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Mathematician Robert Phillips Selected as CEPS Distinguished Alumnus

By Debra Williams, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences
May 19, 2010

UNH College of Engineering and Physical Sciences Alumni Society 2010 Distinguished Alum Robert Phillips. Photo: Carolyn Kirkpatrick

At a recent awards ceremony, mathematician and executive vice president and chief technology officer at Windward Investment Management Robert E. Phillips (B.S. UNH ’76) of Hampton Falls was recognized as the 2010 UNH College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS) Distinguished Alumnus.

CEPS Alumni Society President Jack Smith ’50 told the audience, “The Distinguished Alumnus Award is given annually by the CEPS Alumni Society for outstanding contribution to society in the field of engineering, science, or mathematics that has enhanced the image of the University of New Hampshire.”

Before receiving a heart-felt and energetic standing ovation from a crowd of around 275 students and faculty, Phillips noted UNH was the only place he ever wanted to go as an undergraduate. “At UNH I was taught the fundamental joy of learning as well as how to apply that learning to solve problems. I have carried these tools with me throughout my career as a professor, an engineer and later in the financial services industry and they have served me very well. We need more people like all the students recognized here today, who can think effectively and solve complex problems. In return for those gifts, it is important to give back to UNH.”

Phillips graduated cum laude in 1976 with a B.S. in mathematics/physics option. He was president of the N.H. Chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, the national mathematics honor society. In 1977 he graduated from the University of Rochester with an M.S. in mechanical engineering. In 1979 he graduated from the University of Virginia with a Master of Engineering in engineering physics. He then attended The Pennsylvania State University under a NASA traineeship in computational fluid mechanics; he received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Penn State in 1984.

From 1976 to 1985, Phillips worked in the energy business at several national labs and Babcock & Wilcox Co. He returned to UNH as an assistant professor in the mechanical engineering department in 1985-86. In 1986 he joined several people to start ICAD, one of the early entrants in the computer aided engineering software business. Phillips joined General Electric in the aircraft engines division as a senior engineer. There he introduced new, automated techniques for the design of numerous engine components including complex turbine blades. For this work he was awarded the first Computer Aided Engineering Award as well as numerous management awards. 

Phillips later joined Concentra as chief technology officer and vice president of engineering. He developed Selling Point, an award-winning product configuration software product. In 2002, he changed career directions, moving from the engineering/enterprise software industry to the financial services, partnering with Steve Cucchiaro to form Windward Investment Management. Phillips was asked to join Fidelity Investments in 2003 as senior vice president, where he managed the NetBenefits platform, which provides online service for the 13 million benefits plan participants. In 2009, he returned to Windward Investment Management as executive vice president and chief technology officer. He is responsible for investment modeling and operations. Windward is a registered investment advisor responsible for managing more than $3.5 billion.

Phillips is a charter member of the CEPS Industrial Advisory Board. He and his wife started the Phillips Engineering Fund several years ago to help fund CEPS activities including scholarships. His son Jefferson is a 2007 graduate of UNH.

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