Class Notes: Undergraduate Alumni

Feb 01 2015


Frank Brandt writes, “Seventy-one years later we include a bit of history. We were supposed to graduate in June 1943. It was war time and instead of going to Camp Columbia in the summer of 1942, the engineers went to classes all summer to accelerate their graduation from June 1943 to January 1943. The class of 1944 graduated in June 1943. Now we are getting older, but there are still a few January 1943 graduates here (like myself). The message to them is: Identify yourself in a message to Columbia Engineering News at”


Class Correspondent:

Gloria Reinish



Louis Silbert MS’48 writes, “After 66 years of a continuous, active, construction career, Parkinson’s disease compelled me to retire early in 2014.”



Vincent Megna writes, “I graduated in 1948 with a BSIE, and a major in mechanical engineering. When I graduated, ME and IE positions were difficult to find. Consequently, my first job was in electrical design for sugar facilities construction in Santo Domingo, Cuba. When the economy improved, I proceeded with mechanical and electrical design at Welton Becket and DMJM in California, both architectural and engineering firms. At that time, I obtained my Professional Engineering registrations in mechanical and electrical by examination. No computers to help at that time—we did it all via slide rule. On my next challenge, I was engaged by LBCW to form an engineering department in Virginia, which I did. It offered civil, structural, mechanical, and electrical services. I retired in 1987 as their director of engineering. A strong education in engineering can get you through most anything in engineering.”



Class Correspondent:

Ted Borri



Class Correspondent:

Peter Mauzey



Class Correspondent:

Don Ross



Class Correspondent:

Leo Cirino



Class Correspondent:

Lou Hemmerdinger


In November, Harold Reisman PhD’65 and wife, Miriam, cruised from Lisbon to Cadiz to Tangiers to Cape Verde and across the Atlantic to Brazil, with ports of call in Recife, Salvador, and Rio de Janeiro. Harold writes, “It was a relaxing time spent eating well, meeting fascinating people, and seeing more of the world. The ports were outstanding. Rio is especially beautiful! But the most memorable experience was in Recife, the site of the first Jewish settlement in the New World, where, after Sabbath services, a congregant, fluent in English, took us on a tour of Jewish and other historic sites in the city. After Maya, the oldest of our three grandchildren, graduates from high school in San Diego this May, we plan to travel to Israel for the June Bar Mitzvah of our grandson, Ephraim, who lives in Efrat with his family. Four of our eight grandchildren from Israel, and their parents, spent almost six weeks in Carlsbad as part of an extended visit to the U.S. last summer. One of the Israeli grandchildren just completed her MS in biochemistry at Hebrew U. and is living in LA with her husband, who is on scholarship at UCLA in an MBA program. They are expecting their first child in late January, and we are excited in anticipation of the arrival of our first great-grandchild.”



Robert Drucker writes, “I just returned from a three-week round-trip Miami cruise through the Caribbean and up the Amazon River as far as Manaus, the major city there. The Amazon is one muddy navigable river, complete with some six-foot-long ugly-looking fish, which outclass the stereotypical piranha. The most famous landmark in Manaus is the opera house built circa 1898 in the European style to emulate a continental ambiance desired by the ruling establishment. It’s quite ornate, in four tiers, and the faces of renowned European composers are sculpted in relief on the columns. It’s very similar to the Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii, whose king at about the same time wanted to convey a European aura as well. The area has seen an attempt at commercial rubber plantation but lost out to Malaysia. Growing threats to the environment can also be noted by clear-cutting of jungle areas to support agricultural industries and, as usual, the government has to provide support to threatened indigenous Indian tribes. The cruise encompassed port calls to St. Lucia, St. Barts, Grenada, Trinidad, St. Johns, and San Juan—quite standard for a Caribbean voyage. One port call included that stands out however is Devil’s Island, French Guyana. It really consists of three islands—the main being Isle Royale, the site of the main notorious French prison. Touring the site reveals a cruel hellhole for the inmates, who often risked death by trying to escape through shark-infested waters with powerful currents. The most famous political prisoner was Dreyfuss, who was unjustly held for four years, shackled, and isolated with a 24-hour guard on one of the smaller islands, clear-cut at the time to increase the isolation factor. He was released about 1898 after Emile Zola wrote the article “J’accuse,” published in a Paris newspaper. It is very strange that today the main island is now a French resort with a small hotel, shop, and restaurant as well as camping facilities.”

