Woman wearing dark colors showcases her prosthetic right leg, which has a white pattern and is shiny. It contains customized fairings from Bespoke Innovations. Photo courtesy of Bespoke Innovations.

Alumnus Adds Personal Touch to Prosthetic Limbs

By Sarah Kyo, Public Affairs Assistant

Black-and-white portrait of SJSU alumnus Scott Summit, co-founder of Bespoke Innovations

SJSU alumnus Scott Summit uses 3-D technology to personalize prosthetic limbs. Photo courtesy of Bespoke Innovations.

Design, medicine and technology merge at the San Francisco workplace of SJSU alumnus Scott Summit, ’94, Industrial Design. His company Bespoke Innovations uses 3-D technology to create customized fairings, which are covers that attach to prosthetic limbs to re-create human form.

According to Bespoke Innovations’ website, a camera scans a person’s existing leg and captures imagery that is flipped on a computer. For a double-amputee, someone with appropriate build would be a stand-in for the scanning. The person selects from a variety of customization options, including materials, styles and appearance — even tattoos. Finally, a 3-D printer prints out the actual fairing.

For its fairings, Bespoke Innovations ended 2011 on a high note with a Good Design Award, a global award for new designs and products. Months prior, Summit and fellow designer Chris Campbell also earned a GOLD Idea award from the Industrial Designers Society.

His Design Ecosystem

With more than 20 years of overall experience in the industry and multiple awards, Summit credits his alma mater for some of his success.

“SJSU was a great ecosystem for me to explore design,” he said. “Though it lacked the funding and facilities of other design departments, the students and faculty were passionate and driven.”

His most influential professor in the Industrial Design Program was Tomasz Migurski.

“I suspect I was a headache to him, since I was certain at the time that I was the best designer that would ever be,” Summit said. “His assignments left me humbled, which I’ve since come to accept is the most important stage for any aspiring designer. I ended up working far harder to learn to think like a designer than I had at anything prior.”

Helping Others Through Creativity

In 2009, Summit co-founded Bespoke Innovations with orthopedic surgeon Kenneth Trauner. An interview with the New York Times about 3-D printing led to the company’s big break.

“I suspected the story would amount to nothing more than a passing mention deep in the paper, so I was willing to offer up the concept before we had a business plan to back it up,” Summit said. “The story ended up on the front page, above the fold, with a picture, and was the most forwarded story for weeks after. Needless to say, we were inundated with interest, and quickly scrambled to add people to fill the voids in what became a business.”

Personalized prostheses are just a small portion of what Summit and Bespoke Innovations would like to do to enhance people’s quality of life. Summit sees the global potential of using 3-D technology, which already creates fairings in a quicker amount of time and at a fraction of the cost it would have taken to make them by hand.

“Soon anyone, anywhere, may have access to the same kind of care that one might have in Silicon Valley or New York,” he said. “I tell myself that we’ll be able to offer a process where a person in Botswana may be treated with the same quality of care as someone in the U.S., with no more tools than Internet access, a camera and an iPad.”

Summit advised students to pursue their passions and skills because “there is nothing more rewarding than doing what you love, while helping people who need your creativity.”

“There are endless human challenges and needs, and creativity is the greatest nutrient to find the solutions,” he said. “The new tools change daily, so a student should be prepared to be dynamic, to react to the changing world and to invent their way through the world.”

Alumni Take Dark Room on the Road

By Ryan Whitchurch, Student Assistant

Pictured here is The Photo Palace Bus that has two Volkswagon Station Wagons mounted on the top.

Pictured here, the bus will have a photo studio equipped with a darkroom, presentation station, a light studio, and two Volkswagen station wagons on top that will serve as sleeping quarters.

Two San Jose State University alumni have set out to remind Americans about the time-honored traditions and artistic beauty of darkroom photography.

Anton Orlov, ’06 BFA, and Ryan Kalem, ’11 BFA, are raising funds to build The Photo Palace, a mobile art studio housed within a vintage 35-foot, 1978 Gillig school bus that the two will use to travel across the United States teaching the art of analog and darkroom photography.

The bus will have a fully functioning photo studio equipped with a two-station darkroom, a presentation and workshop station, a light studio, and two Volkswagen station wagons welded to the top that will serve as sleeping quarters.

