While guests mingled with other professionals from a multitude of diverse fields, Dean Paul Jarley (business), Dean Michael Georgiopoulos (engineering) and Dean Michael Johnson (sciences) each addressed the group of Knights, speaking on the importance of networking, mentorship and advancement.
It was a great Networking Knight to kick off 2016!
Charles Gray, founding director of GrayRobinson, played an instrumental role in the history of the University of Central Florida. Gray was honored by the UCF Alumni Association in October with the 2015 Champions Award for his continuous support and advocacy for the university.
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.
You’ve turned in your last assignment, taken your last test and walked across the stage at graduation. But, there’s still one thing to do: Find a job.
Employers are planning to hire 9.6 percent more college graduates than they did last year, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Sean Snaith, director of UCF’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness, said it seems to be a high percentage — even though Orlando is the fastest-growing metro area in the country, with more than 4 percent in terms of job growth. That’s well over the state’s rate of growth at around 3 percent and twice the national rate, which is just above 2 percent.
“We’re now in the seventh year of this economic recovery,” Snaith said. “I think hiring has been improving not rapidly, but improving steadily.”
Lynn Hansen, executive director of UCF Career Services, said it’s a combination of the economy and the university’s location that makes Orlando an advantageous area for graduates.
“I think we’re fortunate that we’re located where we’re located,” she said. “With the history of technology companies, transportation, health care and hospitality here, I think we have a lot going for us.”
Big-name corporations, such as Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Target, Lockheed Martin, Yelp, Yahoo and even the CIA, have all come to UCF to recruit students. Hansen said employer recruitment on campus has seen a significant increase. In spring, Career Services was actively working with 1,077 employers — an increase from 563.
“To me, that’s an indication that the demand is up for talent,” she said.
In a 2013-14 Career Services survey of 8,658 graduating students, 71 percent said they were seeking full-time or part-time employment. Of that number, 42 percent were already in the workforce or had accepted job offers, and 8 percent had been offered positions.
Students who were already employed or had received a full-time job were in the hospitality services and health care industries. Education and engineering were other popular choices.
Also in 2013, the Florida Department of Education found that out of the 12,047 UCF fall graduates, 68 percent of those who found jobs in Florida were still employed a year after graduation.
But, these statistics aren’t the whole picture, Hansen said.
There are plenty of students who get jobs out of state or in other countries who aren’t counted as part of these totals.
Hansen said students who do fall in the employment statistics can improve their chances of being hired by joining campus organizations, volunteering with clubs, conducting undergraduate research, finding internships or getting part-time jobs.
“Those things help build that student into a person … that the working world is looking for,” she added.
For graduating students looking for work, it all comes down to planning.
“It’s never too early to begin the process,” Hansen said. “Finding that great job after graduation isn’t like picking up your cap and gown on the way to the commencement ceremony.”
Most students graduate college in their early 20s, but Adrian Gilliam was ready a bit earlier.
At age 17, Adrian graduated from UCF this spring with a computer software job awaiting him at Optima Healthcare Solutions.
“Living in Orlando influenced my decision to attend UCF,” he says. “UCF has a really good engineering program — especially for computer science. I never was really trying to be the youngest graduate. But, being such a young graduate is something I’m proud of. I’m just a normal [alumnus].”
Adrian is one of UCF’s youngest graduates, in addition to a 16-year-old who graduated in 1998, according to a press release.
Michael Gilliam, ’93, Adrian’s father and College of Business Administration alumnus, says he was beaming ear to ear when he watched his son walk across the stage at graduation.
“I don’t think age had anything to do with [him] maintaining good grades and involvement,” Michael explains. “He just set his priorities and spent a lot of time making sure he had acceptable grades and high enough grades to get into graduate school if he decided to do that. I think it was just a matter of him setting his priorities.”
At the age of 4, Adrian started home schooling through Florida Virtual School. As he continued to learn online, taking honors and advanced placement courses, he was also learning martial arts and Mandarin, in which he is now fluent.
He enrolled at UCF at the age of 13.
“I think from the beginning, a lot of what encouraged me to take this route was my parents,” Adrian says. “As I started progressing, I definitely became more self-motivated. If I hadn’t of taken the route I did, I would be going into my senior year [of high school].”
His father accredits his patient and helpful personality to his involvement with martial arts.
In 2007, Adrian won his first of several national-level tournaments at the U.S. Open Karate Championships. At age 10, he earned his black belt.
“Growing up, people always said, ‘Don’t you miss normal school, or wish you went to normal school?’ Adrian says. “But, you can’t miss something you never had. I was very happy with the experience and opportunities I had. I felt like I was still able to get social interaction through things like martial arts while still being able to excel academically.”
He jokes about his biggest struggle at UCF being that he was not able to sign up for the Recreation and Wellness Center because he wasn’t 18.
During his time on campus, he served as president and vice president of the Asian Pacific American Coalition, senator for the College of Engineering and Computer Science in the Student Government Association, and an undergraduate teaching assistant for an introduction to programming course.
Although Adrian is currently taking a break from school, his long-term goal is to continue his education and eventually become a professor.
This article appeared in a May 20, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited for style. See original story.
“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.”
Matt Harrison personifies giving back to UCF. A May 2013 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, he has already established a scholarship dedicated to excellence at the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science: the Leadership Scholarship.
As a student, Harrison was active on campus, attending numerous engineering events, serving as chapter president of both the Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity and the American Society for Engineering Education, and asserting himself as part of the UCF Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute (eli²). In turn, as a person, he grew. Harrison, for example, attributes much of his early career success to eli²:
“I learned how to be a leader, and I learned how to communicate,” he says.
These days, those lessons serve him well as a medical engineer at 3D Medical Manufacturing in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he is largely a trouble-shooter who works to ensure quality standards. Continually on the move at 3D Medical, he solves problems involving a variety of people; interaction is a key part of getting his job done. “I use my resources to fix problems, and the ability to share my vision is one of those resources.”
Now, he’s returning the favor to UCF.
Four days after graduating, he began working at 3D Medical Manufacturing. By fall 2013, his Leadership Scholarship was in place, benefiting two students.
Each year, a scholarship will be given to two students of the College of Engineering and Computer Science who demonstrate outstanding leadership qualities. Applicants must be enrolled full-time and they must write an essay describing their current leadership roles and ambitions as a leader.
Harrison established the criteria himself. “I wanted a scholarship that was not based on GPA, but rather on leadership ability and the willingness to give back to UCF,” he says. He also selects the recipients with help from Tim Kotnour, Ph.D., a professor in the UCF Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems, and director of eli². The scholarship doesn’t bare Harrison’s name, with the hope that other alumni will contribute to it.
“My goal is to not only give back, but also to inspire others to see their full potential,” he says. “I will always take an opportunity to give back what UCF has given me — and that is the ability to think strategically, give willingly and lead courageously.
“My aim is to not only build confidence in the leadership recipients, but to also instill the responsibility of paying it forward.”
Notably, he opted not to wait after graduating from UCF. “If you’re going to do something, you should start early,” he says. “I figured that if I started early, I would put myself into the habit of giving back as I grow older.”
Harrison contributes to UCF in other ways, as well, returning to campus to serve as a guest speaker and as a mentor to the types of students he represented not long ago. “UCF,” he says, “means so much to me.”
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.