Dean's Leadership Board

About the Dean's Leadership Board (DLB)

The DLB is an advisory board of high-level executives who bring their expertise and knowledge in their respective engineering fields. This group of alumni and industry experts secure resources for the college and to help define its strategies and goals.

Dean's Leadership Board Launches Student Success Intiatives

CPP Engineering's Dean's Leadership Board brought their expertise and knowledge to three student success initiatives, which started in Spring 2021: 

Seminar Series: Stuff They Didn't Teach You in School 

An Inside Look Into Industry

Engineering Bronco Mentoring Network 

Vice Chair Mike BeckageMichael Beckage
Chief Technology Officer

Diversified Technical Systems, Inc.
Engineering Technology, '87
College of Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2019


Michael Beckage co-founded Diversified Technical Systems (DTS), Inc. in 1990 and continues to be the company’s chief technology officer. Today, DTS has nearly 100 employees and a 15-year history of growth and profitability.

Previously, Beckage was an engineering specialist for Nissan Motor Corporation’s U.S. headquarters. He was responsible for analyzing and reporting on potential safety or emission issues and corresponding with government representatives at the NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Beckage graduated with a bachelor’s in engineering technology at Cal Poly Pomona.

Ahmed Al-Khatib Ahmed Al-Khatib
Agiline LLC  
Electrical Engineering, ‘83
College of Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2014


Ahmed is the chairman and CEO of Agiline LLC, a software company building solutions for district attorneys and law enforcement agencies. Previously he founded SIGMAnet Inc.  Since 1989, SIGMAnet is a leading provider of technology products, solutions and services for businesses, government, education, and healthcare. He was responsible for the strategic direction of the company and lead the senior management team. In December 2015, Al-Khatib sold SIGMAnet to a private equity.

Ahmed graduated with a bachelor's in electrical engineering at Cal Poly Pomona. Shortly after graduation he went on to share his admiration for Information Technology by teaching at Mount San Antonio Community College from 1985-1990 while starting SIGMAnet.

Jeff BerkJeff Berk
Regional Business Development Lead, US
Western Region, GHD
Civil Engineering, '88
College of Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2017

Jeff Berk is the regional business development lead of GHD's US Western Region. He has over 27 years of experience in engineering design, construction, and research. In addition, Jeff is a frequent contributor to many professional organizations and is a Board Member of the California Association of Sanitation Agencies.

Jeff earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Cal Poly Pomona in 1988 and his master's degree in civil engineering from Loyola Marymount University in 1993.

Martin J. ColombattoMartin J. Colombatto
Independent Consultant
Engineering Technology, ‘82
Distinguished Alumni 2013
College of Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2014


Martin Colombatto serves as an independent consultant and is on the board of directors for fabless semiconductor companies ClariPhy Communications in Irvine and Luxtera Corporation in Carlsbad. With 25 years of experience in the semiconductor and electronics industry, he has held management positions with some of the nation’s top organizations. Previously, Colombatto was a semiconductor industry executive and former chairman and CEO of Staccato Communications, a leading supplier of Ultra Wideband  (UWB) silicon and software solutions. While at Staccato Communications, Colombatto provided his expertise in engineering, strategic marketing, product development, and sales.

In 1982, Colombatto earned his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering technology from Cal Poly Pomona. 

Nato FloresChris Diaz
Independent ConsultantPrincipal
Diaz-Yourman & Associates



Chris Diaz, P.E., G.E. is the principal of Diaz Yourman & Associates.

The geotechnical consulting services corporation offers design, construction and environmental services that range from site evaluations to performing hazardous waste studies.

Diaz is also a member of civil engineering department's Industry Advisory Council.

Nato FloresNato Flores
Independent Consultant 
Flores Consulting Services
Mechanical Engineering, ‘79
College of Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2014


Nato Flores is currently an independent consultant, assisting owners and institutions to develop building projects from inception, through final construction in order to meet their growth needs.

Before this, Flores founded Tower General Contractors in 1986 and served as its president and CEO for 27 years. The company specialized in projects in education, healthcare/biomedical, entertainment, retail, industrial, and government and defense industries.

Flores earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Cal Poly Pomona.

James FruthJames Fruth (Retired)
Founder & Former CEO
Fruth Custom Plastics, Inc. 