“When digital photography exploded, many old tenets of analog photography were forgotten, darkrooms soon seemed all but obsolete,” Orlov wrote on their Kickstarter fundraising page. “Traditional photographic printing methods allow the photographer a greater degree of interaction with their work.”

Visiting all 48 continental states, the two will teach photographic education, as well as create and present their works along the way. With plans to roll out this summer, The Photo Palace will provide lectures and demonstrations; offer workshops on gelatin silver printing and alternative photo processes; and hold impromptu and planned photographic showings. The Photo Palace will also be creating a  documentary portrait series on the road.

Check in with Orlov and Kalem as they travel across the continental United States inspiring thousands of Americans, coast-to-coast, as they share their talents and passions with all those they encounter. You can follow the Orlov and Kalem on the The Photo Palace blog or make a donation to lend your support as they work toward transforming their dream into reality.

San Jose Mercury News: SJSU Alumnus Leads SJPD Through Difficult Year

In his first year as San Jose’s top cop, chief lays down Moore’s Law

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News Feb. 10, 2012.

By Bruce Newman

As San Jose’s top cop, Chris Moore may watch over the city’s thin blue line, but the 6-foot-5, 272-pound department veteran is no longer part of it. The burden of command became increasingly evident during Moore’s tumultuous first year as chief, during which he administered a department dealing with pay cuts, layoffs, a rising murder rate and spiraling morale.

It was a year of living dangerously, and when it ended this month, the chief acknowledged during an interview that the job “has not been fun.” But he sharply disputed the notion that he’s “a puppet” of City Hall — as anonymous critics have charged on blogs frequented by the department’s rank-and-file.

Moore also acknowledged he’d like to see fewer officer-involved shootings, denied a direct link between police layoffs and a doubling of the murder rate in 2011, and proposed a novel solution for the department’s reduced manpower: Ask the public to help.

Moore was appointed to the job Feb. 1, 2011, by City Manager Debra Figone, who made it clear she wanted an insider to steer the San Jose Police Department through the first large layoff in its history. But as the city heads toward a day of reckoning brought on by its budget deficit — threatening to eliminate perks such as cash payments for sick time at retirement, which cost the city about $10 million a year, and in Moore’s case would amount to nearly $200,000 — the new chief hinted he may quit to avoid forfeiting that windfall.

“That is a lot of money,” Moore said. “It’s something you have to wrestle with.”

As the seventh of 10 kids in his family, Moore got used to hand-me-downs. So when he went from serving as former Chief Rob Davis’ No. 2 to acting chief when Davis retired in 2010, and finally got the top job over a sexier outside candidate — then-Oakland Chief Anthony Batts — he didn’t take personally that groups like the Coalition for Justice and Accountability dismissed him as a holdover from the Davis years.

“It didn’t faze me at all,” Moore said. “Given what we were facing as an organization … I was actually surprised that I was selected.”

“He was part of that command structure,” said Richard Konda, a coalition leader, “and we were concerned he was just going to be more of the same.”

And LaDoris Cordell, the independent police auditor who had frequently clashed with Davis, said, “Particularly communities of color were holding their breath to find out what’s going to happen here.”

Almost immediately, Moore began advising officers on the chopping block to seek jobs elsewhere. Even before he sent out 122 initial layoff notices, the number of sworn officers on the force was plummeting from 1,409 in 2007 to 1,087 today. And there was more: 10 percent pay cuts, sergeants demoted to patrol.

“None of it was good news,” Moore said. “Everyone was looking to the mayor, the city manager and me to say, ‘It’s going to be all better.’ And the unfortunate truth is, it’s not.”

As retirements reduced payroll, the department offered to reinstate most of the 66 layoffs it ultimately made, but Moore says only about half of those offered their former jobs chose to return. For those who stayed, morale has suffered.

“What Chief Moore described to me is heartbreaking,” said Joseph McNamara, the city’s police chief for 15 years until 1991. “Because of all these cutbacks, officers feel the public has abandoned them.”

Some of their anger has been turned toward Moore. “There are a lot of reasons for people to be unhappy in the city, and certainly there are many unhappy people working in the Police Department,” Mayor Chuck Reed said. “The chief is trying to do the best job he can with the resources we give him. If the troops want to be angry about the budget, they should be angry at me.”

Figone said Moore, whose salary is $226,129 a year, is calling the shots in his department. “It’s really ridiculous to even imply that he’s my puppet,” she said. “I want him to lead the department. I don’t want to do it, and I haven’t had to.”