Jonah, a sculpture by Milton Ohring BS’58, MS and DSc’64 Jonah, a sculpture by Milton Ohring BS’58, MS and DSc’64

After earning three degrees from Columbia in metallurgical engineering, Milton Ohring MS and DSc’64 taught metallurgy and materials science at the Stevens Institute of Technology. In addition to the expected teaching and research activities, he wrote four books published by Academic Press: The Materials Science of Thin Films (1992, 2nd Edition in 2002), Engineering Materials Science (1995), and Reliability and Failure of Electronic Materials and Devices (1998). However, it was in retirement that he returned to his first love, art, and, in particular, sculpture. He writes, “In the past dozen years or so I have created many pieces in stone and metal dealing with biblical and Holocaust themes, and exhibited them in various venues over the years. A sample of these works can be seen on my web page, I believe my Columbia education benefitted me in more than the usual ways.”



Class Correspondent:

Betsey Altman



Class Correspondent:

Marshal (Mickey) Greenblatt



Class Correspondents:

Chuck Cole

Mark Herman



Class Correspondent:

Tom Magnani



50th Reunion

To take an active role in your Class Reunion activities, please contact Star Sawyer at or 212-851-2402.



Bill Quirk ’70GSAS was reelected to the California State Assembly for a second two-year term. He represents 435,000 residents in Hayward, Union City, Fremont, and the surrounding unincorporated areas. He is now chair of the Public Safety Committee, where he will be facing issues such as police use of force, medical cannabis regulation, and reducing the prison population.

p>Class Correspondent:


Ron Mangione


Ta Li BS'69 Ta Li BS'69


Ta Li has been elected an honorary member to the AIME. Honorary membership is one of the highest honors AIME bestows on an individual. Ta was presented with the award at the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration’s annual banquet in February.



45th Reunion

To take an active role in your Class Reunion activities, please contact Star Sawyer at or 212-851-2402.



Neil Marmor writes, “I read weekly to fourth graders at Normal Heights Elementary in San Diego. I tried working with high school kids but found their interests and so-called maturity rather baffling. The little kids have yet to discover sex, drugs, or rock ’n’ roll. They are enthusiastic and sincere. When given the option of being green like a frog, three kids out of 28 opted to be green. Three kids also said they wished they could have long furry tails like cats, despite the obvious attendant difficulties meeting society’s norms for attire when you have a tail. The kids are a joy. I now also know better how Gulliver felt when he was among the Lilliputians.”



40th Reunion

To take an active role in your Class Reunion activities, please contact Star Sawyer at or 212-851-2402.



Class Correspondents:

Larry Chung

Peter Luccarelli


Jason Makansi was honored to receive the 2014 Alumni Achievement Award from the McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN, during his 40th high school reunion. He is seeking publication of his debut novel, The Moment Before; continues to provide technology deployment and policy development services in the electricity industry to his clients through his independent consulting business, Pearl Street Inc. (now in its fifteenth year); enjoying regular social media updates from his nephew, Benjamin Makansi, a third-generation family member majoring in physics and philosophy at Columbia; and is helping his father, Munzer Makansi PhD’57, edit and format his autobiography.



Class Correspondent:

Stewart Levy



35th Reunion

To take an active role in your Class Reunion activities, please contact Star Sawyer at or 212-851-2402.



Class Correspondent:

James Reda



Class Correspondent:

Dan Libby

A new novel by Brian Kenneth Swain BS'85, MS'87 A new novel by Brian Kenneth Swain BS'85, MS'87

Brian Kenneth Swain MS’87 has just released his third novel (sixth book), entitled Sistina. It is a religious thriller spanning over 2,000 years—from the crucifixion of Christ to the present day. The book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book sites.



After serving as the executive director of the General Electric edgelab for 12 years, Chris Kalish has taken on the role as president and CEO of The IP Factory in East Hartford, CT. He writes, “IP Factory works with large corporations and research firms to acquire dormant or underutilized intellectual property and, with the expertise of seasoned entrepreneurs, launches new spin-offs based on that intellectual property.” In August of 2015, Chris will be starting a 27-month tour with the U.S. Peace Corps in Botswana, Africa.


Class Correspondents:

Caryn Frick

David Shofi



Class Correspondent:

Shreosee Roy



25th Reunion

To take an active role in your Class Reunion activities, please contact Star Sawyer at or 212-851-2402.


