National and international activist for engineering, Vachon dies at 83

Reginald I. Vachon, an engineer, executive, and lawyer whose career and accomplishments always testified to his dedication to engineering, has died. He was 83.


He was the fourth president of the Pan American Academy of Engineering, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers president in 2003-04 and a truly global citizen, consulting on nuclear energy for both power generation on earth and the exploration of space.

Vachon, Ph.D., P.E., Eur. Ing., F.ASCE, was a research and development engineer with E.I. DuPont, an aerospace engineer with Thiokol, a design engineer for Hayes Aircraft, and an aerospace engineer with NASA, among other engagements. He was also a patent holder for important technologies in medicine (angiography) and science.

His service to the engineering profession was distinguished by a variety of roles at both the national and international level for more than four decades. These include the board of American Society for Engineering Education (president 2003-04), secretary-treasurer and a Board member of the International Nuclear Energy Academy, vice president for North America for the Pan American Union of Engineering Organizations as well as UPADI’s co-chair for its anti-corruption work group, and former chairman of the American Association of Engineering Societies.

Vachon was the 2019 recipient of ASME’s Gold Medal for eminently distinguished engineering achievement, ASME’s highest bestowal. He also served both as the WFEO participant at the International Atomic Energy Agency and as WFEO representative to the U.N.

He authored or coauthored more than 200 unclassified peer-reviewed papers and reports; delivered numerous invited lectures; served as advisor and contributor to the ACET anti-corruption film Ethicana, which ASCE also used as a resource; authored video courses on ethics and professionalism for engineers; and held an endowed chair at Auburn University.

Vachon’s career took him to countries around the world – a few of these were Hong Kong, Brazil, Egypt, Cameroon, Ecuador, Russia, and Indonesia. He conducted research and development projects for a number of U.S. government agencies and served on the DHS Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee. His private sector work was undertaken for or in collaboration with a broad range of world-class organizations.

Vachon founded Vachon Nix & Associates in 1977 and was its longtime president. He also founded a communications firm and was a licensed member of the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court, corepresenting ASME in the landmark Hydrolevel case, which received a favorable outcome. 

He served on the Katerva Awards Panel, whose mission is to find, evaluate, and accelerate disruptive sustainable innovations from around the world.


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