Joe Gray ’42 and Lauren Fletcher were honored during the annual Engineering Technology Advancement Committee Banquet March 23.

The Missouri Western State University Engineering Technology Advancement Committee presented awards to a student and a community leader at their annual banquet Monday, March 23. Lauren Fletcher, a senior manufacturing engineering technology major from Smithville, Mo., was presented with the Student Excellence Award. Joe Gray ’42, co-founder of Gray Manufacturing Company, received the Engineering Technology Excellence Award.

The Engineering Technology Student Excellence Award recognizes a current student in Missouri Western’s engineering technology program based on academic excellence, leadership and service. Fletcher has a grade point average of 4.0 and is currently doing independent research with Dr. Long Qiao, assistant professor of engineering technology. She also completed an internship at Altec Industries, an experience she said complemented her learning in Missouri Western’s classrooms.

“I always felt as if everything I was learning at Altec went hand-in-hand with school,” Fletcher said during her acceptance speech. “If I learned one thing at my internship, it seemed like it would be the next topic in my curriculum. If we learned something new in school, someone would bring it up the next day at work.”

The Engineering Technology Excellence Award recognizes a member of the engineering technology industry who has shown outstanding and continuous commitment to advancing the field as well as support for Missouri Western’s mission, vision and legacy. Gray graduated in 1942 from St. Joseph Junior College, which became Missouri Western. He was then a member of the first aeronautical engineering graduating class at the University of Kansas. After graduation, Gray worked on jet propulsion projects for the U.S. Navy and a private company and served as an advisor in the Army Ordnance Department at the Pentagon before returning to St. Joseph in 1952 to found Gray Manufacturing with his father, J.H. Gray. Today, Gray Manufacturing is America’s leading manufacturer of lifting and positioning devices used in the service and repair of heavy over-the-road trucks and busses.

Gray has been an ardent supporter of Missouri Western for years. He is a member of the Western League for Excellence and the Missouri Western Arts Society and served as honorary chair of the successful Achieving Greatness capital campaign. He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Missouri Western in 2011, and the Department of Biology’s natural history collection is named in his honor.

The Engineering Technology Advancement Committee was created in 2009 to provide private industry support to Missouri Western’s department of engineering technology. Members of the committee raise funds for scholarships, endowments, specialized equipment and other needs; provide internship opportunities to current students; make guest speakers available; promote construction-related careers in northwest Missouri; and provide funding and support for Missouri Western’s Association of General Contractors Student Chapter.

Missouri Western State University is a comprehensive regional university providing a blend of traditional liberal arts and professional degree programs. The university offers student-centered, high quality instruction that focuses on experience-based learning, community service, and state-of-the-art technology. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit