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Alumni Profiles

Gen. Carroll A. Devol

An 1878 civil engineering graduate, went on to a distinguished military career that saw him reach the rank of major general.

Gen. Carroll A. Devol
An 1878 civil engineering graduate, went on to a distinguished military career that saw him reach the rank of major general. Following the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, he was placed in charge of distribution of all supplies in the city, and directed the work until civil authorities resumed control. He later served for five years as chief quartermaster – overseeing purchasing and distribution – during the construction of the Panama Canal. He retired before World War I, but returned to serve in the war with honor. A native of Ohio, he died after a protracted illness in 1930 at the age of 71 in Redwood City, Calif. The cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot to the heart, fired from a .45 Army revolver.

Sylvanus Griswold Morley

1904 civil engineering graduate, was an archaeologist and Mayan scholar whose explorations and research were the basis for the influential first edition of the book The Ancient Maya published in 1946.

Gen. Carroll A. Devol
1904 civil engineering graduate, was an archaeologist and Mayan scholar whose explorations and research were the basis for the influential first edition of the book The Ancient Maya published in 1946. He is noted for the extensive excavations of the Chichen Itza site in the Yucatan in Mexico. Morley, who studied at Harvard after PMC, later worked for the Office of Naval Intelligence gathering information on German operations in Central America. He is the subject of the 2003 book The Archaeologist Was a Spy. It is often speculated that he served as an inspiration for Indiana Jones, although creator George Lucas has claimed that fictional character is not based on any one person. Morley was born in Chester in 1883, and both of his parents taught at Pennsylvania Military College. He died in 1948 in his home in New Mexico.

Chalmer G. Kirkbride

Trustee and supporter of engineering program and the man for whom Kirkbride Hall is named, served as an engineer and executive in the oil industry. 

Chalmer G. Kirkbride
Trustee and supporter of engineering program and the man for whom Kirkbride Hall is named, served as an engineer and executive in the oil industry. He later worked for the Federal Energy Administration, and served on President Nixon's task force on Oceanography. During World War II, Kirkbride acted as a science advisor to the U.S. atomic bomb testing program, and later witnessed tests of the atomic bomb over Bikini Island in 1946. His papers, including many photographs from the nuclear tests, are now held in the Widener University Archives in the Wolfgram Memorial Library.
A member of the PMC Board of Trustees beginning in 1953, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1970 and the School of Engineering's Centennial Medal. His son, Chalmer G. Kirkbridge Jr., graduated from PMC in 1963. When the Kirkbrides moved, they donated their personal residence in Wallingford, Pa., to Widener to serve as the president's official residence. The home was named the Billie Kirkbride House, in honor Kirkbride's wife. He died in Bradenton, Fla., in 1998 at the age of 91.

Sandra L. (Fay) Morgan ’71

First woman to enroll in the School of Engineering of what was then Penn Morton College, a predecessor to Widener, in the fall of 1967.

Sandra L. (Fay) Morgan '71
Morgan was the first woman to enroll in the School of Engineering of what was then Penn Morton College, a predecessor to Widener, in the fall of 1967. She learned about the school from a PMC recruiter who learned that she was interested in studying engineering when he visited her high school in Bradford County in the northern part of Pennsylvania. A native of Big Pond, Pa., a rural farming community, her parents couldn't afford to send her to college so PMC's offer of a full scholarship persuaded her to attend college in Chester. She married the summer before her senior year, and went on to graduate in 1971. "It was an amazing period of change," she said. "Not only in the college, but in the United States." Because her senior project was on kidney dialysis and she was interested in biomedical engineering, she went on to work at Crozer Hospital in Chester for a year and a half. She then took a job with DuPont in the field engineering program, and worked five years there. When her first son was born in 1977, she decided to work part-time and raise her children, and had a second son in 1981. She taught as adjunct in the Widener School of Engineering from 1978-1986. In 1988, she joined Tatman and Lee Associates (now URS Corporation) in Newark, Del., and has continued to work there in the same office through three ownership changes. Now a grandmother of two, she is a project manger with URS Corporation and lives in Chadds Ford, Pa. "The education I got at Widener was well suited for life as an engineer," she said.

Joseph Viscuso ’73,

Started Brandywine Engineering Consultants in 1979, a firm that grew to employ 50 people. It eventually merged with a larger firm and grew to 650 employees, before being acquired by Stantec...

Joseph Viscuso '73
Joe Viscuso'73 had been working as a civil engineer for six years when he launched his own engineering firm in Chester County. It was 1979, a down economic year marked by soaring energy prices and hefty inflation. A friend he ran into didn't offer much encouragement. "He told me, 'You couldn't be starting at a worse time,'" Viscuso said. But Viscuso's firm—initially called Brandywine Engineering Consultants—took hold in spite of the lagging economy and grew to employ 50 people. It eventually merged with a larger firm and grew to 650 employees, before being acquired by Stantec, an international engineering corporation traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Viscuso, a member of Widener College's first graduating class, is now a vice president with Stantec. He said the entrepreneurial urge to start a business in a down economy turned out to be a good decision although it ran counter to the logic of many at the time. "It's like jumping rope," he said. "It's easiest to jump in when the rope is at the bottom." Viscuso also has served as an adjunct faculty member at Widener since 2004. His son Michael is a graduate of the School of Engineering and Widener Law, and his daughter Jessica is a senior in anthropology.

Mary Ann Skehan ’81, ’88, ’03

A senior flight control systems engineer with Boeing who holds three degrees from Widener:  a bachelor’s degree in electrical and chemical engineering, and master’s degrees in computer software engineering...

