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

Thayer Notes


Tom Brady ’66 Th’68: I have several restored cars, and estimate I have at least 10,000 hours of my time in this hobby, which I began 15 years ago when my last child graduated from college. I have stepped back some from running the Plastic Technologies Inc. (PTI) companies, so I do have a bit more time than I did 15 years ago, when I began to seriously restore cars in my garage. When we built our home 15 years ago, I treated myself to a shop and garage that I could only dream about while we were raising three kids and I was starting four companies! However, today I can park seven cars in my garage (using two parking lifts) and drive from my garage directly into my woodworking and auto mechanics shop, where I have a working lift, complete hardware store, separate heating and ventilation system, and a view of the lake in back of our house.

Although I remain chairman of the PTI companies, I am actually working only about half time. My focus has shifted from plastics packaging to education. I spent two years at the University of Toledo (UT) as the interim dean of education, beginning in 2009, which put me in a perfect position to spend my extra time these days helping to change the educational paradigm from pre-kindergarten through college. I am on the governance board for the Toledo School for the Arts, a charter school, and I chair the governance board for Toledo Early College, a magnet school. I sit on the Toledo public school superintendent’s business advisory board, focusing on expanding career tech education and instituting universal pre-kindergarten opportunities for all urban families. I am also involved in Students First Ohio and serve on the board for Lourdes University, the advisory board of the UT College of Engineering, and the board of UT’s Rocket Innovations, a nonprofit that focuses on startup companies requiring university support.

Tom Brady Thayer Notes
Tom Brady ’66 Th’68 and his wife, Betsy. Photograph courtesy of Tom Brady.

Whenever I speak publicly I tell the story of how I got my first taste of entrepreneurship in my ES 21: Introduction to Engineering class back in 1963, and how I have helped to replicate that model here at the UT’s College of Engineering, where my wife, Betsy, and I have endowed the Freshman Entrepreneurship Program and have funded the Engineering Innovation Center.



Steve Askey ’76 Th’77: I am still an independent contractor with BHP Billiton in Houston, Texas (have been since July 2010), as a quality assurance engineer handling intelligent down-hole tools and measuring devices, directional drilling, logging, and other duties as required. It is currently a global role, although the recent oil price decline has shifted some of my duties from our shale plays back to deepwater. I am attempting to fully retire, but all I’ve managed is a two-week on, two-off rotation from our place in Florida. My wife and I bought an old house in Ormond Beach last year. Still playing guitar. I managed to hook up with some guys and form a band in Ormond. Our first gig, in January, went well, so there is a plan for life after full retirement.

Hal Greeley Th’77: After graduation I worked as director of a neurophysiology research lab at the Dartmouth Medical School and then as a biophysicist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in White River Junction, Vt. Through the years I have been working at Upper Valley companies involved in engineering research and development, chiefly in the bioengineering realm. This culminated in 2005, when I started a one-man shop (Response Applications) to recruit collaborators on a case-by-case basis as the need for specific outside expertise arises. This eliminates labor overhead and has allowed me to work with great folks at places such as Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Massachusetts. Currently, I’m excited to be working with the Center for the Translation of Rehabilitation Engineering Advances and Technology (TREAT), which has strong Thayer School connections.

These experiences foster my belief in the power of crosstalk between people with different areas of expertise. However, as project director in many cases, it’s been my responsibility for eventual success or failure. I strongly believe that my Thayer experience had given me the self-confidence that this requires. I think about advice from my graduate advisor, John Strohbehn, when I would tell him that I had hit a dead end and was hoping that he would guide me along to the right solution. He usually just said, “Well it sounds like you’re going to have to think of something clever.” I think that he was telling me that there are fewer dead ends if you just have confidence in your abilities.



Ralph “Buz” Wright Th’84: I went to medical school after Dartmouth and went into radiation oncology. I work in Denver for Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers at St. Anthony Hospital.



Andrea Korber ’98: I was an undergraduate engineering major modified with studio art, and went on to the Harvard Graduate School of Design, earning a master of architecture in 2002. While I was at Dartmouth I was on the alpine women’s ski team. That passion for skiing carried me to Aspen, Colo., and I became a partner with Land+Shelter Architects in 2014. Our team of nine architects enjoys design brainstorming together and building a firm with passion for design. I’m currently working on a portfolio of sustainable projects, including a state-of-the-art equestrian center in Snowmass, Colo. I enjoy keeping in touch with my Dartmouth friends and would love to go for a run (skiing or sneakers, really) with anyone who’s visiting Aspen. Give me a shout at



David Black-Schaffer Thayer Notes
David Black-Schaffer ’00. Photograph courtesy of David Black-Schaffer.

