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Thayer Notes

1940s

Henry C. Keck ’43 TT’43: Thayer, with its teaching of fundamental principles, has been of profound importance to me in my more than 50 years of product development and machine design. I am semi-retired from Keck-Craig Inc., the company I founded in 1951. I am writing a book about product development in the United States since the 1920s, including chapters about the work of my firm. I still work with companies and inventors developing new products.

Bob Sundblad ’44 Th’48: I’m retired for some 30-odd years now and live by the water in southwest Florida. My wife, Eleanor, and I have had reasonably good health since moving south in 1994. I was president of our local engineering society for a period in which we tried to help our fair city with some expansion problems.

Tad Comstock ’48 Th’48: Highlights in 2009 included a cornea implant — it works! — and renewal of my driver’s license for another five years. I still play golf, and Rotary remains one of my longtime favorite organizations. My wife, Georgie, and I are looking into moving into a continuing care facility but nothing is definite yet. Meanwhile, we enjoy our camp on Bow Lake in New Hampshire.

1950s

Charlie Schneider ’57 TT’58: I have been retired for 13 years and am active as a part-time caregiver for my wife, very much involved in a local education program called Vistas For Lifelong Learning, and as a board member for a new nonprofit called Center For Successful Aging. I keep physically active with tennis, lawn bowling, golf, and cycling. Jane, my wife, and I are lucky with accessible culture in Santa Barbara, Calif., and have subscription tickets to theater and music organizations.

1960s

Harris McKee ’61 Th’63: Our civic and volunteer activities continue. My wife, Mary, is off the Bella Vista, Ark., library board but on other boards and still edits the weekly Rotary newsletter. I finished Rotary and Master Gardener presidencies, became a Rotary assistant district governor, and continue as treasurer of the Literacy Council of Benton County and as webmaster for four websites, including for my Dartmouth class of 1961. I also serve as the 1960s chair for the Thayer School Annual Fund. I enjoy playing golf all year here in Arkansas. Thayer continues to influence me every day in my approach to problem solving and analysis and my curiosity. This influence is more obvious to my friends than it is to me. They frequently call attention to my approach to almost any issue.

Neil Drobny ’62 Th’64: I enjoy what I am doing now more than anything I have ever done. I divide my time between teaching in the Ohio State Fisher College of Business and running a small nonprofit organization. Both focus on sustainability, which I now understand was my interest at Thayer, but at that time there was no language to express it. The teaching started about six years ago when I approached the dean of M.B.A. programs about teaching M.B.A. students about sustainability. I knew other business schools were doing so, and in 30-plus years of environmental consulting had concluded that my clients’ “environmental” problems were really business problems. I got the go-ahead to teach one course and now teach six courses per year — both graduate and undergraduate. This year Fisher’s sustainability curriculum was ranked 24th in the world by the Aspen Institute and our student chapter of Net Impact (an international organization for business students interested in sustainability) was recognized as Chapter of the Year. The nonprofit is called the Waste Not Center. It is a place where businesses and individuals donate gently used and new things that are no longer needed and that fall into the general category of arts, crafts and school supplies. We give the donated materials and supplies to teachers, artists and nonprofits that have after-school programs for kids. We take in and distribute about 2,500 pounds per week of stuff that would otherwise end up in the landfill. It is a membership-based organization that I have grown from about 300 members four years ago to more than 2,000 today. The members who take our stuff estimate the value of what they receive from the center to be about $300,000 per year. Every city should have one! Perhaps the one thing that Thayer instilled in me that has served me well is the courage to pioneer new initiatives. Myron Tribus was probably a major source of that.

John Kunz ’65 Th’66: I have served as the treasurer of the Dartmouth Outing Club of northern California and Nevada for a number of years. A few years ago, when the stock market was running wild, one of my fellow DOCers suggested I move our hard-won assets from the money market place to a stock fund. I recalled the decision-analysis class I took as an undergrad from Myron Tribus and reflected on the upside of greater return, which had financial appeal but would not change the option set for a major renovation we had planned but not scheduled. I also reflected, as we had been taught in that class, on the downside, which would be that I would feel really awful if the market crashed and we could not do the renovation. A few years later the market crashed and I felt lucky and appreciative of that class I took so many years ago. As an undergrad I got to build simple computational implementations of similarly simple mathematical models of many of the systems we were discussing in classes. The computer hooked my interest and now, years later, I teach computer modeling and analysis in the engineering school at Stanford. I finally am able to do some of the things I dreamed of with the teletype clacking away slowly late at night in Cummings Hall.