Class Correspondent:

Laura Cordani Christopher



Class Correspondent:

Radhi Majmudar



Class Correspondent:

Janneth Ignacio Marcelo



Class Correspondent:

Herbert Kreyszig


Ara Bederjikian writes, “After working on Wall Street for over 17 years, I have decided to start my own company, which is based in Raleigh, NC. OBX Computing Corporation (“OBX”) was founded by Tom Sullivan and me in October 2012 on the premise of connecting LED lights via a WiFi mesh network and creating an eco-friendly platform to deliver various cloud-based products and services. Each LED light contains a module that includes a microprocessor, WiFi antennas, and ports for sensors and cameras. The platform of technology-enhanced LEDs can be installed inside or outside and provides enhanced lighting control, Internet connectivity, and computing power to its owners. The company has a patent pending on its platform. The platform is targeted for installation in office buildings, schools, government buildings, and homes, etc. To date, OBX has raised $535K from outside investors and completed its first commercial installation in December 2014. Currently, I am a board member and the president of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) New York chapter, an association for accountants and financial professionals in business, a not-for- profit organization, which has over 700 members.”


Scott Genzer BS'93 and family Scott Genzer BS'93 and family

Scott Genzer writes, “I have recently moved to rural Norwich, VT, and live here with my wife, Kim, and two girls, Sarah (age 13) and Katie (age 10). I ended my 20-year career working in K12 schools in June 2013 and have started an educational consulting business, Genzer Consulting. I primarily work with K12 schools on data analysis and predictive analytics, allowing schools to leverage their data to help kids learn. It’s been a little eerie to use those engineering skills that have been residing dormant in my brain for so many years, but I am grateful to Teachers College Professor Ryan Baker and others for helping me along. I continue to visit CU whenever I am in the city and still do ARC interviews for CC/SEAS (now going on 10-plus years, I think). I’d love to connect with other CC/SEAS folks here in the Upper Valley, if there are any. In the heart of Dartmouth country, I wear my Columbia sweatshirt proudly. My daughter Sarah has her eye on Barnard’s dance program, so maybe you will see her there for Class of 2024.”



20th Reunion

To take an active role in your Class Reunion activities, please contact Beth Manchester at or 212-854-4472.



Class Correspondent:

Enrico Marini Fichera



Class Correspondent:

Kelly Lenz



Jonathan Speier wed last May in Florida with a number of Columbia graduates from the Class of '97 in attendance. Pictured from left to right: Allegra Blackburn-Dwyer '00BC, John O'Neill '97CC, Amir Arison '00CC, Felice Belle BS'97, Daniel Evans '97CC, Maya Arison Speier '01BUS, Jonathan Speier BS'97Andre Avzaradel BS'97, Carter Turrell Celente '97CC, Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio '97CC, Kristian Concepcion BS'97, Anna Remet King '99CC.



15th Reunion

To take an active role in your Class Reunion activities, please contact Beth Manchester at or 212-854-4472.


Class Correspondent:

Daisy Chow



Class Correspondent:

Catherine Marcinkevage


Daniel Haders BS'01 and family Daniel Haders BS'01 and family

Daniel Haders, his wife, Allison Haders, MD ’01BC, and their two sons, Danny and Cole, welcomed a new addition to their family, Grant Patrick Haders, on October 22, 2014. Daniel is currently the cofounder and CEO of Sanar Biosciences, an emerging nanopharmaceutical company focused on the development of targeted nanotherapeutics for the oncology market.



Class Correspondent:

John Morris


Saurabh Jain writes, “My wife, Seema, and I had our second son, Saarik, last March. My oldest, Aarav, just turned 3 in November. I am a partner at an investment firm called BHR Capital, based in New York. I am still playing lots of basketball and hope to see the Lions go all the way this year.”



Class Correspondent:

Amar Doshi


Kelly (Lawson) Brancaleone MS’04, PE, is owner and principal engineer of the company she established, Brancaleone Engineering, LLC. The firm provides structural engineering consulting for residential and light commercial projects in the Greater Boston area. She resides in Gloucester, MA, with her husband, Jack, and two children, Janelle, age 5, and Jack, age 2.



