2022 Thayer Investiture

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Mar 15, 2021   |   Dartmouth Engineer

—1960s—

Harris McKee ’61 Th’63: Since my retirement from those activities where I was paid, I have worked nearly as hard in volunteer activities, at one time simultaneously chairing the local Master Gardeners, the county literacy council, and Rotary Club. In all of these functions, the computer skills that began with the Thayer Royal McBee LGP-30—which we controlled with a punched paper tape—enable me to provide computer and technical support to residents in my community. I’ve also been serving as treasurer of our residents’ association, and this holiday season played Santa as we delivered thank-you mugs to our staff, who have been heroes as we have all tried to contain the effects of COVID.

Neil Drobny ’62 Th’64: In May I retired from a second career at Ohio State teaching courses related to sustainable business practices in the business college. My wife, Betty, and I moved to southwestern Michigan to live on a lake (Lake Sugarloaf a short distance south of Kalamazoo) and to be near a university (Western Michigan), where I can do some part-time teaching and student mentoring. I also continue to consult occasionally with former students on work-related projects and career moves.

Skip Stritter ’68: In 2012, a Thayer 89/90 project built a proof-of-concept device for Looma Education Co. (looma.education), then called VillageTech Solutions. The device, called Looma, is targeted to rural schools in Nepal that don’t have AC power or Internet. It is a computer plus projector plus sound system that runs on a solar-charged battery. Looma contains the Nepal government textbooks and a huge library of educational material—Wikipedia, Khan Academy, TED, and more—integrated into the curriculum. Looma has been in pilot programs in Nepal schools since 2019, and now that Nepal schools are closed with the pandemic, the government there has endorsed the Looma online version for remote learning. We now have thousands of users, teachers, and students on Looma every day in Nepal! Now there is another amazing 89/90 team working on a high-volume manufacturable version of Looma.

—1980s—

Buddy Livingstone ’81 Th’83 Th’84: As I wind down my career in communications and systems engineering (now at Science Applications International Corp.), my focus has shifted to my sons, who head to college in a year. We successfully managed a snowboarding trip to Stratton Mountain in late January just before COVID with a group of their close friends. In addition to boarding, I still play an occasional game of old-man’s league ice hockey (pre-COVID) and endeavor to read and listen to as much Irish literature and music as I can.

Kurt Egelhofer Th’84: After 32 years of working as an engineer, I retired in 2013. After graduating from Thayer I worked for 18 years with the State of Alaska as a village safe water engineer, traveling all over Alaska to help communities with their sanitation problems. It was like working in the Peace Corps, except it was within Alaska and with more funding. I designed and built a number of water and sewer systems, including a circulating water system and a vacuum sewer system in a village on permafrost. That village of 600 Native Alaskans didn’t have a single flush toilet before the project. I concluded my career at the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility, where I worked for 10 years on the management team as the director of operations and maintenance. The utility is the largest in the state, with a system that serves 300,000 people. I also served as president of the Alaska Water Wastewater Management Association and received the George Warren Fuller Award from the American Water Works Association in 2005.

My wife, Alison Smith (who received a graduate degree from Cornell while I was at Thayer), and I love to travel around Alaska and worldwide. We have spent many nights in the Alaska wilderness together and have traveled to more than 50 countries. We put our jobs on hold in 1991-92 and traveled around the world for 10 months with only our backpacks. That trip included a 175-mile trek around Annapurna in Nepal. Since retirement we have visited Africa and South America. Antarctica is the only continent we haven’t been to, but it is on our list!

Walter Colsman ’89: For the past year I have been CEO of BrightSpec Inc. BrightSpec sells molecular rotational resonance instruments, a powerful form of rotational spectroscopy with unique capabilities for determining molecular structure and quantitation straight from a mixture. I am excited by the opportunity to bring this innovation to analytical chemistry. I am finally putting my Thayer and business training to good use! Also, the Colsman household is thrilled that our oldest son, Christopher, will be in the Dartmouth Class of 2025!

—1990s—

Larry Breckenridge ’95: I majored in engineering modified with environmental science and subsequently earned an MS in environmental engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. I work as an environmental engineer working on international mining projects. In particular, I help my clients manage mine waste rock, tailings, and water so that they will be able to provide the world with essential metals without compromising the water quality (or having a tailings dam fail).

—2000s—

Brian Wong Th’00: After spending the last six years at Philips Healthcare—the last three doing finance and strategy in a small startup venture within Philips focused on infectious diseases—I am now director of business development with Sigilon Therapeutics, a cutting-edge cell therapy company based in Cambridge, Mass. Sigilon is focused on treating chronic diseases through a novel cell therapy, with its first disease targets of hemophilia A and diabetes. Familywise, my wife and I are the happy but frazzled parents of three young children.

Chuck Horrell ’00 Th’01: I just wrapped up a stint as CEO and cofounder of Akros Medical. Nick Mourlas ’92 Th’93 and Jon Thompson ’92 and I started the company a few years ago to develop a new concept for repair of syndesmosis injuries of the ankle. All the product development work took place in my garage in Durham, N.C., and after FDA approval we started getting some good market validation, leading to an acquisition by Johnson & Johnson early in 2020. It was a great outcome and solid validation that a small team with a good design can really move a market. Now I’m spending my days chasing around three kids under the age of 5 and spending any leftover free time goofing around with old airplanes and old cars. One day last week I drove a 1947 Willy’s jeep that I just finished restoring to the airfield and went for a flight in my 1941 Interstate airplane.

Steve Hallowell
Steve Hallowell ’01 Th’02 Tu’10, wife Emily, and children Claire, Teddy, and Anneke recently moved to Seattle.

Steve Hallowell ’01 Th’02 Tu’10: My family and I recently moved to Seattle, Wash., where I started a new role leading strategic services at Highspot, a software platform focused on helping sales teams be more successful. You can think of sales organizations as wildly complex human systems. In many ways, what I do on a daily basis is helping companies apply engineering rigor and discipline to how they run their customer-facing teams. We also welcomed our third child, Anneke Alice, in June. It’s been a busy year!

Renee Cottle ’07 Th’09: I am busy trying to get tenure in the department of bioengineering at Clemson University. I am also a primary investigator for a laboratory focused on cell-based gene therapy technologies and point-of-care devices to improve the lives of patients with inherited metabolic diseases. My research employs cutting-edge techniques from life sciences and bioengineering principles to solve challenging biomedical problems. I am devoted to preparing the next generation of the most capable and ethically responsible bioengineers by providing opportunities for quality research training, professional development, and outreach service activities.

Parke MacDowell ’07: I’m an architect with Payette in Boston. I established Payette’s in-house fabrication space, which leverages conventional and digitally controlled tools for wood, composites, and metals to enhance our design work. I consult on issues regarding complex geometry, scripting, and methods of full-scale fabrication and material prototyping. I continue to find value in applying the project-based, hands-on approach I experienced as an undergraduate at Dartmouth. A recent project, profiled in Modern Steel Construction magazine in the feature, “Bridging the Gap Between Designer and Builder,” captures that ethos. It’s about Northeastern’s pedestrian crossing, PedX, which opened last summer and spans five rail lines to connect campus with Boston neighborhoods, the rail and bus stations, and parking garages. I also did an interesting product-design take on resolving local pandemic-era public health issues. I worked with the COVID-19 Vulnerable Populations Task Force in Lynn, Mass., on handwashing stations to promote public health and safety, but off-the-shelf handwashing stations were not available with the necessary speed. Payette partnered with the nonprofit Beyond Walls to create stand-alone, hands-free wash stations throughout the city, enabling a return to public spaces. I designed laser-cut sheet-metal parts that flat-pack and can be simply assembled by anyone. They have implemented 35 stations in the area so far. Another recent project in Lynn responded to the challenge to safely and attractively define the boundary between street-side diners and vehicles. With the FoLD project, we developed laser-cut stainless parts that could be folded by hand and fastened with sheet metal screws.

—2010s—

Max Fagin Th’11: After five years with Made In Space, the company I joined after graduation, I have moved to Seattle to start a new job with Blue Origin, working as part of the national team designing the lunar lander for NASA’s Artemis program.

Sharang Biswas
Sharang Biswas ’12 Th’13 plays the professor in his interactive theater piece, Basic Principles of Incantation.

Sharang Biswas ’12 Th’13: Lots going on career-wise recently! Super proud of the release of Honey & Hot Wax: An Anthology of Erotic Art Games, which I coedited. Not only did it receive two grants to help us create it, but it was also nominated for a couple of awards at the International Festival of Independent Games (IndieCade). This is my second nomination at the festival—I won an award the first time for my game Feast. Max Seidman ’12 and I have been doing a lot with our interactive theater piece, Basic Principles of Incantation, sometimes with the help of Nick O’Leary ’14. The game is set in the Victorian School of Magic and is based on real linguistics, drawn from my three linguistics classes at Dartmouth. It is one of my pieces I’m most proud of! We’ve now run it as a performance at an art gallery, a game at a conference, a fully produced theatrical piece in N.Y.C., a corporate team-building experience, and, most recently, as an online theater experience during the pandemic. Right before the pandemic hit full-force, Nick O’Leary and I were commissioned by the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), in partnership with the Jim Henson Foundation, to create a site-specific, live-action roleplaying game at the MoMI for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Netflix show and traveling exhibition. It was super cool! I subsequently joined the museum as game artist in residence at the education department. Currently we’re running a series of role-playing games online.

