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Engineering schools' alumni are top achievers

February 26, 2010

Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering alumni H.E. Al Mansoori and Cody Friesen have received top awards from the Arizona State University Alumni Association for their leadership in taking on major challenges in technology, economic development, sustainability and other areas critical to social progress.

His Excellency Sultan Saeed Nasser Al Mansoori, who earned a degree in industrial engineering and management systems in 1988, received the ASU Alumni Achievement Award.

Friesen, who earned a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering in 2000, won ASU’s Young Alumni Achievement Award.

They were presented the honors Feb. 24 at ASU’s annual Founder’s Day Awards Dinner.

Al Mansoori has held leading positions in the government of the United Arab Emirates since 2004. He first served as the Minister of Development for Government Sector and as Minister of Communications. In 2008, he took his current position as the UAE’s Minister of Economy.

Prior to his government work, he gained experience in commerce and banking in the Emirate of Dubai. He now is chairman and founder of the Al Mansoori Group of Companies.

He is involved in a number of collaborative efforts with ASU.

The projects include the United Arab Emirates-ASU SkySong Innovation Alliance to develop a facility in the UAE to engage global businesses in investing in new research and providing educational opportunities for ASU students and faculty.

An Educational Technology Platform project will generate innovative ideas to improve education. The Global Decision Network is being developed to provide services similar to the Decision Theater on ASU’s Tempe campus, which offers three-dimensional computer-aided visualization for research and public projects.

From these collaborations, “We anticipate significant benefit to ASU’s innovation and entrepreneurial mission, as well as to Arizona’s economic development” said Rick Shangraw, ASU’s Vice President for Research and Economic Affairs.

James O’Brien, Vice President and Chief of Staff in the office of ASU President Michael Crow, notes that Al Mansoori’s efforts have also aided the city of Phoenix in its business outreach to the United Arab Emirates.

Al Mansoori “recognizes the many advantages of an international business perspective,” O’Brien says. “His efforts are going to have far-reaching benefits for individuals and institutions in Arizona and the UAE.”

Friesen, who earned a Ph.D. in materials science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is now an ASU associate professor in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace, Chemical and Materials Engineering, and a co-founder of Fluidic Energy, which is making its mark in the energy field.

Friesen recently earned a $5.1 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to explore advances in battery technology. His research involves the development of ultra-high-energy metal-air batteries that use advanced ionic fluids. Fluidic Energy was formed to develop commercial applications based on this research.

He has been recognized by Technology Review Magazine as one of the top science and engineering innovators in the United States under age 35, won a National Science Foundation Career Award and an ASU Faculty Achievement Young Investigator Award.

“Cody’s entrepreneurial spirit sets an example of what we hope all of students will strive for,” said Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Dean Deirdre Meldrum and Executive Dean Paul Johnson.

The deans describe Friesen as “an excellent teacher and inspirational student mentor,” who gives his students opportunities to work with his research team.

Through his innovative work and ability to inspire young students, the deans point out that Friesen has helped attract top graduate students to ASU who also were being recruited by other leading engineering schools throughout the country.