In 1991, James Fruth began operations of its first extruder, allowing the company the opportunity to extrude their own film.  Over 20 years later, Fruth Custom Plastics is now home to over 10 extruders, multiple class 100 clean rooms, and a plethora of hand and automatic machinery, all run and operated by a “family” of dedicated and hardworking employees.

Jim’s entrepreneurial spirit and engineering expertise is the backbone of the company, which allows Fruth Custom Plastics a wide array of capabilities to service a multitude of industries and packaging needs.

Fruth recently sold Fruth Custom Plastics and is now retired.

Fruth has a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Toledo and a master's in business administration from Pepperdine University.

Lawrence M. GatesLawrence M. Gates
DRC Engineering, Inc.
Civil Engineering, ‘87
Distinguished Alumni 2006
College of Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2014

Lawrence Gates is the President of DRC Engineering which he founded with another Cal Poly Pomona alumni, Warren Williams Jr., in 1997.

DRC Engineering has 35 employees and concentrates on providing civil engineering design services for the land development community with a majority of the work being large-scale shopping centers. Gates has had a long affiliation with Cal Poly Pomona since graduating and was the College of Engineering Distinguished Alumni in 2006 and has been on the National Development Council for the last few years.

Gates graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and completed his master's degree in business administration from Pepperdine University in 1994.

Elise Hough Elise Hough
Principal Structural Engineer
Northrop Grumman
Mechanical Engineering, ‘17 B.S.
Aerospace Engineering, ‘21 M.S.
Northrop Grumman/CPP Technical Champion, 2023 - 2025
Industry Advisory Council (IAC) - Aerospace Engineering Dept., 2023 - 2025

Elise Hough is a Principal Structural Engineer at Northrop Grumman, a leading aerospace engineering company. She is responsible for conducting analysis and decision making required to certify structural integrity for NG’s various Strike platforms. Elise is the Northrop Grumman Technical Champion for Cal Poly Pomona maintaining a relationship with student clubs on campus, university relations & recruiting, talent acquisition, the college of engineering, and extracurricular clubs/projects as an industry liaison to ensure Northrop Grumman participation for campus events.

Elise earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cal Poly Pomona in 2017 and her master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Cal Poly Pomona in 2021.

Mike Huggins Mike Huggins
Chief Engineer, Aerospace Systems Directorate
Air Force Research Laboratory
Aerospace Engineering, '85
Distinguished Alumni 2007
College of Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2015

Mike Huggins is a chief engineer for the Air Force Research Laboratory.

After graduation, he started as a propulsion engineer working on the initial production and flight testing of the Air Force's B-1 bomber. Later, he moved into engineering management and eventually organizational leadership, serving companies like Rockwell International, the Air Force Phillips Laboratory, the Air Force Astronautics Laboratory and the Air Force Research Laboratory.


Brian Jaramillio Brian Jaramillo, Chairman
Chief Operating Officer
Tilden-Coil Constructors
Construction Engineering Technology, ‘87
College of Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2014

Brian Jaramillo is the chief operating officer of Tilden-Coil Constructors. In his first 12 years with Tilden-Coil Constructors, Inc., he managed hundreds of millions of dollars in construction projects and was a leader in production growth and service. For the past fourteen years, he has overseen and guided all company operations.

Jaramillo received his B.S. in construction engineering from Cal Poly Pomona.

Kevin KlowdenKevin Klowden
Dir., California Center, 
Managing Economist
Milken Institute



Kevin Klowden is director of the Milken Institute California Center and a managing economist. His focus is on the distribution of resources, business, and labor in a region, the effects of public policy on these factors and the impact on job creation, technology-based development and access to capital, particularly in California. Klowden is the lead author of "Film Flight: Lost Production and Its Economic Impact in California" and the follow-up "Fighting Production Flight," as well as the latest "State Technology and Science Index." He has written about the effects of transportation and freight infrastructure on job growth; the role of technology-based development on regional economies; and the effect of long-term obligations and international factors on municipal finances in California. Klowden is a frequent speaker on state fiscal issues and has served on multiple advisory boards on business growth, economic development and infrastructure.

He holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and London School of Economics.