David Black-Schaffer ’00: During the past five years I have been working my way through to a tenured associate professor position in computer science at Uppsala University, Sweden. Currently, I split my time between leading a growing research group and developing innovative tools and pedagogy to support active learning. My research group consists of five Ph.D. students and a few postdocs working on energy-efficient computer architecture and programming systems. We collaborate with industrial and academic partners in Sweden and across Europe and are in active discussions with several U.S.-based companies about licensing our research designs. We are constantly looking for exceptional Ph.D. and postdoc candidates (see my webpage).

I also have been leading a team to develop next-generation active learning tools to support flipped classroom teaching. Our goal is to help teachers replace passive lecturing with interactive online preparation and active in-class learning. We have developed a tool that provides interactive online material to help prepare students for class, and learning analytics to help teachers understand where their students need more help and how to bring that knowledge into the classroom. Our tools are used by thousands of students across Northern Europe and around the world. We are currently working with a range of teachers across the sciences, engineering, humanities, and high school level to learn how we can best support active learning across different disciplines.

Our next big push is to better assist teachers to collaborate on course development. We are always looking for energetic teachers who want to improve their students’ learning through flipped/active/just-in-time teaching.

Dominic Germana ’01 Th’02: My wife (a Dartmouth ’99) and our twin four-year-old boys are enjoying life in the Triangle region of North Carolina. In February we took the boys to Hanover for Winter Carnival to give them a taste of real winter.

Nearly two years ago I took the plunge and started a product development consulting firm called Impact Embedded, LLC. We specialize in hardware and firmware development for custom embedded systems and provide full-spectrum electrical, software, and mechanical integrated development as well. I’m so happy that I decided to go into business for myself. It has been truly fulfilling to help a variety of organizations both local and remote to develop new prototypes and products.

Afua Amoah Djimi Thayer Notes
Afua Amoah Djimi Th’06. Photograph courtesy of Afua Amoah Djimi.

Afua Amoah Djimi Th’06: After Dartmouth I never worked as an engineer, but my engineering degree has allowed me to move seamlessly throughout my professional career, and I very happy to have done what I did. I am a senior associate at Black Rhino, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, involved in reviewing and evaluating appropriate projects as they relate to the company’s proposed and existing projects. I am also responsible for working with third-party public and private funding sources to create financing solutions for development projects. I earned my M.B.A. from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and before joining Black Rhino I worked with Barclays Africa in the project finance group. Prior to that, I worked as an investment banker at Deutsche Bank AG in London and New York.


Brooks Smith ’08 Th’09: On September 23, after six months and two days of backpacking, I summited Mount Katahdin and completed my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. It was interesting going through Hanover as a thru-hiker; despite my many years there I had never noticed all those white blazes going down Main Street!

Brooks Smith Thayer Notes
Brooks Smith ’08 Th’09 poses on Mount Katahdin. Photograph courtesy of Brooks Smith.

Right now, I’m writing this email while en route with a one-way ticket to Australia! They have a shortage of engineers Down Under, and make it very easy for engineering graduates to get an 18-month work visa without having a sponsor. Whether I stay there or not, I don’t know—but it’ll be a great adventure no matter what!

Kristen Barnico Th’09: In August I married Bob D’Angelo ’08 Th’09 ’10 in Hanover. It was so special to celebrate where we met in 2009 at the Thayer School. The ceremony was at Aquinas House and the reception at Occom Pond. We both worked as engineers, but I’m finishing my M.B.A. at Yale and Bob is in medical school at the University of Connecticut.

Barnico D'Angelo Wedding Thayer Notes
Kristen Barnico Th’09 and Bob D’Angelo ’08 Th’09 ’10 celebrated their wedding at Thayer School. Photograph courtesy of Kristen Barnico.

Kyle Sherry ’09 Th’10: I recently moved to Rochester, N.Y., to take a position as a process engineer at Novomer after three years working in biofuels in Boston. We’re developing a novel process that’s cheaper and greener than the existing routes to manufacture acrylic acid, a commodity chemical used in a variety of applications. It’s an exciting change!

Phil Wagner ’09: I am head coach of a robotics team for middle-schoolers in Longmont, Colo., and the team just wrapped up an excellent season. They competed in the F.I.R.S.T. LEGO League, a nationwide competition that has students build autonomous LEGO robots and develop a research project.

