Three SEAS alums honored by the UB Alumni Association

Published May 9, 2017

James Smist, Hratch Kouyoumdjian and Ram Kumar Krishnamurthy will be honored by the UB Alumni Association during its annual awards ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 11, in the UB Center for the Arts.

UB President Satish K. Tripathi and Mary Garlick Roll (MS ’88, BS ’84), president of the alumni association’s board of directors, will present 12 awards at the event to alumni and friends in the UB community.

James Smist, Samuel P. Capen Award

James Smist was seven years old when his father, Felix Smist, graduated in mechanical engineering from the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Felix earned a bachelor of science degree after taking classes at night and on weekends at UB for 16 years, all while working full time to provide for his wife and children.

James Smist remembers how proud he and his siblings were of their father.

“His example made me realize that education is a precious thing,” said Smist, who earned his own bachelor of science degree summa cum laude in chemical engineering from UB in 1980. Smist is president and co-founder of Dean & Company, a management consulting firm. He resides in McLean, Virginia,

In 2005, Smist and his wife, Mary Smist, established the Felix Smist Scholarship, named for his father, which pays up to six years of tuition for a part-time student in the UB engineering school. Thus far, 15 students have been supported by the award.

The Samuel P. Capen Award is the UB Alumni Association's most prestigious award, and is given to alumni who have made "notable and meritorious contributions to the university and its family...influencing growth and improvement of UB and stimulating others to give their active interest and material support to the university."

Hratch Kouyoumdjian, Clifford C. Furnas Memorial Award

Hratch Kouyoumdjian (MS CivE ’70), of El Cerrito, California, was born in Baghdad, earned a civil engineering bachelor’s degree there, then left the country secretly, sans travel papers and money, and arrived in Buffalo where George Lee, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, mentored him as he earned a master’s degree. Kouyoumdjian, who founded and led KPA Group, an engineering and architectural consulting practice, serves on UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences' Dean’s Advisory Council.

The award was established by Furnas' widow, the late Sparkle Moore Furnas, to honor a graduate of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences or the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics who has distinguished himself or herself in the field of science, thereby bringing honor to the university.

Ram Kumar Krishnamurthy, Distinguished Alumni Awards

Ram Kumar Krishnamurthy (MS EE ’95) is senior principal engineer at Intel, where he heads the high-performance and low-voltage circuits research group.  He holds 95 issued patents and has more than 50 patents pending. Krishnamurthy, a resident of Portland, Oregon, also has published 135 professional papers and three book chapters on high-performance, energy-efficient microprocessor design.

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes exceptional career accomplishments, community or university service, or research and scholarly activity.