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2018 Spring Fling
Close to 100 SRI alumni and guests enjoyed a Spring Fling visit to the Apple Park Visitor Center at the Apple headquarters site in Cupertino, California, on May 13, 2018. After a brief welcome and introduction from an Apple employee, most of the group gravitated to the Exhibition, a space with a plain white model of the Apple campus, which turns into a full-color photographic aerial view on iPads provided by employees. The roof of the circular main building (popularly known as “the spaceship”) in the image can be raised to show the layout of the interior (visitors are not allowed in the main building). There was plenty of opportunity for socializing and greeting old friends and colleagues, especially by circulating among the indoor and outdoor tables of the Café while enjoying free catered box lunches from Whole Foods. Photos of the event are available here.
2017 Annual Reunion
The 2017 Alumni Association reunion was held on the 5th of October in the SRI International Building. As usual, it began with an hour or so of hors d’oeuvres and socializing—reacquainting with friends and the enjoyment of meeting not a few people for the first time.
The SRI leader who gave us an update on SRI was Peter Marcotullio, SRI’s Vice President of Commercial R&D Development. Since Peter’s domain spans the institute, he is broadly aware of its day-to-day operations and was in a perfect position to give us a very informative picture of SRI today, from SRI’s core values to meeting the research challenges of a rapidly changing world.
This year, there were four inductees into the Alumni Hall of Fame. Two awards were for research in the area of education, Mary Wagner and Barbara Means, and two were for work in the physical sciences as part of the organization known for years as the Poulter Laboratory, Jim Colton and Don Curran.
The program concluded with a drawing for door prizes, followed by a return to the foyer for another round of socializing and enjoying the now traditional chocolate fountain.
Photos from the Reunion can be found here.
2017 Spring Fling
The 2017 Spring Fling stayed close to home and was based on a simple idea: just let alumni come and reacquaint themselves with former colleagues. It was held Thursday, May 11, and consisted of a free lunch at Burgess Park, right next to SRI. Sixty-five alumni and guests showed up and visited for nearly three hours. Of course, everyone is curious about how SRI is doing, but most of the time was spent reliving experiences at SRI and exploring retirement adventures. To view photos, click here:
2016 Annual Reunion and 20th Anniversary Celebration
The SRI Alumni Association celebrated its 20th anniversary at its recent 2016 annual reunion. About 65 alumni association members attended the reunion in the International Building in Menlo Park. The evening got underway in the exhibit hall, where attendees enjoyed wine, hors d'oeuvres, and discussions about the "good-old days.”
After the social hour, SRI President Steve Ciesinski talked to attendees about the institute's new structure and business philosophy and business models. Dr. Peter Neumann, senior principal scientist in SRI’s Computer Science Lab, gave a talk titled "Computer-Related Risks: A View of the Future from the Past and Present."
Jerry Lucca, David Boldrick, Gerald Gleason, and Gerald Agin were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame. The evening concluded with the raffle of door prizes and a special edition of Conference Services desert table in honor of the SRI Alumni Association’s 20-year celebration. A good time was had by all!
2016 Spring Fling
SRI alumni and their guests enjoyed a visit to the Elizabeth F. Gamble historic home and garden in Palo Alto at the 2016 Spring Fling in May. The weather was inclement, but that didn’t stop any of the alumni from exploring the ground floor of the 1902 Colonial/Georgian Revival house and the formal, working, and demonstration gardens. Spring Fling attendees enjoyed lunch together in the carriage house.
Elizabeth Frances Gamble was one of four children in her family along with siblings James, George, and Launcelot. After college, Elizabeth spent the remainder of her life in the Gamble house on Waverley Street, where her gardens became known throughout the community. She shared them generously and donated her house and garden to the City of Palo Alto in 1981.
2015 Annual Reunion
The 2015 Reunion was held on September in the SRI International Building. More than 100 alumni, family, and friends attended this happy event. A local harpist played soothing background music while the attendees consumed their buffet dinner and discussed old times with friends and colleagues. View photos from the event.
During the “meeting” porting of the event, we heard about the state of SRI from John Prausa, SRI’s Chief Operating Officer. Following John’s presentation, Manish Kothari, President of SRI Ventures, gave a talk about SRI's recent advances in robotics. Both talks were well received by the audience.
Four new members were inducted into the SRI Alumni Hall of Fame. They are Ivor Brodie, David Brown, Curtis Carlson, and Ronald Moore. Learn more about the 2015 inductees.