Victims and villains?

With further budget cutbacks inevitable, Moore acknowledged that certain “low-level” crimes are less likely to get attention. “We’re beyond doing more with less,” he said. “We’re now into doing less with less.”

He is trying to shift the public’s expectations, talking up a new collaboration between the department and the people it’s sworn to protect. “If you’re willing to meet us halfway, that’s a guarantee we’re going to do our best with minimal resources to help you help the neighborhood,” Moore said. “That’s what I want to hear. As opposed to somebody who just comes in and complains. That’s not helpful.”

Cordell cautiously traces a line between the cops’ budget bunker mentality and a troubling rise in police gunbattles with the public. “Officers are feeling victimized and villainized by politicians and members of the public,” she said, “and the number of officer-involved shootings is up. So it’s a very challenging time in which to lead a department.”

The homicide rate rose to 41 from 20 the previous year under Moore, an increase that police union officials suggested was a result of layoffs. “It’s not directly attributable to (cuts),” Moore said. “That’s a small piece of it.”

He was slightly less sanguine about eight officer-involved shootings. But Moore doesn’t feel the police have suddenly become trigger-happy. “It’s pretty clear that people were pulling weapons on police officers,” he said. While asserting the cops’ right to defend themselves, Moore acknowledged that some retraining might be required.

Accumulating ICE

Moore grew alarmed at a level of gang violence he believed was fueling the higher murder rate, and invited two investigators from Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement to work with police. There was widespread concern about deportation proceedings arising from their collaborative work.

ICE had a reputation for heavy-handed tactics, and Moore had pledged to be police chief to all the people, so some perceived it as a misstep. “That was very disconcerting to the Latino community,” Cordell said.

“I was disappointed in some of the community response,” Moore said. But from June 14 until the start of school, the city had no gang-related homicides.

“He’s walking that really thin line between being part of management,” McNamara said, “and trying to protect a department that really has been badly hurt.”

In Silicon Valley, “Moore’s Law” usually refers to the doubling of computing speed every two years, but it soon could define an even more blinding rate of change in law enforcement. The chief said he had “already made sacrifices” to stay with the department, leaving vague how much longer he’d be willing to do so.

“We’ve been through a very difficult year,” Moore said. “It has not been fun. I’d like to see some better times.”

Contact Bruce Newman at 408-920-5004. Follow him at Twitter.com/brucenewmantwit.

Chris Moore

Age: 50
Birthplace: San Francisco
Education: Bachelor’s degree, UC Berkeley; master’s degree in public administration, San Jose State
Employment: UC Berkeley campus police for three years; joined the San Jose Police Department in 1985
Favorite sport: Basketball
Favorite music: Smooth jazz, classic rock
Favorite author: Thomas Friedman
Favorite restaurant: Mezcal
Motto: “Chance favors the prepared mind.” — Louis Pasteur

scientist at sea with a "corer" used to drill down into the ocean floor

Alumnus Taps Ocean’s Depths for Biomedicines

Alumnus holding a mud corer instrument on a boat on a Catalina Island expedition.

Fenical with a mud corer instrument during a Catalina Island expedition in 2009 (photo courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Ever marvel at the mysteries crawling at the bottom of the ocean? One Department of Chemistry grad has turned a childhood interest in the ocean into a life-long pursuit.

William Fenical, MS Chemistry ’66, has dedicated most of his career trolling the ocean’s depths for his research in the field of marine biomedicine, the study of marine microorganisms for the discovery of new medicines in the treatment of human disease.

With his research team at the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this UC San Diego Distinguished Professor of Oceanography and Pharmaceutical Science looks at how microorganisms inhibit the growth of bacteria or fight cancer cells. The team has two drug discoveries from marine bacteria in phase II clinical trials for the treatment of cancer.

“It’s our goal to demonstrate what these resources are, and facilitate the pharmaceutical industry in how they might really exploit what we know,” Fenical said.

The team collects samples from ocean-floor sediments 40 miles off of California’s coastlines –some up to 4,000 meters (more than 2 miles) deep! The bacterial samples are then brought into the lab where they are cultivated.

As director for the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the Scripps Institution, Fenical emphasizes innovation.

“It’s not up to us to turn the crank of something over and over using repetitive tools,” Fenical said. “It is up to us to discover new ways of doing things.”

