College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

Three inducted into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists


Three new members were inducted into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists and three Outstanding Young Alumni were celebrated in a May 2 gala with sweeping views of the Clemson University campus.

This year’s honorees are (clockwise from top left): Russ Esmacher, Wilbur “Billy” Powers, Edward A. Rose, Lauren Trondsen, Marque Macon and Shannon Kay.

The academy’s newest members are Russ Esmacher, Wilbur “Billy” Powers and Edward A. Rose. Membership in the academy is the highest honor bestowed by Clemson’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

This year’s Outstanding Young Alumni are Shannon Kay, Marque Macon and Lauren Trondsen.

Among those attending the annual celebration on the rooftop terrace of the Watt Family Innovation Center was Clemson University President Jim Clements.

“You are what makes Clemson so special, and your work is having an incredible impact on the lives of our students, our faculty, our staff and our communities– and it is truly amazing,” Clements said to the assembled guests. “As we celebrate the accomplishments of our honorees, I want to say thank you for the important work that you do – for your vision and for your dedication to Clemson.”

The academy was established to give special recognition to college alumni and friends who have made major contributions to their professions and have brought significant distinction to the college and University.

The Outstanding Young Alumni award is reserved for graduates of the college who are 40 years old or younger and have made significant achievements to their profession or the welfare of society.

Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the college, said that each honoree is leaving a distinct mark in the world.

“We deeply value how your Clemson University education has contributed to your remarkable success,” he said. “On behalf of the Clemson Family, congratulations to today’s inductees for enriching our community. As exemplary ambassadors of Clemson, we are forever grateful to you.”

Here is a look at each honoree:

Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists

Russell D. Esmacher
Esmacher received his Bachelor of Science in ceramic engineering and his Master of Science in materials science and engineering, both from Clemson. In his career, Esmacher has made an indelible mark on the global telecommunications industry. His contributions are profound, shaping the very fabric of the internet. Esmacher’s leadership at industry-leading companies, including Corning, Cisco Systems, Nokia, and now Infinera, have been instrumental in developing the infrastructure underpinning the digital age. He has also given back to his alma mater with both time and treasure, including service on the advisory board for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Esmacher was the first graduate of what is now known as the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET) and was a key supporter in its’ creation. Today, Clemson is regarded as a world leader in optical fibers research. Inducting Esmacher into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists is a testament to his monumental contributions and their enduring impact on society.

Dr. Wilbur “Billy” Powers
Powers studied civil engineering at Clemson before going on to a highly distinguished career. His unparalleled dedication and contributions to Clemson make him uniquely qualified for induction into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists. His illustrious career includes commercial construction and real estate development and stands as a shining example of philanthropy, service, entrepreneurship, and transformative leadership. His commitment to Clemson and the state of South Carolina is evident through numerous volunteer roles and generous donations. He is a recipient of South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Palmetto, an honor that underscores his boundless philanthropic spirit. He also received an honorary Doctor of Humanities and a distinguished service award, both from Clemson. While much of Powers’ generosity is anonymous, he and his wife, Ann, agreed to make a transformational gift, naming the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business. To ensure their legacy of generosity will continue in perpetuity, the Powers couple have established a private foundation to continue their passion for impactful philanthropy. Powers is an exemplary candidate for induction into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists.

Edward A. Rose
Rose received a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Clemson. His track record as a CEO and board chairman is nothing short of remarkable. He has made his mark through leadership in chemicals, materials and packaging innovation. He currently serves as senior partner for Mill Rock Capital. Much of this success can be attributed to Rose’s unique ability to judge character and drive organizational dynamics within firms. Colleagues often describe him as believing in a positive work environment and being willing to extend a helping hand, while also holding others accountable. Beyond professional endeavors, Rose has made significant contributions to society through his involvement in various leadership roles and community service at Clemson and beyond. He and his wife, Kelly, have mentored over 80 students in areas such as career coaching and networking. He has also been very generous philanthropically, making a positive difference in the lives of many students. His exceptional leadership, coupled with his significant contributions to the college, make him a highly deserving candidate for induction into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists.

Outstanding Young Alumni

Shannon Kay
Kay received her Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering from Clemson. She is the co-founder of Topline Pro, an all-in-one home service business marketing platform. Her visionary leadership has propelled the company to remarkable heights. Kay and her co-founder, Nick Ornitz, recently made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Enterprise Technology. Furthermore, she has been a steadfast supporter of Clemson and its students. She has helped recruit, select and develop some of the University’s highest-achieving students through the National Scholars Program and the Honors College. Kay truly embodies the spirit of excellence and service, making her a deserving recipient of this esteemed recognition.

Marque Macon
Macon received his Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering from Clemson. He now serves as vice president and administrator, ambulatory operations and provider services at Inova Health System in Fairfax, Virginia. His impact on the healthcare industry is evident not only in the numerous awards he has won but also in the transformative influence he has had on healthcare operations through performance-improvement strategies. But Macon’s dedication extends beyond his profession, notably in his service to Clemson University. As a board member and active participant in alumni organizations, Macon helps foster a vibrant community on campus and beyond. His commitment to mentoring programs exemplifies Clemson’s values, qualifying him as an Outstanding Young Alumnus.

Lauren Trondsen
Trondsen received her Bachelor of Science in biosystems engineering from Clemson. After completing a Ph.D. in biological and environmental engineering at Cornell University and several years working to improve water and sanitation access in East Africa, she now serves as managing director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety for Purdue University. Trondsen has dedicated her career to identifying scientific solutions to pressing global problems, particularly those affecting developing countries. Her leadership in reducing foodborne illness and providing dignified and aspirational sanitation solutions worldwide underscores her profound impact on global society. Moreover, she has been a steadfast supporter of Clemson University and its students. Trondsen has contributed significantly to recruiting students to the National Scholars Program and the Honors College, and she embodies the very best of Clemson.

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