Engineering News Spring 2017

2017 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Awards

For more than 100 years, the School of Engineering at Santa Clara University has been educating the leaders and innovators of the future to make a difference in their communities and in the world. For such achievements, in 2017 the School recognized Richard DeBlasio, Bill Holt, and Scott Santarosa, S.J., with the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award—the highest honor bestowed by the School of Engineering to graduates whose accomplishments in their professions, communities, and University service have set them apart.

Richard DeBlasio '72 BSEE

Richard (Dick) DeBlasio ’72 BS Electrical Engineering was recognized for his contribution to the field of electrical engineering and the advancement and adoption of renewable energy research.

DeBlasio is a research fellow emeritus at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). In his more than 35 years there, he furthered NREL’s renewable energy successes both nationally and internationally. His work has contributed immeasurably to the efficiency, reliability, affordability, and adoption of renewable energy systems. Industry and government standards that enable the use of renewables in conjunction with central power systems were achieved through his leadership and foundational research, and he led the effort that has become the standard for Smart Grid modernization.

Scores of scholarly publications attest to DeBlasio’s influence in his field, as do numerous industry awards—the ANSI Finegan Standards Medal for extraordinary leadership in the actual development and application of consensus standards, the IEEE Charles Proteus Steinmetz Medal for contributions to the standardization and global impact of distributed electric power system technology, an IEEE Lifetime Achievement Award, and recognition by Fierce Energy Magazine as one of 13 nationally influential experts on energy, to name just a few. 

Bill Holt ’79 MS Mechanical Engineering was selected for the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award for his impact on the semiconductor chip industry and the advancement of computing.

In Silicon Valley, the semiconductor industry exploded, in part, based on what’s known as Moore’s Law—the maxim that the computing power of integrated circuits would double about every two years. For more than 40 years, Bill Holt, retired executive vice president and general manager for Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group (TMG), led the teams that delivered the efficiency, innovation, and cost reductions that drove the industry and proved Moore’s Law to be true. During his time at Intel, processors became 3,500 times more powerful and 90,000 times more energy efficient.

Beginning his career in DRAM development as a development engineer, Holt assumed a number of management roles before being elected corporate vice president in 2003 and taking on the management of TMG in 2005. Under his guidance, Intel consistently led the industry in revolutionizing transistor technologies. A consummate innovator and leader, he had a marked influence not only on his company, but on his industry, and on the nation’s economy. In 2015 Holt received the Semiconductor Industry Association’s highest honor, the Robert N. Noyce Award for Longstanding Accomplishments on Behalf of Industry.

Scott Santarosa, S.J., ’88 BS Civil Engineering, provincial of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, was chosen for this award not for his engineering prowess but for the contributions he has made to enriching the lives and furthering the prospects for the poorest of society, and for his leadership within the Society of Jesus.

During his time as a student at SCU, the seeds for Santarosa’s future were planted on a brief trip to Mexico. There, he witnessed abject poverty but was moved by how people experienced God’s love. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, he joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, running an after-school program for low-income families in New Jersey, and soon decided to begin the formation process to become a Jesuit. He spent his fourth year of theology studies in Mexico City.

As a Jesuit, Fr. Santarosa spent five years at Verbum Dei High School in Watts, Los Angeles. When he arrived in 2000, the inner-city school was on the verge of closing. Just six years later he had transformed it into a well-respected Catholic preparatory school for low-income students, with 100 percent of the graduating students accepted to college. For the next eight years he lovingly pastored Dolores Mission Church in Los Angeles, a parish dedicated to social justice through serving the poor and the immigrant. In 2014 he took on the role of provincial of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus; as the Jesuits merge the California and Oregon provinces he will head the resulting region, which includes Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Hawaii.

Congratulations to these shining examples of excellence who light the way for future Bronco engineers.