1970s

Jack Howanski Th’75: The Dartmouth setting, individual attention, and academic challenge I experienced made me a more complete and better engineer and person. The Thayer education instilled in me two basics. First, always look at the total problem; at times the technical portions of an issue may be the least important. Second, always take time to reflect on alternative solutions. The one course at the Thayer School that has stayed with me through my career was the internship program taught by Professor Robert Dean. Professor Dean essentially gave us a real-world problem with the simple instruction to solve it. The value in the course came from Professor Dean challenging us at every step in the process and constantly asking us to understand the thought process we used. Since taking this course, I have continually challenged my own thinking and the route chosen to solve a problem. Since leaving Thayer in 1974, I have held several positions in industry, ranging from a research-and-development engineer designing equipment to measure heat transfer in various building sections to doubling the output of a major wire and cable facility as the general manager of one of the largest medium-voltage cable producers in the United States. My most recent position was as vice president of technology for a group of wire and cable plants that stretched from Honduras to Thailand. After spending substantial time in China, Thailand, and Chile, I decided to leave the corporate world and teach high school for a few years. I recently obtained teaching certification in physics and mathematics and expect to be in the classroom very soon. My intention is to return some of my education to today’s youth. I am also bringing to life our family farm in Justus, Pa., which my great-grandparents purchased in 1921. We are trying to raise grass-fed beef and free-range chickens and turkeys along with growing various types of berries for jelly and jam production. The challenge is to raise the various food sources with a minimal carbon footprint. My great-grandfather operated the farm with two draft horses and no electricity. I just need to figure out how he did it as we enter a world where the words “eat local” take on new meaning.

Fred Kriebel ’75, Th’76: After 33 years in the San Francisco Bay Area working as an executive for contractors, corporate owners, and developers in the building industry, I have started my own company (Kriebel & Associates) as a real estate development/construction management consultant, serving owners, developers, and banks that need outside expertise to deliver their projects. My background in commercial, multi-family residential and medical projects, from steel to wood-framing, and from the contractor’s and owner’s perspectives gives me the ability to see and resolve problems from all angles. This diversity and ability to work with people with different viewpoints is a skill first nurtured at Dartmouth, and in the B.E. year at Thayer.

Martin Sklar Th’78: With children Adam and Jennifer out of college and moving on in their lives, I have focused on my major professional interest: medical devices. Luckily, my wife, Janis, understands my passion for this industry. In the past year and a half, in addition to my consulting since 2001, I and a small team of savvy business and technical professionals have been researching the market and developing an innovative product to help cardiac surgeons perform an improved atrial fibrillation ablation procedure. We welcome any Thayer or Dartmouth alumni or Dartmouth physicians with relevant experience in this area to contact us. At Thayer I learned how to run a project, from defining the project goals to planning activities and implementing the plan. Professor Francis Kennedy was instrumental in helping me develop a friction and wear test apparatus, which was used to simulate various ASTM friction and wear tests. I understand from more recent Thayer students, whom I met at alumni gatherings in Boston, that it ran as a test instrument until a few years ago. It was also designed for implant testing. That experience was critical to my future work and has served me well when leading the development of other medical products. I can be contacted via LinkedIn and am a member of the Thayer School group.

1980s

Toby Reiley ’81: Other than re-engineering the used-car finance business, I just bought a clean diesel car that gets 50-plus miles-per-gallon, burns cleaner than a gas engine for particulate emissions, and is certainly more fun to drive than a Prius.

Steve Morris ’84 Th’85: In the news I always hear how this country does not have enough engineers, yet in our society engineers are considered expensive overhead. Often engineers in their 50s are put out to pasture. I was able to avoid this by starting my own successful business, Accuware Inc., 10 years ago. Although my children are not yet at the age where they will be choosing paths for their futures, I struggle with recommending engineering. Most of us have witnessed the engineer becoming merely a necessary resource. It is no wonder that the economy no longer has any traction.

Jack Oswald ’84: Today I am entirely focused on establishing an intelligent clean energy strategy for the United States and beyond. The strategy has three main thrusts that all need attention today but bear fruit at different intervals. Phase 1 is all about energy efficiency. Focus on getting every light bulb in America changed. Blanket every city and town and just provide them at no cost. Seal homes and place reflective paper in attics. These few things alone will reduce the country’s energy used in buildings by 20 percent. Given that buildings use about 45 percent of all energy, we can get a very quick national 18-percent overall reduction — just like that. Phase 2 is about “drop-in” renewable fuels that are fully compatible in the existing fleet and infrastructure. Today, we make about 8 billion gallons per year of ethanol that must be brought to market either in specialized rail cars or trucks because the fuel is incompatible with existing pipelines and other distribution methods. It’s also not very compatible with existing vehicles. That means no more ethanol, cellulosic or otherwise. Several companies, SynGest Inc. and Optinol Inc. (two of my startups) among them, are making such fuels at lower cost than any ethanol produced or contemplated. The issue isn’t even so much about the cost. It is an infrastructure issue. We just can’t build out specialized infrastructure fast enough and it just doesn’t make sense unless it has many uses. Phase 3 is all about achieving an abundance of solar energy. There is more than enough solar energy hitting the planet every day to meet our needs many times over. The fact that we don’t collect enough of it is simply an engineering problem. As soon as we can achieve a five-times increase in solar collection, we will have an abundance of energy, even if we do not solve the energy storage problem as elegantly.

