College of Engineering Honors Five at Evening of Engineering Excellence Event

Group photo of inductees and Interim Dean ThompsonMay 8, 2024 

BATON ROUGE, LA – The LSU College of Engineering recently held its first Evening of Engineering Excellence event on April 25, inducting several new members into its Society for Engineering Excellence and Hall of Distinction.

Going into the SEE this year were James Danos and his wife Patricia Fandt, along with Richard Spies. Entering the HoD were Mohammad “Mo” Dehghani and Robert Slimp.

“Their stories are a wonderful balance of career paths that led to executive leadership in the private sector, as well as advanced degrees and achievements at the highest levels of discovery and educational leadership,” said Karsten Thompson, interim dean of the college. “We are very proud and thankful for what they do and how it reflects on LSU and the College of Engineering.”

Founded in 2008, the Society for Engineering Excellence recognizes the profound support of our alumni and friends whose philanthropy creates a difference in the lives of our students and faculty. Over the last 17 years, the college has inducted 65 individuals, corporations, and foundations into the society, each of which has made a significant philanthropic commitment to advance engineering education at LSU.

James Danos and Patricia Fandt

James Danos is an LSU mechanical engineering graduate, earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. After graduating, he worked in new product development for Celanese and Monsanto, where he was part of a team that developed a “heat-exchanger” type vessel that used hollow semi-permeable fibers to separate waste hydrogen at 2,000 psi. That work led to a patent for Danos, but more importantly, his time at Monsanto led to meeting his wife, Patricia Fandt, and the formation of the “FanDan” team.

After Danos completed his work at Monsanto, the couple decided to get their doctorate degrees—Danos in mechanical engineering with a focus on robotics and automation and Fandt in business—before moving on to new roles—Danos at the Naval Training Systems Center in Orlando and Fandt joining the faculty at the University of Central Florida. He served as the Navy’s lead in the development, manufacture, installation, and testing of motion simulators for the Navy, Marine Corp, and Army. She was later hired to be dean of the business school at the University of Washington’s Tacoma campus, which led to the “FanDan” team relocating to the Pacific Northwest.

In 2005, they retired to Pensacola, Florida, where they reside today.

Richard Spies

Richard Spies graduated from LSU with a bachelor of science in chemical engineering before going to work for Amoco Production Company. Over the course of 25 years, he held various technical, supervisory, and managerial positions with responsibilities for the U.S. Gulf of Mexico operations and later, international operations. Spies then became a bit of a world traveler, holding positions in Buenos Aires, Denver, Moscow, Houston, and back to Buenos Aires. Since 2000, he has served as director of the non-profit AEDIN, a school in Buenos Aires for children with severe neurological disorders. He has also served, since his retirement, as a director of the IAPGH, the Argentine Institute of Petroleum and Gas in Houston.

Spies has been married to his wife, Mary, since 1978, and they have one son named Rick.

In 1979, the college established the Hall of Distinction to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the engineering profession. In its inaugural year, seven charter members were elected. The Hall of Distinction now includes 91 members.

Mohammad “Mo” Dehghani

Mohammad “Mo” Dehghani is a triple mechanical engineering graduate of LSU, earning his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D.. He began his career at Ohio University after completing his postdoctoral National Science Foundation internship at MIT. He then joined the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a research scientist before becoming group leader of the Engineering Systems Design and Fabrication group, the division leader of the New Technologies Division, and the director of external affairs with Academia.

In 2008, Dehghani became a professor of mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and served as associate director for engineering, design, and fabrication in the Applied Physics Laboratory. In 2011, he became the founding director of the Johns Hopkins University Systems Institute, establishing collaborative research and application programs with several organizations, including the U.S. Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among others.

In 2013, he joined Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., serving as vice provost for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. And in 2019, Dehghani became the chancellor of Missouri University of Science and Technology. His visionary leadership there has led to a period of unprecedented expansion that continues today, including the creation of the Arrival District, which welcomes students and visitors to campus and includes a new Innovation Lab for students and a Welcome Center that will be completed next year. Dehghani is married to Mina (Saffari) Dehghani, a pharmacist, and they have one son, Devon.

Robert Slimp

Robert Slimp is an LSU Civil Engineering graduate, earning his bachelor’s here. He serves as chairman, president, and CEO of HNTB Corporation, a company he has been instrumental in growing by building long-standing client relationships and directing the firm’s delivery of the nation’s most complex transportation and infrastructure projects and programs.

Prior to his current role, Slimp held executive positions at the local, regional, and national levels for HNTB. Most recently, he served as president of the firm’s Northeast and Southeast divisions. In that role, he led a multidisciplinary staff in more than 30 offices to ensure successful delivery of major infrastructure programs, including Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts in New York and New Jersey; the 11th Street Bridge project in Washington, D.C.; Miami-Dade Expressway conversion to open-road tolling, and the award-winning Lake Champlain Bridge replacement project in New York state.

Slimp has previously been recognized as a 2021 inductee of the LSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Hall of Distinction.

He is married to his wife, Shelly.


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Contact: Joshua Duplechain
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