Skip to main content

Service awards

NCEES will honor the contributions of the 2020 and 2021 service award recipients at its 100th annual meeting on September 15, 2021. Below are the profiles of each award recipient.

2021 awards booklet (PDF)

2021 NCEES Award Recipients

Robin Petzold, P.S.M.
Distinguished Service Award

Robin Petzold, P.S.M., served on the Florida Board of Professional Surveyors and Mappers from 2010 to 2018. His strong leadership and commitment as an educator have been valuable in his service to the surveying profession and recognized by fellow board members and industry peers.

Petzold served as the Florida surveying board chair in 2012–14 and 2017. He led the board through two extensive rule revisions and was instrumental in bringing about the changes needed for the standards of practice for Florida surveying. Upon concluding his term as a board member in October 2018, Petzold continued to serve the board as an emeritus member, participating on the Probable Cause Panel.

Petzold has provided extensive contributions to NCEES and the Southern Zone. He was a member of the 2013–14 Member Board Administrators Committee and the 2014–15 Future of Surveying Task Force. He was a member of the 2015–18 Committee on Education and chaired the committee in 2018–19. He is currently a consultant to the Committee on Examinations for Professional Surveyors. Petzold served on the 2016–17 surveying Professional Activities and Knowledge Studies committee and on the NCEES Surveying Education Award jury in 2017–19, chairing it in 2018 and 2019. In addition, Petzold chaired the Committee on Southern Zone Awards in 2017–19.

As a member of the Florida Surveying and Mapping Society, Petzold is committee to raising awareness about the surveying profession. In his position as an adjunct professor in the geomatics program at the University of Florida, he educates surveying students on the importance of ethical conduct, professional licensure, and involvement in professional societies and board meetings. In 2020, Petzold retired as executive vice president of WGI, a consulting firm specializing in engineering, planning, and surveying.

Timothy Rickborn, P.E., S.E.
Distinguished Service Award

Timothy Rickborn, P.E., S.E., has served on the South Carolina Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors since 2011. Rickborn has a reputation for professionalism and integrity, with his main focus being the health, safety, and welfare of the public. 

Through his work on the South Carolina board, Rickborn is known for his knowledge of state statutes and regulations. This knowledge, coupled with his understanding of the NCEES Model Law and Model Rules, has helped guide the board in its mission to serve not only the engineering profession but also the citizens of South Carolina. His time on the board includes serving as board vice chair in 2013–14 and board chair in 2014–16.

In 2017–20, Rickborn served on the NCEES board of directors as treasurer. He was a member of the Committee on Finances in 2012–16, board liaison in 2017–20, and chair in 2020–21. He was also the board liaison for the Committee on Uniform Procedures and Legislative Guidelines in 2019–20. One of his many contributions to the Southern Zone was his assistance in planning the 2014 zone interim meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. Rickborn has also been very involved in exam development. He served as an exam development volunteer for the Structural I exam committee in 2004–09 and the 16-hour PE Structural Engineering exam committee from 2010 to present.

Rickborn received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in civil engineering with a concentration in structural engineering from Clemson University. He is licensed as a professional engineer in eight jurisdictions and as a structural engineer in two jurisdictions. Rickborn is owner of Rickborn and Associates LLC and is a founding member of the Structural Engineers Association of South Carolina.

Wendy Lick, P.E.
Distinguished Examination Service Award

Wendy Lick, P.E., has been supporting NCEES and its mission for over 20 years. Her contributions to NCEES began in 2001 and have included serving as chair for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Mechanical exam committee in 2012–16.

During the conversion of the PE Mechanical exam from pencil-and-paper to computer-based testing, Lick served as the project lead for the conversion. This task involved developing a master schedule of events and serving as the liaison to NCEES staff to establish and monitor deadlines and deliverables. In addition, Lick participated in Fundamentals of Engineering exam meetings to gain insight into NCEES’ item banking software for the PE Mechanical exam conversion.

Lick has attended 37 committee meetings since 2001, including one in which she served as the Machine Design and Materials Modules chair for a standard-setting study. She has served as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers representative to the NCEES Committee on Examinations for Professional Engineers since 2018.

She has participated in NCEES Professional Activities and Knowledge Studies, while continuing to take on many other leadership roles. Lick developed and implemented a new item tracking form to assure a high level of quality control on questions and document reviews, and she was instrumental in promoting the development of a standard PE Mechanical Reference Handbook for computer-based testing.

Lick earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She built a career as a mechanical engineer at Eastman Chemical Company with a variety of assignments in utilities, chemical process operations, development, and plant engineering.

