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Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering


Simdul Shagaya
Simdul Shagaya Th’99. Photograph courtesy of Simdul Shagaya.

E-commerce pioneer Simdul Shagaya Th’99 has been named 2013 Leadership CEO of the Year by the Nigeria Leadership Newspapers Group for “his ardent efforts to making online shopping a mainstream activity” in Nigeria and building the country’s largest online shopping mall. The M.E.M. grad and serial entrepreneur also earned the 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year Award from CNBC Africa and made the Forbes List of The 10 Most Powerful Men in Africa 2014. Shagaya founded in 2012 as the Amazon of Africa, selling the region’s increasingly affluent consumer class everything from groceries to electronics. Shagaya previously founded DealDey, a Groupon-style group-buying site that employed a fleet of motorcycles to meet online shoppers across Lagos waiting to pay for their purchases with cash. Shagaya says that this type of infrastructure is essential to e-commerce in developing countries. As he told CNN, “Many times the Internet is an enabler of a business but you still need an offline component, strong logistics, you still need to be able to have a physical presence in front of the developing country customer to keep that customer thinking that you are real and are here for the long-run.”

Doug Madory
Doug Madory Th’06. Photograph courtesy of Doug Madory.

Data streams from U.S. financial companies and foreign governments sent across the Internet have been diverted, spied upon or altered, then shot to their expected destinations with barely a delay and no one the wiser. Well, almost no one. Internet intelligence analyst Doug Madory Th’06 uncovered mass data hijackings last year as part of his day-to-day monitoring of global net links for web tracking firm Renesys. Digging deeper, he found that redirections—to Moscow and Belarus before continuing to the intended destinations—had happened almost daily in February and again in August 2013. “We saw it start off looking like a criminal operation, targeting the financial companies,” he told the Christian Science Monitor in November 2013. “The next day we saw it targeting foreign governments, so we thought maybe it’s a nation state. Now it’s not clear whether this group was a government or a criminal operation.” Madory has become the go-to expert in Internet shutdowns and startups, and has been quoted in The New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald, and on National Public Radio, BBC, and CNN. In the past year, he has reported on ongoing Internet outages in Syria and cyberattacks against the state telecom there, discovered that a submarine cable connecting Cuba to the Internet has been activated after two years of lying idle on the bottom of the Caribbean Sea, and tracked attacks against North Korea’s networks. Madory, who worked with Professor George Cybenko as a graduate student, was previously the chief of computer security at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Hannah Dreissigacker
Hannah Dreissigacker ’09 Th’10. Photograph courtesy of US Biathlon/NordicFocus.

Hannah Dreissigacker ’09 Th’10 competed in Sochi as a member of the U.S. Biathlon Team—with fellow Dartmouth alums Susan Dunklee ’08 and Sara Studebaker ’07—at the Winter Olympics. With an engineering degree modified with studio art, Dreissigacker records her ski travels with paintings and posts at Recent paintings include night racing in Ostersund, Sweden (site of the first biathlon World Cup of the year) and a view from a chalet across La Chaine des Aravis in France (for the third World Cup). Her artistic eye is always open. As she writes in one post about skiing in Sweden: “I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, but I couldn’t help but notice that there was a beautiful sunset the entire time I was racing. Every time I came down the final turn into the stadium, I would think about how pretty it was.”

Bjong Wolf Yeigh
Bjong Wolf Yeigh ’86. Photograph courtesy of Bjong Wolf Yeigh.

Bjong Wolf Yeigh ’86 has been named chancellor of the University of Washington, Bothell, a 128-acre campus in the Puget Sound region that enrolls 4,600 students in more than 30 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. He takes the reins as the school brings on 29 new tenure-track faculty, completes construction on a $68 million science and math building, and expands its technology offerings with the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Yeigh, who emigrated from South Korea when he was 11, wants to ensure that students who come from a background similar to his can receive the same kinds of opportunities to help them succeed. “For me, staying in higher education was important in the pathway for me to give back,” Yeigh told Northwest Asian Weekly. After Dartmouth, Yeigh earned a master’s in mechanical engineering from Stanford and a master’s and doctorate in civil engineering and operations research from Princeton. Yeigh was most recently president and professor at the State University of New York Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome. During his tenure at SUNYIT, he secured $15.5 million in capital grants for cybersecurity and nanotechnology programs and established a $240-million nanotechnology partnership with SUNY Albany. He has also served as assistant provost for science and technology at Yale and as dean of the St. Louis University Parks College of Engineering, Aviation, and Technology and director of its Center for Space, Technology, and Engineering Policy. An elected fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Yeigh is an active researcher, working in mathematical and computer modeling, analytics, simulation, science and technology, engineering physics, engineering management, and safety and security studies.

Kevin Isett
Kevin Isett Th’11. Photograph courtesy of Kevin Isett.

Avitide cofounder and CEO Kevin Isett Th’11 says he has secured the first round of financing necessary to continue developing affinity purification technology for improving the expensive and risky process of manufacturing protein drugs. Avitide is a fee-for-service affinity purification discovery service, he says, focused on solving therapeutic and vaccine purification challenges in the biopharmaceutical industry. Isett cofounded the Lebanon, N.H.-based company in 2012 with serial biotech founder and Thayer Professor Tillman Gerngross, former Thayer researcher Warren Kett, and venture capitalists Errik Anderson ’00 Tu’07 and Jon Sheller ’09.