Mary Ann Skehan '81, '88, '03
Is a senior flight control systems engineer with Boeing who holds three degrees from Widener: a bachelor's degree in electrical and chemical engineering, and master's degrees in computer software engineering and secondary mathematics. She has worked at Boeing as an engineer for 30 years in avionics and flight controls. She coached the cheerleaders at Widener University for 17 years and sponsored and advised two engineering senior projects. She created the "What Makes Things Fly Workshop" for students to understand the basics of aerodynamics, a program that has been used at the Society of Women Engineers Girls Camp held at Widener each year.

Paul Davison '86

An electrical engineering graduate, now vice president for operations support of PSEG Nuclear LLC.

Paul Davison '86
Paul Davison '86, an electrical engineering graduate, has more than 20 years of nuclear power experience. He is now vice president for operations support of PSEG Nuclear LLC, and has served as the director of nuclear oversight and as site engineering director for the Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey. Prior to coming to PSEG Nuclear LLC, he was site engineering director at Exelon Corporation's Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania. Before that he held various management and engineering positions at Exelon Corporation's Peach Bottom and Limerick stations. He also served as design engineering manager at Philadelphia Electric Company's Nuclear Group Headquarters. In addition to his degree from Widener, he has received Senior Reactor Operator Certification at the Limerick Station.

Jim McCarthy ’92

Started McCarthy Engineering Associates, in Reading, Pa., in the year 2000. The firm has ranked as high as fifth in the nation by CE News among small firms with fewer than 100 employees.

Jim McCarthy '92
Jim McCarthy '92 started his business, McCarthy Engineering Associates, in Reading, Pa., in the year 2000. "It took my entire life savings and then some," he said. But McCarthy's firm grew and was ranked fifth in the nation by CE News among small firms with fewer than 100 employees. An entrepreneurial drive is something McCarthy said he was born with. "I always wanted to own my own business," he said. "I had a lawn care business from the time I was 12 years old until I went to college." His company handles a variety of engineering services, including civil engineering, subdivision and land development, environmental services, and survey engineering. Major projects have included the Albright College football stadium, and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa. Other honors earned by McCarthy Engineering Associates include being named one of the Top 25 Civil Engineering Firms to work for in the country by Civil Engineering News Magazine for four consecutive years.

Sean Pressley ’00, ’03

An engineer who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Widener’s School of Engineering, is vice president of Hill International.

Sean Pressley '00, '03
Sean Pressley '00, 03, an engineer who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in Widener's School of Engineering, is vice president of Hill International. He has won several awards, including being ranked as one of the top 40 industry and community leaders under the age of 40 by the Philadelphia Business Journal. Pressley in 2009 was promoted from director of project management systems and development to vice president of project management systems and development at Hill International, a global leader in managing construction risk. He also received his Master in Business Administration from LaSalle University. He is a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional. The Philadelphia Business Journal's program "Philadelphia's got talent: 40 Under 40" recognizes 40 individuals, under the age of 40, who have proven themselves in their companies, as well as industries. Pressley also was selected as a 2009 Minority Business Leader by the Philadelphia Business Journal, ranking him among 31 inaugural Minority Business Leaders recognized as top level corporate executives who have achieved exceptional success in business and within their community.

Anastasia Venable-Nappen ’00, ’06

Earned her bachelor’s and master’s in chemical engineering from Widener and is now a project management superintendent in West Deptford, N.J., for Johnson Matthey, an international specialty chemicals company.

Anastasia Venable-Nappen '00, '06
Earned her bachelor's and master's in chemical engineering from Widener and is now a project management superintendent in West Deptford, N.J., for Johnson Matthey, an international specialty chemicals company. A major project she headed up was a $6 million refinery expansion, one of the largest in the region. She is involved in recruiting young women into the field of engineering, and regularly speaks at Widener's engineering camp for high school girls.

Widener Engineering Triple Play, Plus One

Four brothers, three of whom are triplets, are chemical engineering graduates of the Widener School of Engineering.

Widener Engineering Triple Play, Plus One
From left to right, Patrick, Philip, and Ryan
The Wenrich triplets took steps to distinguish themselves in their first semester in fall 2001. "Phil grew a beard, I grew a goatee, and Pat remained clean shaven to try to make things easier," Ryan Wenrich said.

All are '05 graduates with degrees in chemical engineering (Ryan was a double-major, also earning a degree in chemistry.) Older brother Sean is an '01 graduate, also in chemical engineering.

Today, Ryan is a process engineer for Adhesives Research in Glen Rock, Pa.; Patrick is a senior sales engineer with Evaporated Coatings, Inc. in Willow Grove, Pa.; and Phil and Sean are both environmental engineers working for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in Harrisburg.

They cited Widener's co-op program, which allows students fall of 2009 helped us rebrand the club and attract participants who came to us willingly."

Brad M. Isaacson '07

A mechanical engineering graduate, earned a PhD in bioengineering from the University of Utah in less than four years, publishing nine peer-reviewed papers in the process.

Brad M. Isaacson '07
Brad M. Isaacson '07, a mechanical engineering graduate, earned a PhD in bioengineering from the University of Utah in less than four years, publishing nine peer-reviewed papers in the process. His dissertation focused on using controlled electrical stimulation to improve skeletal attachment of implants for wounded soldiers. He went on to work for the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital in Washington DC. While at Walter Reed, he co-wrote a grant that received $5.5 million from the Department of Defense to establish the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research with the Uniformed Services University. He is now a research and development engineer with Boston Scientific in Marlborough, Mass., and continues to conduct research for the Henry M. Jackson Foundation. His wife, Megan Witherspoon, a '07 Widener Nursing graduate and former ROTC cadet, recently completed four years of active duty in the Army that included a deployment in Afghanistan. They are expecting their first child in July.