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Alumni Association honors Sun Devil leaders with 2012 Homecoming Awards

George Diaz
October 17, 2012

The ASU Alumni Association will honor Sun Devil alumni leadership at halftime during the upcoming Oct. 27 Homecoming game that will pit ASU against the UCLA Bruins. The Alumni Association will recognize S. Harry Robertson ’56 B.S., a former military pilot and professional safety engineer, with its Alumni Service Award. George Diaz, Jr. ’96 B.A., ’99 M.P.A., who was the 2011-12 chair of the organization’s board of directors, also will be honored for his service to the organization.

Alumni Service Award
S. Harry Robertson ’56 B.S.

S. Harry Robertson ’56 B.S., a pilot, registered professional safety engineer and founder of Robertson Fuel Systems, LLC, is being honored for his landmark achievements in the field of flight safety. Thanks to Robertson’s research into developing crashworthy fuel containment systems on airplanes and other military vehicles, deaths from post-crash fires have been greatly reduced.

Robertson graduated with his bachelor’s in 1956 and immediately entered the U.S. Air Force and began pilot training. He was an active-duty military pilot until 1960, then continued his flight experience in the Air National Guard and the Army National Guard. He has amassed more than 6,700 hours of flight time.

After becoming interested in improving the survivability of aircraft crashes by reducing post-crash fires, Robertson became chief of the hazards division at the Flight Safety Foundation, a position he held from 1960 to 1970. He worked as a research professor for the Engineering Safety Center in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at ASU (now part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering) from 1970 to 1980. He also founded the Robertson Research Group, Inc., in 1975 and Robertson Aviation (now Robertson Fuel Systems, LLC) in 1976.
Applications of Robertson’s research have resulted in a dramatic decrease in post-crash fire deaths in military fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, as well as in ground combat vehicles such as tanks. He has been inducted into the OX5 Aviation Pioneers’ Hall of Fame, the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Walk of Honor.

At ASU, Robertson has remained an active and committed alumnus, establishing scholarships in honor of former engineering Professor James W. Turnbow and founding engineering Dean Lee Thompson, as well as directing a committee to create a bust of Thompson to be permanently displayed in the engineering school. Professionally, he has served as a member and committee participant for more than 25 scientific or professional organizations, and has advised national media organizations and various U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress hearings on issues related to aviation and automotive safety.

Past Chair’s Award
George Diaz, Jr. ’96 B.A., ’99 M.P.A.

During his term as the chair of the Alumni Association’s board of directors, Diaz emphasized the importance of communicating the university’s achievements to the community at large.

During his tenure, the association’s annual Founders’ Day Awards Dinner had record-setting attendance and its Legends Luncheon, held during Homecoming Week, attracted more than 1,200 people to celebrate legendary Head Coach Frank Kush and his players.

Diaz led efforts to augment financial support for current ASU students. The organization’s signature scholarship initiative, the Medallion Scholarship Program, provided $300,000 in financial support to more than 100 ASU scholars.

The Legacy Scholarship program, available to students who are relatives of ASU Alumni Association dues-paying members, selected 10 students to receive scholarships of $1,200 each during 2012-13. Prior to and concurrent with his work on the Alumni Association’s board of directors, Diaz was active in the Los Diablos alumni chapter, which provides financial support and mentoring to Arizona students who attend ASU, and has awarded more than 2,000 scholarships during its history.

Diaz worked for many years as a lobbyist before executive, legislative and administrative bodies. He is a principal with the West Washington Strategies group.

For more information on all Homecoming-related activities sponsored by the Alumni Association, visit