Engineering’s Distinguished Alumnus Award bestowed on two business leaders

Vanderbilt engineering alumni William A. Davis Jr. and Joe M. Dorris each received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering during a Celebration Dinner held March 17 at the Huntsville (Ala.) Museum of Art.

Davis, Galloway, Dorris
L-R, Bill Davis, Dean Kenneth F. Galloway, Joe Dorris

The School of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes distinguished achievement, significant service and excellent character.

Bill Davis received the bachelor of engineering degree in mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt in 1950.

Davis served 49 years in missile research and ballistic missile defense (BMD). He retired in 1982 as Deputy BMD Program Manager, following 33 years of government service. After leaving federal government service, he joined Teledyne Brown Engineering as vice president for space defense. He left TBE in 1986 to write two books on BMD and serve as a consultant to companies and government agencies.

His many awards include a Department of the Army Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service and a Presidential Award for Meritorious Civilian Service. He has served on the engineering school’s Committee of Visitors and he is a member of the Fred J. Lewis Society.

Joe Dorris received the bachelor of engineering degree in electrical engineering in 1965.

After graduation, Dorris worked for several companies, including McDonnell Aircraft, RCA, Union Carbide and Futaba Corporation of America. He has served in engineering, marketing, and management positions. The capstone was service as the President and CEO of Futaba Corporation of America, where he led the company to the founding of two American subsidiary companies.  He retired in 2006 after 26 years with Futaba.

In 2005, Dorris received the School of Engineering Alumni Service Award for his support of the Vanderbilt Motorsports Program. The program is sponsored by the School’s chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).  The motorsports facility in Featheringill Hall is a gift of Claire and Joe Dorris. He has donated equipment to engineering labs and he was a major sponsor of the Technology Management Program in the School of Engineering.

Dorris is an active member of the engineering school’s Committee of Visitors and a member of the Fred J. Lewis Society.

As distinguished alumni, Davis and Dorris become members of the School of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni.