Many talented University of Mississippi engineering graduates work in high-tech fields, including a number in the Silicon Valley area. Recently, leaders of the School of Engineering visited these alumni to bring them news from campus and to make mutually beneficial connections.
Dean Alex Cheng and Ramanarayanan “Vish” Viswanathan, chair and professor of electrical engineering, accompanied Kevin Gardner, the school’s development officer, to San Francisco, Mountain View and San Jose. The trio’s mission was to create networking opportunities not only between the school and the alumni, but also among the alumni themselves.
“We seek to explore recruitment, intern, co-op and career opportunities for our students and assistance to academic programs,” Cheng said.
With a few hundred engineering alumni scattered among the millions of people in Bay area, getting together was a challenge. Former Water Valley residents Greer Person and David Aune, who each attended Ole Miss at different times, moved through a number of places and finally met in San Francisco a few decades later. They fondly chatted about mutual hometown acquaintances.
“We held an after-work networking reception and a lunch, respectively in San Francisco and San Jose and Santa Clara,” Viswanathan said. “Alumni from most of our disciplines were represented – chemical, civil, computer and information science, electrical and mechanical engineering.”
Topics of discussion included present technology, Ole Miss engineers reconnecting, favorite professors, lab tales and longing for their next trip back to the beloved Circle. The dean also reported on the progress of the school, the promotion of a unique blend of engineering taught in a liberal arts setting, the increase in enrollment, improvement of student quality, and development of the new biomedical engineering program.
The engineering alumni also showed the group around town. Skip Saul (BS in Computer and Information Science 90 and MS 93) hosted them at Salesforce.com. Greer Person (BS in Electrical Engineering 84) took them to XILINX. Orevaoghene Addoh (BS in Electrical Engineering 11 and MS in Computer and Information Science 14) led a tour of Intel while Will Vaughan (BS 01 and MS 04 in Computer and Information Science) hosted them at LinkedIn.
Seeing demonstrations of the futuristic self-driving Google cars and a six-armed robot surgeon, the engineering leadership team was impressed by the folks at Silicon Valley, the nation’s prime location for high-tech development.
“It was a terrific experience where the engineering leadership could only merely scratch the surface in just two-and-one-half days, yet the information gathered by strengthening our relationships in the area of the latest science advances were immeasurable,” Cheng said. “We continue to look for opportunities to have our faculty and staff meet with our alumni and prospective students and this venue will be duplicated again.”
Any alumni who would like to help host School Engineering leaders in their town for an alumni gathering are invited to contact Alex Cheng at email@example.com or 662-915-7407, or Kevin Gardner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-7601.