ESM Alumni Advisory Board – Hard at Work for the Department

Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Alumni, Outreach & Service | 0 comments

ESM Alumni Advisory Board – Hard at Work for the Department

by Rick Schutz (’72 E SC)

Rick SchutzWe, as Penn State alums, generally feel a pretty strong love and affinity for Penn State…and we typically want to give something back to good ‘ole State. The same goes for many Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM) grads. How can we help current students in ESM to best prepare for good jobs, to make significant impacts in their workplaces and communities, and, in the best case, to make the world a better place?  As someone with many years of experience in the engineering working world I felt that maybe I could help in this effort. This is why I got involved in the ESM Alumni Advisory Board.

Once I got involved with the Board and heard about the current programs and research activities, I was blown away. One example is the intersection of engineering mechanics and medicine; this marriage is leading to once inconceivable breakthroughs. Along these lines, ESM and the Penn State Hershey Medical Center/College of Medicine is now offering a joint MD/PhD  that focuses on developing a new generation of physician engineering scientists who will bring transformational impacts to our society…now that’s what I call interdisciplinary!  Next, how can the study of why water bugs can walk on water or why geckos can stick to walls be important to the real world…would you believe it can help increase the efficiency of turbines?  Examples like this abound!

ESM Alumni SocietyThe mission of the Board is to advance the department’s world-wide recognition by recruiting and retaining diverse, quality students then preparing these students for the work environment while promoting the understanding, attractiveness and perceived value of ESM in industry, research and academia.

The group has 18 members from diverse fields of academia and industry who have benefited from the wonderful multidisciplinary training we all received in ESM. The board is comprised of professors, CEOs of small companies, consultants and small business owners with graduation years ranging from 1960 to 2012! That’s a lot of practical real-life engineering experience!

The Board is currently working to help not only current ESM students but also the department in areas of recruiting, communications, awards, informal mentoring and student/industry networking. As such, we’ve defined four major committees to accomplish these goals: communications and public relations; student and industrial relations; department and university relations; and development and alumni relations.

If you have the same desire I do to put your experience to work helping the department and its students make a mark in the world, get involved with our Board. Contact Jim Smiley, Board chairman, at or Emily Gallagher, ESM alumni coordinator, at for more information.


Rick Schutz is an independent computer software professional in the Washington, DC area. For fifteen years, he was a department manager at PEC Solutions. Prior to this, he worked as an advisory engineer for IBM.

A member of the Engineering Science and Mechanics Alumni Society, serving as chair of the board’s communications and public relations committee, Rick earned a master’s in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. At Penn State, he was a member of Tau Beta Pi, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and the Penn Statesmen jazz band.

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