LEXINGTON, Ky. — UK College of Engineering Hall of Distinction recognized six more alumni for exemplary professional accomplishments, outstanding character and an ongoing commitment to community service. Every member of the Hall of Distinction was initiated in 1992. Every member is honored with a plaque in the lobby of the Ralph G. Anderson Mechanical Engineering Building. All members and extended bios are listed here.
Rob Beeler (B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, 1989, M.S. in Electrical Engineering, 1991)
Rob Beeler is a technological executive and entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in software development organizations. He co-founded Double-Take Software, which went public in 2006 and was acquired by Vision Solutions in 2010. Beeler later joined Carbonite, where he managed a team of over 350 engineers and was responsible for all of Carbonite’s business and consumer products. In 2019, he co-founded Trava Security and is currently the chief technological officer. Beeler is also a pancreatic cancer survivor and has actively participated in the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s fundraising event since 2019. He and his wife co-chaired the event in 2022, raising over $260,000 for scientific research and resources for patients, caregivers, and medical professionals.
Xiangming “Jack” Cheng (Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering, 2000)
Xiangming “Jack” Cheng is an entrepreneur and leader in metal manufacturing and distribution. Originally from China, Cheng earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in metallurgy and materials science before coming to the United States to earn a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of Kentucky. After working as a researcher, Cheng founded AA Metals in 2003, which has since grown into a global leader with over 500 employees, $1.2 billion in revenue and provides 500 million pounds of aluminum and steel per year to its customers around the world. In 2019, Cheng received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Florida and became a National Finalist for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. He was also named the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2022. Cheng has been a generous supporter of the UK College of Engineering, the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer campaign and the Chinese American communities in Orlando, Florida.
Tracy D. Drain (B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, 1998)
Tracy Drain is a flight systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she completed her master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She joined JPL in 2000 and has since worked on various deep space missions. Drain was involved in the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) development team as the lead systems engineer, participated in the Kepler project, a mission of hunting for earth-like planets, and joined the Juno project as the deputy chief engineer. She also worked on the Psyche project, which will launch in 2023 and commence a journey to study the solar system’s largest metal asteroid, as the deputy project system engineer before accepting the role of lead flight systems engineer on the Europa Clipper mission. Drain has received JPL Bruce Murray Award for exceptional support for the education of minority and female STEM students and multiple NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals. She is also a board member of the Arizona State University Interplanetary Initiative and a committee member and exchange consultant for the National Academy of Sciences.
Edward G. Foree (B.S. in Civil Engineering, 1964)
Edward Foree’s distinguished career included 12 years as an engineering professor with a prolific research group and 24 years leading a successful environmental consulting firm. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he completed his master’s and doctoral degrees from Stanford University in civil engineering with an emphasis on environmental engineering. Foree returned to UK to teach in 1968 and supervised the work of 32 master’s and 11 Ph.D. students in his time there. In 1977, he co-founded Commonwealth Technology, an environmental consulting firm that he ran successfully for 24 years. He is a licensed professional engineer in seven states and a member of several professional organizations. Foree has authored or co-authored around 200 technical papers and reports on water quality control. He is also a devoted and a longtime member of Southland Christian Church in Lexington, where he has served in multiple leadership positions.
Vincent M. Holloway (B.S. in Electrical Engineering, 1984)
Vincent Holloway is a vice president at Tetra Tech’s Federal IT Group with over 38 years of leadership and technical experience in the United States Army and defense service industry. During his military career, he held various positions, including systems engineer, commanding officer, and chief of staff in domestic and international locations, where he demonstrated expertise in information technology law and policy, technical program management, telecommunications and network engineering, and tactical network operations. After retiring from the military, he worked for Booz Allen Hamilton for 15 years. In his current role, he is responsible for strategic planning, business development, and capability development in the Federal IT Group. Holloway earned an MBA from Boston University, a Juris Doctor degree from American University and a Master of Laws in health law from Hofstra University. In 2014, he was named a Modern-Day Technology Leader at the Black Engineer of the Year Awards.
Howard F. Moore (B.S. in Chemical Engineering, 1974, M.S. in Chemical Engineering, 1975)
Howard Moore is a chemical engineer with over 40 years of experience in petroleum processing and synthetic oils research. Some of his most significant contributions include demonstrating the first commercial FCC processing of coal liquids and produced fuels from synthetic sources for demonstration of the applicability for national defense purposes, managing the process section within Ashland Petroleum R&D, which included cooperative development programs for FCC and reforming processes and commercializing the MagnaCat® process technology, and coordinating 32 hydrotreaters in seven refineries. Moore holds over 24 patents, and in 2022, Marathon Petroleum Company (MPC) recognized him as the company’s most prolific inventor. He is also known for mentoring young engineers in the industry. Outside of work, Moore served in the United States Army’s Strategic Communications Command and the board of governors for several equestrian organizations.
This year’s Hall of Distinction ceremony also posthumously honored Chad A. Manley (B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, 2007). After graduating from the UK, Manley began a professional internship in engineering at The Walt Disney Company. It was the first step toward fulfilling his dream of becoming an Imagineer, an engineer who designs and builds all Disney theme parks, resorts, attractions and cruise ships worldwide. Upon completion of his internship, Disney hired him as a full-time engineer. In 2011, Disney promoted him to senior mechanical engineer after completing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida. Manley traveled the world and worked on many of Disney’s most well-known rides. He updated the tracks for Big Thunder Mountain, redesigned the boats for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and traveled to Asia to work on Mystic Manor and the Iron Man Experience at Hong Kong Disneyland Park. In 2018, doctors diagnosed Manley with colon cancer. With a motto of “live, learn and explore,” he refused to let his cancer treatment slow him down. In 2019, Manley was promoted to Imagineer, his dream job. His last assignment was being a project engineer for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, one of the main rides at the Star Wars-themed Galaxy’s Edge, at Disney‘s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Manley passed away in 2020 at 35 years old. Manley loved teaching and mentoring younger engineers at Disney and had told his wife, Maira, that his next dream was to get his Ph.D. and become a professor. To help him fulfill this final dream, Maira created the Chad Manley’s Live Learn Explore Engineering Scholarship Fund to help others chase their engineering dreams at the University of Kentucky.