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Meet the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients 

William Betten (EE/Physics 77)

Following high school, Wiliiam Betten attend Mines where he finished with bachelor’s degrees in physics and electrical engineering in 1977.

He has over 40 years of product development experience in fields ranging from aerospace and defense to commercial/industrial to medical devices. He earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota, a certificate in advanced management from Babson College (Wellesley, MA), and certification as a project management professional.

He initially worked for Honeywell in Minneapolis in various roles, including leading the design and commercialization of one of the first practical through-the-lens autofocus systems (TCL) for SLR and video cameras and his role as program manager of the DARPA Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) Pilot Line design activities, resulting in significant advances in that emergent technology.

In 1987, he joined 3M in St. Paul, MN. His work there included development of one of the world’s first digital programming hearing aids, heart/lung perfusion systems, advanced data recording systems, and materials processing experiments flown in the space shuttle. He was also involved in early teleradiology developments transmitting images from the USS George Washington to Bethesda Naval and Walter Reed Army hospitals and supporting deployed medical units. In 1993, the digital image recorder product team he led received Radiology Today’s "Top 10 Most Innovative Products in Radiology” award.

After 20 years in large corporations, Betten transitioned to leadership positions at  smaller corporations, including Datacard, Plasmon, Teradyne, Nonin Medical, Logic PD, and Nortech Systems. In 2017, he formed his own product consulting firm, Betten Systems Solutions. He also serves as director of solutions for S3 Connected Health based in Dublin, Ireland, and is senior vice president of product development and engineering for ClearIt, LLC, a medical device startup. He has published more than 50 papers and articles and is a frequent speaker at medical and product development conferences.

Betten, his wife Sue, and son Chris reside in Woodbury, MN. He has served on civic boards including planning commission, city council, and economic development. He also contributes to higher education, serving on engineering advisory boards for Minnesota State University and at the University of St. Thomas, where he helped start the electrical engineering department, and on several boards at the University of Minnesota. He serves as a member of the Mines University Advisory Board, as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR), on two department advisory boards, and is engaged in economic development activities. He is a life member of IEEE and Triangle Fraternity.

George “Rusty” Gray (MetE 76)

George "Rusty" Gray graduated from South Dakota Mines with a bachelor’s degree in 1976 and a master’s degree in 1977, both in metallurgical engineering. In 1981, he received a PhD in metallurgical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University. In 1982, he began a post-doctoral fellowship at the Technische Universitaet Hamburg-Harburg in Germany where he studied the influence of microstructure on the fatigue behavior of several titanium alloys.

He joined Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in 1985. Over the past 37 years, he has conducted independent research on the structure/property relationships during the deformation of materials, in particular in response to high-strain-rate and shock deformation. He has developed and promoted the use of "soft" shock recovery techniques for systematically studying the influence of shockwave loading parameters on post-shock material response.

He has promoted dynamic structure/property research on materials and worked to further the development of dynamic materials and condensed matter research within the materials and physics communities, DOE, the DoD and industry. He is currently a lab fellow and scientist 6 at LANL.

He is a life member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge (UK) where he was on sabbatical in 1998. He co-chaired the Physical Metallurgy Gordon Conference in 2000. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), a fellow of ASM International, and a fellow of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS). He is a member of APS, ASM, TMS, and serves on the advisory board of the European DYMAT Association. In 2010, he served as the president of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society. In 2012, he became the chair of the Acta Materialia Board of Governors, which oversees the publication of the journals Acta Materialia, Scripta Materialia, Acta Biomaterialia, and Materialia.

He has authored or co-authored more than 480 publications. In 2017, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). In 2018, he was awarded the Rinehart Award from the European DYMAT Association. In 2019, the American Physical Society awarded him the 2019 George E. Duvall Shock Compression Science Award. In January 2020, he was awarded the American Ceramic Society ICACC Plenary Lecture. Since August 2020, he has served on the congressionally-mandated National Academy Study Panel Assessing the Feasibility of the Strategic Long-Range Canon (SLRC) for the US Army.

Timothy Klaus (ChE 87)

Timothy Klaus, a Sioux Falls native, graduated from South Dakota Mines in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He began his career as a Process Engineer for Dow Corning in Midland, Mich. After four years, he was awarded a full tuition scholarship and enrolled in the University of Notre Dame’s MBA program. While at Notre Dame, he completed internships with two companies in Japan.
Upon graduation with honors from Notre Dame, Klaus joined the Ford Motor Company working in corporate finance. His first year was at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville. While in Louisville, the governor of Kentucky awarded him a commission to the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, a voluntary philanthropic organization. A commission in the Kentucky Colonels is the highest title of honor bestowed by the governor of Kentucky.

Klaus worked nine years for Ford in five different positions. In 2002, he joined TRW Automotive as the Asia Pacific Finance Director for three years, first based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and then Shanghai, China. He was then appointed the Finance Director for the Engineered Fasteners and Components business unit based in Germany.

He returned to the US and joined Whirlpool in 2006 to be the Senior Director of Finance for North America Manufacturing Operations. He provided financial leadership to Whirlpool’s manufacturing footprint rationalization after purchase of Maytag.
In 2009, Klaus joined Dana Automotive as the regional vice president of finance Asia Pacific based in Shanghai. In this role, he led the financial due diligence for a large commercial vehicle axle JV with a Chinese OEM. 

In 2014, he become the Managing Director for Thailand with full P&L responsibility for Dana’s business in Thailand. In this role, Dana’s Thailand plants won the Dana Diamond award four times in five years – an award presented by the CEO to the best plant globally out of more than 150 plants. 

In 2019, Klaus was appointed the Senior Managing Director of Light Vehicle Driveline Asia-Pacific with business responsibility for operations in China, India, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand. 

Steve Vanderboom (CE 74)

Steve Vanderboom, a Platte native, graduated from South Dakota Mines in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. In 1976, he received a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Minnesota.

He and his wife, Julie, also from Platte, founded Pace Analytical Services in 1978 and has grown the business steadily over the years. It is currently the largest environmental testing business in the United States and the largest privately held testing company performing environmental, pharmaceutical and medical device testing in the US.

He served as CEO for 41 years, then became executive chairman and recently reduced to a part-time role as founder and chairman emeritus. The company has more than 60 laboratories around the United States and in Puerto Rico and has grown from two employees to more than 3,400 today.

Majority ownership was transitioned in 2016 to private equity company, Aurora Capital. Vanderboom continued his leadership role and a strong equity interest after the ownership transition. He was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Environmental Business Journal, the only such award granted to a leader in the laboratory business.

He serves on the boards of Pace, the American Council of Independent Laboratories, and the Global Water Center and is active in his church, community and several charitable organizations.

Lisa Zacher (Chem 85)

Lisa Zacher, an Eagle Butte native and graduate of TF Riggs High School in Pierre. Zacher is the daughter of Francis Zacher and the late Geraldine Zacher.

Zacher graduated from South Dakota Mines in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. During her time at Mines, she participated in basketball, volleyball and track. She was named to the Mines Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008 and appointed to the Mines Center for Alumni Relations and Advancement (CARA) Board of Directors in 2020.

She received her medical degree in 1989 from the University of South Dakota and then completed her internal medicine residency at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, and pulmonary/critical care training at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash. and at the University of Washington.

Zacher is a retired US Army Colonel with 24 years of active-duty service. While stationed at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, she participated in two Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) missions to Laos, searching for service members’ remains from the Vietnam War.

She completed two combat deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During her first tour (2008- 2009) she served as an intensive care physician in the Green Zone. In 2011, she deployed as the deputy command surgeon for United States Forces – Iraq (Camp Victory), where she was the chief of staff equivalent for the entire Iraqi theatre. Her final assignment was as chief of medicine at Brooke Army Medical Center at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, a 450-bed Level 1 trauma facility, from 2005 to 2013.

Her clinical expertise in pulmonary/critical care medicine was recognized by her receipt of the “A” Designator (the equivalent of tenured professor). She also was appointed as pulmonary consultant to the Army Surgeon General from 2008 to 2013 and served as a DoD spokesperson for burn pits, with several publications and presentations related to lung injury and airborne hazards. Her military awards included the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service medal and two Meritorious Service medals. She is active in many professional organizations.

She served as the American College of Physicians (ACP) Army Chapter Governor from 2009-2013 and attained Mastership in the ACP. In 2020, the Army ACP Chapter initiated a new annual award: the Colonel Lisa L. Zacher Mentorship of Women in Medicine. She currently is the chief of staff for the Orlando VA Health Care System, where she oversees the care of more than 130,000 central Florida veterans while serving as the core medical administrator of 12 sites of patient care, 5,500 employees and $1.5 billion budget, covering the most clinical encounters in the entire VA system. She maintains extensive academic affiliations, including appointments as associate professor of medicine and associate dean for veterans affairs at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Mines Advancement Fund

The Mines Advancement Fund supports the greatest needs of our students and faculty, including scholarships, department resources, facilities updates, industry partnerships, and more. With every dollar gifted to the Mines Advancement Fund, the Center for Alumni Relations & Advancement raises an average of $9 more to support departments, scholarships, and programs. 
Consider designating your gift to the Mines Advancement Fund to maximize your influence at South Dakota Mines.