William Parrish, Ph.D., P.E.
Distinguished Examination Service Award

William Parrish, Ph.D., P.E., has served and supported the NCEES Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exams since 1999. Parrish served as chair and vice chair to the PE Chemical exam development committee in 2003–08 and is presently the American Institute of Chemical Engineers representative to the Committee on Examinations for Professional

During his service to NCEES, Parrish has worked closely with many committee members, serving as a mentor to other members to improve the overall product quality of the exams. As chair, he was instrumental in the continuation of the chair succession plan to identify future committee leaders and establish a training rotation, which developed the experience and skills of the identified individuals.

Parrish holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. He is retired from ConocoPhillips Research and Development, where he was a senior scientist.

2020 NCEES Award Recipients


Thomas Orisich, P.L.S.
Distinguished Service Award

Thomas Orisich, P.L.S., has served on the Maryland Board for Professional Land Surveyors since 2000. In 2020, he was the chair of two Maryland board committees: the Scope of Practice Committee and the Mapping Committee.

From 2004 to 2007, Orisich served as Northeast Zone assistant vice president and secretary-treasurer, respectively. He served on the Northeast Zone Awards Committee in 2010–11 and assisted in planning the Northeast Zone interim meetings in Washington, D.C., and Annapolis, Maryland. He continues to participate in zone discussions related to the advancement of surveying licensure and is a past president of the Colonial States Boards of Surveyor Registration.

For almost two decades, Orisich has contributed to the work of NCEES committees, including the committees on Examinations for Professional Surveyors, Examination Policy and Procedures, Examination Audit, and Nominations. He chaired the Examinations for Professional Surveyors Committee in 2011–13. 

Since 2013, he has volunteered for NCEES at the DiscoverE Family Day, served as a judge for the Future City Best Land Surveying Practices award, sponsored Trig-Star competitions at a local high school, and participated in numerous school career days. He appears and testifies in legislative hearings to ensure that the best interests of the surveying profession and the advancement of licensure are represented.

Along with his duties as a senior vice-president of Whitney, Bailey, Cox, and Magnani LLC, Orisich advances licensure through involvement with other organizations. He chaired the Illinois Professional Land Surveyor Association Legislative Committee and the Maryland Society of Surveyors Legislative Committee. He is licensed in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Milena Trust, Esq.
Meritorious Service Award

Milena Trust, Esq., has served the Maryland State Board for Professional Engineers and the Maryland State Board for Professional Land Surveyors as assistant attorney general for over 27 years. For the last four years, she has served as a principal counsel to the Maryland Department of Labor. 

Trust’s contributions to the Maryland PE and LS boards include providing training on ethics and legal issues for professional associations and societies in the state of Maryland, advising the boards on the disposition of over 1,000 complaint cases, and drafting and shepherding a multitude of statutory and regulatory initiatives. She was instrumental to the development of the Maryland Joint Chairs Board by bringing together the chairs from each of the design professions to address incidental and overlapping practice issues more efficiently.

Trust began her service to NCEES in 2007 when she was appointed to the Committee on Uniform Procedures and Legislative Guidelines (UPLG). She provided insight and legal expertise to the committee by drafting revisions to the NCEES Model Law and Model Rules, which jurisdictions use as a model when developing their law and board rules. Trust continues her service to UPLG today. In addition, she served on the Computer-Based Testing Implementation Task Force in 2011–12. During that time, Trust contributed to the development of guidelines that were integral to the transition from paper-based to computer-based testing.

Trust has remained an active participant in forums and discussions that further the engineering and surveying professions through her attendance at annual meetings and through her committee service. She is dedicated to the advancement of the engineering and surveying professions.

Thomas Caldwell, P.E.
Distinguished Examination Service Award

Tommy Caldwell, P.E., has distinguished himself as a leader for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Chemical exam committee from the beginning of his career. He obtained his professional license through the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors in June 1990. Caldwell had performed well on the exam and was curious about his results. He contacted NCEES headquarters for more insight on his exam performance. As a result, he began volunteering on the PE Chemical exam committee, where he wrote and reviewed exam items. After taking a break from volunteering to concentrate on his career, Caldwell volunteered for the PE Chemical exam committee once again in 1999. He has been involved in item writing, item reviewing, exam form development, and Professional Activities and Knowledge Studies.

In addition, Caldwell has attended the majority of scheduled exam committee meetings since October 2002. Caldwell served as an editor of the PE Chemical Reference Handbook in 2012. He became vice chair of the committee in 2014 and then stepped into the role of chair in 2015. As chair, Caldwell ensured that the PE Chemical exam stayed on schedule to become the first PE exam to convert to computer-based testing.

Caldwell promotes licensure by giving presentations at engineering society meetings and at his current place of employment, the Savannah River Site, the largest employer of engineers in South Carolina at a single site. He is an active member with his local chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; American Society of Mechanical Engineers; and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Caldwell is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society. He is licensed in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Kenneth (Larry) DeVries, Ph.D., P.E.
Distinguished Examination Service Award

Larry DeVries, Ph.D., P.E., has served and supported the NCEES Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exams since 1996. DeVries served as the PE Mechanical Systems and Materials exam chair in 2009–12. He assisted in the conversion of the PE Mechanical exam from a free response format to a multiple-choice one in 2000–02 and in the conversion of the Machine Design and Materials exam from pencil-and-paper to computer-based testing in 2018–20. He also served as a member of the Committee on Education Assessment and Qualifications in 1998–2000 and as a consultant and resource for the Committee on Examinations for Professional Engineers in 1998–2001.

During his service to NCEES, DeVries was instrumental in helping transition the Machine Design exam module of the Mechanical Engineering exam from a hand-graded format to a multiple-choice format. He quickly became adept at generating exam items that were effective at distinguishing between minimally competent engineers and those who were not, a skill that has netted him over 100 items in the testing bank. DeVries often volunteers for the less visible housekeeping tasks that need to be done at each committee meeting and freely consults on challenging engineering problems facing those who work in industry. He has also served as a mentor and example to those on the committee who work in academia.

DeVries served as a faculty member in the mechanical engineering department at the University of Utah for over 55 years, retiring in 2018 with emeritus distinguished professor status. He received the Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology and the Ralph Coates Roe Award from the American Society for Engineering Education. In 2019, DeVries received the American Society for Engineering Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Burton Lewis, S.E.
Distinguished Examination Service Award

Burton Lewis, S.E., has been supporting the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Structural exam committee for more than 32 years. His contributions to NCEES began in 1988 when the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois brought its exam to NCEES on the national level.

Lewis has continued this service by participating in all four exam development meetings and the two exam scoring workshops each year at NCEES headquarters. He has attended nearly 200 committee meetings since 1988. Lewis’ involvement on the committee includes writing exam items, reviewing items, and grading exams. He has also participated in Professional Activities and Knowledge Studies and taken on many other leadership roles.

When Lewis became involved with NCEES and the PE Structural exam, few other people were involved and most of the meetings were for coordination only, as the exam items were written at home. He has seen the process evolve through the years—transitioning the exam from Allowable Stress Design to Load Factor Design and later transitioning to Load Resistance Factor Design. Through it all, Lewis has stayed informed and up to date on structural design codes so that he can continue his service to the profession. 

An alumnus of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lewis has continued to support structural engineering by establishing funds at both universities for structural engineering programs, faculty, and students. Lewis spent most of his career with DeLeuw, Cather and Co. (now Parsons Corporation) as chief structural engineer and project manager. He spent two years in the Army Corps of Engineers at the end of World War II and 21 years in the reserves, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

Merlin Williams, P.E.
Distinguished Examination Service Award

Merlin Williams, P.E., has been a contributor and mainstay on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam for the past 34 years. His dedication to ensuring that the exam constantly advances and improves can be seen through his ideas and insights on how to write quality items for the exams. He holds paramount the quality of items on the exam, as demonstrated in his role as an item writer for the morning breadth section of the FE exam before it converted to computer-based testing.

Williams served as a member, consultant, and resource of the Committee on Examinations for Professional Engineers in 1987–2001. He served as module chair for the morning portion of the exam (breadth) and the afternoon general module of the committee in 2004–09.

During his long career of supporting and promoting the importance of licensure, Williams had many affiliations and accomplishments. His 50 years of experience included working at Boeing, Olympic Scientific, E.F. Johnson, Owatonna Tool Company, and M.E. Williams and Associates Inc. He was a member of the Minnesota Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying, and Landscape Architecture in 1985–93. He chaired the Minnesota chapter of ASM International in 1982–83, and he served on the Professional Examination Committee for the Metallurgical Society of AIME in 1988–97. Williams also served on the Minnesota Governor’s Pipeline Commission.

Molly Williams, Ph.D., P.E.
Distinguished Examination Service Award

Molly Williams, Ph.D., P.E., served on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam development committee for over 25 years. Williams was an item writer for the breadth and general sections of the exam during a time when the breadth section was administered to all examinees and when the general section was the most popular afternoon section. This means that she wrote items for every examinee who took the FE exam, regardless of the afternoon module chosen. After the conversion of the FE exam to computer-based testing, in which Williams was a leader, she served on the Other Disciplines module of the FE exam development committee. She continued her service to this committee until her retirement in 2019.

In 2010–12, Williams served as the first female FE committee chair. During her tenure as chair, the exam was transitioning from paper-based to computer-based testing. The transition was made easier through her clear and steady leadership as she guided volunteers through the development of new processes. She mentored many new members as they learned how to write and review items for the exam. Williams was a member of the Committee on Education Assessment and Qualification in 1991–92 and the Committee on Records Verification in 1990–91. 

Williams is a professor emerita in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Western Michigan University.