2015 Spring Fling
On April 29, a group of SRI alumni and their spouses and friends toured the Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos. The tour started with box lunches and drinks in the outdoor "meeting area" in front of the facility. It was a lovely warm day, albeit a bit windy. During the lunch, the attendees were able to chat with each other and renew old friendships.
The SRI Alumni Association hosts two main social events each year for alumni and their families: an annual reunion at SRI headquarters in the fall, and a Spring Fling field trip. Following are highlights from recent annual reunions and Spring Flings.
Our tour guides then arrived with hard hats and colorful vests that everyone was required to wear during the tour. Before entering the Environmental Center proper, the guides gave us an overview of exactly what happens after you’ve rolled your recycle container to the curb for pick-up. Most folk only know that a truck comes by, dumps your recycle in with that of your neighbors, and drives away.
During the walking tour, we observed the entire sorting and transportation process. We saw (and heard, in spite of our earplugs) how the paper gets sorted into one pile, the plastics another, metals to a third, and the remainder to a fourth to a landfill pile. We also observed a constant stream of "recycle" trucks arriving to dump their loads, and "transport" trucks leaving with sorted material destined for specific recycling facilities. Seeing the entire process in person was both satisfying and interesting.
2014 Annual Reunion
About 100 alumni and their guests attended the 2014 Annual Reunion on Thursday, September 18, in Menlo Park to enjoy refreshments, each other’s company, and news from SRI. Alumni Association Chairman Pete Valenti welcomed everyone to the program portion of the evening and described the status of the Alumni Association. Pete explained that membership is dwindling, with the count currently at 319 members. He encouraged each member to bring in one additional alumnus this year, noting that the first year of membership is free.
Alice Resnick, SRI Vice President of Corporate & Marketing Communications, presented the current status of the Institute. She said that 2014 has been a year of transition. Tom Little retired as Director of Support Operations after a 44-year career at SRI. Tom Furst also retired, after 18 years as CFO. Finally, Curt Carlson retired after 16 years as SRI President and CEO. SRI’s new President and CEO is Bill Jeffrey, who we had hoped to meet and address the alumni. However, he was called to a client meeting, an engagement that understandably took priority.
2013 Annual Reunion
On Friday, September 13, 2013, SRI alumni from the San Francisco Bay Area gathered in SRI's International Building for their annual reunion. It began with genial conversation over drinks and delicious hors d’oeuvres and then turned to news about SRI, with presentations on the status of the institute and on the Arecibo Observatory, which SRI manages for the National Science Foundation. The attendees also honored two inductees into the Alumni Hall of Fame. As usual, the evening ended with the raffle of great door prizes and the popular chocolate fountain.
Tom Furst, senior vice president and chief financial officer, began his update by looking back at the events that had been held in the International Building Conference Center over the last few months, marveling at their diversity and richness. The institute had hosted the SRI Fellows presentation honoring Phil Porras and Ian Colrain for their accomplished technical careers (see the August 2013 issue of the Alumni Association Newsletter) and the Staff Awards dinner for employees with 25-plus years of service, some of whom had been at SRI for 55 years. SRI had also opened the doors to the public with Café Scientifique, which SRI has been hosting monthly since 2007, and a Churchill Club program on the future of human-computer interaction. The FBI of Northern California had met in the building—600 agents strong, pitches for new venture opportunities had been made to local venture capitalists, and an all-hands meeting had been held for the SRI staff. Tom said that no matter who was in attendance or what the subject was, the common element was that the room was energized. He noted that the alumni reunion had the same energy.
2012 Annual Reunion
About 100 SRI alumni convened in the International Building at SRI headquarters on September 27, 2012, for updates on each other’s status and the status of the institute. Alumni Association Steering Committee Chair Tom Anyos greeted the alumni and introduced the speakers for the evening, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Tom Furst and SRI's President of Global Partnerships, Stephen Ciesinski.
Tom Furst declared that these are great times for SRI. The institute is doing well, performing “work that has an impact on the planet.” He acknowledged that winning federal government contract work is challenging because budget cutbacks mean that SRI and other research organizations are competing for less work. The SRI staff now numbers 2,500, compared with 1,200 ten years ago. Much of this growth is occurring outside Menlo Park. While headquarters is expected to grow by 16 to 17 percent in five years, growth in regional sites (such as Michigan, Princeton, Florida, the Shenandoah Valley, and Washington, D.C.) is expected to double.