According to Fenical, 95 percent of his team’s work involves finding unique organisms that lead to the discovery of brand new species, groups, taxonomical classifications, and orders of bacteria.

“We are happy to have had a role in bringing this diversity and potential of marine microbes to the attention of science as a whole,” he said.

scientist at sea with a "corer" used to drill down into the ocean floor

Alumnus Taps Ocean's Depths for Biomedicines

Alumnus holding a mud corer instrument on a boat on a Catalina Island expedition.

Fenical with a mud corer instrument during a Catalina Island expedition in 2009 (photo courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Ever marvel at the mysteries crawling at the bottom of the ocean? One Department of Chemistry grad has turned a childhood interest in the ocean into a life-long pursuit.

William Fenical, MS Chemistry ’66, has dedicated most of his career trolling the ocean’s depths for his research in the field of marine biomedicine, the study of marine microorganisms for the discovery of new medicines in the treatment of human disease.

With his research team at the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this UC San Diego Distinguished Professor of Oceanography and Pharmaceutical Science looks at how microorganisms inhibit the growth of bacteria or fight cancer cells. The team has two drug discoveries from marine bacteria in phase II clinical trials for the treatment of cancer.

“It’s our goal to demonstrate what these resources are, and facilitate the pharmaceutical industry in how they might really exploit what we know,” Fenical said.

The team collects samples from ocean-floor sediments 40 miles off of California’s coastlines –some up to 4,000 meters (more than 2 miles) deep! The bacterial samples are then brought into the lab where they are cultivated.

As director for the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the Scripps Institution, Fenical emphasizes innovation.

“It’s not up to us to turn the crank of something over and over using repetitive tools,” Fenical said. “It is up to us to discover new ways of doing things.”

According to Fenical, 95 percent of his team’s work involves finding unique organisms that lead to the discovery of brand new species, groups, taxonomical classifications, and orders of bacteria.

“We are happy to have had a role in bringing this diversity and potential of marine microbes to the attention of science as a whole,” he said.

Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal: Entrepreneurial Alumna Launches Pitchcrawl

Pitchcrawl serves up angel food

Published by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal Dec. 13, 2011.

By Shana Lynch, Assistant Managing Editor

There’s a pitch event a day in the Silicon Valley. But when one combines pitching with good food in a speed-dating-style experiment, it has my attention.

That’s what Dishcrawl founder Tracy Lee [an SJSU alumna] is attempting with her new venture, Pitchcrawl.

The inaugural Pitchcrawl was held in downtown San Jose on Dec. 7. About 40 startups paid a $39 ticket price to meet a dozen venture investors and sample some local fare. The crawl started at San Jose’s TechShop at 300 South 2nd Street, where name tags identified pitcher from pitchee and the companies were paired with investors and given three minutes to explain their product before moving to the next investor.

After a few rounds (and some burritos from La Victoria Taqueria), the group headed to NextSpace at 97 S. 2nd St. for round two (with RawDaddy’s spicy Thai salad cones and a free day pass to the coworking space). Then the final lap was at the Irish Innovation Center on Santa Clara Street over some House of Siam goodness.

Investors included people from Bay Partners , Brownstone Ventures, Valencia Ventures, Originate Ventures and OPT/Dentsu, as well as several angels.

Startups came in from around the South Bay, Walnut Creek, San Francisco and even Los Angeles and Argentina. They included Picsual, a Palo Alto-based mobile product search company founded a few months ago by Anson Liang and Greg Tapper, and WordWatch, a management tool for Adwords based in downtown San Jose. Geekatoo, a Walnut Creek startup, offered up a website that allows users to bid on tech help. And the most popular company of the night — which won a 60-minute pitch working session with Angel’s Forum — was Wurlpool, a social mobile app startup pitched by founder Eric Shelton.

Lee aims to host anywhere from monthly to quarterly Pitchcrawls, hosted in both San Jose and San Francisco. The second one is in San Francisco on Jan. 10, with a follow-up back in downtown San Jose in February.

The focus on venture capital connections comes partly from Lee’s own frustration in building connections in the venture capital world.

“A lot of amazing startups don’t have that network — it takes six months to a year to build that. Then it takes more time to get funding,” Lee said.

“It’s kind of a pain in the butt.”

