Distinguished Alumni Award

Thomas R. Hanson 60BSME

2010 Service Award

Thomas R. Hanson, 60BSME, has a gift for communicating, one that he generously shares to help UI engineering students follow his successful career path.

Hanson grew up in a Hawkeye family, which included his parents, Clem, 25BSC, and Sylvia, 27BA, and uncle C. Maxwell Stanley, 26BSE, 30MS, a 1967 recipient of the UI Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Award for Service. After graduating from the UI in 1960 with a degree in mechanical engineering, Hanson began as a design engineer at Union Carbide in Charleston West Virginia, then moved to engineering sales and marketing with the Trane Company in Lacrosse, Wisconsin, a major manufacturer in the air conditioning and refrigeration industry. He later moved to Chicago to run the regional sales office of York International, also a major company in the air conditioning industry.

After years in the heating and cooling industry, Hanson drew upon his expertise in engineering, business, sales, and communications to start in 1980 his own Chicago-based company, Thermal Air Systems, which grew to be the exclusive sales representative for many commercial and industrial heating and cooling manufacturers. In 1991, the company became Fleming Hanson Sales, the largest HVAC sales agency in Illinois.

Hanson sold his interest in the company when he retired in 2000, but he continues to make a difference in the world of engineering. In 2003, he and his wife, Nancy, endowed the Hanson Center for Technical Communication, an innovative center where UI engineering students can develop their speaking and writing skills to stand out from their peers in a competitive field.

Recognizing the importance of communication to his own career, Hanson wanted to help engineers develop those skills, which he sees as essential to an engineering education. The center teaches engineers to express their expertise and has enriched the engineering curriculum with rigorous writing and presentation exercises. Hanson regularly visits the center to monitor its progress and talk with staff and students. He also acts as a mentor to the center's peer consultantsundergraduates who show exceptional promise as technical communicators and help their fellow students bring clarity to their work.

Hanson has also supported the university as a charitable giver, contributing to the Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences, the C. Maxwell Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory, the Old Capital Restoration Fund, and the annual Engineering Excellence Fund. He served as a charter member and chair of the College of Engineering's Development Council, leading the college in 1999 through the university's successful "Good, Better, Best" fund-raising campaign.

In addition, Hanson puts his trademark enthusiasm and dedication to work as a key member of the University of Iowa Foundation's board of directors, where he currently serves as a member of the executive committee and chair of the finance committee.

From establishing a center for technical communications to offering trusted advice and guidance to UI faculty, staff, administrators, and studentsall these are tangible expressions of Thomas R. Hanson's devotion to his profession and his alma mater.

Hanson is a member of the UI Alumni Association's Old Capitol Club and the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.

About Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.

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