Steve Ciesinski described how the SRI innovation process is being introduced to the world through SRI workshops on innovation. The Five Disciplines of Innovation®
process is used internally at SRI and is described in Innovation: The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want, by SRI President and Chief Executive Officer Curt Carlson and William W. Wilmot, director of the Collaboration Institute. According to Steve, Wright- Patterson Air Force Base wants to institutionalize the approach throughout its organization, and representatives of Finland, Taiwan, Chile, and Brazil have taken the concepts back to their governments and industries.
2012 Spring Fling to the Computer History Museum
On May 17, San Francisco Bay Area SRI alumni visited the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. They enjoyed seeing the many artifacts related to the history of computing, especially those donated by SRI.
2011 Annual Reunion
The SRI alumni and guests attending the 2011 Annual Reunion enjoyed a beautiful fall day in Menlo Park, as well as each other’s company and a very interesting program.
Tom Furst, SRI's senior vice president and CFO, delivered the report on the status of the institute. With 2011 being SRI’s 65th anniversary, Tom noted that the institute was well established when Silicon Valley began and that SRI helped create it and will continue to contribute. At 65, SRI is growing—and in locations besides Menlo Park, such as Harrisonburg, VA; San Luis Obispo, CA; Ann Arbor, MI; and San Diego, CA; former subsidiary Sarnoff Corporation was merged into SRI on January 1, 2011, and is now referred to as SRI Sarnoff or SRI Princeton. Alumni were astounded to hear that the proposal volume for 2011 is expected to approach $2 billion and were equally impressed with the size of the three projects Tom highlighted as wins this year:
- The DARPA BOLT (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Broad Operational Language Translation) project is funded at $42 million for five years.
- SRI’s management of the Arecibo Observatory for NSF (National Science Foundation) is funded at $50 million for five years (see August 2011 newsletter).
- NIH (National Institutes of Health) awarded SRI Biosciences $100 million for 10 years to continue evaluating new vaccines and disease treatments.
- His first example concerned United Airlines Flight 232, which crash landed in Sioux City, IA, in July 1989. An in-flight catastrophic failure of the tail-mounted engine had caused fragments to penetrate the fuselage and sever the hydraulic lines, causing loss of power to all the flight controls.
- On another project, Don and his colleagues, working with Stanford University, produced CT X-ray and MRI images of stented and unstented arteries to provide the information needed by manufacturers to design stents that do not fail in the body.
- When NASA astronauts came back to Earth with holes in their gloves, Don’s center identified the source of the problem as micrometeorite impact damage on the International Space Station’s handrails and developed non-snagable patches for the gloves.
- The armoring required to protect against IEDs (improvised explosive devices) is making military vehicles too heavy. Under a Defense Department contract, Don’s group worked with a glass company to develop the new lighter-weight window materials that are currently replacing vehicle windows in military vehicles.
2011 Spring Fling to the Walt Disney Family Museum
On May 12, a group of SRI alumni and their spouses and friends toured the beautiful Walt Disney Family Museum at the Presidio of San Francisco. They were warmly welcomed by Diane Disney Miller, Walt’s daughter, who created the museum and located it in San Francisco. The visitors then strolled through the 10 galleries containing artifacts and photographs chronicling Walt Disney’s life, from his birth through his industry-building in Hollywood. A particularly interesting aspect was the technical innovation required for the evolution of animated movies. The museum also has a splendid view of the Golden Gate Bridge. When the tour ended, the group enjoyed box lunches on the balcony with a view of the Presidio and the City.
2010 Annual Reunion
SRI alumni gathered at the International Building on September 21 for the annual chance to catch up on news about each other and about the institute. More than 100 alumni and guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and drinks while chatting in the lobby.
SRI CEO Curt Carlson gave a State of the Institute presentation, mentioning that more than $1 billion in proposals were outstanding and that the recent win rate was very good. Eric Pearson, described the research activities of his division.
All those attending enjoyed the conviviality, interesting speakers, delicious food, and complimentary SRI Alumni baseball caps and visors.
2010 Spring Fling to the California Academy of Sciences
On May 17, 46 alumni and guests braved a drizzly day to tour the exhibits at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. The Academy’s impressive facility, which opened in September 2008, houses a natural history museum, planetarium, aquarium, and four-story rainforest. The building itself is a showcase of sustainable design and construction, including the living roof, which is planted with native plants. (The Academy received a Platinum-level LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.) Seeing it all in just a day is quite a challenge, so the attendees toured at their own pace.
