Joan Higginbotham | Engineering | SIU

Southern Illinois University



Distinguished Alumni

The Distinguished Alumni Award is given only once per year during Homecoming festivities. This award is the highest honor bestowed upon a SIU Carbondale graduate and represents the finest and most successful alumni in various colleges.

 Richard BlaudowRichard Blaudow 

BA ’70, Engineering Technology

Richard Blaudow is co-founder and president of Advanced Technology Services (ATS) which was started in 1985. ATS has grown to $70 million in revenue and employs 815 people across the U.S.A.. ATS offers services designed to improve the productivity, performance, and reliability of its clients.

Joan Higginbotham

Joan E. Higginbotham   
BS ’87, Electrical Engineering

Joan E. Higginbotham has worked for the Kennedy Space Center Operations Support Branch in Florida, where she tested space station hardware for launch readiness. Within two weeks after graduating from Southern Illinois University, Higginbotham began her career in 1987 at the Kennedy Space Center as a Payload Electrical Engineer in the Electrical and Telecommunications Division. She has led orbiter experiments for the Space Shuttle Columbia and Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Richard Blaudow

Thirachai Ongmahutmongkol
BS’ 72 Industrial Technologies

As President of the Thai Student Association during the 1969-70 school year at SIU Carbondale, Thirachai Ongmahutmongkol was already exhibiting exemplary leadership skills he would later parlay into a highly successful career as an executive.Thirachai began his career with Du Pont Corporation in 1977. He held several key executive assignments during his tenure, including Regional Product Manager for polymers in Asia Pacific, General Manager for Du Pont in Hong Kong and China, Managing Director of a joint-venture firm and President of Du Pont in Thailand. The Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand presented Thirachai the “Annual Honorable Executive” award in 1990. In 1992, Thirachai received the Chivas Regal “Young Entrepreneur” award for corporate leadership, and the “Marketing Management” award from the Asian Institute of Management. He was also named “Executive Award of the Year” from Thai Economic Relations in 1993. Thirachai is a special lecturer on various subjects to MBA classes in his country. A life member of the SIU Alumni Association, he assists SIU Carbondale with international student recruitment in Asia, particularly in Thailand.