I ran my first Kickstarter! Strange Lusts/Strange Loves: An Anthology of Erotic Interactive Fiction was 177-percent funded—and we’re excited to bring together a team of diverse writers to create sex-positive interactive fiction. We’re going to be published by the multi-award-winning magazine, Strange Horizons, and I’m excited about that. I’ve been doing a lot of game design work at the intersection of sex-positivity and games, perhaps as a natural consequence of me joining the Sexperts team while at Dartmouth!

Pauline Schmit ’13 Th’13: I recently defended my PhD thesis on viral vector engineering at Harvard and became Dr. Schmit! I’m looking forward to relaxing over the holidays as I search for biotech jobs in the Boston area.

Ian Schneider ’14 Th’14: I finished graduate school at MIT at the end of 2019. I was the first PhD graduate of the new Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. I joined Google as a data scientist last February. I am working on a few projects in support of Google’s 24x7 carbon-free energy goal, including carbon-aware computing.

Ari Koeppel
Ari Koeppel ’15 is using a NASA grant to better understand the geology of Mars.

Ari Koeppel ’15: I am a planetary scientist. Since graduating from Dartmouth and Thayer, I earned a master’s in geology from the City College of New York. I am now doing analog studies to better understand the geology of Mars as part of my PhD at Northern Arizona University. I was recently awarded a three-year grant from NASA to study how thermal emission signals can be used to diagnose the environments recorded by sediments, thus aiding in the search for habitable conditions on Mars. We know that Mars once hosted liquid water on its surface, which indicates that life may have been viable, but the timing and extent of those conditions isn’t well understood. Sediments and sedimentary rocks contain records of past environments in the form of properties like grain size—which depend on how those materials were transported—and mineral cements, which depend on the style and amount of water present. Thermal emission data is highly sensitive to these properties and can thus be used to interpret past environments from orbit.

My work aims to improve the links between specific sediment properties and trends in thermal emission data. I started with a pre-existing hexacopter setup and integrated a thermal infrared camera and a 10-band multispectral imaging system that can be controlled from a tablet. This has involved both hardware and software modifications. I also am using a suite of ground measurements—soil and air temperature and moisture sensors, temperature calibration targets, and a radiometer—that I have also had to wire and calibrate. I am taking everything to Iceland, the Southwest, and Hawaii for a series of 24-hour-a-day field campaigns. I’m targeting a wide range of settings on Earth, from cold and wet to warm and dry, in order to cast the widest reasonable net on the types of sediments that we might be able to find on Mars. Ideally, a statistically significant set of trends will emerge from the data, allowing us to make direct links between what we’re seeing in satellite imagery and what we expect surface materials to be made up of, as well as the climates they record. We have already done a couple test runs and anticipate doing our first data collection campaigns in February, pending COVID-related restrictions.

Drew Matter
Drew Matter Th’15 leads product development at Mikros Technologies.

Drew Matter Th’15: I lead new product development at Mikros Technologies, a Claremont, N.H., company that designs and manufactures microchannel liquid cooling systems for high-performance computing, A.I. systems, lasers, and other high heat-producing applications. A spin-off of Creare Inc., Mikros was born from a project with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to cool the space station in 1991. I love putting my MEM and ME degrees to work assessing new markets in a rapidly transforming computing industry, designing thermal management systems, leading teams to build prototypes, and collaborating with high-profile clients. I have been fortunate to stay connected to Thayer through involvement in the MEM Corporate Collaboration Council and student coaching. Mikros is also sponsoring a Thayer ENGS 89/90 capstone design project. My family and I have been in Hanover since coming to Thayer; we love our neighborhood here and life in the Upper Valley. We are eager to break out our Nordic skis and make the most of a beautiful New Hampshire winter.

Alexa Escalona
Alexa Escalona ’18 Th’19 and Thomas Lee Hodsden III ’18 Th’19

Alexa Escalona ’18 Th’19: I married Thomas Lee Hodsden III ’18 Th’19 October 4—six years to the day of when we first started dating—at Simon Pearce in Quechee, Vt., in a tiny ceremony that showcased all the things we love about our relationship and the time they spent at Dartmouth. We met a month into freshman year and have been inseparable ever since!

Ned Berman ’16 Th’17: I’m joining Differential Ventures in January to invest in datacentric, seed-stage startups.

Angelina DiPaolo ’17: Continuing my interest in the tech space that I gained from Thayer, I recently accepted a position as a tech investor at Premji Invest in Silicon Valley. The firm operates as a subsidiary of the Azim Premji Foundation, which educates millions of people in India. It’s extremely fulfilling work, has meaningful impact, and is funding the growth of cutting-edge tech companies that are improving the way we work and live.

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