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

Thayer Notes


Ron Read ’57, Th’58: Twenty-five years ago I started as director of engineering with ITT Industries. I had worked in other companies (Bendix, Midland-Ross, Swedlow, and Vickers) with a multitude of organizational cultures and management styles, but was never trained in how to manage others. With 30 years of work experience as I started with ITT, I decided to try teaching engineers how to manage. Often good engineers are perceived as potential managers but are never trained in how to be effective managers. My first challenge was to find a teaching venue.

Ron Read and EPD
Ron Read ’57 Th’58, second from right, was recognized by the Engineering Professional Development (EPD) department of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, for “25 years of distinguished teaching service.” EPD program director Tom Smith ’67 is on the left. Photograph courtesy of Ron Read.

I had some experience with the Engineering Professional Development (EPD) department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I have a good friend, Ken Ragland ’57 Th’58, who was head of the mechanical engineering department there. I told Ken of my idea for a course for engineers working in industry, and he helped me get on board with EPD. I started teaching a three-day workshop on vacation time from ITT. The class grew in popularity and a few years later, the UCLA Extension asked me to teach in its technical management program. I retired in 2001 after 10 years at ITT, but continued to teach at EPD and UCLA and still do today. I’ve taught more than 5,000 engineers and conducted on-site sessions at 30 organizations globally. Last September EPD recognized my “25 years of distinguished teaching service” with an award presented by Dr. Phil O’Leary, EPD department chairman, and EPD program director Tom Smith ’67, and assistant Gail Geib.


Neil Drobny ’62 Th’64: I became an academic after 35 years of environmental engineering consulting, primarily with large companies. I teach sustainable business practices in the business college at Ohio State. My consulting experience led me to conclude that getting a decisive grip on environmental issues was primarily a business issue, so I decided to change my focus to the next generation of CEOs rather than the incumbents (at the time I made my change 12 years ago), whose interests at best seemed to be in slow, incremental change. My courses are oversubscribed and a new campus-wide major in sustainability, which I led at Ohio State in its formative years, has become the fastest growing major on campus. I think my engineering education at Thayer was a great foundation for what I am doing now.

John Clayton Kunz ’65 Th’66: I retired a year ago after 25 years of teaching and doing research at Stanford in the area of design and management of projects in civil engineering. I still work with some students and participate in one of the ongoing programs I created—which was based on a class I taught for undergrads and master’s students on multidisciplinary modeling analysis of civil engineering projects. Students interviewed project teams around the world; built and analyzed computer models of the physical project, the design-construction teams, and the processes used by those teams to design and build their projects; and then interrelated the product, organization, and process designs, analyses, and measured project performance. Sponsoring companies saw what the students did, working part-time, and wondered how they could do it. With a partner, I started teaching a version of the class for professionals, which now has brought these new methods to hundreds of professionals in many countries around the world. I continue to work with this program and the students as they apply their new skills.

The emeritus position I have now gives me the opportunity to continue some level of engagement, which is rewarding and fun but gives enough time for family, mountain biking, travel and some general free time. Prior to returning to the university, I had worked in the medical community and then in Silicon Valley in the software industry at a couple of startups. I distinctly remember hearing often at Thayer that engineering gives one the opportunity to make things that help people and society. I thought often of that inspiration as, through the years, I traveled across the world to visit project offices in different industries and listen to them and help them use some of the things I had helped to create.


Steve Askey ’76 Th’77: Due to cost cutting in the oil industry, I am now retired as of October 1 (again—the first time was from Schlumberger in 2010 for about three months). I had been working as a quality-assurance engineer for BHP Billiton for the last five years, as a part-time rotating contractor for the last year and a half between my home in Ormond Beach, Fla., and the office in Houston, Texas. The potential is there for ad hoc work as the industry improves, but a full-time job is not really of interest! I’m busy working on this old house, visiting friends not seen in awhile, and playing lead guitar in an old-guy rock band. I’m gigging in Daytona Beach and surrounds at biker bars, so probably not in engineering anymore.

