Benjamin J. Patz, ’85 | Managing Director, The FAN Fund
The UCF Alumni Association and College of Education and Human Performance presented their 2015 Professional Achievement Award to Ben Patz at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.
Ben co-founded Coleman Technologies Inc., which provided IT and systems engineering services to public and private organizations. In 2010, the company merged with and into Presidio Inc., a professional and managed services firm delivering advanced IT infrastructure solutions.
Prior to founding CTI, he had 15 years of experience in system analysis, design and testing for the Naval Research Laboratory, Lockheed Martin and Coleman Research Corporation.
Most recently, he established the FAN Fund in which to invest professionally managed angel capital in growth-oriented companies in the technology and life sciences sectors in Florida.
The Patz family has strong ties to UCF, including Ben’s father, Dr. Benjamin W. Patz, who was a research scientist and UCF engineering professor, and his siblings and their families:
Dr. Mark D. Patz, ’83, ’87, ’97
(wife) Donna Curley Patz, ’86
(daughter) Lindsey Patz, ’14
(son) Tyler Patz — current UCF student
Susan Patz Pringle, ’86 — College of Education (UCF Athletics Hall of Fame 2000 inductee)
(husband) Bruce Pringle, ’84
Amy Patz Lewellyn, ’89
(husband) Mark Lewellyn, ’87, ’89
Dr. Eric M. Patz, ’15
Ben went to UCF early, doing dual enrollment, receiving his bachelor’s degree in mathematics by the time he finished high school, and entered the graduate mathematics program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the undergraduate engineering program. He returned to UCF and earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1985.
He’s served on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the College of Engineering and Computer Science since 2009.
The UCF Alumni Association honored Limbitless Solutions with its 2015 Michelle Akers Award at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.
Limbitless Solutions, which manufactures personalized bionics and solutions for disabilities, is a nonprofit organization founded by UCF students, which is dedicated to building a generation of innovators who use their skills and passion to improve the world around them.
This is the first time the Michelle Akers Award has been presented to students, and to a group. It’s the university’s highest award given to alumni who have brought international, positive attention to UCF through their accomplishments.
Previous winners include:
Olympic gold-medalist volleyball player Phil Dalhausser, ’02 (2009)
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” actress Cheryl Hines, ’90 (2008)
Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap, ’05 (2004)
“Blair Witch Project” creators, Robin Cowie, ’93; Gregg Hale, ’95; Mike Monello, ’92; Dan Myrick, ’93; and Ed Sanchez, ’93 (1999)
1991 & 1999 Women’s World Cup champion soccer player Michelle Akers, ’89 (1996)
The alumni association recognized the Limbitless Solutions team for its life-changing, innovative solutions it has provided to children.
With the help of actor Robert Downey Jr., they presented then 6-year-old Alex Pring with an “Iron Man”-themed bionic arm — a video (view in “Other Videos” below) that has more than 53 million views. And, the team’s work has brought about media opportunities in more than 150 countries, totaling more than three billion impressions on social and conventional media for Limbitless Solutions and UCF.
The team plans to bring 75 bionic limbs, and books, to displaced Syrian children this year, but that’s just the beginning of what they hope will be a broad-based, global, humanitarian effort.
“I know what it takes to be a student-athlete and an engineer,” said Brian Crutcher, ’95, speaking last week with a group of UCF student-athletes majoring in engineering. “I know athletes are competitive. Really competitive. You don’t go out there to be second, third or fourth. You want to win. And we need that exact same trait in the business world.”
Crutcher, who played defensive back for the Knights while pursuing his electrical engineering degree and now serves as executive vice president of business operations for Texas Instruments, was on campus to help lay the groundwork for the College of Engineering and Computer Science Student Athletes Program. The program will help student-athlete engineering majors like Crutcher persevere through a curriculum that is rigorous even without the added demands of being an athlete. Crutcher has committed $200,000 over the next five years through his Crutcher Family Fund to support the program.
His ultimate intent, Crutcher says, is to ensure that students like him realize their engineering career goals and then carry forward into the workplace the leadership and teamwork skills — and, of course, competitiveness — that are second nature in sports. Despite UCF’s heavy emphasis on academic achievement for student-athletes — the university’s graduation rate for student-athletes is No. 1 in the nation among NCAA Division I public institutions — engineering majors frequently switch to less demanding disciplines during their first two years. The new program will focus specifically on shoring up math support to freshman and sophomore CECS student-athletes and providing one-on-one graduate advisor tutoring and mentoring.