And of course, this latest venture wasn’t too much of a stretch for Lee, a startup founder herself. Lee’s Dishcrawl, which pairs the local restaurant scene with foodies who support them, is bootstrapped, bringing in revenue and looking for an angel or seed funding. It has expanded to 25 cities with seven full-time employees.

My VIP: Janie Scott, Professor of Music & Dance

My VIP: Janie Scott, Professor of Music & Dance

My VIP: Janie Scott, Professor of Music & Dance

Professor Janie Scott (David Schmitz photo)

Izetta Fang Klein ’99 Dance nominated Professor Janie Scott of the School of of Music & Dance for this feature in the winter 2012 issue of Washington Square Magazine. Klein said: “During my time at SJSU, Janie Scott was in charge of Company One, which I’m sure was and still is a huge undertaking for one person. It still amazes me today where she finds the energy to not only prep her everyday classes, but also offer her personal time outside of school at Company One Christmas parties, private vocal lessons and outside work as a contract director of Cabrillo Stage. All of these outlets provide additional opportunities for SJSU students to gain top-notch training and experience. Her energy and spirit have done nothing but inspire. Janie Scott definitely deserves recognition!”

If you would like to nominate a VIP, send a 100-word statement telling us why. Include your name, major, year of graduation and telephone number. Send the information to: WSQ Editor, SJSU, One Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95192-0005.

Santa Cruz Sentinel: Alumna to Head Beloved Railroad Attraction

Roaring Camp Railroads names new CEO

Originally published by the Santa Cruz Sentinel Jan. 2, 2012.

By Jondi Gumz

A new chief is taking the helm at Roaring Camp Railroads, the local tourist attraction where Norman Clark ran the first steam train ride in 1963.

It’s Melani Clark, Norman’s daughter, who has been working alongside her mother, Georgia Clark, who took over as CEO after her husband died in 1985.

“It’s not something I gave in hesitation,” said Georgia Clark, 77, who has worked at Roaring Camp for 45 years.

She said Melani, her middle daughter, is familiar with all facets of the company. She has worked in every department — food, the depot, the general store, and as a fireman running the train’s steam engine.

A San Lorenzo Valley High School graduate, she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from San Jose State and is author of the book, “Violet Secret,” which is on sale at Roaring Camp.

The new chief is in New York City, looking for ideas for next season.

The tourist attraction, depicting life in the 1880s, employs about 60 people during the summer and 40 during the slow season.

The railroad, which operates every day except Christmas, just wrapped up the Holiday Lights train rides. From January to March, the railroad offers “rain forest rides,” named for the aura of mist in the redwoods during the winter.

Norman Clark came to Felton in 1958 with the idea of building a recreational railroad. With investors, he got a 99-year lease on the Big Tree Ranch property, and turned his dream into reality.

Image from essay showing everyday people examining a fancy sports car.

SJSU in the News: Alumnus Creates Visual Essay Displaying Beijing’s “Canvas of Contrasts”

SJSU in the News: Grad's Spectacular Visual Essay Shows Beijing's "Canvas of Contrasts"

Click on the image to view Sugano's visual essay.

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

San Jose Mercury News photographer Dai Sugano, an SJSU journalism grad, created this spectacular visual essay after traveling to Beijing. Demonstrating a new direction for photo journalism, the essay blends still and video images with captions to show how “this sprawling metropolis of 20 million is a canvas of contrasts.” Sugano’s colleague, John Boudreau, writes: “China’s communist political system is nominally committed to socialist egalitarianism, but its capital city contains some of the world’s greatest disparities between the haves and have-nots … Urban sophisticates in designer clothes pack nightclubs and sip champagne while migrant workers huddle in makeshift housing along construction sites, slurping noodles out of large tin cups.” Sugano is a frequent classroom speaker at SJSU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, which offers hands on instruction in multimedia and emerging new media technologies. Read Boudreau’s story below.

***

Beijing is a study in contrasts

Originally published by the San Jose Mercury News Dec. 13, 2011.

By John Boudreau

BEIJING — This sprawling metropolis of 20 million is a canvas of contrasts.

China’s communist political system is nominally committed to socialist egalitarianism, but its capital city contains some of the world’s greatest disparities between the haves and have-nots. The newly rich in Bentleys and Mercedes-Benzes rush by street vendors in donkey carts who come in daily from the countryside, some who earn barely $100 a year. Urban sophisticates in designer clothes pack nightclubs and sip champagne while migrant workers huddle in makeshift housing along construction sites, slurping noodles out of large tin cups.