Steve Arcone Th’77: I started and am now steering the science within a robot radar project, jointly funded by the National Science Foundation, Dartmouth, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), and the University of Maine, to map crevasses and understand ice dynamics in a very dangerous area of Antarctica regularly traversed to haul fuel to the South Pole Research Station. We have just completed a second successful year of surveying using Dartmouth’s Yeti robot, my radar equipment, and GPS expertise from the University of Maine. We already have one publication. Key personnel are myself and Dr. Jim Lever of CRREL, Professor Laura Ray at Thayer, and Professors Gordon Hamilton and Peter Koons of Maine. There are two graduate students involved, much undergraduate help from Dartmouth and Worcester Polytech, and non-funded support from Sandia Laboratories. The spectacular results include remote operation of the robot over 28 square kilometers, perfect navigation over a grid that covers the area, and the discovery and imaging of crevasses 160 meters deep in marine ice that has frozen to the bottom of the ice shelf. And we have not had any accidents!


Kaya Kazmirci ’84: I am presently offering cybersecurity and information technology (IT) governance services. I have spent much of the past year consulting with regulators in Turkey and Mongolia, working on developing IT regulatory frameworks and training the regulatory teams. I presented a paper, “Developing Continuous Regulatory IT Audit Approaches,” at the Information Systems Audit and Control Association’s European conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, on November 9, 2015. The paper is a synopsis of the work that I have done in developing IT control approaches, and includes a principal and framework-based approach to controlling IT so as to ensure that it delivers the services that it is supposed to.

Joe Frankhouse ’85: After graduation I tried a job as a thermal systems engineer in Cambridge, Mass., and decided it wasn’t for me. So I went with my Plan B, which was medical school. I went to Emory School of Medicine, then the University of Southern California for residency, and now I am a gastrointestinal surgeon in Portland, Ore.


Doris Martínez ’91: With my background in materials and numerical methods, I began developing 3-D animation effects for my husband’s commercials productions in 1993. From then on, we built our own production company, Metro Studio, with more than 4,000 TV commercials, branded content, award-winning short films, and documentaries under our belt. I took many of the MEM classes, which, combined with my undergraduate background and further education, allowed us to build a strong, well-managed, profitable company. Of course, my husband’s talent has a lot to do with our success. I thank my education at Thayer for showing me there is no engineering without a sound financial footing. It is no coincidence that Thayer is next to Tuck—which is a daily reminder throughout the years spent at Thayer of this very important fact of life.

Qi Wang ’97: I am the head of global advisory and the CEO of the Hong Kong subsidiary of MegaTrust Investments. I am responsible for creating customized research and solutions for global institutional investors. MegaTrust is a boutique asset management firm specializing in China A-shares (domestic Chinese stocks). The company was established in 2007 and has approximately $400 million under management. Prior to joining MegaTrust, I was the head of China Equity Research at MSCI Inc., a global index and analytics tool provider.


Brian Mason
After 10 years at IDEO, Brian Mason ’03 Th’04 ’05, pictured with wife Jocelyn ’05 and kids Lynn and Peter, transitioned to a consumer medical device startup that is part of ExploraMed. Photograph courtesy of Brain Mason.

Brian Mason ’03 Th’04 ’05: My wife, Jocelyn Mason ’05, and I have had an exciting 2015. After 10 years at IDEO, I transitioned to a local consumer medical device startup that is part of ExploraMed. I am helping lead the R&D team to rapidly launch a product in the coming year. It is thrilling. I am flexing my engineering muscles every day as we build prototypes, test electromechanical assemblies, iterate the product in the clinic, and get geared up for high-volume manufacturing. In family news, Jocelyn and I have our hands full with Lynn, 4, and Peter, 1, at home. It is such a joy to tinker together in the garage, bike around Palo Alto, Calif., or clean Cheerios off the floor.

Daniel Hassouni ’05 Th’06: Last year, my wife, Sarah Isbey ’08, and I moved to Denver after having spent our entire lives on the East Coast. More recently, I started working at Yes Energy in Boulder, Colo., this past summer as a senior application developer. Yes Energy makes an electronic analytics platform for utilities and traders involved in the North American electricity markets. Prior to this new role, I had spent nine years as a trader and analyst in the power and gas markets. So, while I am taking on new technical challenges, I am thrilled that I am still able to apply my market knowledge in my new role. When we are not working, we love to explore Colorado’s many mountains, whether it be hiking and trail running in the summer or skiing in the winter. We also took an unbelievable trip to Alaska in September. We highly recommend it!

