Three Alumni Inducted into 34th Annual Hall of Distinction

The LSU College of Engineering honored three new inductees---Keith A. Comeaux, Jonathan E. Martin and David M. Mongrue---at its 34th annual Hall of Distinction banquet, held Thursday evening at The Club at Union Square.

The Hall of Distinction, established in 1979, recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the engineering profession. Criteria for election include distinguished professorial achievement, dedicated service to engineering and outstanding humanitarian activities. To date, there are 78 elected members.

“Keith, Jonathan and David have enacted strong leadership through transformative roles in their professions and impressive contributions to LSU,” said Richard Koubek, dean of the College. “These inductees represent the true significance of the LSU Engineer.”


Keith A. Comeaux
Comeaux is the team chief of MSL Cruise and Approach Engineering Operations at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. After an 11-year career at Boeing’s Satellite Development Center, he joined the laboratory in 2006 to lead Curiosity’s entry, descent and landing validation effort. For his work, which led Curiosity to a successful landing on Mars, Comeaux was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal, among other accolades.

“One of the most significant privileges I’ve received for having been part of

Curiosity’s success is the opportunity to share the excitement and enthusiasm of our mission with not only the public but also the next generation of engineers and scientists,” he wrote in his reflection. “The advice I share based on my own experience is this: Shoot for the stars, but always follow your curiosity. If you get lucky, instead of a star, you may land on Mars.”

In addition to working on the Curiosity team, Comeaux has served as the lab’s deputy integration and test manager for the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission, an Earth satellite mission to measure and map soil moisture to help scientists better understand Earth’s climate.

Comeaux earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and physics from LSU, before heading to Stanford University to complete his master’s and Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics. He later earned his M.B.A. at University of California at Los Angeles. He currently resides in Redondo Beach, Calif., with his wife and their two children.


Jonathan R. Martin
Martin is the chairman and CEO of Martin Companies, LLC, parent company of RoyOMartin Lumber Company and Martin Timber Company. The lumber company is a third-generation family enterprise and one of the largest independently owned lumber companies in the South.

“It is rare, indeed, to have a private company exist well into the fourth generation,” Martin wrote in his reflection. “The organization’s growth and prosperity were established by my grandfather, whose recipe for success included hard work, sacrifice, knowledge of the business and a “true North” moral compass. Even today, those values are reflected.”

Throughout his career, Martin has seen many milestones: he directed the design and construction of the first oriented strand board plant in 1981, a hardwood sawmill in 1984, a plywood plant in 1995, and an expanded strand board facility in 2006. He’s also secured a number of awards: the 2003 Louisiana Lantern Award for skill, dedication and ingenuity in building the state’s economy; the 2004 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award; and his business was recently voted one of the best places to work in Central Louisiana.

“The many successes we have witnessed over the years are due, at least in part, to the influence LSU has had on our family members and employees,” he said.

Martin received his bachelor’s in industrial engineering from LSU in 1971. He resides in Alexandria, Louisiana, with his wife, their two children and six grandchildren.


David M. Mongrue
Mongrue is vice president of operations at the Dow Chemical Company for Acrylics and Coatings, Discrete Manufacturing and EO Envelopes, and a member of the company’s Operations Leadership Team. His responsibilities include operations at more than 150 sites in 37 countries.

Mongrue began his career in 1979 in manufacturing at the St. Charles Operations site in Louisiana. He climbed the ranks, holding a series of manufacturing engineer and technical lead positions at the St. Charles and Texas City operations sites, before becoming the business manufacturing leader for the ethyleneamines, ethanolamines, alkylalkanolamines, gas treating and heat transfer fluids business units. He later served in various other leadership roles in Connecticut, Michigan, Texas and Pennsylvania, and even Saudi Arabia.

He also serves as the Dow Executive for LSU, among other community leadership roles.

“My passion for engineering and learning have enabled me to contribute to my company and society in general beyond my imagination,” he wrote in his reflection. “I hope the legacy I leave is that I enabled the people I worked with to be better than they would have been otherwise.”

Mongrue earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from LSU and has done post-graduate work in business administration. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife and their three children.


In addition to honoring the three inductees, the College also presented the Donald W. Clayton Excellence awards:

Clayton Engineering Excellence Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student:

  • Jared DeSoto, Electrical Engineering
  • Laura Inverson, Civil Engineering
  • Dray Richmond, Environmental Engineering
  • Matthew Skapura, Chemical Engineering

Clayton Engineering Excellence Award for Outstanding Ph.D. Graduate Student

  • Evan Andrews, Chemical Engineering
  • Grant Williams, Computer Science

Clayton Engineering Excellence Mentor Award

  • John C. Flake, Cain Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Bijaya B. Karki, Division of Computer Science and Engineering


For more information, contact Sydni Dunn, LSU College of Engineering, at 225-578-5706, or