ORIE Reunion Breakfast Draws Enthusiastic Alums
|Al Blumstein, Ph.D. '60 and emeritus ORIE professor Bill Maxwell, Ph.D. '61
Alfred Blumstein came to Ithaca for his 60th reunion of his '51 Cornell engineering physics class. During the reunion he joined graduates from several ORIE classes at the annual ORIE reunion breakfast. Blumstein, the J. Erik Jonsson University Professor of Urban Systems and Operations Research and former Dean of the Heinz School at Carnegie Mellon University, was the third person to receive a Ph.D. from ORIE, in 1960 (Richard Conway and Salah Elmaghraby were awarded the degree in 1958).
Blumstein is a nationally recognized expert on criminal justice phenomena and policy, including crime measurement, criminal careers, sentencing, deterrence and incapacitation, prison populations, flow through the system, demographic trends, juvenile violence and drug-enforcement policy. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently tapped him to chair the Science Advisory Board for the Office of Justice Programs in the Department of Justice.
The most recent ORIE graduate to attend the breakfast, Yu Zhang, had received his Master of Engineering degree two weeks earlier and has now embarked on studies towards a Ph.D. in statistics and operations research at the University of North Carolina. Zhang majored in mathematics at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, a degree which "is a good background but it was hard for me to know how to apply it in real life. Operations research gave me such a chance." As for the breakfast, "it is great to see so many alumni here," he said.
College of Engineering Dean Lance Collins (at right, above) and ORIE Director Adrian Lewis addressed the group. Collins was previously Director of the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell. He expressed enthusiasm for the work done in ORIE, noting that has learned a great deal about it in his first year as dean. He also talked about Cornell's efforts in competing to open a new engineering campus in New York City. Lewis discussed the ORIE strategic plan, including the intention to expand the Ph.D. program, and responded to questions about it. Their talks were "both concise and wonderful," said Zhang. Shannon Retzke '01 said "we were also lucky to be able to chat with Adrian, who is most engaging, before his speech."
Blumstein and Zhang were among the more than two dozen ORIE alumni who came out for the breakfast. Profiles of others, organized below by undergraduate class, provide a sample of the wide variety of careers open to ORIE graduates.
Class of 1966
|Gene Lutz and Larry Eisen
Gene Lutz, Lawrence Eisen and Charles Weiss returned for their 45th reunion. Lutz, who lives in Wilton CT, also received M.Eng. and MBA degrees from Cornell. He is a global alliance executive at IBM, working with enterprise infrastructure company Rocket Software. Eisen, who also completed an ORIE M.Eng., is president of FIP Graphics in Hackensack, NJ. Weiss, who came to the reunion from Atherton CA, is a senior director for product strategy at Oracle.
Class of 1971
|Professor Sid Resnick and Cliff Essman
Michael Kubin and Cliff Essman attended from the class of 1971. Kubin is a frequent speaker at Cornell's Enterprise Engineering Coloquium, where he talks his work on targeted television advertising. Essman is a psychologist in Owings, Mills, Maryland. "I can say that the undergraduate ORIE program did make it easy for me to handle the statistics and research design requirements of the Ph.D. program I attended at Penn State," he noted.
Class of 1976
|Joe Colosi and Russ Rushmeier
Joseph Colosi, Russell Rushmeier, Joel Shprentz, and John Taussig represented the 35th reunion class. Colosi also has an M.Eng. degree from ORIE. He lives in Newark DE and is an IT manager at Dupont. Rushmeier, who has a Ph.D. from ORIE in addition to his BS and MS degrees, recently returned to academia as a professor of mathematics at the Coast Guard Academy after a career at US Airways and other companies. His wife Holly, who has BS, MS and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from Cornell , also attended the breakfast. She teaches and conducts research in computer graphics and is chair of computer science at Yale. They live in Old Saybrook CT.
Shprentz, who lives in Reston VA, is a synthetic systems specialist at Northrop Grumman. Taussig is a vice president at aerospace supplier Goodrich, and lives in Farmington CT.
Class of 1981
|Bill Wiberg and Professor Shane Hendersn
Bill Wiberg, Scott Falconer and Eric Laub from the class of 1981 attended the breakfast. Wiberg is a general partner of Advanced Technology Ventures, a venture capital firm specializing in early stage investments in emerging growth companies, where he is the lead partner for investments in the "cleantech" sector. He spent 19 years at Lucent Technologies, where he
|Eric Laub, Professor Jack Muckstadt, Yu Zhang and Scott Falconer
In 2008 Falconer was named executive vice president for customer management and product development at Nutrisystems. He previously worked for AOL, Virgin Media, AirTouch, Booz & Company, and Goldman Sachs. Laub is the principal of Pragmatic Inc., an operations consulting company he founded 20 years ago after working for Procter & Gamble and other organizations. He holds an M.Eng. degree from ORIE in addition to his BS.
