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Release: Oct. 22, 2002

Parkin appointed Bently Professor of Engineering

Gene F. Parkin (left), professor of civil and environmental engineering in the University of Iowa College of Engineering and director of the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination, has been named Donald E Bently Professor of Engineering.

UI College of Engineering Dean Barry Butler said that the honor recognizes Parkin's outstanding record of teaching and research.

"We are fortunate to create a synergy between a leading advocate for innovative approaches to environmental protection in Don Bently and the internationally recognized research and teaching efforts in environmental health issues in Professor Parkin," Butler said. "Linking an accomplished UI engineering alumnus with one of the college's leading faculty members provides an important model for advancing higher education through private giving. Also, we are honored to be able to bring two native Iowans together to make a significant difference in the area of environmental engineering."

Parkin, an Earlville, Iowa native, earned a bachelor's degree in 1970 and a master's degree in 1971 in civil engineering from the University of Iowa and a doctorate in environmental engineering in 1977 from Stanford University. He has authored more than 50 publications in rigorously refereed journals and is a co-author (with Perry McCarty) of the 5th edition of Chemistry for Environmental Engineering and Science. He serves on the editorial board of the journal Biodegradation and as vice chair of the National Research Council Water Science and Technology Board Committee on Environmental Remediation at Naval Facilities.

Parkin, who holds a primary appointment in the College of Engineering and a secondary appointment as professor of occupational and environmental health in the College of Public Health, has research interests that include anaerobic biological processes; enhancing bioremediation of highly oxidized contaminants such as perchloroethene, carbon tetrachloride, and perchlorate; understanding the interactions between chemical and biological processes that affect the fate of toxic chemicals in the natural environment; using constructed wetlands for the treatment of landfill leachate; and health effects of environmental contamination. His teaching interests include environmental chemistry, biological treatment processes, and remediation of environmental contamination.

The Donald E. Bently Professorship in Engineering was established in June 2002 through a gift to the University of Iowa Foundation from University of Iowa engineering graduate Donald E. Bently of Minden, Nev. The Donald Bently Engineering Fund establishes a permanent endowment with the annual spendable earnings used to support the College’s academic and research pursuits.

A member of the college's Distinguished Engineering Alumni Academy, Bently is a globally recognized authority on rotor dynamics as well as vibration monitoring and diagnostics. Born in Pleasant Prairie, Iowa, he earned a bachelor's degree in 1949 and a master's degree in 1950, both in electrical engineering, from the UI College of Engineering. Working from his garage as a graduate student, he pioneered and perfected a transistorized design for a new type of distance-measuring device. His transducer found application inside machinery where it was used to observe vibration and position characteristics -- important indicators of machinery condition.

He is founder and former owner, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board of Bently Nevada Corporation (BNC), a $200 million per year manufacturer of electronic systems for monitoring the mechanical condition of machinery. He is also the former president of Bently Rotor Dynamics Research Corporation (BRDRC), a subsidiary of Bently Nevada Corporation. He sold BNC and BRDRC (as a sale of assets) to General Electric in a friendly acquisition in January 2002. He is currently the owner, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Bently Pressurized Bearing Company, which manufactures modern, highly efficient bearings that control stability for rotating machinery. He is also the owner of Bently Agrowdynamics -- the agricultural business of the Bently Family Limited Partnership, of which he is general partner. He has authored or co-authored more than 140 papers on rotor dynamics and is the holder of two patents. In 2002, he was recognized as a Fellow by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Bently is chairman of the International Symposium on Stability Control of Rotating Machinery scheduled for August 2003 in Gdansk, Poland. His book, "Fundamentals of Rotating Machinery Diagnostics," is scheduled for release in November 2002.

Bently Agrowdynamics is focused on environmentally sustainable agricultural practices and the innovative use of renewable resources. Key among these accomplishments has been reconstruction of the Mud Lake Dam, damaged during the 1994 Double Springs Flat earthquake in the western U.S Carson Valley. The 100-year-old structure's conversion from earthen-filled construction to rock-filled construction ensures a supply of irrigation water for Bently Agrowdynamics' South Ranch properties that is earthquake-safe, protecting the surrounding community's land and homes.

One of 11 colleges on the University of Iowa campus, the College of Engineering has educational courses that date back more than a century. It teaches disciplines in biomedical, chemical and biochemical, civil and environmental, electrical and computer, industrial, and mechanical engineering. The college is recognized for its small, personalized size, and focused mission. Its location on a strong liberal arts campus -- with natural strengths in writing and communications, health sciences, business, law, and arts and humanities -- provides highly complementary resources to build the type of broad technological education demanded in a rapidly changing world. The college excels internationally in several specialty and interdisciplinary research areas, such as computer-aided design and simulation, human factors, environmental health solutions, biotechnology, medical imaging, hydraulics and water/air resources, and polymerization.

The UI Foundation is the preferred channel for private contributions to all areas of the university. Foundation staff work with alumni and friends to generate funds for scholarships, professorships, facilities improvements, equipment purchases, research and other UI initiatives.