June 1, 2022 – Boats bobbing atop soft ocean waves on a warm spring evening set the perfect Southern California backdrop to celebrate exceptional Anteater engineering and information and computer sciences alumni – in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. More than 225 alumni, faculty and community members of the UC Irvine Samueli School of Engineering and the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences gathered to induct six alumni at the seventh annual Hall of Fame event at the Balboa Yacht Club in Corona Del Mar on May 13.
The three alumni from each school were selected for making a significant impact on their profession or bringing distinction to their alma mater. Fifty-eight engineering alumni and 46 ICS alumni have now been named Hall of Famers since it was established in 2015 to coincide with UC Irvine’s 50th anniversary.
ICS alumnus Tim Kashani ’86 served as master of ceremony, welcoming guests and noting university highlights. “UCI was a top choice for first-generation college students, low-income families and underrepresented groups for the fourth year in a row,” he said. “And the number of undergraduate applications for ICS and engineering is at another record high – each having reached over 20,000 for fall of 2022 admission.”
He encouraged alumni to stay engaged and then shared his own most recent personal connection to the university. Kashani’s son, who attends UCI as a freshman in ICS, told his father that the school “is absolutely amazing. I get there and everybody is super friendly and we’re all rooting for each other.”
Kashani noted that his son’s backup school was USC, but UCI was his first choice. Kashani then turned to the evening’s main event and invited ICS Dean Marios Papaefthymiou to the stage.
Papaefthymiou greeted the crowd and lauded the longtime partnership between the two schools. “Engineering and ICS have had a wonderful collaboration for many years together,” he said. “One of the latest examples is the new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building. Together with physical sciences, engineering and ICS, we’re working on research around energy, health and sustainability.”
He added, “We keep having our eye on the future, obviously. But tonight, we’re here to celebrate the past and the achievements of our alums. I’m extremely pleased to induct the following three outstanding alumni who comprise our seventh cohort of inductees to the ICS Alumni Hall of Fame.”
Papaefthymiou introduced Rohit Khare, who earned a doctorate (2003) and master’s degree (2000) from UCI. Khare is an entrepreneur and award-winning computer scientist researching software architecture, cybersecurity and decentralization. He currently leads product management at a stealth-mode cloud security startup in Irvine. He is a founder and president of 4K Associates, an alliance of internet standards strategy consultants, and he edited the World Wide Web Journal for O’Reilly & Associates. He spent a decade at Google after it bought his startup. He then launched new infrastructure for cloud computing, machine learning and social graph analytics. His first venture-backed startup, KnowNow, was spun out of UCI in 2000, after he developed internet standards at the World Wide Web Consortium and MCI’s Internet Architecture Group.
The next ICS inductee was Srinivas Mantripragada, who earned his doctorate in 2000. Mantripragada is a seasoned product and technology executive with over 25 years of experience in technology strategy, product execution, architecture, go-to-market strategies and research. He currently is an investing adviser to multiple venture capital and private equity firms, and he sits on advisory boards for a dozen early- and mid-stage startups. Most recently, he was the chief technology officer and vice president of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, Platform and Watson Services. Prior to that, he was entrepreneur-in-residence at Foundation Capital, a leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm focusing on cloud infrastructure, security, automation and big data analytics. He has also been vice president of technology at Infoblox leading DNS infrastructure and security initiatives; director of advanced technology at Determina, an innovative cybersecurity firm that was acquired by VMWare; and chief architect at Barracuda Networks, a worldwide leader in web application security. Srinivas co-authored more than 60 technical/product/research peer-reviewed publications, journals and six patents.
Finally, Peyman Oreizy, who earned his doctorate in 1999, master’s degree in 1995 and bachelor’s degree in 1993, could not attend in person; however, his brother Nima Oreizy accepted on his behalf. Oreizy is currently an engineering manager within Walmart’s Health and Wellness group. He joined Walmart as a part of its acquisition of CareZone, a startup he joined as employee number four. At CareZone, he built end-user applications to help people manage their health and the health of their family members. Prior to that, he worked as an independent consultant, advising companies on architecture, building critical technology and hiring engineering talent. He started his career at Microsoft, working on the Windows operating system, leading an engineering team to deeply integrate communication and collaboration features into the Windows desktop user interface. Oreizy’s graduate research was in the area of software architectural styles. He is best known for his work on leveraging architecture as the basis for changing systems during runtime. His papers have been cited over 6,000 times, and he has been awarded 13 patents.
Papaefthymiou also recognized the 2021 ICS inductees, since the ceremonies were held virtually last year due to the pandemic. Don Box ’91 (M.S.) and Frank Vahid ‘94 (Ph.D.) joined him on stage as the names of the other 2021 inductees were projected on the screen, including Smita Bakshi ’96 (Ph.D.), Dan DeLeeuw ‘91 and Jim Hobbs ‘73.
Samueli School Dean Magnus Egerstedt introduced himself as the “new-ish” dean, sharing his origin story and philosophy for education. He echoed Papaefthymiou’s appreciation for the value of the two schools’ ongoing collaboration. In fact, it was one of the many things that attracted Egerstedt to UCI after 20 years at Georgia Tech.
“I started looking for a place that was laser-focused on its students, hungry and a little scrappy, ambitious, collaborative and wanted to go after big questions,” he said. “And I found that in UCI. It is absolutely an unusual university because it focuses on multidisciplinary, collaborative work. I love that we’re here today representing two schools.”
Egerstedt also shared his idea of the bachelor’s plus for a well-rounded education. “So, the bachelor’s degree, that’s what you get when you’re in the classroom, and you take the tests and you cobble together a transcript, and you’re done,” he explained. “The plus is everything that happens outside of the classroom on campus that really makes the education come alive.
“Today is very much a testament to that. I also should say that the bachelor’s plus doesn’t work without engaged alumni…Thank you for being part of a supportive network that really has our current and future students’ best interests at heart.”
Egerstedt then announced this year’s engineering honorees.
First, he introduced Cecilia Richards, who was the first woman in the UCI Department of Mechanical Engineering to earn a doctorate in 1990. Richards is a mechanical engineering professor at Washington State University whose research interests have spanned fuel-air mixing in gas turbine engines to waste-heat harvesting in micro-scale engines. She has been a leader in the development of small-scale engines for portable power applications. Her work on integrating thin film piezoelectrics as generators in micro-scale engines is pioneering and has contributed to the fundamental understanding of power conversion efficiency of piezoelectric components. A fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Richards has authored over 150 technical papers and proceedings. A leading engineering educator, Richards spearheaded many innovations in the classroom and laboratory. Following completion of her graduate work, Richards was a fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology for two years before becoming the first woman on the faculty in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University.
Next Egerstedt introduced John Olivier, who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1985. Olivier is president and CEO of Fuscoe Engineering Inc., a Southern California 200-person employee-owned firm that provides civil engineering services for land development and public infrastructure services, using eco-adaptive processes. He has worked at Fuscoe Engineering since its founding in 1992. Olivier serves as a hands-on principal-in-charge for numerous projects, providing direct oversight and team leadership. He has more than 35 years of experience delivering exceptional civil engineering design in urban, commercial/industrial, mixed-use, master-planned communities, infill and complex entitlement projects. Olivier is also a prominent and respected advocate of the architectural, engineering and construction industry. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Design-Build Institute of America. He served five years on the HomeAid Orange County Board of Directors Executive Committee and is its vice president of housing development. Olivier has donated funds and provided pro-bono services to several HomeAid OC shelters and Habitat for Humanity projects. He also served 10 years on the board of directors of the Community Foundation of Orange and is active in the Building Industry Association of Southern California, including the BIA/OC Urban Infill Committee.