Class Correspondent:

Eric Rhee


Brian Ballan BS'04 (left) and partner Brian Ballan BS'04 (left) and partner

Eric Rhee writes, “Greetings Class of 2004! I’ve had the pleasure of catching up with several classmates who have all done such interesting things recently. According to Facebook, Pia Ambardar is now married and works for Congrats Pia! Also, check out the ultimate collection of designer jewelry at, where Jenn Chu is now the VP of merchandising. Congratulations to Jiwon Chung, who got hitched to his wife, Sena, this past fall. Last but not least, a big shout out to Brian Ballan, who is growing his awesome condiment business, A&B American Style. The pepper sauce with garlic is my favorite.”



10th Reunion

To take an active role in your Class Reunion activities, please contact Jonathan Whitford at or 212-854-2317.


Class Correspondent:

Devang Doshi


Alan Chia and Eiffel Zhang were married on September 9, 2014.


Christine Luu BS'05 Christine Luu BS'05

Christine Luu finished her federal clerkship for a district judge in Memphis, and just joined the intellectual property department of Kirkland & Ellis, focusing on patent litigation, specifically infringement of medical devices.



Class Correspondent:

Nick Jennings



Class Correspondent:

Tamsin Davies



Class Correspondent:

Amy Lin



Ricardo Saavedra MS’10 is founder of a Washington, DC–based tech company, Vizonomy, that is basically making the cost for developing climate risk assessments much cheaper. His start-up helps cities become aware of this risk in order to promote climate-resilient and sustainable development. If it’s of interest, I could provide a summary. Thx!



5th Reunion

To take an active role in your Class Reunion activities, please contact Jonathan Whitford at or 212-854-2317.


Class Correspondent:

Heather Lee


Austin Brauser writes, “I’m still living in the Midlands of England and working for Zytek Automotive as a mechanical designer, where I specialize in developing prototype electric powertrains and motorsport hybrid systems. As far as my personal life goes, I have joined a baseball team over here, and I have also gotten into cycling and running over the past year.”


After being dissatisfied with her post-grad job in the Greater Los Angeles area, Alysha Chan MS’14returned to Columbia for an MS in earth and environmental engineering, which she also studied as an undergrad. Alysha now resides in San Diego, CA, and works at the San Diego office of Tetra Tech. She is excited for the SEAS Class of 2010 Reunion in May and hopes to see many of her classmates!


Erin Crafts and Nicholas Tucker are engaged! Erin was recently licensed as a Professional Engineer, and Nick accepted a job with the Titan Aerospace division of Google.


Varun Gulati writes, “Friends, I’m writing from sunny California, which I’ve had the privilege of calling my home for the past two-and-a-half years. It’s a fascinatingly different world out here in Silicon Valley. Every other person has a startup idea, and, if you play your cards right, you can make your idea into a reality. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to do just that. I’ve cofounded an education technology company called UClass with two former Columbia roommates (what up, East Campus!), Zak Ringelstein ’08CC and Chris Yim ’10CC. I’m in a book club with a few Columbians here in San Francisco. We mostly read novels from the New York Times bestseller list, and occasionally we’ll do ‘hoity-toity’ things like drink wine and eat charcuterie. Basically, it’s just like Lit Hum all over again. If you’re ever in the Bay Area, please say hello! Would love to grab a bite with you and chat about Columbia football, or whatever else it is that we’re supposed to talk about!”


Edward Kim recently moved back to New York after spending four years in Boston, first as an energy market consultant and then at Harvard Business School. He remains a Yankees fan and looks forward to seeing everyone at the five-year Reunion in May.


Vickram Mohan writes, “I am living in London, working for the investment bank Evercore (absolutely nothing to do with chemical engineering!). I’m also involved with a few nonprofits and continue to be an avid runner, most recently in a local half-marathon. I am planning to move back to the U.S. in 2015 and hope to land up in NYC. A Columbia graduate degree in economics/finance may be in my future.”


Brian Pan writes, “I continue to work at Galt and Company as a strategy consultant, where I have been since leaving Accenture strategy nearly three years ago. I am based in NYC but have been privileged to work on global projects, traveling extensively in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This past year, I visited more than a dozen countries and over 25 cities, getting to know Johannesburg and Istanbul the best. I hope to see some of you folks that left the Heights at our five-year Reunion!”



Class Correspondent:

Justin Merced



Class Correspondents:

Rebecca Frauzem

Hannah Cui



Class Correspondent:

Mary Byers



Class Correspondent:

Victoria Nneji