2011 Honorary Degree
Aelred J. Kurtenbach
Aelred "Al" Kurtenbach
Aelred J. Kurtenbach is co-founder of Daktronics Inc. and serves as chairman of the Board of Directors. Since its founding in 1968 and under his leadership, the company has grown to one of the world’s largest suppliers of electronic scoreboards, large-screen video boards, and large computer-programmable displays.
Some of Daktronics’ more famous works consist of the Coca-Cola Spectacular in Times Square, signs for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and several scoreboards for Kurtenbach’s alma mater, Purdue, including the four-sided custom video display in Mackey Arena.
Daktronics employs approximately 2,500 people including 250 college students who work part time.
A native of Dimock, S.D., Kurtenbach holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, all in electrical engineering, from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, the University of Nebraska and Purdue University, respectively. He has taught electrical engineering at South Dakota State University and Purdue.
Kurtenbach served on the Brookings School Board for 12 years and the South Dakota Board of Regents from 1984-1986. He has served on the Education Committee for the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry, as chair of the South Dakota State Junior Achievement Program, and as chair of the South Dakota EPSCoR Committee. He serves as chair of the South Dakota Enterprise Institute and on the board of the National Association of Manufacturers. He is on the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology University Advisory Board, as well as the South Dakota State University Board of Trustees.
Having twice been named South Dakota’s Small Businessman of the Year, Kurtenbach in 1994 was named South Dakota Executive of the Year and South Dakotan of the Year by the University of South Dakota School of Business. He was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 1992. Additional awards include the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Outstanding Alumni in 2000, SDSU Non-Alumnus Distinguished Service Award in 1986, SDSU Distinguished Engineer Award in 1990, SDSU Family of the Year in 2000, Purdue University Outstanding Electrical Engineer in 2001, Purdue Distinguished Engineering Alumnus in 2006, and the Region VIII District Director’s Choice Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration in April 2004.
Kurtenbach and Daktronics have been recognized with numerous awards for entrepreneurism and quality. He was chosen as the Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000 for manufacturing in a national competition sponsored by Ernst & Young as well as the Sales & Marketing Executives International Academy of Achievement Pinnacle Award in 2006. Daktronics Inc. was named 1994 Entrepreneurial Success of the Year by the Small Business Administration for South Dakota and the Denver Region. Daktronics was chosen South Dakota Business of the Year in 2000, 1993, 1989 and 1987 by the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry.