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Like Sister, Like Brother

An Interview with Eugene Cushman

Editor's Note: Eugene Cushman, Anna Cushman's younger brother followed his big sister to WPI, graduating in 2001 with a degree in computer science. That's not all they have in common. Both have chosen careers related to aviation, and both enjoy long-distance running. On March 23, at Anna's urging, Eugene (along with their father) competed in the inaugural Washington, D.C., Marathon. Anna had planned to compete, too, but learned that she was pregnant just a week before the race. "So basically I coerced my brother and father into racing just to cheer them on from the side lines," she says.

In this interview by Ray Bert '93, he talks about his sister.

What can you tell us about Anna that she wouldn't tell us herself?

She is definitely the type of person who takes the lead and is willing to take risks and venture into new territory. I let her be the guinea pig sometimes, and then she ends up roping me into whatever she has just experienced. Signing up for the Washington, D.C., marathon is a good example.

Did she lead you to WPI, as well?

Having Anna successfully attend WPI definitely paved the way for me eventually attending. She introduced me to the school, and I realized what WPI represented and had to offer in terms of its computer science and engineering programs.

What about your choice of career – is it a coincidence that you both ended up in something aviation-related, or is that an interest you share?

It's an interest that we share. While she was working at Sikorsky Aircraft, she managed to get me a summer internship position with her. However, with my current job, it was almost entirely coincidental that I ended up developing air traffic control software. I work on what's called the Situation Data Display. It's the big radar screen that shows where the airplanes are and where they are heading (among many other things).

What was it like for you on Sept. 11, knowing how close Anna was to the events in the nation's capital?

It was a little bit terrifying. There were rumors of car bombs going off outside government offices in D.C. At that point, I started to really fear for Anna's well-being.

The problem was that it was impossible to get a phone call through to the Washington, D.C. area. I finally did manage to reach her office, but they had already been evacuated. Of course, I didn't know that they had been evacuated, so I really had no idea where she was. I did finally get word from my mother in the afternoon that she was safe. Until that point, it was a difficult time.

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