Phi Wagner Thayer Notes
Phil Wagner ’09 and his middle-school robotics team. Photograph courtesy of Phil Wagner.

Our team, the Pink Pony Pirates, is based in Casa de la Esperanza, a learning center for immigrant families in Longmont. This year they set a new record for the Casa program by taking second place overall at the regional tournament out of a field of 26 teams! They went on to the state championship, competing against the best 70 teams in the state. They put in a ton of great work and their robot finished 30th overall.

In my engineering life, I am working as a process development engineer for OPXbio, a biotech company in Boulder.



Lauren Alpeyrie ’10: In April 2014 I left L.E.K. Consulting and moved to San Francisco to work for Google’s people operations as an analyst in a team nicknamed “Quantified HR.” I serve as an internal consultant and perform large-scale data analysis to keep Google’s growing hiring operations flowing smoothly. Last August I was sent by Google as a first-time attendee of the Grace Hopper Conference, which is the biggest women in computing conference in the world. I highly recommend the experience to any students and alums!

Caitlin Johnson ’10: I am student teaching—physics and engineering!—at Boston Green Academy in Brighton, Mass. I love it!

Jeff Forsyth Th’11: I recently transitioned to a position at Globus Medical in Andover, Mass., working as senior software engineer on our robotics system. This product has the potential to improve patient care by allowing surgeons to place spinal implants (screws) with greater accuracy and precision than is possible today. I am excited to hear that Dartmouth recently launched its Center for Surgical Innovation under Dr. Keith Paulsen Th’84—this program will be great for the students at Thayer.

Tim Harsch ’11: I cofounded Owler with Jim Fowler and Rajan Madhavan. (I interned at their previous company, Jigsaw, which is now under Salesforce.) Owler is a competitive intelligence tracking company. We track more than 4 million companies around the world to allow people to stay up-to-date on their competitors, clients, partners, and sales prospects and always know when there is a big news event, acquisition, leadership team change, or round of funding at any company they follow. We also show members how they compare against their closest competition. I lead the product team. It’s been an incredible learning experience seeing the company grow from just us to more than 100 employees! Since our development team is in India, I’ve traveled to Coimbatore numerous times.

Tim Harsch Thayer Notes
Tim Harsch ’11 (middle row, third from left) has cofounded Owler, a competitive intelligence tracking based company in Silicone Valley, with a development team in Coimbatore, India. Photograph courtesy of Tim Harsch.

Thayer has been instrumental in my approach to problem solving and being able to analyze situations across disciplines (ranging from finance to user retention analysis). The technical background and ability to code has also made it easy to integrate with a top-notch engineering team and be able to dive into the details of exactly how we are going to solve big engineering problems. None of this would have happened without the incredible alumni network and my introduction to Jigsaw by Jeff Crowe ’78 many years ago. With that on my mind, we’ve had a number of ’13, ’14, and now ’15 interns, with one now a full-time employee! Looking forward to making it to Hanover soon!

Derrick Kuan Thayer Notes
Derrick Kuan Th’11 and Alexandra Blackstone Th’10. Photograph courtesy of Derrick Kuan.

Derrick Kuan Th’11: After graduating with an M.E.M. in 2011, I am now working as a product manager at Activision Blizzard, a video game company, specifically for the Skylanders brand, which combines video gaming with physical toys. My engineering degrees have proved useful in this role, as physical toys require an understanding of design and high-volume tooling. Part of my team’s role is to ensure that the amazing innovations our studios come up with are cost-effective and executable. I work closely with our toy designers and have even had the chance to design a few special, limited-edition toys myself. Taking some of my learnings from Thayer, I have also created optimization models, learned in Dr. Ian Baker’s course, to determine which toys we release in each “wave” in order to maximize variety while satisfying production constraints. I am also dating Alexandra Blackstone Th’10, and we are both living in Santa Monica, Calif., with our bearded dragon Orlando and new puppy Penny!

Sharang Biswas ’12 Th’13: I’m graduating in May from the interdisciplinary telecom master’s program (ITP) at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. My program combines art, technology and design to foster innovation. I’m interested in how technology can enhance theatrical or performative storytelling. Last summer I created a multimedia, interactive theatrical experience (featuring elements of improvisation and role-play) called Treason that was exhibited at the Brick Theatre in Brooklyn. Following that I was part of a project to create a technology-driven immersive haunted house experience at NYU, where participants were taken on a journey through the land of the dead. Now I’m working with technologists, dancers, and scenic designers on a show that explores the inevitability of the future and our efforts to come to terms with it. I’m trying to embrace the liberal arts spirit of Dartmouth, combining things I learned at Thayer and the rest of the College with what I’m learning at Tisch and trying to figure out what to do after graduation. I also just became a board member for the Dartmouth Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Alumni Association as a way of keeping in touch with the College and with queer issues.