The final inductee was Elizabeth San Miguel, who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering in 2002. San Miguel has worked in numerous capacities at Northrop Grumman, a multinational aerospace and defense technology company, for nearly 18 years. She was selected as a Northrop Grumman Corporate Technology Council Protege in 2017 for her technical accomplishments and leadership potential, and as an emerging leader in the field of engineering by the Sonora Region Society of Women Engineers in 2018. She currently serves as program director of vehicle engineering at Northrop Grumman. Previously she was manager of specialty systems engineering for the corporation’s ground-based strategic deterrent weapon system replacement program. Generally, her work focuses on applied research for future airplane concepts, and she has developed enabling stealth technologies for next-generation military aircraft. She has led several integrated product teams over the years, including a multimillion-dollar portfolio of technology development, and coordinated a corporation-wide technology review with the industry’s customer base. In her role as an assistant department manager, she led 200-plus engineers on projects spanning early technology development through operations and sustainment. At UCI, she was heavily involved in student government with a desire to advocate and empower students. She continues to advocate for future engineering leaders through her active involvement in the Society of Women Engineers and as an advocate of STEM outreach.
Egerstedt then recognized the three 2021 inductees, who joined him on stage to rousing applause: Ed Hernandez ‘91, Johnny Lincoln ’04 (M.S.), ’07 (Ph.D.) and Ramin Massoumi ‘94.
Featured Speakers: Lessons Learned
San Miguel was the first featured speaker. She recalled her experience as a student, including fond memories of Derek Dunn-Rankin, professor emeritus of mechanical and aerospace engineering, “who we lovingly called ‘DDR’” and went trick-or-treating at his home in University Hills.
Most notably, her involvement in student activities, specifically as the Engineering Student Council’s Undergraduate Studies Committee undergraduate student representative, changed her perspective and approach to life. “In that role, I attended meetings where I got to know some of our faculty in a more personal capacity,” she said. “It’s intimidating and scary when you’re an undergrad.” But her experiences as student representative revealed an unexpected lesson about power. “Being a student on a committee, I realized that these are a group of people, very approachable people who care and have the responsibility for preparing us for our engineering and computer science careers. And it was a very wonderful experience, and that’s something that I really cherish about my experience when I was at UCI, and it’s one perspective that I’ve taken with me my whole career.”
She concluded, “I also think about all my other experiences, but I’ll leave it at that. I just want to say to the faculty that are here, I really appreciate all of you.”
Box was the final speaker of the evening. “Here’s what I got out of UCI,” he explained. “I got four years to focus 100% on finding my passion. I developed a lifelong hunger for learning and improving my craft. I got the opportunity to learn to teach. And I realized I really loved it. I got a work ethic, which was amazing. I went in very much a slacker in a hair band, and I left a pretty hard-working human being who could focus and get stuff done. And that has served me well ever since. I got self-confidence. I got the opportunity to meet a bunch of fellow grad students who helped me build a company, a career and a much richer life because of them. It was an amazing, amazing experience, which really shaped who I am today.”
He also offered this advice to current and new generations of students. “I worked at Microsoft until recently, and I now work at Meta. And I talk to interns all the time. The most common question I get is: Should I go to grad school or should I come work at your company? The answer is always the same. Go to grad school.”
Attendees caught up with old friends and quickly made new ones. One was Robert Peck ‘76 (Ph.D.) who attended the first Hall of Fame in 2015 as an inaugural inductee.
“UCI has done a great job in organizing the Hall of Fame celebrations. I have attended on two occasions, and both have been most enjoyable,” said Peck. “They not only highlight the accomplishments of alumni and shine a spotlight on UCI but provide a venue for local alumni to stay connected with the university. As I am a former dean [University of Massachusetts Dartmouth College of Engineering], I have hosted many similar events, and it is very refreshing to be on the receiving end for a change. And it was a pleasure meeting the new dean of engineering at UCI.
“This year’s honorees continued the tradition of focusing on individuals who have had an impact not only by advancing their field but more broadly in research, education or business. It is a testament that innovation, entrepreneurship, interdisciplinarity and teamwork are a hallmark of UCI graduates.”
More photos from the event can be viewed here.
– Tonya Becerra