Clemson University Feature Stories

Clemson honors three at annual banquet

Dean LaBerge congratulates the 2013 Thomas Green Clemson Academy inductee, Bryant Barnes (left), and Outstanding Young Alumnus, Thomas G. Macdonald.  Rakchart Traiphol is pictured below.Clemson University’s College of Engineering and Science recently inducted a new member into its prestigious engineering and science academy, and recognized two young alumni. At the 18th annual engineering and science banquet, the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists welcomed Bryant G. Barnes to its distinguished ranks. Barnes graduated from Clemson University in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. Three years later he earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina.

Barnes had begun working for the Rock Hill Telephone Company in his teens – sweeping floors, cleaning equipment and recycling telephones. In 1979 he began his professional career with the company, which today is known as Comporium. He was elected president in 2002, and a year later, he assumed the additional role of chief executive officer. Barnes has been a member of the Independent Telephone Pioneers since 1994, and has served in several capacities for:

  • the U.S. Telecommunications Association;
  • the Organization for the Preservation and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies;
  • and the South Carolina Telephone Association.

Barnes was instrumental in helping establish the Optoelectronics Research Center of Economic Excellence in Clemson’s Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is currently a member of the Clemson University Foundation Board of Directors, and is a tireless ambassador for the College of Engineering and Science, keeping other constituents informed about the progress and needs of the academic departments.

He also plays important roles in his church and the business community of Rock Hill and York County, SC. The induction of Bryant G. Barnes into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists elevates the prestige of the Academy and enhances the reputation of the College of Engineering and Science and Clemson University.

During the banquet, the college also honored two former students with its Outstanding Young Alumni Award, which recognizes:

  • significant career success,
  • notable contributions to society through professional service activities, or
  • notable contributions to engineering and science practice.

The 2013 honorees are Thomas G. Macdonald and Rakchart Traiphol.

Macdonald received two Clemson degrees, the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering in 1998 and 2001, respectively. As a graduate student, he excelled both as a researcher and as a leader among campus peers. Recognition of his excellence in research included the only Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Fellowship awarded anywhere in the country in 1998. While conducting outstanding research, he was also a leader in the affairs of the campus. He held two offices in Graduate Student Government, was president of Alpha Epsilon Lambda, the graduate student honors society, and was active in five other campus organizations, including the Intellectual Property Committee.

Today, Macdonald leads the Advanced SATCOM Systems and Operations Group in the Communications Systems and Cyber Security Division at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. The group plays a significant role in the synthesis, design, development and testing of the nation’s protected satellite systems. His expertise is widely sought in both technical and policy forums. He is a longtime contributor to the IEEE and, in particular, has been very active in the IEEE Military Communications Conference.

Outstanding Young Alumnus Rakchart TraipholRakchart Traiphol earned his Ph.D. in chemistry in 2003, and returned to Thailand to join the faculty of Naresuan University, where today he is a tenured assistant professor of chemistry. He has established a vibrant, internationally-recognized research effort in the physical chemistry of light emitting and absorbing polymers. These polymers are used in a large number of applications, and their ability to capture light makes them a candidate for organic solar cells.

Traiphol is author or co-author of more than 30 peer-reviewed journals and has won multiple awards from Naresuan University and the National Research Council of Thailand. His professional service includes membership on the ISRN Polymer Science Journal and organization of several international conferences.

Traiphol has maintained ongoing connections to Clemson by raising the funds to provide yearlong fellowships for several graduate students from Thailand to study here. His success as a chemist in a global professional environment presents an excellent role model for Clemson graduate students, domestic and international. He has become one of Thailand’s leading voices in higher education – all within a decade of his Clemson graduation.

Martine LaBerge, acting dean of Clemson’s College of Engineering and Science, observed, “Those singled out for inclusion in the academy and recognized as Outstanding Young Alumni, illustrate what can be attained through diligent application of talent, hard work and dedication. We are extremely proud of all of these honorees.”