Jacob Lipa Jacob Lipa
Founder: Psomas
Founder & CEO: Micropolitan
Civil Engineering, ‘77
College of Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2015


Jacob Lipa is the founder and CEO of Micropolitan, a subsidiary company of consulting and engineering firm Psomas. He is responsible for the company's direction, ensuring that its culture, client service, public service and commitment to sustainability align with Psomas’ strong tradition of excellence in these areas.

Previously, Lipa was president of Psomas and tripled the size of the company during his 13-year tenure. Psomas is rated nationally as one of the top engineering companies and has been involved with notable facilities, infrastructure and development projects in Los Angeles such as Playa Vista, LA River, LAUSD, LACCD and LA Metro.

In 2009 Jacob Lipa, in partnership with FMG, founded PsomasFMG to provide solar solutions to commercial clients such as municipalities, school, hospitals and any other tax exempt clients. Within less than 3 years, PsomasFMG has become one of the largest distributed generation companies in Southern California.

Lipa graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Cal Poly Pomona and earned his master’s degree in civil engineering from CSU Northridge.

Maria Mehranian Maria Mehranian 
Managing Partner and CFO
Cordoba Corporation


Maria Mehranian is the Managing Partner and Chief Financial Officer for Cordoba Corporation, a Los Angeles based civil engineering and construction management firm specializing in water, energy, transportation, and education facility infrastructure. The firm’s success has been demonstrated through its work on projects as complex as the California High Speed Rail, move of Shuttle Endeavor from LAX to the California Science Center, and restoring wetlands in the Delta. She also currently serves as chair of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Board and has been a member of the board since her appointment in 2008.

Ms. Mehranian received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from the American College in Tehran in 1980 and graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1986 with a Master Degree in Urban Planning.  In 2008, Ms. Mehranian was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor for her vast accomplishments to her community as an Armenian immigrant.

Shinjini MenonShinjini Menon
Vice President, Asset Management and Wildfire Safety
Southern California Edison



Shinjini Menon is vice president, Asset Management and Wildfire Safety, at Southern California Edison. She is responsible for the development and execution of SCE’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan, PSPS Readiness and oversees the asset management work across the company to optimize investments and ensure safe and reliable operation of the system. 

Menon joined SCE in 2004. She was previously managing director of State Regulatory Operations in Regulatory Affairs where she was responsible for all cost recovery-related regulatory matters and the utility’s regulatory policies concerning grid resilience and modernization.

Menon holds a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) and master’s degrees in electrical engineering and statistics from Purdue University.

Kent MillerKent R. Miller
Engineering Fellow 
Raytheon Technologies Corporation
Engineering Technology, '81

Kent R. Miller is an engineering fellow with Raytheon Technologies Corporation. He provides education and program protection design support for Raytheon's advance weapon and sensor programs. In addition to consulting individual programs, he shares his expertise more broadly as an instructor for Raytheon engineers and technologies in cybersecurity, reverse engineering, and anti-tamper in hardware, firmware and software. 

Kent has over 30 years experience as a technical expert in the dense and national security areas. Specifically, Kent's areas of expertise include aircraft design and development for structural integrity and stealth capability, weapon system program and platform protection, and the export of advanced technologies. 

Miller received his bachelor's in engineering technology from Cal Poly Pomona and a master's degree in systems engineering from Georgia Mason University. 

Mel Melaku NegussieChris Rideout, P.E.
Principal/Vice President
BKF Engineers
Civil Engineering, ‘86

Chris Rideout is a principal and vice president of BKF Engineers, a full-service civil engineering and surveying firm. BKF Engineers was founded in 1915 and has multiple offices along the West Coast.

During his tenure at BKF, Rideout has managed offices in Oakland and Walnut Creek prior to initiating BKF’s presence in Southern California. He is currently the principal in charge of the Newport Beach office. Prior to his tenure in the firm, Rideout taught several lab classes for the Department of Civil Engineering. After this, he moved to Utah and founded a civil engineering company in Park City.

He truly enjoys the mentoring of future leaders in industry and watching young engineers grow both professionally and personally. Rideout earned his bachelor's in civil engineering at Cal Poly Pomona in 1986.