Amir Golnabi Thayer Notes
Amir Golnabi Th’12 has joined the department of mathematical sciences at Montclair State University. Photograph courtesy of Amir Golnabi.

Amir Golnabi Th’12: In August I completed my postdoctoral training at Mass General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and joined the department of mathematical sciences at Montclair State University as a tenure-track assistant professor. At Thayer I shared in earning the Sylvia Sorkin Greenfield Award for the Best Paper Published in Medical Physics, 2013. My research interests include mathematical modeling, numerical methods, inverse problems, medical image processing, and image reconstruction algorithms.

William Derdeyn ’13: I work for Abengoa Bioenergy at one of the first commercial cellulosic ethanol plants, in Hugoton, Kan. We produced cellulosic sugars as of the end of 2014 and will soon start production of ethanol. My job is shift supervisor, so I oversee all operations activities during a 12-hour shift.

Annabel Frank ’13: I am a first-year student at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. My education at Thayer was invaluable to my development as a self-directed learner and continues to be a real asset. Having a solid foundation in the mathematics underlying statistics and systems science is excellent preparation for medicine, with direct application to courses such as biochemistry, pharmacology, epidemiology, and more. I have Thayer to thank for my comfort level with research design and biomedical technology. The opportunity to take medical imaging with Dr. Brian Pogue as a capstone course my senior year was a real privilege. Regardless of whether I am using technology in the operating room, developing improved drugs, or interpreting clinical data, I will always have an engineering perspective with me.

Scott Lacy Thayer Notes
Scott Lacy ’13 Th’13 is designing a cryogenic, ultra-high vacuum-compatible, multi-axis positioning system. Photograph courtesy of Scott Lacy.

Scott Lacy ’13 Th’13: I work in Jackson, Wyo., for Square One Systems Design as a mechanical design contract engineer on precision positioning systems and robotic automation. I am designing a cryogenic, ultra-high vacuum-compatible, multi-axis positioning system under a U.S. Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research contract. The current task is sourcing and testing various linear actuators for cryo-vac compatibility as well as designing and simulating full systems in cryo temps (less than 70° K), using finite element analysis. From writing proposals and research to building relationships with vendors and outside experts, to design and analysis, to manufacture, to prototype iteration, to final products—I get to see the project from all sides and from start to finish, something Thayer prepared me for.

Alfredo Velasco ’13: I’m in a Ph.D. program in computer engineering at Duke University. I’m collaborating with information theorists to encode information in new ways to address the physical limitations of new memory technologies, such as phase-change memory (PCM). PCM is a new type of resistive memory where each memory cell is no longer a floating gate transistor or a capacitor but a small amount of material that can be in a highly resistive state (amorphous) or in a lower resistive/conducting state (crystalline). The phase of the material is programmed by heating the material with varying amplitude and duration bursts of current. In PCM we use the resistance in each cell to save bits as opposed to charge in dynamic random-access or flash memory. As PCM is scaled and the cells are placed closer together, the programming of a cell may partially change the state of a neighboring cell, resulting in a programming error or an unintended bit flip. We are working on encoding the bits to be written in a way that will prevent patterns that are susceptible to these bit flips. I’m also keeping up with my guitar playing and want to set up a workshop and start making guitars and furniture again, like I used to do at Dartmouth.

Natalie Afonina Thayer Notes
Natalie Afonina Th’14, left, traveled to Alaska to collect ice cores. Photograph courtesy of Natalie Afonina.

Natalie Afonina Th’14: I’m at Thayer pursuing a master’s in materials science. Recently the ENGS 21 project I worked on two years ago—Ice Core Extraction while Maintaining In-Situ Temperature Transitions (ICE-MITT)—was deployed to Barrow, Alaska, by Professor Rachel Obbard Th’06 and her research team. They collected 20 meters of ice cores from 10 sites, stored them in ICE-MITTs,  and then drove back through Canada and the northern states doing outreach at several schools about the project. I joined Professor Obbard’s group in Alaska for a week of fieldwork. The ICE-MITTs did their job, keeping the ice cores at their temperature gradient.

Categories: Alumni News, Thayer Notes

Tags: alumni, career, entrepreneurship, faculty, innovation, M.E.M., research

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