Tom Peterson, who graduated with a master's in chemical engineering in 1973, accepted the award for Alumnus of the Year at the College of Engineering's 2021 Engineers Breakfast.
Peterson grew up going to football games at the University of Arizona, and when he started his master’s degree in the College of Engineering, he realized he wanted to stay in academia.
“I ended up basically getting my dream job, which was to be a university professor at the UA,” he said.
Peterson went on to become dean of the college, lead the Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation, and work as provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of California, Merced. He advises young engineers to seek both breadth and depth in their lifelong education.
“I’m just unbelievably humbled to be included in this group of amazing alums we’ve selected over the years,” he said. “One thing I’ve always enjoyed so much about alumni events like the Engineers Breakfast is seeing the array of fields in which our alums end up. They’ve taken those problem-solving capabilities and applied them in so many different areas. And I think that is what speaks so highly of an engineering degree.”