Crutcher spent more than an hour with the student-athletes, recalling the challenges he had faced, listening to theirs, and answering a flood of questions about applying and interviewing for jobs and life in the professional world. His core message was a simple one though: “Don’t quit. I guarantee you it will be worth it.”
Alumni best friends introduce high-efficiency water treatment technology to medical marijuana cultivation center
Michael Boyd, ’05 | Senior Sales Manager, Desalitech
Michael Williamson, ’07 | Plant Manager, Kind Love
By Angie Lewis, ’03
Michael Boyd, ’05, doesn’t remember the first time he met Michael Williamson, ’07, but he knew they’d become great friends after a discussion about a soccer match on TV spilled out into the parking lot of the former Underground Bluz, near UCF, for a real game.
“Those impromptu games became late-night traditions throughout the remainder of our college years, and afterward,” says Boyd, who earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering technology.
The guys would eventually become the best of friends, even as their career opportunities later took them more than half a country apart.
Based in Newton, Mass., Boyd serves as the senior sales manager for Desalitech, a $20-million organization that manufactures high-efficiency water treatment and wastewater reuse products.
About six years ago, the company started in Israel, a country built on the outskirts of a desert, with limited access to available water resources, which is why it has become one of the leading water treatment hubs on the planet.
“Between 1930 and 2000, the world population tripled from two billion to six billion, and by 2050, it will reach nine billion,” Boyd explains. “Increased production of food and energy, along with rising economies and industrialization, are all increasing the demand for water. Yet, water resources are overwhelmed, and many are already depleted from overutilization, which leaves desalination and water reuse as the only available new sources of water.”
He says industry is responsible for nearly 60 percent of fresh water withdrawals in the U.S. and in other developed countries, with agriculture accounting for an additional 30 percent. He adds that while reverse osmosis is widely applied for water purification, traditional RO systems can create excess brine waste, do not use water supplies efficiently and consume too much energy.
In contrast, Desalitech’s ReFlex RO systems, featuring Closed Circuit Desalination™ technology, reduce brine waste by up to 75 percent and energy consumption by up to 35 percent, compared to traditional RO designs.
Based in Denver, Co., Williamson is the plant manager for Kind Love, a medical marijuana dispensary, which also includes an 80,000-square-foot hydroponic cultivation center.
Williamson, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis his freshman year of college.
“[The MS] caused me to be temporarily paralyzed from the waist down,” Williamson explains. “With the uncertainty of my future personal health, I changed my major to interdisciplinary studies with a focus on digital media. My thought process at the time was, if I was going to be in a wheelchair from time to time, or permanently, I wanted to make sure I could work, earn, create and contribute to an organization. Digital media gave me the ability to be able to work on a computer from anywhere.”
After many lackluster visits to medical dispensaries as a patient, he and his partners were inspired to create Kind Love in 2009. He says they saw much room for improvement and recognized an opportunity to help the underserved market of women and seniors.
“The cannabis plant is made up of chemical compounds called cannabinoids,” he explains. “Though scientists aren’t exactly sure, it’s estimated that there are at least 85 cannabinoids that make up the cannabis plant. The most well-known and popular cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Though THC has medicinal benefits, particularly with gastrointestinal issues and inflammation, it’s most commonly characterized by a psychoactive effect, which is described as a relaxing and cerebral high.
“Currently, most Colorado analytical labs have standards and are testing for four to 12 of the 85 cannabinoids. Thanks to legal access to these analytical labs, the medical community started to notice rare strains of cannabis that were extremely low in THC and elevated in cannabidiol, or CBD. Through selective breeding techniques, cannabis breeders have managed to create new varieties with high levels of CBD and little to no THC.
“After my first high-CBD discovery at our research and development cultivation facility, we started hunting for more high-CBD genetics through breeding and acquisitions with other medicinal breeders. Unlike THC, CBD has no high or mind-altering effects. It’s a non-psychoactive and has a huge range of medicinal benefits and properties, such as antiemetic, anticonvulsant, antipsychotic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-cancer and antidepressant.”
In fact, Kind Love holds the record for the highest CBD ever recorded, and is helping to treat patients with cancer and MS, as well as children with seizures, and many more. Williamson is working with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta on many of these high-CBD projects, which should produce results later this year.
While he respects soil growing, Williamson says Kind Love grows its plants hydroponically because it offers more environmental control and sterilization for large-scale cannabis agriculture.
“People forget that organic soil is organic — meaning it’s full of beneficial and non-beneficial bacterias, molds, fungi, and various insects, which can cause serious damage to cannabis crops if not controlled appropriately,” he says.
