Christina Rulffes Parrish, Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement, 509-335-6907,

Joe Zeeben with wife, Sharon, daughter
and grandchildren.

PULLMAN, Wash.— Joe P. Zeeben (’58, ’60) received the Washington State University Alumni Association (WSUAA) Alumni Achievement Award Aug. 6.  The award is the highest honor bestowed by the WSUAA, and recognized Zeeben for his outstanding accomplishments in aerodynamics engineering. Since 1970, only 477 alumni have received the award. Representative Sam Hunt presented the award on behalf of the WSUAA.

A resident of Shelton, Zeeben earned bachelor and master degrees in mechanical engineering from the WSU College of Engineering and Architecture. His strong drive for achievement was apparent at WSU, where he earned varsity letters in cross country, track and boxing, and served as cross country co-captain. Additionally, he was a PAC-10 Scholar Athlete and belonged to several academic honor societies.

After graduation, Zeeben began a productive 34-year career at Boeing, where his work in propulsion research, preliminary design and data management made him indispensible to the commercial airplane group and the military airplane group. Nominator Thomas M. Maloney calls Zeeben one of “the best engineers ever to graduate from WSU” and says that “his work was essential to launching the Boeing 757 airplane program”.

At Boeing, one of Zeeben’s first projects was the design of performance data for engines using a matrix of thermodynamic variables. His expertise enabled him to play a key role in the development of propulsion system technology for advanced military aircraft.

In response to global environmental concerns, Zeeben and his team also developed a simplified method for the calculation of engine emissions, using information about the basic physics of air compression. Zeeben was known for developing these complex correlations by hand on graph paper. The correlations have since been adopted by the FAA and were used at Boeing in the development of global aircraft emissions data for NASA.

While at Boeing, Zeeben was honored with the 30-year Service Award and the Cost Saving Award. His past volunteer service includes coaching youth soccer and basketball, refereeing youth soccer and serving as Soccer Club vice president. He was awarded the PTA Golden Acorn Award and the Boy Scout Golden Beaver Award for his service with those organizations. 

The award presentation took place at the annual WSU Bob Lundgaard Memorial Picnic held on the grounds of the Schmidt House in Olympia. For more information, please contact Christina Rulffes Parrish, assistant director of Alumni Engagement, at 509-335-2586 or