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Explain your career path
I began my career as a staff physicist with Rockwell International in their defense communications division. I was ultimately responsible for designing interfaces for the new Air Force One fleet of aircraft, systems which had to be impervious to Soviet surveillance techniques. All of my designs passed their NSA tests with perfect scores, and the technology I developed still flies on the Air Force One fleet today. In 1989, my career took a sharp turn from the technical side towards the business side by entering the semiconductor industry as an applications engineer. After 8 years and three companies, I co-founded Summit Microelectronics in 1997, developing the world's first programmable analog ICs. Summit had many successes, but one I am particularly proud of was the introduction of the first USB charging chips for use in cell phones and other handheld devices, thus ushering in the era of universal charging. Summit was preparing for an IPO in 2012 when Qualcomm acquired our company. The Summit division of Qualcomm invented the Quick Charge fast-charging technology which is used on 90% of Android devices worldwide today. I left Qualcomm in 2018 and have recently formed a new company, EnScientia, LLC, which promotes the integrity of scientific research.
What was your major at Southeast and how would you characterize the quality of that program to prospective students?
I was a physics major at SEMO. I can only characterize the quality of education I received as excellent. I must admit I was somewhat intimidated upon hiring into my first job out of school along with recent graduates from the likes of Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma State, and Mizzou. I quickly discovered that I could hold my own, and that my education at SEMO had provided applicable knowledge my peers did not possess.
Why did you choose to attend Southeast?
My father taught there, and I was very familiar with the institution.
Who influenced you most during your time at Southeast?
The late Dr. Robert Freeman, in my major, and the late Robert N. Cox, advisor, as a mentor.
Share your best college memory.
There are many to choose from, but I will count this one as the best because it was the first: As a senior in high school at Cape Girardeau central, I enrolled for some classes at SEMO, including Astronomy 101 in the fall semester with Dr. Leo Connelly, whom I already knew. Dr. Connelly named me the Astronomy lab assistant for the spring semester. When the students learned their lab assistant was a "high school kid" they were taken aback and were a bit disrespectful to me. I earned their confidence and their trust over the course of the semester, and made several friends along the way.
If you were in Greek Life, the Honors Program or any other student organization, please tell us about that experience and how it impacted you.
I was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, holding four offices including President. I was also a member and President of the Society of Physics Students. I was named to the Alpha Council my senior year, and was a semi-finalist for SEMO Man-of-the-Year. In PiKA I learned leadership and interpersonal skills that have served me well throughout my entire career.
What is the most important thing you learned while you were at Southeast?
The value of a well-rounded education. Success in life only starts with what you know, but needs to be augmented with the ability to apply that knowledge. Or, put another way, the ability to get things done. One starts with a good idea, but he or she must be able to communicate that idea to others, be open to new information and viewpoints (including criticism), and be able to negotiate differences towards a viable end goal. I learned these things at SEMO from both my coursework and my extra-curricular organizations.
Describe Southeast in three words.
Well rounded education
What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
Be bold, and be prepared to explain why your education at SEMO can provide unique skills to the entity for which you engage. You can hold your own against your peers from the so-called "top schools." Be proud and let it show!