Tagliatela College of Engineering Inducts 2018 Hall of Fame Class
Honorees included the former owner of Precision Metal Products in Milford, a retired executive with New York City’s Department of Highways, a senior engineer with Medtronic who serves as an adjunct professor, and a company that has found the University’s engineering students to be go-to interns and employees.
December 10, 2018
Cory Hall, principal cybersecurity engineer at MITRE – a nonprofit that runs federally funded research and development centers that assist the U.S. government with scientific research and analysis – concedes that the project he developed for one of his first University of New Haven interns was a difficult one.
The task was to organize all of the internet’s domain records and to continually reorganize them to determine if computers had been hacked.
“The intern had to develop a method for capturing all of these billions of records and then sort them again every couple of days throughout the summer,” Hall explains. “It was a really, really hard task.”
Hall says the intern, Kyle Anthony '14, '15 M.S., was “absolutely able to do it” and presented several solutions. Anthony is now a full-time engineer with the organization.
Since then MITRE has provided paid internships to seven students, with plans already in place to take on more interns in the summer of 2019, and it has funded faculty and student research and paid travel expenses for student researchers.
“The partnership is a win-win situation. They get the cream of the crop students, and we get a fantastic relationship with a wonderful, leading edge organization.Abe Baggili, Elder Family Chair and assistant dean of the Tagliatela College of Engineering
“They’ve hired five of our graduates in the last three years and they all make six-figure salaries,” Baggili continues.
The award presented to MITRE was one of four presented recently at the Tagliatela College of Engineering’s annual alumni dinner and hall of fame awards ceremony.
Distinguished Lifetime Alumni Award
The Distinguished Alumni Award was given posthumously to William (Bill) O’Brien ’64, who was president and owner of Precision Metal Products in Milford. Over the course of four decades, O’Brien — who died at the age of 80 in May 2017 — expanded the company from a five-employee shop to a high-performance, precision-machined product business. With 140 employees, including an in-house engineering staff, Precision Metals supplies parts to the medical instrument, aerospace, and electronics industries.
O’Brien first became interested in engineering when he studied tool design and drafting after high school. After serving as a police officer in the Air Force, he got his degree in industrial engineering at what was then New Haven College.
His wife, Jean, said each day at work O’Brien lived by the philosophy “we can always do it better.” That took root at the start of his career when, as an engineer at Schick, he’d work both shifts so he could watch a product line run and make changes so the process could be more efficient.
It continued when he became president and owner of Precision Metals in 1977. “He valued everyone’s knowledge,” Jean said. “That’s why he worked with people on the floor a lot.”
While he listened to all his employees, there were times when he had to be convinced. His son, Sean O’Brien ’97 recalled a time when, he as the general manager, proposed placing the lathe next to the milling machine which “was different than the norm at the time,” said Sean.
“He always gave me the freedom to try to do things better,” Sean said. Now, as vice president of Precision Metals, he says, “I try to do that every day.”
He’d inherited a mess when he joined the department in the 1970s. Corruption was rampant in the city. Bridges and highway structures hadn’t been routinely and properly inspected and city roads had been damaged over decades when utility companies failed to properly create street curb cutouts.
Upon accepting the position, Squeglia, who studied management and industrial engineering at then New Haven College, drew from his manufacturing background, where he developed “c=0 sampling plans,” which essentially changed the culture of quality programs by focusing on making manufacturing products 100 percent to specifications and eliminating the common practice of allowing a certain percent of defective items to be shipped.
At the time, Squeglia went against a standard that every company was using, both military and commercial, but, soon, his approach became the industry standard. His book “Zero Acceptance Number (c=0) Sampling Plans” was published by the American Society for Quality, and it is still in print more than 50 years later.
During his time with the Department of Highways, he oversaw quality across the five boroughs for thousands of miles of roads, 2,000 highway structures, and waterway bridges — and the work of more than 200 inspectors.
A certified six sigma black belt and certified quality engineer by the American Society for Quality, he later returned to manufacturing quality control, working on a startup that he sold, and he also was director of quality for a large, full-service, first-tier automotive supplier to 13 automotive assembly plants in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and England.
Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Carolina Ramirez-Blier ’09, senior design quality engineer at Medtronics and an adjunct professor in the Tagliatela College of Engineering, received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.
When she thinks of the message she wants her mechanical engineering students to carry with them, it’s that the field of engineering needs a rich tapestry of voices. “When people come from different backgrounds, it brings new perspectives, and that can totally help make a team and a project successful,” she said.
Her own professors told her this when she studied mechanical engineering.
“They pushed me to be confident in the fact that I could solve very complex problems, and I could do engineering like anybody else.Carolina Ramirez-Blier ’09
Growing up in Venezuela in a family of architects and engineers, she loved taking things apart to “see how things worked.” She couldn’t get enough of math, science, and art and soon
decided she would work in the place where they intersected: engineering. In 2001, after a year studying engineering in Venezuela, she moved to the U.S. and pursued an associate degree in graphic design, working in packaging design while knowing that “engineering was my calling.”
A Presidential Scholarship allowed her to enroll in the University’s mechanical engineering program, and she felt committed to her academics and “the priceless opportunity” the University gave her. She had her son on the Monday of spring break, “and the following Monday, I was back in my classes full-time.”
The next year, she won an Igor Sikorsky Scholarship, and the Sikorsky transmission team liked her work so much, she stayed on, working 30 hours a week, while taking classes fulltime and raising her family.
Ramirez-Blier, who went on to earn a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University, wants the next generation of female engineers to know that so much is possible.