2017 Electrical Engineering Alumni Reunion

December 1, 2017
Group Picture
Group Picture Noting Employers
Group Picture
Group Picture Noting Employers

More than thirty alumni returned to Sonoma State University for the 2017 Electrical Engineering Alumni Reunion, where they had the opportunity to reconnect with classmates, network with current students, and see how campus has changed since they graduated from SSU. (Click on the images for larger sizes.)

Although the majority of alumni are employed by local high-tech companies and live in the Bay Area, some came from as far as Los Angeles. "It was a long drive from Los Angeles, but I wouldn’t have missed this event for the world!" noted Jon Porrazzo, a ride controls engineer at Walt Disney Imagineering (Class of 2015). "I simply cannot explain how appreciative my peers and I are to the department for holding this event. This event is a key example of how deeply rooted the Engineering Department is in preparing students for a career immediately after graduation," Jon pointed out.

Most of the evening was spent catching up and planning for the next reunion. Many suggested having the event once every year. "Reuniting with old classmates and meeting current students is not only lots of fun, but an excellent networking experience. It is also great to see the high caliber positions other graduates have been able to achieve. This event made me even more proud to be a Seawolf Engineer. So, let’s have it every year," suggested Eric Waugh Staff Software Engineer, Calix Networks (Class of 2014).

The reunion followed the Senior Design Project Proposal presentations, and a number of alumni participated in the presentations event. "It is very clever to align these Engineering alumni events with the Senior Design Project presentations; it gives the students an audience of their peers to draw feedback from, and gives them a great opportunity to network with fellow alumni both in the area and abroad," expressed Casey White, a materials engineer at Deposition Sciences (Class of 2014). Casey, who is currently mentoring a group of undergraduate engineering students, added. "It is an extremely rewarding experience to give back to the students and the department."

In addition to alumni, several industry representatives also participated in the reunion. Among them was Dr. Salam Marougi from Keysight Technologies, who has been involved with the EE Department since 2005. "Over the past several years, Keysight Technologies (formerly Agilent Technologies) has been in partnership with the Engineering Department and we have collaborated on various initiatives to advance the development of the engineering program at Sonoma State. We see lots of potential in this program to develop a solid and strong Engineering Education to support the local high-tech industries," said Marougi.

Another key industry partner who participated in the event was Chris Stewart, a volunteer engineering professor and president and co-founder of Pocket Radar Inc. and Invention Planet, LLC. "I have been working directly with the seniors in the EE Department as an industry advisor and mentor for the past several years. I recall guiding many of these graduates, and it is exciting to see them again," said Stewart. "The jewel of the engineering curriculum at SSU is its Senior Design Projects. I believe tonight many of our alumni reaffirmed that the engineering senior project is what helped them get their jobs. Many companies are looking for more SSU grads because of the real-world experience they develop during their senior design. I have found this to be true myself in hiring SSU grads. The Engineering Department is growing rapidly and doing a great job of blending strong academic studies with real world practical problem solving to develop great engineering talent," added Stewart.

"SSU uniquely positions students to hit the ground running once they get into industry. The small class sizes, access to equipment, one-on-one attention from professors, and industry networking, directly contribute to student and alumni success. I would not trade my experience at SSU for any other university. I feel that the faculty and staff have honed me into the effective and successful engineer I am today," attested Eric Waugh.

The occasion was truly a proud moment for Dr. Saeid Rahimi, one of the original architects of the engineering program at Sonoma State University. "I am truly moved to see that the dream of so many supporters of the engineering program has come true. This evening I felt a great sense of pride when I saw so many of the program's graduates were successfully employed in the local high-tech industries," said Rahimi.

The event ended with a promise of having an even bigger Engineering Reunion in 2018, with more alumni participation, greater attractions, and everyone wearing the SSU Engineering t-shirt.

"I am super-excited to see such engagement and affection amongst our alumni. This speaks volumes for the support they hold for the engineering program and for Sonoma State," noted Dr. Farid Farahmand, the Chair of the Engineering Department. "I can’t wait to start planning for our next year’s bigger Engineering Alumni Reunion!" he added.