Feb. 21, 2023

Five individuals and one organization to be honored for contributions to engineering and support for college during fifth annual event on Feb. 23.

LAS VEGAS – February 15, 2023 – Innovation and impact in engineering will take center stage Feb. 23 during the fifth annual Academy of Engineering Celebration and Induction Ceremony.

The UNLV Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering established the Academy of Engineering in 2017 to recognize alumni, faculty, and industry and community partners for their contributions to the profession and their support of the college and its mission. After a two-year hiatus due the pandemic, five individuals and one organization will be inducted into the academy in 2023.

“The College of Engineering – through the many contributions of our alumni, faculty, and partners – has made impacts to the fields of engineering and computer science here in Nevada and around the world,” said engineering dean Rama Venkat. “This event gives us the chance to recognize those who lead by example and demonstrate our values of education, engagement, inspiration, and innovation.”

Honorees are recognized in three categories: distinguished alumni, distinguished educator, and distinguished industry partner. The 2023 UNLV Academy of Engineering inductees are:

Distinguished Engineering Alumni

  • Vamsee Pamula (’96, MS in Electrical Engineering) is founder and president of Baebies, Inc., which develops newborn screening and pediatric testing solutions for the medical industry. Previously, Pamula was co-founder and chief technology officer of Advanced Liquid Logic Inc., where he worked on digital microfluidics products for life sciences and diagnostics applications.
  • Mark Newburn (’81, BS in Computer Science, ’83 MS in Math) is the founder of Vizics Inc., and has more than 40 years of experience working with some of the country's top technology companies. A longtime supporter of the college, Newburn is a former member of the Nevada State Board of Education, founder of the college’s alumni association, and holds the distinction as one of the first to receive a computer science degree from UNLV.
  • Brian Sompayrac (’95, BS in Mechanical Engineering) is the senior manager and deputy director of Orion Production Control for Lockheed Martin Space. He has more than two decades of experience with multiple programs and has earned NASA’s Silver Snoopy, NASA’s Exceptional Public Achievement Medal, and the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement. 

Distinguished Engineering Educator

  • Barbara Luke is a professor emerita in civil and environmental engineering and construction. Professor Luke, a geotechnical engineer, served as a faculty member at UNLV for 22 years, and she was the first female faculty member in her department. Among her numerous achievements, Luke formed UNLV’s Applied Geophysics Center with a multidisciplinary team that has made advancements in earthquake understanding and safety and improved geophysical approaches to site investigation.

Distinguished Engineering Industry Partners

  • Don Snyder is a former UNLV president, past dean of the Harrah College of Hospitality, and a longtime business and philanthropic leader in Southern Nevada. In addition to a decades-long career as a leader in the banking and gaming industries, Snyder has contributed to numerous community projects. He led the effort to construct the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas and later served as chairman of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Snyder is also an active member of the UNLV Foundation Board of Trustees and has served in numerous volunteer roles in support of UNLV.
  • JT4 LLC is a defense contractor and major supporter of the College of Engineering.  JT4 provides engineering and technical support to multiple western test ranges for the U.S. Air Force, Space Force, and Navy. In concert with its Department of Defense customers, JT4 develops and maintains integrated test and training range environments by providing highly skilled scientific, engineering, technical, and support personnel. Over 70 percent of the JT4 workforce has an educational background in STEM fields, and well over 100 JT4 employees hold engineering degrees from UNLV.

The UNLV Academy of Engineering Celebration and Induction Ceremony is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Feb. 23 at UNLV’s Richard Tam Alumni Center. For more information, contact Jack Aylor with the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering at jack.aylor@unlv.edu or 702-895-2913.