Class of 1986
|Adrian Lewis and Mike Latta
Back for their 25th undergraduate reunion were Michael Latta, Jr., of Clayton MO and John Saliling. Latta is chairman of Universe Corporation, a fabricator and distributor of cladding construction systems such as have been used in several of Cornell's newer buildings. Saliling came to the reunion from Singapore, where he has been CEO of investment firm North Asia Strategic Holdings since 2008. Both Latta and Saliling hold MBA and ORIE M.Eng. degrees from Cornell in addition to their undergrad engineering degrees.
Class of 1996
Joshua Babbitt, from the ORIE class of 1996, lives in New York and is the general counsel for an owner, developer and manager of boutique hotels. "Although I am not using my ORIE skills daily," he said, the degree "was definitely a great preparation for law school and the daily challenges that I am confronted with in my current job." He also received an MS from ORIE. His classmate Allison Davis also lives in New York, working as a transport planner for Arup, an engineering, design and planning firm. "I really appreciate whomever put the ORIE breakfast together," she said. "It was a great way to reconnect with professors (and TAs who are now professors) and hear what is happening on the hill."
|Professor Peter Jackson with Josh Babbitt, Chetna Bansal and Allison Davis
Other attendees from '96 include Chetna Bansal and Robert Wininger, both of whom continued on to the Master of Engineering program. Bansal is an associate partner at Rosetta Marketing Group, co-founded by ORIE alumnus Kurt Holstein '82 and recently acquired by Publicis Groupe. "I believe my ORIE degree helped me learn the skills to break down any business problem across any industry, identify solutions, and develop recommendations that are compelling," she said, "and to do this while working on a team which leverages one another's strengths and recognizes that each person brings his or her own unique contribution to the team."
Bansal also holds an M.Eng. from ORIE. Although she has been coming back to Cornell for several years as a guest lecturer at the Johnson Graduate School of Management, the breakfast was Bansal's first time connecting with the department since her graduation. As a result of the breakfast, she is now hoping to give talks to ORIE students as well.
Wininger is vice president for human capital technology strategy and management at Goldman Sachs, having worked previously for Pfizer and PricewaterhouseCoopers, now IBM Business Consulting Services.
Class of 2001
|Shannon and Daryl Retzke
"I attended the ORIE breakfast with my friend and classmate Matthew Majewski," said Shannon Retzke of the class of 2001. "We both brought our spouses to Ithaca to show them the beautiful campus and tell them (some of) the stories of our escapades high above Cayuga's waters. We appreciated that two of the faculty members who had impacted our careers the most were at the reunion so that we had the opportunity to thank them in person." Retzke is currently practicing international private client law focusing on income tax aspects. "Nothing prepares you to look at a world of different taxing rates and structural opportunities like OR." she said. "I appreciate the reasoning skills I developed under the guidance of the best faculty in the world at Cornell."
|Matt and Jade Majewski
Majewski, who lives in New York City, is a principal with global consulting firm Charles River Associates. He specializes in specializes in profiling, segmentation, pricing, and other quantitative analytics for the pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotech industries. Classmate Christopher Ong also attended the breakfast. He is a manager at Accenture in Toronto, Canada.
Class of 2006
Adelya Akhatova, Gregory King, Oat Wichiencharöen and Lei Zhou represented the class of 2006 at the breakfast. Wichiencharöen is pursuing an MBA at the NYU Stern School of Business. Akhatova has been working as a consultant in Ernst & Young Financial Services's advisory practice in New York, assisting banking capital markets clients in risk management. She was recently promoted to manager, and is making a transition to the energy industry as a credit analyst at Cargill.
|Adelya Akhatova and Oat Wichiencharöen|
"It was a pleasure to connect with faculty and alumni at university-wide events and the ORIE breakfast," Akhatova said. "It was interesting to learn more about the projects ORIE professors are working on and to make a connection between these initiatives and my professional experience." She noted that her "exceptional ORIE training in quantitative studies gave me a competitive advantage to pursue different kinds of opportunities and succeed."
|Lei Zhou, Chris Ong and ORIE Director Adrian Lewis
Zhou was recruited for her first job, at Northrop Grumman, by an ORIE alum, and was again recruited by an ORIE alum for her current job, working in data analytics at Deloitte. "I think ORIE gave me a broad background of engineering and business, which is a great combination in industries today," she said. "The breakfast was great, definitely one of my favorite parts of reunion."
|Greg King and Professor Huseyin Topaloglu
King worked for Capital One after graduation, and then undertook a Ph.D. program in industrial and operations engineering at the University of Michigan. There, he is working on applications of stochastic dynamic programming. Both Zhou and King urged modifications in the ORIE curriculum with respect to data analytics and databases, which have to some extent already taken place in the five years since they graduated.
Although 2011 was not an undergraduate reunion year for them, Jeffrey Berg '79 M.Eng. '80 MBA '81, Joshua Steiner '97 MS '98 and Joseph Wojcik '89 also attended the ORIE breakfast. Berg is retired from consulting company PRTM and from the Cornell Board of Trustees. Steiner is a director for Deloitte in Switzerland. Wojcik, who was an actuarial consultant for Watson Wyatt, is now a vice president at Fidelity Investments in Boston.