Carl Christenson ’82, ’84 MS and Thomas Sebastian ’12 PhD have been chosen by the UMass Amherst Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department as the recipients of the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award and the 2022 Outstanding Young Alumni Award, respectively.
The MIE department selected Christenson to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, rewarding visionary leaders in their fields. Recipients of this honor have reached exceptional levels of professional and personal achievement. This award recognizes distinguished leadership, service, teaching, innovation, and other exemplary accomplishments that positively impact society and the engineering profession.
Christenson has been the chairman of the Altra Industrial Motion board of directors since April 2014, the chief executive officer of Altra since January 2009 and a director since July 2007. Prior to his current position, Christenson served as president and chief operating officer of Altra from January 2005 to December 2008.
From 2001 to 2005, Christenson was the president of Kaydon Bearings, a manufacturer of custom-engineered bearings and a division of the Kaydon Corporation.
Prior to joining Kaydon, Christenson held a number of management positions at TB Wood’s Incorporated and several positions at Ingersoll Rand.
Christenson served as a director at Vectra Co., (formerly OM Group, Inc.), a New York Stock Exchange-listed, technology-driven, diversified industrial company, from 2014 to 2015.
Beyond the MS and BS degrees in mechanical engineering that Christenson holds from UMass Amherst, he also earned an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic.
Sebastian was named by the MIE department to receive its Outstanding Young Alumni Award, given to emerging leaders in the early stages of their careers.
Recipients of this honor are generally no more than 10 years out from receiving their UMass Engineering PhD or generally no more than 15 years out from receiving their UMass engineering BS degree. This award recognizes outstanding professional and personal achievements and highlights each recipient’s ambitions and potential to positively impact UMass, the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world.
Sebastian is a senior technical staff member of the Structural and Thermal-Fluids Engineering Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/LL), where he leads technical initiatives and early-stage development of novel technologies and concepts ranging from particle concentration and assay to high-energy laser system optics thermal management to re-entry/hypersonic phenomenology.
Since joining the Laboratory in 2012, Sebastian has served as unit engineer and fluid mechanics subject matter expert (SME) on multiple complex prototyping efforts and has led the design and development of multiple novel drones for a variety of government sponsors as chief engineer and aerodynamicist.
Sebastian has invented technologies at MIT/LL related to biological sensing and advanced propulsion, resulting in four awarded patents to date. As MIT Electric Aircraft Initiative co-director, he also organized and co-led the MIT/LL-Campus team responsible for demonstrating the world’s first flight of an ion-propelled fixed-wing aircraft.
Sebastian was awarded the MIT/LL 2017 Best Invention Award for a low-acoustic signature propeller design and the MIT/LL Early Career Technical Achievement Award in 2018.