More Than 30 Alums Return for Annual ORIE Reunion Breakfast
Among the ORIE alums attending the annual alumni breakfast this year were graduates now living in Arizona, Washington state, California, Maryland, Texas, Illinois, and Ohio as well as the northeast US. They represent a span of nearly 60 years of graduating classes, from 1950 to 2009.
|John Laibe '50 and Associate Professor Paat Rusmevichientong
John W. Laibe '50 is the former chairman of Acheson Industries, a manufacturer of electronic chemicals that later became a subsidiary of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), which is now in turn a subsidiary of Dutch conglomerate AkzoNobel. In memory of his classmate Howard A. Acheson Jr. '50, Laibe and Acheson Industries endowed the chair currently held by Professor Jack Muckstadt, the Acheson-Laibe Professor of Business Management and Leadership Studies.
|Professor Jack Muckstadt with Jim and Mary Rulmyr, following a presentation during the breakfast|
James Rulmyr '75 MIE '76 says that the ORIE breakfast is "the only thing on my 'must attend' list for the Reunion." He and his wife Mary (to whom he proposed in a canoe on Beebe Lake during the 2005 reunion) live in Southport, CT, where he is an independent consultant in corporate strategy and acquisitions, working with start-up companies, and doing "a good deal of non-profit work, which is very rewarding."
Rulmyr says that "I have used many of the skills from Cornell: cost accounting, inventory management, statistic and probability, process re-engineering." However "the biggest skill taken from ORIE is the quantitative, fact-based, analytical approach to decision making." He sees Cornell as a close knit community, and returns as often as possible. As a student, "I got to know professors on a personal level," he says. He praises ORIE for evolving the curriculum to address today's issues.
Rulmyr's classmate Steve Segien '75 (left) is President of ExxonMobil Investment Management Inc. in Texas. He is in charge of a group that invests in stocks and bonds for the Exxon Mobil's U.S. pension plan. "I personally do most of the fixed income investing using OR techniques (in particular linear programming) that I learned at Cornell," he says.
Although it is an "off year" for him, Brooke Schumm '77 came to Reunion Maryland to bring his daughter, a senior in high school, to tour the campus. "Other than the fact that no classmates I knew were present, I had more fun and at a lower price than I have had at the 'regular' Reunions," he said. As a lawyer who does some patent law, "coming back to engineering events is like returning to comfortable roots with kindred spirits," he notes. "As always, it was great to meet the faculty. I enjoyed meeting the newer members, catching up on a few stories about past members who were not there, and seeing my old adviser Jack Muckstadt."
|Sam Mallette '80 and Professor Peter Jackson
The 30th Reunion Class of 1980 was represented by Phil Leinbach, Sam Mallette and Doug Popken at the breakfast. Mallette finds the change of the "I" in ORIE to stand for Information particularly relevant to his own work. As an employee of LMI, a company with long standing Cornell roots (the late ORIE Director and Dean Andy Schultz was a founder), Mallette has been involved in analyzing Medicare managed care health plans. His organization gathers information about costs, benefits and services for the plans, analyzes it and provides feedback to Medicare management "in ways that help them make decisions about their business," he says. "Information Engineering seems to describe perfectly what I do."
Mallette and many other attendees adjourned to a nearby lecture room and "listened intently as Jack [Muckstadt] and Peter [Jackson] described to us their computer models," including a distribution game and a simulation of the outbreak of a disease such as anthrax.
|Interim Director Shane Henderson and Doug Popken '80
Popken, who also received an M.Eng. from ORIE, went on for a Ph.D. in Operations Research (OR) from Berkeley. Despite that, he says that "I have found that the Cornell Master of Engineering program provided the best background for my current career" as an independent OR consultant in Colorado. "The Ph.D. gave me the credential, but the M.Eng. program gave me many of the problem-solving skills I still use today." He particularly remembers the OR project course, which was "pretty entertaining as well. I still remember Max [emeritus professor Bill Maxwell] wearing various hats in class to portray 'real' clients whose problems we needed to solve." He recalls the transition from punched cards to new computer terminals in ORIE - "you type in a command, and immediately get a return response from a remote mainframe! Who knew that we were actually early adopters of cloud computing," he added.
Lisa Peskin Merrill '90 (right) is currently working as a Business Systems Analyst for Country Home Products, near Burlington, VT. She manages the company's Enterprise Resource Planning software - "testing new functionality, developing reports to support new business practices, etc." She reports discovering "a number of former ORIE students with similar jobs" at the reunion. She and Cornellian Doug Merrill '89 have two boys.
Seth Cochran '00, M.Eng. '01, who has been active in establishing an organization in Africa to deal with obstetric fistula, is now working with social entrepreneurship organization Ashoka to increase the effective capacity of remote health care delivery in a region of Peru. As an Ashoka Young Champion of Maternal Health (a program funded by the Gates Foundation) Cochran is paired with Ashoka Fellow Andrés Martínez Fernández in this effort. Cochran is currently doing research in Spain to learn about Martinez' approach.
|Seth Cochran '00 (right) describes his Ashoka work to classmate Jean Hu and Professors Gena Samorodnitsky and Bruce Turnbull.
According to Ashoka, Martinez is "improving the performance of rural health care systems in developing countries through creative, inexpensive telecommunication technologies and through new forms of engagement with medical professionals and university faculty." With WiFi, digitization of diagnostic devices, and solar power, they are facilitating "telemedicine for indigenous people deep in the Amazonian rain forest," Cochran says. He finds this activity "really exciting," and will orient some of the programs to maternal health, help develop a sustainability strategy, and implement the work he is researching in Spain in Loreto, a region of northern Peru that "has some of the worst maternal morbidity and mortality rates in Latin America" according to Ashoka.
Cochran's classmate Jean Hu '00 has just begun a PhD program in economics at the University Montreal. Since receiving her M.Eng., she has worked in statistical consulting and quantitative modeling in finance and in clinical research applications. "While it is exciting for us alumni to follow the university in the news as it evolves, it was great also to reminisce and reconnect with our past professors at the reunion," she says.
|Daniel Scharfman '05 and David Rimshnick '05
David Rimshnick '05 is a forecasting manager for Novo Nordisk, at the US headquarters in Princeton of the Danish pharmaceutical company. "I thought the Reunion breakfast was a great idea, and it was really nice seeing some of my professors," he says. He and fraternity brother Daniel Scharfman '05 had a "good discussion on how we might be able to build a model of real-estate rental prices," he says. The breakfast, as well as the Reunion in general, "made me of course want to return to Cornell," says Rimshnick, "but then again, nearly everything does."
|Oscar Bernal '09 and Chris Castorena '09
Among the most recent ORIE graduates attending the breakfast, Oscar Bernal '09, like Rimshnick, is working in a healthcare related position in New Jersey. He is a programmer analyst for Medco Health Solutions in Franklin Lakes. "As a young alumnus it was very interesting to attend the breakfast and get to hear from people who graduated in various years before me," Bernal says. "To see how ORIE has developed through its history and hear about the various areas to which our skills have been applied is exciting."