Erik Johnson ’06 Th’11: I have remained in engineering and in 2013 started a company named Synticos LLC with Thayer Professor Emeritus Robert Dean. Our board of directors includes Dick Couch ’64 Th’65 and Professor Sol Diamond ’97 Th’98, as well as business expert and entrepreneurial advisor Robert McCray. We are making the world’s first low-pressure, abrasive water jet-cutting system, called a slurry jet cutter, that utilizes a proprietary high-efficiency, extended-life nozzle design to accelerate a pressurized abrasive slurry (think shampoo with fine sand in suspension) into a high-velocity jet that is capable of cutting all materials (plastic, metal, composites, ceramic). The high efficiency of our nozzle allows us to cut at only 6,000 psi, compared to the abrasive water jet industry standards of 60,000 to 90,000 psi. This 90-percent reduction in system pressure allows us to use lower-cost components, including many off-the-shelf hydraulic parts, and to provide a machine that meets both the cost and performance needs of job shops around the world. Currently, Synticos is fundraising to support the completion of the prototype system and to launch the first production machines in 2016. In other news, I have a 15-month-old named Lachlan, who is a total hoot and loves playing in slurry (at the beach).

Peng Wang Th’09: The biggest news in my life is I am a father now! My baby girl came to the world on September 20, 2015. My wife, Yihan Hao ’08, and I are so excited and proud to become parents. The year 2015 was also a key year for my career development. I am now a vice president at CDB Capital, one of the largest private equity funds in China.


Max Fagin Th’11: I finished my MS in aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue University, with a focus on entry, descent, and landing systems for crewed Mars spacecraft. I worked for SpaceX, certifying the Falcon 9 rocket for launching U.S. Air Force payloads, and for Made In Space, sending the first space-rated 3-D printer to the International Space Station.

Alison Stace-Naughton ’11 Th’13: Washington, D.C., is great! I love working at the State Department and enjoy the bridge between technical and diplomatic-interpersonal work.

Deidra Willis
Deidra Willis ’13 Th’13 was promoted to systems engineer II with General Mills and is the engineer for Fruit by the Foot. Photograph courtesy of Deidra Willis.

Deidra Willis ’13 Th’13: I was recently promoted to systems engineer II with General Mills. I have since moved to one of our largest manufacturing plants, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and am currently the engineer for Fruit by the Foot. I live in Iowa City. Previously, I was a manufacturing engineering associate at the General Mills plant in Vineland, N.J., where we made Progresso soup. As a systems engineer, my focus is making sure we have control over anything that interacts with my system—people, ingredients, or products and the equipment itself. There is a lot of future state planning, ideation, and long-term or capital project work that goes into my day to day as well. Each day is never the same—which I love. I could be starting up a new product or flavor for Fruit by the Foot or trying new equipment or modifications to what we have. My role stresses technical knowledge and depth and relies on my influence and leadership skills to be a resource for others on my team. Reaching that level of expertise and building relationships while delivering results is my biggest challenge.

Allison Brinley Beck Th’14: I am living in Salt Lake City, Utah, bought a 100-year-old Tudor house down in Salt Lake, and just finished renovating it. I’m working as an environmental engineer for CH2M, primarily in air-quality compliance for federal clients, and I’m loving my job and my team, even on the crazy days! Spending lots of time playing in the Wasatch-Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Stefan Deutsch ’14 Th’15: I’m currently serving as an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps team leader based out of Denver. We (my team of 10 young adults and I) are traveling around the southwestern United States to work on community service projects with a variety of nonprofits. I’m taking a break from engineering for now, but looking to apply to graduate programs for next year.

Stefan Deutsch
Stefan Deutsch ’14 Th’15, back row, second from right, is currently serving as an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps team leader. Photograph courtesy of Stefan Deutsch.

Sarah Hammer ’15 Th’15: I am currently pursuing a PhD in chemical and biological engineering at Princeton University. I just began this past fall and am currently taking classes. I will be choosing a research advisor this winter and beginning my PhD research! I’m hoping to work on the metabolic engineering of yeast for the production of alternative fuels and renewable chemicals.

Evan Landau ’15: During the summer I started working at Horizon Media on the mobile strategy team. Horizon is a media and marketing agency in Tribeca, N.Y.C. I’ve been able to bring a scientific and engineering perspective to a lot of business practices and have spent a lot of time researching the tech that goes into mobile advertising. While I’m not currently in engineering, it’s not out of the question for the future.

Categories: Alumni News, Thayer Notes

Tags: alumni, entrepreneurship, faculty

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