China’s emergence has also created opportunities for well-educated Chinese to work and live abroad, including tens of thousands of tech workers now employed in Silicon Valley. The 2010 Census tallied 630,467 Chinese-Americans in the Bay Area, up 25 percent from the 2000 Census and more Chinese-American residents than anywhere in the United States other than New York City.

On a recent reporting trip to China, staff photographer Dai Sugano captured in images and video the contradictions on display every day in this rising economic giant.

Now the world’s second-largest economy, China is also its fastest-growing major economy, continuing to post impressive growth rates after three decades of spectacular economic performance, and despite the painful global recession. Hundreds of millions of Chinese have been lifted out of poverty as China has become the world’s largest exporter of goods and its second-largest importer.

Yet many Chinese have been left out of the nation’s economic miracle. Hundreds of millions of people living in the countryside remain mired in poverty.

China’s capital city is a tableau of the new and the old. In and around Tiananmen Square, flashes of patriotic images of the rising nation are displayed in two jumbo screens. “Firmly pushing forward the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics!” reads one slogan on a screen. iPhone-toting hipsters pose in front of a huge portrait of former Chairman Mao Zedong.

Images from the revolutionary era in which Chinese Communists violently opposed capitalism are juxtaposed with gleaming citadels created by China’s new heroes — captains of industry. China’s headlong embrace of a market economy, though, comes with caveats. The government plays a major role in guiding the economy and many of the nation’s most important companies are state-owned.

In the rush to be a leading 21st-century city, Beijing’s government has bulldozed many historic neighborhoods to make room for reach-for-the-sky development. The bustling city is crammed with towering office buildings containing high-end stores, from Gucci to Apple, filled with shoppers snatching up Tiffany jewelry, designer bags and bottles of $4,000 Château Pétrus wine. The quaint courtyard houses and labyrinthine hutong neighborhoods that defined Beijing for hundreds of years are mostly gone, and the few that remain are overshadowed by high-rise complexes.

The city is a magnet for migrant workers, with millions of rural Chinese pouring in to find their own Chinese Dream. But they often end up as second-class citizens: Under the country’s household registration system, migrant workers don’t qualify for many services, from public education to health care, unless they remain in their home province. Still, they stay because being a second-class citizen in Beijing often seems better than being a first-class citizen of a village with no jobs or future prospects.

Addressing the widening gap between the rich and poor is just one of many daunting tasks China faces as it transitions to the modern industrial society. The world awaits, with both anticipation and dread, the next chapter of its emergence as an economic powerhouse.

Contact John Boudreau at 408-278-3496.

ABOUT BEIJING

Population
19.6 million in 2010 (up from 13.6 million in 2000)

Productivity
Gross domestic product per capita in 2010: $10,672 (up 6.2 percent over 2008)

Income
Disposable income per capita in urban area: $3,914 (up 8.1 percent over 2008); in rural area: $1,754 (up 11.5 percent over 2008)

Industry
Home to 26 of the Fortune Global 500 companies, behind only Tokyo and Paris, and just ahead of New York

Source: National Bureau of Statistics of China, Beijing Government Statistics, Fortune Magazine

SJSU in the News: Business Major Lights Up the Night With Growing Business

Two buddies work out of San Jose’s Willow Glen to string lights for a fee

By Mary Gottschalk

Originally published by Silicon Valley Community Newspapers Dec. 15, 2011

Not everyone has a Clark Griswold in their family to outline their home in holiday lights, as Chevy Chase did so memorably with 25,000 light bulbs in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

For those without a talented guy like Griswold in the family, there’s Scott Basilotta and Mike Matsis, owners of Holiday Lights, headquartered in Willow Glen.

Friends since they met in the seventh grade in Hermitage, Pa., the duo works nonstop from mid-October through the first part of February.

They light rooflines, walkways, trees and bushes on the outside of homes, businesses, churches, hospitals and resorts. They sometimes even hang the lights on the inside trees if a client requests it.

“We start at 7 a.m. and finish at 1 a.m. some days,” says Matsis. “We work in the rain and in the wind. We don’t stop.”

Matsis, 28, has been in the business of hanging lights since the age of 16, eventually going into business in Las Vegas, where he lives the rest of the year.

Basilotta says he was finishing up his degree in business management at San Jose State University when Matsis convinced him to start hanging lights locally.