When the company was in the process of building its new cultivation facility last year, Williamson researched reverse osmosis machines. The best one he could find on the market was recovering 75 percent good water, with 25 percent going to waste. His previous cultivation facilities were operating at 33 percent good water, with 67 percent waste.
Realizing he was looking at the wrong technology, he looked at Desalitech’s ReFlex reverse osmosis system with CCD technology, which would give him 93 percent good water recovery, with only 7 percent wastewater.
Williamson says his friend was originally doing him a favor, since Boyd thought Kind Love’s operation was probably too small to utilize his company’s system, but he flew to Denver anyway to calculate the numbers. To their delight, Kind Love’s new cultivation facility qualified for Desalitech’s smallest full-scale system, which is commonly used as a pilot for large power plants.
“Michael Boyd and I both demand the absolute best of the best when it comes to our projects, and where and with whom we invest our time and money,” Williamson says. “Of course, it was very cool to do business with a dear friend and colleague, but, more importantly, I knew that I had one of the best systems that money could buy, because I knew he wouldn’t associate with or be a part of anything less. I am very grateful for his friendship, his strong communication skills and ability to execute. His general demeanor and hard work ethic continue to inspire me every day to work harder, smarter and faster.”
Meet Kind Love medical marijuana dispensary’s plant manager, Michael Williamson, as he explains his decision to partner with best friend Michael Boyd’s water treatment company, Desalitech:
When Jeff Tuttle, ’96, mission and technology manager for NASA’s Balloon Program Office, was sent to Antarctica for the space giant’s Antares rocket program, he made sure to pack one very important item (besides a parka!) — his UCF Knights flag, which he proudly displayed in front of Mt. Erebus.
Here’s some of what Tuttle shared with us about his experience on our planet’s southernmost continent:
McMurdo, the home of the U.S. Antarctic Program’s Long Duration Balloon Facility, is a minor city and, as such, has the amenities of all cities. It has a hospital (of sorts), where basic medicine can be administered. They cannot obviously perform any major operations, but there is a doctor on staff. And, they have a church, a cafeteria, and all kinds of recreation indoors and outdoors.
I joke a lot about the cafeteria, but really, the food is very good. Because we travel more than seven miles from McMurdo to our Long Duration Balloon Facility, we have individual chefs come out and prepare us food out there. We had smoked salmon the other day that I would find at any good restaurant. The cafeteria has two items available 24 hours: pizza and cookies.
The passing of the Antarctic Treaty and Antarctic Conservation Act in the U.S. brought several restrictions to U.S. activity on Antarctica. The introduction of alien plants or animals can bring a criminal penalty, as can the extraction of any indigenous species. Another part of this act involves waste management from both recycling and human waste. While this is not a popular subject in Antarctica (or elsewhere), it is part of the culture if you are staying here. No discussion of Antarctic life would be complete without some mention of the pee bottle.
McMurdo dorms and facilities, and Long Duration Balloon Facility have bathrooms. And, to be honest, the shower water is hotter than the water in my apartment in Chincoteague. But, if I were to go on a long hike or walk and have to use the bathroom, per law, I cannot use it outdoors on the ground. Urine or any other waste does not decompose here. It stays. I would have to collect the waste and return it to base for proper disposal. Thus, when going on long ventures, you either hold it or take an “official” waste cup.
McMurdo station is very much into recycling. Approximately 40 percent of all the waste in the station is recycled. That’s really an amazing statistic considering the isolation of the base from the real world. In every dorm and every building in McMurdo, there is a recycling depot. You empty your waste basket every week and place items in either plastic, aerosols, food waste, mixed paper, aluminum beverage, paper towels, glass and non-recyclables bins. There’s also a skua bin — named after an arctic bird that eats anything and hangs around the cafeteria waiting for someone to expose their food, and attacks — which is where people get rid of the things they don’t want. You’ll find shoes, jackets, shampoo and 1,000 other things there for the taking, mostly left by people lightning their load for the return trip.
Many thanks to Jeff for sharing his experience and representing his alma mater! Go Knights! Charge On!
The UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science Alumni Chapter launched its new AlumKnights at Work series on Nov. 13, when 30 CECS alumni gathered at Walt Disney World’s Design & Engineering offices to meet UCF alumni working within Disney’s engineering departments and learn how they’re putting their degrees to work.
CECS alumna Katie Kelly, ’06, a mechanical engineering graduate, led the charge for the evening’s program and introduced alumni to Disney engineers.