Image of DLB Chair Clark RuckerClark Rucker 
Director, Phantom Works Quality
The Boeing Company
Engineering Technology, '83
Distinguished Alumni 2017
College of Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2019

Clark Rucker is the senior manager of the Phantom Works Quality organization within Boeing Defense, Space, and Security (BDS). In this role, Rucker leads the overall strategy, program integration, management and personnel development of the Phantom Works Quality organization across the Boeing Company. Prior to his current position, Rucker served as the customer liaison & senior manager of Quality Systems Integrity for the Huntington Beach site. Rucker also led the team that managed Quality Management System.

Prior to his Boeing experiences, Rucker was a senior reliability engineer at Northrop Grumman. He also spent five years at the General Dynamics Advanced Weapons System facility as a fault analysis/test engineer.

Rucker graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a bachelor's in engineering technology in 1983 and also earned a master's in executive business administration from the Claremont College's - Peter F. Drucker School of Executive Management.

Eric Schmidt 
Exquadrum, Inc.
Aerospace Engineering '92
College of Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2019


Eric Schmidt is the president and co-founder of Equadrum, Inc., an aerospace company. As president, his responsibilities span the spectrum of engineering and business functions, including managing general business, overseeing the manufacturing and fabrication areas, supervising testing and evaluation, and mentoring engineers through their careers at the company. 

Prior to this, Schmidt was the founder and chief technology officer for agent AI, and artificial intelligence company. He was responsible for the system level integration of the software, hardware and commincations, enabling the business model function. 

Eric also led technology development efforts of high performance, cryogenic liquid rocket engines during his formative years at Air Force Research Laboratory's Propulsion Directorate. 

Schmidt holds a bachelor's in aerospace engineering from Cal Poly Pomona. 


Kelly SigmonKelly M. Sigmon 
Vice President, Customer Experience  
U.S. Postal Service
Industrial Engineering '89


Kelly M. Signon is vice president of Customer Experience for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). She develops effective customer strategy for all aspects of USPS. In her previous position as vice president of Retail Operations, Sigmon oversaw over 30,000 locations. She led the reforming of USPS  training program for new and existing sales service associations, training over 15,000 associates. Over her 30 year career, Sigmon has worked on a variety of large projects, including the implementation of new technology that enabled USPS to automate mail sorting, as well as the simulation tool to protect the impact of this equipment nationwide. 

Sigmon received her bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Cal Poly Pomona and a master's in business administration from the Massahusetts Institute of Technology. 

Michael P SmithMichael P. Smith
Dir. of Engineering
CBS Inc. - KCBS Radio - Retired
Engineering Technology, ‘85



Michael P. Smith has held various technical and engineering positions with CBS Radio and CBS Television and was the director of engineering for CBS Radio West Coast from 1990 to 1996

Smith recently retired as the director of engineering for CBS Radio San Francisco.

Smith graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 1984 with a B.S. in engineering technology.

John Valasek, Ph.D.
Professor & Director
Vehicle Systems & Control Laboratory

Aerospace Engineering Department
Texas A&M University
Aerospace Engineering '86
College of Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2019


John Valasek, Ph.D., got his first engineering job in Northrop Corporation's Aircraft Division. 

Valasek's career path took him from a flight controller engineer in Northrop's Flight Controls Research Group to a researcher in the aerospace engineering department at the University of Kansas, while he earned his doctorate degree. In 1997, he joined Texas A&M University, where he serves today as a professor in the aerospace engineering department and is director of the university's Vehicle Systems & Controls Laboratory.

In 2017, Valasek was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) for his pioneering contributions and leadership in flight mechanics and control leading to new capabilities in autonomous air refueling, morphing flight and flight safety. He also influenced aerospace on a national level by providing expert input to federal lawmakers of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Tom VanDorpeTom VanDorpe M.S., S.E.
President & CEO
VCA Consutltants Inc. 
Industrial Engineering ‘89
College of Engineering Hall of Fame Class of 2019


Tom VanDorpe is the CEO of VCA Consultants, a 110 person engineering consulting firm. Within the building industry, VCA has grown to be a prolific design firm with a clientele of highly regarded architects, builders and government jurisdictions. As a practicing structural engineer, VanDorpe and his partners have served as engineer-of-record for over $30 billion of new construction in the Western U.S. which includes housing for over 500,000 people. VanDorpe received a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Cal Poly Pomona and later received a master’s in structural engineering from Cal State Long Beach.