Forum – 2000-04-01

Meet the winners The 10 winners in the 1999 Product of the Year ballot drawing are listed below. Each winner received a $100 check as part of a random drawing from all of the ballots received in the contest.

By Staff April 1, 2000

Meet the winners

The 10 winners in the 1999 Product of the Year ballot drawing are listed below. Each winner received a $100 check as part of a random drawing from all of the ballots received in the contest. See the November 1999 issue of Plant Engineering for details on the contest.

Winners of the 1999 “Product of the Year” awards are on pages 59-64. Congratulations to all of our winners!

  • Ross Huber, Plant Engineer, International Paper

    • Antonio Reyes, Plant Engineer, Visteon Coclisa

      • Michael N Marsala, Environmental Engineer, Guardian Industries

        • Bill Milliner, Plant Engineer, Craftmaster Furniture Co.

          • Lloyd Abdelnour, Electrical Engineer, Roanoke Electric Steel

            • Robert C Thiesen, Predictive Maintenance Supervisor, Georgia-Pacific Corp.

              • Joel I Gardner, Jr., Reliability Technician, UOP

                • William Seiss, Electrical Engineer, Aristech Chemical Corp.

                  • H. Mark Schulz, Staff Instrument Engineer, Chevron Research & Technology

                    • vBill Greenan, Plant Engineer, Summit Packaging Systems

                      • Checking in on

                        reference checking

                        I would like to comment on the “Human Side of Engineering” case, “Reference checking? Get the full story” (PE, January 2000, p 28).

                        After reading this particular article, I was rather disturbed at the idea of using a liability release as a method of coaxing out sensitive information. As a professional, I would be offended if any company tried to make signing something such as that a condition of anything. Did it ever occur to anyone that the average employee has no idea what type of information that a company may place in their file? And in the case of misinformation or blatant lies, an applicant is at the total mercy of whatever idiot has access to this information, and what that person might do with it.

                        Also, just because it claims to be a release does not make it a true release. Although I’m not an attorney, the courses I’ve taken in Business Law and Contract/Procurement, lead me to believe that it wouldn’t take too long for a good attorney to poke a lot of holes in a case like this.

                        If this scenario is treated as a contract, where is the consideration for the applicant? Certainly, the offer of an interview is not enough to entice an applicant into signing such a form. Besides, in the end, in the case of misinformation being passed on, only the hiring company seems to benefit. The employee might be screwed out of a job, while the previous employer waits with baited breath to possibly have to defend a law suit, and the prospective new employer goes smiling along. And, who prevents the prospective new employer from making any of this information available to others?

                        In my opinion, somebody better rethink this whole idea, especially the labor relations attorney, Kay Fielding.

                        Stephen Maas, Project Engineer, Cerestar USA, Hammond, IN

                        In the Human Side of Engineering case, “Reference checking? Get the full story” (PE, January 2000, p 28), the solution suggests that job applicants be asked to sign a waiver of liability against their former employers.

                        This action seems to be a way of releasing any disgruntled former employer from responsibility for making negative comments that cannot be corroborated by the Human Resources department. By signing the form, the applicant gives up the right to file a suit against a potentially vindictive former employer for statements that may or may not be true.

                        While these situations may be few and far between, any firm adopting this policy would actually be reversing the findings of many courts in the last decade. Worse, the hiring company may find that it is denying itself a valuable employee because of a vindictive former boss.

                        I know that there is no simple answer to this question, but legally eliminating the rights of potential employees is not the signal I would want to send to get them to trust the company.-Michael A. Prahst, Quality Engineer, The HON Company, Owensboro, KY

                        Top 20 engineering achievements

                        The National Academy of Engineering recently released its list of the top engineering impacts of the 20th century. Astronaut/engineer Neil Armstrong announced the achievements during National Engineers’Week 2000 in Washington DC.

                        For details about National Engineers’Week, visit To learn more about the items listed below, visit

                        1. 1.Electrification

                          1. 2.Automobile

                            1. 3.Airplane

                              1. 4.Safe and abundant water

                                1. 5.Electronics

                                  1. 6.Radio and television

                                    1. 7.Agricultural mechanization

                                      1. 8.Computers

                                        1. 9.Telephone

                                          1. 10.Air conditioning and refrigeration

                                            1. 11.Interstate highways

                                              1. 12.Space exploration

                                                1. 13.Internet

                                                  1. 14.Imaging technologies

                                                    1. 15.Household appliances

                                                      1. 16.Health technologies

                                                        1. 17.Petroleum and gas technologies

                                                          1. 18.Laser and fiber optics

                                                            1. 19.Nuclear technologies

                                                              1. 20.High-performance materials