economy from classroom to the boardroom, and reaches over 10,000 women and men nationwide. WTC operates SheTech, the largest industry-driven STEM conference for high school girls in the nation. By 2017, over 10,000 students will have participated. She has a J.D. from Brigham Young University law school and holds a B.S. in chemical engineering, with honors, from the University of Utah.

Richard H. Nordlund, B.S., senior director, Commerce Real Estate Solutions (retired)

Richard H. Nordlund (pictured, center) has had a varied 46-year career that began as an engineer and included a long stretch in real estate. A graduate of the University of Utah with a bachelor’s in chemical engineering in 1964, Nordlund also received his MBA in 1966. He also was a star tennis player for the U from 1959 to 1963.

His first job was at Eastman Kodak in New York as a developmental engineer in which he helped develop the film portion of simultaneously taking a motion picture and recording sound. Since then, he served as the economic development director for the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce; worked as a proposal manager for the engineering, construction management and environmental departments of Ford, Bacon & Davis Utah; and was president and chief executive of Triad Center in downtown Salt Lake City developing one million square feet of office space. His other work in real estate included as a leasing and sales agent for Commerce Properties in Salt Lake City and senior director for Commerce Real Estate Solutions until he retired in 2012.

Nordlund also has served on a number of boards including the University of Utah Emeritus Alumni Board, the U’s Chemical Engineering Industrial Advisory Board, and he was past president of the Utah Arts Festival, the Utah Varsity Club and the U of U’s College of Engineering Alumni Board.

Alan J. Walker, M.S., Petroleum Engineering, supervising oil and gas engineer, California Department of Conservation, (Outstanding Service Award)

Alan Walker (pictured, second from right) has been the supervising engineer at the California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources (the Division) since November 2015. At the Division he has oversight of Underground Gas Storage, Well Stimulation, Idle Wells, and Environmental Compliance (CEQA) programs. He previously worked at the Energy & Geoscience Institute (EGI), University of Utah, as Director of Technology Outreach for USTAR (Utah Science Technology and Research) with responsibilities to develop and commercialize energy innovations. He was a guest lecturer in formation evaluation and hydrocarbon project economics and managed the Petroleum Geology and Engineering Field Study for the Petroleum Engineering program.

Walker’s career in oil and gas spans 35 years including exploration and production engineering of sour gas and gas condensate for Amoco in the Wyoming-Utah Overthrust; regulatory affairs at state and federal levels; and gas supply management operations in storage, transportation, and distribution throughout the Rocky Mountain region for Questar. Most recently he has also been the technical lead for the Division in controlling the SS25 blowout and overseeing the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility safety review. Prior to working in the energy industry, Walker served 10 years in the U.S. Army Airborne Artillery and retired from the Army Reserve as a Special Forces colonel with over thirty years of service. He served three combat tours in Afghanistan, the Philippines and Iraq.

He has a B.S. in weapons systems engineering from West Point, an MBA in production management from Rensselaer, and an M.S. in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Utah.

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