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Brown, Sieve join list of SDSU Distinguished Engineers

Lew Brown, longtime dean of the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering, and Gene Sieve, current chair of the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council, will be honored April 26 as this year’s Distinguished Engineers at South Dakota State University.

Their selections bring to 145 the number of people honored since then-Dean Junis O. Storry created the award in 1977.

Brown and Sieve will be honored at a 6:30 p.m. April 26 dinner at Club 71 at Dykhouse Stadium on the SDSU campus. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through April 12 at the dean’s office. For more information, contact event coordinator Jennifer Bickett at 688-6792 or


Lew Brown: SDSU engineering dean

Lew Brown
Lew Brown

Brown, 68, of Brookings, served as dean from 2001 to 2018, joined the faculty in 1992 and graduated from the electrical engineering department in 1984.

Brown retired June 21, 2018, after serving 17 years as the 10th dean of one of the university’s foundational colleges.

His roots in the college reach to August 1980, when he enrolled as a nontraditional student. Brown earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1984 and enrolled at Iowa State for his master’s in electrical engineering and for a double doctorate (electrical and biomedical engineering).

From 1988 through 1991, Brown worked in private industry as a senior research scientist and technical manager in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

In January 1992, he was back on campus teaching circuits and electronics courses. By July 1993 he was electrical engineering department head, a position he held for eight years.

Central to Brown’s 17 years as dean was the tremendous improvement in engineering facilities. Nominator Rich Reid, who served under Brown as associate dean for many years, wrote, that one of Brown’s “most lasting legacies” will be the infrastructure improvements to the college.

Those includes the reconstruction of historic Solberg Hall, upgrade and expansion of Crothers Engineering Hall, the construction of the east and west wings of Daktronics Engineering Hall, and Chicoine Architecture, Mathematics and Engineering Hall.

The projects resulted in 213,735 square feet of new construction and improvements to existing buildings at a total cost of $41.3 million.

Also, under Brown’s direction the college added more than 40 new academic majors and minors, including six new bachelor’s degrees, 10 new master’s degrees, six new Ph.D. degrees and a doubling of the accredited programs from four to eight.

Enrollment grew a remarkable 45% from 1,324 in 2001 to 1,918 in 2017. In addition, he built a staff of more than 150 faculty members. During his tenure, the college gained its first endowed faculty members.


Gene Sieve: Burns & McDonell VP

Gene Sieve
Gene Sieve

Sieve, 54, of Excelsior, Minnesota, is a 1990 mechanical engineering graduate who is vice president and general manager of Burns & McDonnell’s Minneapolis-St Paul Office. He has served on the Dean’s Advisory Council since 2015 and has been council chair since 2019.

Sieve, who was selected as a Distinguished Alumnus by SDSU Alumni Association in 2020, joined Burns & McDonnell right out of college. Burns & McDonnell, based in Kansas City, is an employee-owned construction, engineering, architecture and environmental firm with more than 60 offices and 7,600 employees worldwide.

Sieve began his career working on major military and aviation projects around the world including Hawaii, Taiwan, Egypt and Jordan.

Sieve left Burns & McDonnell in 1998 to return to Minnesota. In 2007, Burns and McDonnell offered him a management job. Sieve countered, “How about an office in Minnesota?” Burns & McDonnell challenged him to put together a business plan. A few months later Sieve opened a two-person office in Bloomington.

Now the Twin Cities office employs nearly 150 design professionals and has managed more than $3 billion in capital infrastructure projects, serving a diverse portfolio of clients that include Xcel Energy, Army Corps of Engineers and Delta Airlines.

Through his commitment to his team and the firm’s growth, which now also has offices in Sioux Falls, Duluth, Minnesota, and Bismarck, North Dakota, he was promoted to a vice president in 2016.

Sieve served the Minnesota chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies for 15 years—board member 2006-11, president in 2012-13, national director in 2013-14 and chair of the state political action committee 2018-21. In 2015, Sieve received the President’s Award from the council for his dedication to advancing Minnesota’s engineering community.

He also has invested in the industry through supporting children’s STEM initiatives, serving on the board of trustees for The Works Museum, a Minneapolis-based learning center.