Jeff Gloudeman, manager within architectural and facilities engineering, demonstrated the unique challenges that Disney engineers are faced with including limited attraction downtime and the uniqueness of each facility and attraction on property.
Mike Labonge, director of ride and show engineering, discussed the Disney workflow process and how Disney engineers are required to work with the creative team to develop innovative guest experiences.
Jerold Kaplan, director of projects and show systems, showed the group a four-year, time-lapse video of the new Fantasyland expansion, which recently opened at the Magic Kingdom Park, and discussed how civil, mechanical, electrical and control engineers were used in the building of the project.
Michael Tschanz, director of technology and analysis, demonstrated how computer simulation is changing the way that the Walt Disney Company is building its theme parks.
After hearing about how each department plays its part, the group adorned safety glasses and headed to the Walt Disney World’s Central Shops, to see where the magic of Disney is made and maintained. Alumni guests had the opportunity to see the building and refurbishing processes of many of the resorts’ attractions and show pieces, including those used at Space Mountain, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the Jungle Cruise. Disney engineers also discussed the importance of the refurbishments in continuing to provide guests with amazing experiences year after year, as well as how the operating design of each vehicle is designed specifically for each ride.
The AlumKnights at Work is a new professional development series created to spotlight UCF CECS alumni and their professions. The events look to explore the many ways our alumni are putting their degrees to work. CECS AlumKnights will host other alumni guests for event programs that will contain the technical applications used in their everyday work, as well as insider information on what’s new and interesting with their companies. Walt Disney World Design & Engineering was the first in the series. The second event will take place at Kennedy Space Center in spring 2015.
Alumna astronaut featured as one of Central Florida’s “MAKERS”
Nicole Stott, ’92 | Astronaut, NASA
WUCF TV recently aired a segment for its “MAKERS” program, which featured UCF alumna and NASA astronaut, Nicole Stott, ’92, who discussed her experience in the aeronautical industry, as well as how being a woman and a mother has impacted her career.
It was this really wonderful introduction for us to how you make engineering a reality, and UCF was the perfect place to facilitate that.
Watch the segment:
Stott was honored with a Professional Achievement Award from the College of Engineering and Computer Science in 2011. She remains active with the college, as well as the Space Coast Alumni Chapter.
Vinod Philip, ’00 | CEO (Generators Business Segment), Siemens Energy Inc.
Professional Achievement Award 2014
Vinod Philip traveled halfway across the globe from India, where he was born and raised, to pursue his studies at UCF. After making an impression on a visiting UCF professor, he was offered a graduate scholarship and went on to kickstart his career with a UCF-sponsored internship at Westinghouse. He’s currently the CEO of Siemens’ Generators Business Segment and serves on the College of Engineering and Computer Science Dean’s Advisory Board.
Inspired by Indiana Jones’ life of “action, adventure, cool historical artifacts and saving damsels in distress,” Ricky Ly, ’08, grew up wanting to be an archaeologist. But, instead of discovering ancient civilizations, he’s helping to construct new ones, as a professional engineer for Stantec Consulting Engineers Inc. And, instead of saving lives, he’s also teaching everyone how to savor flavors, as a food blogger and author.
Unlike Indiana Jones, however, Ly doesn’t mind snakes. Snake fruit, that is, which happens to be the strangest food he’s ever eaten. Also known as salak, this strange piece of produce is from Bali, Indonesia, and has scales like a snake on the outside, with white, fleshy fruit on the inside.
“It reminded me of Lychee fruit, but less sweet,” he says. “The creepiest part was peeling the skin off. Shivers!”
Ly says being a foodie has always been in his blood, stemming from his father owning a restaurant and having family in the business, and from his Vietnamese/Chinese heritage.
“I also enjoy using both the left and right sides of my brain, and writing helps me get that part out,” he explains. “I started writing for the Central Florida Future while at UCF, and then began my blog after graduation.”
His blog, TastyChomps.com, and book, “The Food Lovers’ Guide to Orlando,” help fellow foodies discover new restaurants and dishes, as well as learn about little-known places.
Because of his connection to local food culture, Ly, and his wife, May (Wong), ’07, were recently chosen to participate in a segment about Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival for ABC’s “The Chew,” which aired Oct. 9. The couple spent a full day at the park with a camera crew, taking a chocolate boot camp class with famed chocolatier Erika Davis and walking around the World Showcase trying different dishes.
On a typical day, Ly tries to write a post or two every evening, before heading to bed. That’s after spending his day as a civil engineer, improving his community.