“It was cool. I was doing business management courses and I started a small business,” Basilotta says.

His first year, working alone, Basilotta concentrated on Santa Cruz, where he lives the rest of the year.

In 2007, Matsis decided to join forces with Basilotta, and the two have rented a place in Willow Glen each year since to serve as their headquarters and a place to catch a nap during the peak season.

This year, Rebecca Matsis, Mike’s mother, joined them to manage the office, make appointments and keep things running smoothly.

Matsis says their client list grows each year, from about 30 customers the first year to more than 200 this year.

“Some customers consider us family,” he says. “We see them over and over and they invite us in.”

Their services vary by client, but all want lights hung for the holidays and taken down after the first of the year.

Beyond that, if a light goes out, it just takes a call to get it fixed. They also offer free storage for lights when not in use, and they will provide lights, hooks and whatever else is necessary if a client wants.

Charges vary with each job, but Matsis says the minimum is $150 for a simple, one-story job up to the thousands for a big commercial job.

“We’re pushing LED lights for energy efficiency,” he says.

The biggest challenge the two face on a regular basis is a tall tree.

Most of the time, they work with ladders. However, they sometimes rent lifts.

Matsis recalls the difficulties of lighting the ice rink at Squaw Valley in the middle of a blizzard with black bears running by.

“If we can do a job, we do it. If we can’t, we will tell them,” he says.

Basilotta says they really enjoyed lighting the Veterans Hospital in San Francisco this year.

Since theirs is very much a seasonal business, they hope to do more lighting events at other times of the year. They’ve done a few summer weddings and receptions and envision expanding those services in the future.

Matsis and Basilotta are able to handle many of the jobs by themselves, but on a big project they will bring in others to help.

Emilie Highley has been a using Holiday Lights for her Willow Glen home since they first started offering the service.

“My husband has MS and can’t climb, so I called and Mike came out right away. He gave me a quote that was very fair, and they put my lights up,” she says.

Highly has their roofline outlined in lights and a large star hung at the top of the pitched porch roof, about 15 feet up.

“These young men are efficient, friendly and they’re careful,” she says. “I really want to support them and help them find more business.”

Rose Garden resident Lamar Lee has been using Holiday Lights for three years.

“I have a single-story Spanish-style home, and it’s hard to deal with the roof tiles,” Lee says. “They haven’t broken a single roof tile yet; they’ve been really good.”

Prior to connecting with Basilotta and Matsis, Lee did his own light hanging.

“It was a nightmare,” he says.

“This is the best decision I’ve made in the last couple of years. It’s one of those services you don’t think about getting, but they do a great job. They’re very professional and not only do they put it up, they take it down as well.”

Both Matsis and Basilotta worked on Thanksgiving this year, repairing to Basilotta’s parents’ home in Santa Cruz for a late turkey dinner.

On Christmas Eve, Matsis will fly home to his family in Las Vegas for a couple of days, but Basilotta will be on call.

“I have to be here to make sure all the lights are on for Santa Claus,” he says with a laugh.

“We’re spreading Christmas joy, and the kids are really cool. It’s nice to have a happy customer base.”

For more information, visit www.holidaylightsbayarea.com or call 408.384.9627.

SJSU in the News: Professor Emeritus Who Championed Progressive Movement Dies

Bert Muhly, former Santa Cruz mayor and icon of progressive politics, dies at 88

Originally published by the Santa Cruz Sentinel Dec. 16, 2011.

SANTA CRUZ — Former Mayor Bert Muhly, the two-term city councilman and one-time county planning chief who as a university educator and political kingmaker championed progressive movements ranging from local growth limits to statewide coastal protection and the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, died Friday at his home on the Westside.

He was 88.

The cause of death was heart failure, said his wife, Lois, a retired elementary school teacher. The couple, who has lived in Santa Cruz for 50 years, celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in October.

For decades, Muhly employed his education in urban planning to press for government policies that controlled development and safeguarded natural resources. He was also instrumental in electing regional officials to national posts, all while keeping a keen eye on local grassroots political talent who could help him advance liberal causes.

“It was a beautiful place when he moved here,” Lois Muhly said, explaining his political drive. “There were so many fine qualities that he wanted to preserve for his children and grandchildren.”

The former UC Santa Cruz and San Jose State University professor was remembered Friday as a passionate and diligent activist who, as part of the vanguard of California environmentalists in the 1960s, contributed to legislation that created the powerful Coastal Commission that now governs development along 1,100 miles of the state’s shoreline.

