BLACKSBURG, Va. — Tom Rust, vice chair of the board of Pennoni Associates of Chantilly, Va., and a distinguished member of Virginia's General Assembly, is Virginia Tech College of Engineering's Distinguished Alumnus for 2015.

He earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1965.

"The college has some 66,000 living alumni, providing us with a host of very qualified and prestigious graduates who give back to their alma mater. In Tom Rust's case, he is a member of the College of Engineering's Committee of 100 and the university's Board of Visitors. He is one of only 135 elected members to our Academy of Engineering Excellence," Richard C. Benson, dean of the college, said in making the announcement.

Rust has distinguished himself as a dedicated public servant, beginning as a member of the Herndon Planning Commission and its town council in 1971. He was elected mayor in 1976 and served for eight years, followed by another 11 years from 1990 to 2001, when he was elected to the House of Delegates.

In March, Rust received the prestigious OPAL award for outstanding lifetime achievement in government from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

As a delegate, Rust has worked with both parties to help ensure the legislature continues to make needed investments in education. He has worked successfully to increase teacher pay, fund colleges and universities, increase student financial aid, and make the community college system more attractive to those who wish to start their collegiate career there and finish at a four-year institution.

He serves as chair of the House Transportation Committee, as well as a member on the Education, Commerce and Labor, and Science and Technology committees. He is chair of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science and played a critical role in helping create the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech.

Prior to his election to the General Assembly, Rust was slated to become the rector of the Board of Visitors. He cut short his second four-year term, ending as vice rector in 2001, after his successful legislative campaign. He also served on Longwood College's Board of Visitors from 1980 to 1988 with the last seven years as its rector. He has served on numerous banking boards.

At Pennoni, Rust cites some of his firm's major accomplishments as a major expansion to Tyson's Corner Shopping Center, the development around the $238 million Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and the preliminary civil engineering of Phase II of the Silver Metrorail Line to Dulles Airport.

Pennoni is the result of the merger of Rust's former firm that he joined in 1969, Patton Harris Rust, with Pennoni in 2011. Pennoni is one of Engineering News Record Top 115 engineering, design, and consulting firms.

Rust and his wife, Ann, continue to reside in Herndon. He announced in March that he would not run for re-election to the General Assembly so that he could explore other opportunities.