Mike Collette
Mike Collette ’84. Photograph courtesy of Mike Collette.

Cincinnati, Ohio-based entrepreneur Mike Collette ’84 has been named entrepreneur-in-residence at public-private seed-stage investor CincyTech, where he’ll work with existing and new portfolio companies in the digital and healthcare markets. It’s another step in the startup path he began during his years as an engineering major at Dartmouth, when he painted houses during the summer. He founded marketing agency OnTarget Media, zeroed in on healthcare, and changed the company name to Healthy Advice Networks. The company, now called PatientPoint, is a $70-million operation offering educational materials to patients and programming to doctor’s offices and hospitals. He’ll remain with PatientPoint while working with CincyTech. As a private investor and board member, he has contributed to the growth of startup Zipscene and Canadian-based insurance company Signature Risk Partners and serves on the advisory board of Medaxion, an electronic medical record platform. “An idea must be a game-changer,” he told “For many, the passion for the idea becomes blinding. That’s why you need an independent board. You also have to spend significant money in creating demand for the product or service either through marketing and PR—or through pushing the product to customers directly through a sales team. The product or service won’t sell itself.”

Arville Hickerson
Arville Hickerson ’56 Th’57. Photograph courtesy of Arville Hickerson.

Arville Hickerson ’56 Th’57 has been inducted into Harvey High School Hall of Fame in Painesville, Ohio. He was valedictorian at Harvey High in 1952. After earning an M.S. in mechanical engineering from Thayer, he began a 27-year career in the U.S. Army. He served as platoon leader of the 82nd Airborne Division (1958–60), commander of the 2nd Battle Group of the 6th Infantry Company in Berlin when the wall was being built (1960–64), battalion commander in the 7th Calvary of the 1st Air Cavalry Division in the 1968 and 1969 Tet offensives, and battalion commander of the 23rd Infantry of the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea during the oil embargo crisis (1973–74). He retired as a colonel in 1983 after serving as an investigator and division chief in the Army’s inspector general office. Honors he earned during his service include two Legion of Merits, four Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, five Air Medals, and two Vietnam Cross of Gallantry medals.

Gyrobike cocreators Hannah Murnen ’06 Th’07, Augusta Niles ’07, Nathan Sigworth ’07, and Debbie Sperling ’06 Th’07 have sold the technology’s rights and patents to U.K.-based entrepreneur Robert Bodill, who has plans to grow the market from children to seniors and people with disabilities. The former Thayer students developed the stabilizing Gyrobike in 2004 when they tackled the problem of learning to ride a bike in Thayer’s ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering course. The inventors and Errik Anderson ’00 Tu’07 formed the company GPSS, LLC, which developed the intellectual property, filed the original patent, created prototypes, and wrote a business case. Under the business leadership of Daniella Reichstetter Tu’07, thousands of children’s Gyrobike wheels were sold directly to customers and through K-Mart and other retailers. Gyrobike’s newest owner has given the name a brand-new spelling: Jyrobike. See it at

Ashifi Gogo Th’10, CEO and founder of the product authentication company Sproxil, has racked up another honor. The Thayer Ph.D. Innovation Program graduate has received the IEEE’s inaugural Global Humanitarian Engineer of the Year Award. “His motivation to create a simple, inexpensive way to identify counterfeit products was driven by the 700,000 deaths each year due to fake malaria and tuberculosis drugs,” the award nomination stated. The IEEE noted that consumers in developing regions of Africa and Asia have used Sproxil’s cell-phone-based technology to verify the authenticity of more than 4.3 million products in less than five years.

Max Fagin
Max Fagin Th’11. Photograph courtesy of Max Fagin.

Max Fagin Th’11 has made the first cut to become a member of the first Mars One manned mission to the red planet. He is one of 1,058 applicants willing to take a one-way trip to Mars in 2024. A lifelong space zealot, Fagin came to Thayer as a Dual-Degree Program physics major from Vassar, completed his B.E., worked as a design fellow in the machine shop, and is now studying aerospace engineering at Purdue. His perspective on the possibility of moving to Mars—and never returning to Earth—is out of this world. “You can’t inhabit a planet if everyone is a tourist. Someone has to go there to stay. Might as well be someone who actually wants to be there, like me,” he told Dartmouth Engineer. “I have no doubt that leaving my family forever will be a painful experience, both for them and for me. I would be alarmed if I felt otherwise. But my family has had my entire life to come to terms with the notion of me leaving Earth, and I know they would support me, which makes me feel very proud and eager not to let them down. As for leaving my friends, that too would be difficult. But all the way back to high school, I find that my strongest friendships are the ones that formed not through ‘traditional’ forms of socializing, but through sharing strife and working together toward a goal that we both deeply wanted to see realized. The only people who would choose to go on a one-way trip to Mars will be people who necessarily also care passionately about my goal of opening Mars to humanity, and thus whose goals and passions are the same as mine. They are the people who will become my new friends, and I cannot wait to meet them. Besides, it is not as if I am losing my old friends and family forever. They will still be there for me, even if ‘there’ is hundreds of millions of kilometers away. And while I realize it is an unbearable cliche, I actually do think it will be a great comfort to them that for half of the nights of the year, they will be able to look up into the night sky and say, ‘It’s okay, he’s right there, on that red dot.’ For me, it will be even easier, as Earth will be visible in my sky virtually all year round.”

Categories: Alumni News, Spotlights

Tags: alumni, award, entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership

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