2009 Annual Reunion
2009 Spring Fling to the Computer History Museum
In Spring 2009, the SRI Alumni Association organized a visit to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. It had been five years since we last visited the Museum. Since then, new exhibits have been added, so it was time for a re-visit. About 35 people attended and the visit began with a talk during lunch by Judy Estrin, CEO of JLABS, LLC (formerly known as Packet Design Management Company). On Fortune Magazine’s list of the most powerful women in American business three times. She is the author of Closing the Innovation Gap; Reigniting the Spark of Creativity in a Global Economy, published in September 2008. Following Judy’s presentation, visitors were free to tour the museum.
The Museum’s collection of artifacts contains more than 13,000 objects, 25,000 still and moving images, 4,000 linear feet of documentation, 5,000 software items and several hundred gigabytes of historic software.
2008 Annual Reunion
2008 Spring Fling to NASA Ames Research Center
On April 24, the SRI Alumni visited NASA’s Future Flight Central simulation facility, the only one of its kind in the United States and toured one of NASA’s wind tunnels.
NASA Ames Research Center, located at Moffett Field, California was founded on December 20, 1939 as an aircraft research laboratory by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). In 1958, it became part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). With more than $3 billion in capital equipment, 2,300 research personnel, and an annual budget of $600 million, Ames plays a critical role in virtually all NASA missions.
Ames is a national leader in information technology research, supercomputing, nanotechnology, networking and intelligent systems, fundamental space biology, biotechnology, aerospace and thermal protection systems and human factors research. In addition, Ames works collaboratively with the FAA conducting research in air traffic management and simulation.
2007 Annual Reunion
2007 Spring Fling to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
On Wednesday morning, May 16, a group of about 35 SRI Alumni met in front of SRI's Building A to board the bus for Livermore, California. The big event was the Alumni Spring Fling -- a trip to Lawrence Livermore National Lab arranged by our very own Tom Anyos, who had the credentials with the Department of Energy to get us inside the security barrier to see what's going on.
Following a very fine lunch in Livermore at the Crooked Vine Winery, we went to the lab and passed through their security checkpoint. We then proceeded to the National Ignition Facility for a close look at this impressive $3.5 Billion facility, whose purpose is to study the behavior of materials at temperatures and pressures many times greater than those at the center of the sun. The NIF will permit a giant step in the understanding of such environments.
2006 Spring Fling to SLAC in Menlo Park
The SRI Alumni Spring Fling was held on May 23, 2006 at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, CA. For many of the 80-plus Alumni attending, this was their first opportunity to tour the SLAC facility. Established in 1962, SLAC is one of the world’s leading research laboratories. Its mission is to design, construct, and operate state-of-the-art electron accelerators and related experimental facilities for use in high-energy physics and synchrotron radiation research. The Alumni were surprised to learn that more than 3,000 visiting scientists from universities, laboratories, and industrial firms from the U.S. and many foreign countries can routinely be found working at SLAC. SLAC also boasts of three Nobel Prize winners and numerous prestigious awards received over the years.
SLAC occupies 426 acres of oak grassland. Among the diverse native flora found here are four of California’s 18 species of oak trees. A wide variety of animal life can be seen here as well, including mule deer, red-tailed hawks, gopher snakes, and an occasional mountain lion. After a picnic lunch under the trees, many of the Alumni boarded buses and enjoyed a tour of the key attractions of the facility.
2005 Spring Fling to Hiller Aviation Museum
In Spring 2005, the SRI Alumni Association organized a visit to the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, CA. Approximately 75 Alumni, family, and friends shared box lunches prior to the tour. The walking tour was self-guided; visitors could take as much time as they desired examining the full-size aircraft that chronicle aviation history since 1869.
The museum contains a 27,600 square foot main gallery with more than 40 aircraft, exhibits, and many interactive displays. The museum is truly a unique experience with a cohesive theme devoted to telling the story of early historical and future aviation developments in California. The aircraft on display included a 1-hp unmanned heavier-than-air aeroplane from 1869; numerous early helicopters; the Condor, a super-secret robotic spy plane that flew in the 1980s; and a full-size mock-up of the Boeing SST that never went into production.
2004 Spring Fling to the Computer History Museum
In Spring 2004, the Alumni Association organized a visit to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. The museum had recently been moved from Boston, MA. While the displays were still in the process of being set up in their permanent locations, hundreds of mechanical and electronic calculators and computers, slide rules of all shapes and sizes, and early core memories were on display. Approximately 70 alumni enjoyed renewed acquaintances and shared good times over box lunches prior to the docent-led tour.
The Museum's collection of artifacts contains more than 13,000 objects, 25,000 still and moving images, 4,000 linear feet of documentation, 5,000 software items and several hundred gigabytes of historic software.