VOLUME 13, NO. 3 June 2001
WPI is making a major commitment to reach out to its alumni and friends on the West Coast. The initiative began last winter with a series of events across the state of California and the launch of a new periodical published especially for graduates in that part of the country.
"We will be working hard in the months ahead to bridge the miles that separate our East and West Coast communities," notes President Parrish. "California is home to the third largest concentration of WPI alumni in the United States, after Massachusetts and Connecticut. We want to help those 1,200 men and women feel more connected to and informed about their alma mater."
The centerpiece for the California events was the dedication of the Silicon Valley Project Center on Jan. 30 (see accompanying story). Parrish and other members of the WPI family also met with alumni and friends that same week during receptions at Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May at Embarcadero Center in San Francisco (hosted by Malcolm B. Wittenberg ’68, Esq., a partner in the firm); at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills (where Nancy Pimental ’87, co-host of Comedy Central’s popular game show "Win Ben Stein’s Money" talked about how her WPI education helped prepare her for her career as a performer, comedian and screenwriter); and at the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla.
In January, alumni on the West Coast received the first issue of WPI West, a new publication that features profiles of West Coast graduates and other news and information edited especially for this audience.
East meets West in Silicon Valley center
The Silicon Valley Project Center was formally dedicated on Jan. 30. Located in California’s legendary center for high technology and entrepreneurial spirit, the University’s newest Major Qualifying Project Center was launched in January 2000 with three projects. Six new projects were completed this year.
Board of Trustees Chairman Ronald L. Zarrella ’71, president of GM North America, gave the keynote address at the gala, which was held in the Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park. "If Silicon Valley stands for innovation and leading-edge technology," said Zarrella, "then WPI calls to mind the principles we rely upon to make sense of this new world and fulfill its promise."
When he was an undergrad, Zarrella recalled, no one dreamed of the role information technologies would assume in everyday lives--or the extent to which they would fuel a new economy. "With the Silicon Valley Project Center, the University is expanding to fulfill a greater role in the world: we are not so much opening a new off-campus site as we are extending the boundaries of a vital institution."
West Coast alumni Curtis R. Carlson ’67, president and CEO of SRI International, and Michael R. Paige ’68, vice president and director of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, also spoke to the administrators, alumni, students and sponsors who attended the event. The center’s director, David Finkel, professor of computer science, introduced the most recent project teams, and President Parrish recognized WPI’s Silicon Valley partners.
"The Silicon Valley Project Center enables WPI to build links to the Valley’s burgeoning computer industry," he said, "and to tap into the considerable experience of California-based alumni."
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