“One thing about civil engineering is seeing your designs and plans come to life after construction,” he explains. “It’s awesome knowing that you helped create [a] road or drainage system. It’s like leaving a legacy behind.”
Ly chose UCF because of its strong reputation and record as a great engineering school. Plus, his family is from West Palm Beach, so Orlando was the perfect place in case he needed to be home for a weekend. He decided to major in engineering because he loved math and science throughout grade school, and really liked the idea that his work could help better our society and community.
As a student at UCF, Ly stayed busy. He served as an SGA senator, representing the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and held the office of vice chair for the Financial Allocations for Organizations committee. Later, he served as a member of the Hollinger/Berkowitz administration, as the director of SGA Multicultural Affairs. He also served as president of the Vietnamese-American Student Association, was founder of the Asian Pacific-American Coalition and was a founding brother of the Pi Delta Psi Fraternity.
As an alumnus, he serves on the UCF Alumni Association’s Government Relations committee, and served on the UCF Multicultural Academic Support Services alumni panel. As a community member, he served on the board for WMFE’s Community Advisory Board, and is currently on the board for the City of Orlando’s Families, Parks and Recreation, as well as chair of the Florida Water Environment Association’s Integrated Water Resources committee.
Ly advises current engineering students to make the most of their time and resources while at UCF. “Get an internship, go to your professor’s office hours, join an engineering society in your major and talk to your college department advisor.”
And, he speaks from experience. His first internship was at the Florida Department of Transportation, which, he says taught him so much about the importance of professionalism and work ethic that he still uses each day.
“My professors and classmates have all been integral to my career development, from the design coursework to networking in the engineering community,” he says. “UCF helped shape who I am today in almost every possible way.”
Q. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. Fresh sushi from Japan. There’s got to be something in the rice, fish and seaweed that give the Japanese some of the longest lifespans in the world, right?
Q. Best meal of your life so far?
A. Sitting just outside of the famed Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan — a little sushi shop with some of the freshest sushi I’ve had in my life.
Q. What would you like your last meal to be?
A. It doesn’t matter as long as I’m surrounded by family and friends.
Q. Favorite condiment?
A. Harissa, a hot Chili pepper sauce from North Africa
Q. Favorite comfort food?
A. A hot bowl of shio butter ramen with sliced pork and bamboo shoots from Hanamizuki Japanese restaurant on International Drive in Orlando
Q. Favorite snack?
A. I enjoy fresh popcorn. I hear it’s low in calories.
Q. Favorite celebrity chef, and why?
A. Although he’s not a chef anymore, Anthony Bourdain would head the list, not only for his taste in street food from around the world, but also for his heart and mind for the people and cultures that he visits. I really enjoy his “Parts Unknown” show on CNN, and was lucky to meet him recently when he came to Orlando for a talk. Another celebrity chef I admire would have to be David Chang of New York’s Momofuku restaurant group. I loved his PBS series, “Mind of a Chef.” He’s truly an innovative chef.
Q. Best food festival in Central Florida?
A. Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, for sure. I also love the Taste of the Nation event that brings together many of the local Orlando restaurants to benefit the Coalition for the Homeless and Second Harvest Food Bank.
Q. What was your favorite country and/or food at this year’s Food & Wine Festival?
A. Although not necessarily a country per se, my favorite food marketplace was the Farm Fresh marketplace showcasing local and seasonal ingredients. I particularly enjoyed the pepper-bacon hash with sweet corn, potatoes, hollandaise sauce and pickled jalapeño, and the yard bird, a crispy, crunchy chicken thigh with braised collard greens. I also enjoyed the scallop topped with bacon and creamed spinach from Scotland, and the filet mignon with wild mushrooms from Canada.
Q. If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
A. “Life of Limitless Potential”
Q. Something you learned in the past week?
A. Just got back from Mexico, and discovered that the Mayans built an ancient astronomical observatory at Chichen Itza used to map out the stars, centuries before Galileo on the other side of the world. Also, yu’um bootik means “thank you” in Mayan.
Lesa Roe, ’91 | Deputy Associate Administrator, NASA
Balance doesn’t seem to be a concept too difficult for a rocket scientist, but striking equilibrium between her commitment to education and her desire to solve real-world problems prove to be among the top concerns for Lesa Roe. Fortunately, she was able to simultaneously work and study in UCF’s space program and currently serves as NASA’s deputy associate administrator. She continues to integrate the learning process with the implementation of logistic solutions and aims to further her education in all of her pursuits, whether working on orbiter communication systems or the Hubble Space Telescope.