The State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame inducted eight individuals — including four Auburn University alumni — a project and a corporation during a ceremony Saturday at The Grand Hotel in Point Clear.
This year’s inductees from the university include Don Arkle, ’77 civil engineering; Brad Corson, ’83 chemical engineering; Jeffrey Langhout, ’86 industrial engineering; and Steve Swinson, ’81 mechanical engineering. The ALDOT I-59/20 Central Business District Interchange and Bridge Replacement Project was inducted into the projects category, while Sain Associates was inducted into the corporation category.
Class of 2022
Don Arkle graduated from Auburn University in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He spent his entire 45-year career with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), dedicating his life to improve the quality of life for the people of Alabama through the improvement of our state’s infrastructure. For the first 25 years of his career, Arkle worked with ALDOT’s design bureau. He was then promoted to assistant chief engineer for policy and planning, where he oversaw the bureaus of Transportation Planning and Modal Programs, County Transportation and Office Engineer. He was then promoted to chief engineer, where he spent the final five years of his career before retirement. As chief engineer, his role fell under the direction, control and supervision of the ALDOT director. He coordinated the engineering sciences to the planning and design of highways and bridges in the state, and oversaw planning and preconstruction activities, established engineering policies and engaged in the planning and programming of projects and financial resources. He also assisted ALDOT’s director in policy matters related to the department’s business and represented the department on numerous national issues.
During his nearly half century with ALDOT, Arkle was instrumental in many projects that affect millions of Alabamians and visitors to the state each year. Some of those projects include work on the Tuscaloosa Eastern Bypass, the U.S. Interstate 22 corridor and most recently the U.S. Interstate 59/20 Bridges project. In regards to the 59/20 project, this immaculate undertaking was completed early, under budget and is one of the biggest infrastructure replacements in the state’s history.
Arkle has supported engineering education through his membership in the Engineering Eagles Giving Society, and he is a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association. He serves on the advisory boards of the Auburn University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the University of Alabama Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. He most recently joined the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council, where he works together with a group of Auburn Engineering alumni to support the vision and goals of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.
Brad Corson earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Auburn University in 1983. Upon graduation, he launched a successful nearly four-decade career with Exxon, now ExxonMobil. Now as the chairman, president and CEO of Imperial Oil — Canada’s largest petroleum refiner, major producer of crude oil and natural gas, key petrochemical producer and leading fuels marketer from coast to coast — he continues to shape the global natural gas market. Corson started his career with Exxon Company, USA in 1983 as a project engineer and has held a wide variety of technical, commercial and managerial assignments primarily in the upstream, but also in the downstream and human resources. He spent the first 21 years of his career based in the U.S. with assignments in Louisiana, California, Texas and Virginia before relocating overseas as manager of Hong Kong Power and chairman of CAPCO, ExxonMobil’s joint venture in the power industry. In 2007, he returned to Houston as vice-president of New Business Development for ExxonMobil Gas & Power Marketing Company with global responsibility for commercializing ExxonMobil’s major gas resources and pursuit of new opportunities.
From 2009-14, Corson was based in London as chairman and production director of ExxonMobil International where he had responsibility for ExxonMobil’s oil & gas production activities in Europe and Caspian regions. He also served as ExxonMobil’s lead country manager for the United Kingdom during this period. In 2014, he returned to Houston as vice-president of ExxonMobil Upstream Ventures and, in March 2015, he was appointed president of ExxonMobil Upstream Ventures and a vice-president of Exxon Mobil Corporation, where he oversaw the company’s global upstream acquisition and divestment programs, including purchases in the Permian Basin, Papua New Guinea, Mozambique and Brazil.
Corson is an avid supporter of Auburn University, the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, the Department of Chemical Engineering and engineering tutoring services. He is a member of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council and was named as a Distinguished Auburn Engineer by the council, and he’s been named as the Department of Chemical Engineering’s Outstanding Alumnus. He has supported facilities and excellence funds within the college and the Department of Chemical Engineering. For his support, the Tutoring and Learning Suite on the main floor of the Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center has been named the Brad Corson and Family Tutoring and Learning Suite in his honor.
Jeffrey Langhout graduated from Auburn University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree industrial engineering. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering management and a master’s degree in engineering, both from the University of Alabama at Huntsville. As director of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC) at Redstone Arsenal, the Huntsville native leads more than 11,000 engineers, scientists and researchers — the largest engineering workforce in the state — delivering advanced technologies as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams. Under Langhout’s direction, AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions. He has spent his exemplary 35-year engineering career refining processes by which the U.S. Army maintains its stark combat vehicle superiority on the world’s military stage.
Langhout supported the Army’s Aviation program at Redstone Arsenal, helping to save millions of taxpayer dollars and countless lives while chief engineer for the Chinook Helicopter program. He also led the entire research and development efforts for the Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center, as well as fleet sustainment engineering for all U.S. Army ground vehicles and fleets from more than 60 allied nations. He is the only engineer in Army history to have led both engineering and research and development programs for two development centers.
In 2004, Langhout was awarded the Department of the Army Civilian Service Achievement Medal for noteworthy achievements, one of the department’s highest awards. In 2006, he received the bronze Order of St. Michael’s Award, issued by the Army Aviation Society of American for significant and long-lasting contributions to the Army Aviation community. In 2011, he was a finalist for the Association of the United States Army’s Civilian of the Year Award. Additionally, his efforts toward securing millions in congressionally directed funding for Auburn University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham have helped establish Alabama as hub of additive manufacturing research.
Steve Swinson graduated from Auburn University in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He began his career at Auburn University as an HVA engineer for Facilities Management, working on projects such as the university’s first chilled water plant, installing a new steam system on campus, renovating engineering’s Wilmore Laboratories and Ross Hall, constructing the chemistry and business buildings, raising the upper decks on Jordan-Hare Stadium, constructing of Plainsman Park at Samford Stadium, renovating all the campus dorms and installing air conditioning in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Swinson later served as president of Trigen Energy Corporation’s Western Region; president of Midwest Mechanical Contractors’ Central Division; founder and president of The Sapphire Consulting Group; principal of Index Capital, chief financial officer and president of Cleveland Brothers Construction Company before ascending to his role as president and CEO of Thermal Energy Corporation (TECO), a not-for-profit district energy company serving thermal energy to the Texas Medical Center (TMC) — the world’s largest medical center — located in Houston.
Swinson played a key leadership role in the development and implementation of TECO’s master plan, including the integration of combined heat and power and securing $369 million in funding for phase 1 implementation, which installed an 8.8 million-gallon thermal energy storage tank, the first 45 MW combustion turbine and HRSG unit, a new chiller building with 32,000 tons of additional chilling capacity, an additional support facility and additional campus thermal energy distribution systems. The completion of this project made TECO the largest chilled water district energy system in North America.
In addition to his Auburn education, Steve also holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He is a staunch advocate for higher education, and a dedicated supporter of engineering education in the state of Alabama. He and his brother, Mike, established the Dr. and Mrs. Frank Swinson Family Endowed Scholarship in the Auburn University Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, which has provided financial support to students for many years. He also supports the college’s unrestricted fund and the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
The State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame was chartered by the governor in 1987 to honor those individuals, corporations and projects associated with the state that have brought credit to the engineering profession. A total of 186 engineers, 44 projects and 32 firms have been recognized by the hall. These inductees span from border to border, across all industries, and personify the impact engineering has played on the economy, quality of life and standard of living for the people of Alabama.
The Hall of Fame is overseen by engineering colleges and schools at Auburn University, Alabama A&M University, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, Tuskegee University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of South Alabama.