John Chae Th’86: My professional life is focused on medical research. I credit Thayer for sparking this interest in me. I am a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) and biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University. After med school and clinical training at New Jersey Medical School, I completed a rehabilitation medicine scientist training program fellowship at Case Western. I am director of stroke rehabilitation and director of research for the department of PM&R and associate director of clinical affairs for the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center. My research focuses on the application of FES for neuroprostheses, neural plasticity, and shoulder dysfunction in hemiplegia. On a more personal level, I married Linda Oyer, Ph.D., who I met at Dartmouth. We have two wonderful sons, 17 and 15. We live in Strongsville, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. My favorite activities outside of work include spending time with family, church, and mentoring young men.

1990s

Ike Anyanwu-Ebo ’94 Th’95: I am an engineering supervisor at Ford Motor Co. working in engineering design and testing on budget, service, and prototype development for the six-speed auto transmission for the Ford Fiesta, scheduled to be launched in May. However, I have just given my notice that I’ll be leaving the auto industry after nearly 14 years to enter the renewable energy field of wind turbines. I’ll be taking a position at Vestas A/S in Denmark as a senior quality specialist charged with improving product and process quality and reducing waste, working with both product design and our supplier partners. The change was driven by the personal desire to meet the biggest challenge we face today: the environment. Building fuel-efficient cars is important, but I wanted to do something more directly tangible to addressing global warming. Reading about the fine work led by outstanding researchers such as Lee Lynd inspired me in part. My wife of nearly 10 years, Carmen Harden ’96, and I have two children, Nnamdi, 6, and Amara, 8 months. My passion is working out and staying healthy, a legacy of being on the Dartmouth varsity track team for two years. Thanks to Dartmouth, I also have a love for languages. Throughout my career at Ford I used the Japanese I learned at Dartmouth. I strongly recommend that all Thayer engineers leverage their language skills! Dartmouth has influenced my life, personally and professionally, beyond belief. Thank you!

Dan Mazzucco ’98: I am the president of a start-up medical-device company called ZSX Medical. We are developing surgical closure products. Our company is small, new, and growing. The problem-solving skills I learned at Thayer School continue to guide my approach to new problems, whether technical or strategic. I’ve always found that working in small, collaborative teams, as we did in bridges, systems, controls, thermo, etc., is the most efficient way to solve these new challenges.

2000s

Tom Campbell ’01 Th’02: I’m working as a composites applications engineer at Fiberforge, where I’ve been since 2003. My work is generally to make things from thermoplastic composites, though it also extends to developing new manufacturing processes to work with the composite materials as well as creating new machines with which to do that processing. My projects are in a variety of industries, from consumer goods and recreation equipment to aerospace and the military. I live in Glenwood Springs, Colo., and just got engaged to Meghan Palmer. I’m in the mountains and get to play outdoors a lot!

David Koch Th’02: Our second child was just born, so we’re excited! I am continuing DFR project in a way, developing heavy-duty truck engines for Daimler Trucks (Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Western Star, EvoBus).

Keith Dennis ’03 Th’05: I was married to Allison Bellins in June on the beach in Chatham, Cape Cod. In attendance were M.E.M.s Brian Henthorn ’04 and Dan Tadesse ’03 Th’05. Dartmouth alums Christian Haines ’01, Dave Pereira ’03, and Sergey Polissar ’04 were also in attendance. Allison and I met at Vermont Law School, where we both earned a master of studies in environmental law, a program I became involved in while taking a class that counted toward my M.E.M. Allison is director of communications for EPA’s green power partnership. I work for First Environment on issues related to energy, climate change, and greenhouse gas management. I also recently earned my professional engineering license.

Brian Mason ’03 Th’05: Jocelyn and I continue to love California. I am in my fifth year at IDEO and have spent the last year working on a medical product that began as a technical investigation and has moved all the way to final industrial design and clinical trials. Jocelyn and I will be back in Hanover in June for her five-year reunion. We hope to catch up with many friends.

Elizabeth Jensen Th’08: I am in my second year as a Ph.D. student in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University. My research focuses on directly imaging planets around stars (besides our sun). My work allows me to use the world’s largest telescopes in Hawaii. Thayer provided me with a fantastic background of engineering and science courses that I can apply to my courses and research at graduate school. In my free time, I play the oboe in the Princeton University orchestra and enjoy traveling all over the world.

Laura Weyl Th’08: Having gone to three different schools now, it’s interesting to see which one seems to follow me and continue to shape and change my life. Dartmouth connections got me my last two jobs, Dartmouth friends and friends of friends have become my main social scene in this new city, and my current relationship is with a Dartmouth grad I met recently. Thayer is also the only school I’m still involved with as far as alumni activities and annual fund volunteer work. I live in Palo Alto, Calif., and am getting my environmental structural engineering degree. I spend time in San Francisco with friends I made while living there last year. I worked at Oliver Wyman with several Dartmouth and Thayer grads and then at ATDynamics, a small Thayer/Tuck startup in the South Bay.

Katie Gray ’09 Th’09: I work as a development engineer at Talisman Energy Inc. in Calgary, Alberta. I play hockey for the Strathmore Rockies in the Western Women’s Hockey League and coach my community Peewee 5 boys’ hockey team. I have also taken snowboarding up again.

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