College of EMS honors Outstanding Alumni

October 23, 2013

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science Alumni Chapter honored recipients of its Outstanding Alumni Award at the Graduating Senior and Alumni Recognition Dinner during Homecoming weekend.

The award acknowledges alumni who have demonstrated excellence in professional and/or humanitarian endeavors. Success is recognized in areas including, but not exclusive to, career achievement, patents, leadership, community service, UW-Platteville involvement, diversity initiatives, education, research and entrepreneurial spirit.

All of the honorees have demonstrated loyalty to UW-Platteville as alumni.

The honorees included Dr. William E. Ayen, Keith Nikolay and Charles Burggraf.

• Ayen earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from UW-Platteville in 1967. He earned his Master of Science degree in computer science from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1972 and his Ph.D. in computer and information science from Ohio State University in 1984.

Ayen spent more than 35 years in military, industry and academic positions where he applied his technical, managerial and academic background to development of information systems and academic curricula. He is the founder and first director of the Network Information and Space Security Center, a center for homeland defense at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

He earned the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal and Air Force Commendation Medal. In addition, he was named an Outstanding Military Educator at the United States Air Force Academy in 1984.

• Nikolay earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from UW-Platteville in 1996.

Nikolay joined Ayres Associates in 1997 as a transportation engineer. He began his career in the firm’s Jacksonville, Fla., office and later transferred to Green Bay, Wis.

He currently serves as supervisor of Ayres Associates’ construction observation group, which is part of the firm’s Midwest Transportation Division. He is responsible for managing the workload and day-to-day operations of the group and supervises three full-time employees.

Nikolay also works as a project manager to complete transportation design and construction projects. He has experience in highway and municipal projects.

He received the Young Engineer of the Year Award from the Wisconsin Society of Professional Engineers. He also earned the Vice President Award from Ayres Associates in December 2007 in commendation for his dedication to the U.S. Highway 10 Lake Butte des Morts bridge rehabilitation project and other construction observation projects in 2007.

• Burggraf earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mining engineering from UW-Platteville in 1977.

He has more than 35 years of experience in the mining industry and currently serves as senior vice president of safety for Peabody Energy in St. Louis, Mo. He leads the company’s safety activities for surface and underground mine in North America.

Prior to Peabody, Burggraf worked for RAG American Coal/Cyprus Amax Coal/Amax Coal, Emery Mining/Utah Power and Light Mining Division, and Republic Steel Mining/Kitt Energy, holding various positions in engineering, safety and operations.

Burggraf is registered as a professional engineer in Wisconsin, Colorado and Utah. He serves as a member of the board on the Indiana Coal Council and on the National Mining Association’s safety committee.

Written by: Dan Wackershauser, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194,


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