Countless Democrats turned to Muhly during the last five decades, seeking guidance, fundraising and moral support.

“Bert was a Santa Cruz icon,” Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, said Friday from his office in Washington. “I don’t think I’ve seen a person so outspoken on human rights and progressive politics, especially in Central America.”

Muhly traveled more than two dozen times to Nicaragua, including once to deliver a donated ambulance to Santa Cruz’s sister city of Jinotepe. He was strongly opposed to the Contra movement of the 1980s, which was backed by President Ronald Reagan’s administration to battle the Sandanistas after an overthrow of the country’s dictator.

The Muhlys cofounded Three Americas, a nonprofit organization that works to raise awareness and funds, often through the sale of fair-trade coffee, for communities in Central and South America. The group helped to raise $10,000 this year for the Chile-Santa Cruz Friendship Committee, Lois Muhly said.

Bert Muhly served on the City Council from April 1974 to November 1981, and was chosen immediately to serve as vice mayor and then as mayor in late 1974. During his years on the council, Muhly served as the city’s representative to the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments, and was at one point the organization’s president.

Retired physician and former mayor John Mahaney, a conservative member of the council, remembered his one-time colleague as standing firm on an anti-growth agenda.

“He was a really honest forthright guy,” Mahaney said. “Sometimes we didn’t agree, but I had a lot of respect for him and his abilities.”

Muhly also was adept at getting friends into places of power, famous for the earthy crab cake fundraisers he and Lois, a former Soquel Union Elementary School District teacher, hosted on their deck.

In addition to advancing Farr’s career, Muhly worked to elect Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the former director of the CIA and chief of staff at the White House, to Congress from the Monterey area.

Santa Cruz Mayor Don Lane, who worked with Muhly on Panetta’s congressional campaign, said Muhly was one of the first people he came to know when he became politically active in the 1970s.

“He was the sort of the beginning of Santa Cruz moving into a more environmentally conscious and progressive community,” Lane said. “If he supported a cause, then he just drove it forward. He just never let go of it.”

Farr said Muhly helped launch his first campaign for the state Assembly in the 1980s and was instrumental in his 1993 bid to join the U.S. House of Representatives. Farr said he felt as though he was Muhly’s adopted son at times.

“I practically lived in their house in Santa Cruz while I was running my campaign,” Farr said. “The house was full of fascinating people. Every meal was a think-tank discussion.”

Born Louis Bert Muhly in Maryland on June 18, 1923, Muhly earned a bachelor’s of science degree in business administration from UC Berkeley in 1948 and a master’s degree from the Department of City and Regional Planning at the university four years later.

He served as the director of planning for Tulare County for three years and worked for an engineering firm for two years before coming to Santa Cruz County, where he served as head of the planning department and is credited with drafting the county’s first general plan at a time when UCSC was being established.

After nearly a decade in that post, he chose to leave the professional side of municipal planning to be an educator. The move afforded him the opportunity to enter the world of advocacy free of the political constraints posed by his county post.

Muhly was an instructor in the environmental studies program at UC Santa Cruz and later the graduate planning program at San Jose State University, for a total of 19 years. He retired from San Jose State as professor emeritus in 1989 but maintained an active voice in local land use issues.

“He was one of the pillars of progressive politics in Santa Cruz and was particularly influential at a time when community dynamics were changing, and he certainly actively supported more candidates that you could count,” said former mayor Cynthia Mathews, who joined neighborhood activism in the 1970s. “He was certainly very encouraging to me even at that early level.”

The Muhlys wrote to the City Council and Sentinel last month, suggesting Beach Flats Park be named for Scott Kennedy, a former mayor and fellow activist for nonviolence who died Nov. 18.

Lane said the gesture shows Bert Muhly never tired of advocacy.

“He was plugging away until the end,” Lane said.

Lois Muhly said she and her family would wait until after the holidays to make arrangements for a memorial service.

In addition to his wife, Muhly is survived by five children: Patricia Vargas of Santa Cruz, William Muhly of Happy Valley, Jenifer Hutson of Santa Cruz, Janet Windt of Santa Cruz and Ernest Muhly of Soquel. A daughter, Sally, died in 2000. The couple has numerous grandchildren.

BERT MUHLY

BORN: June 18, 1923

DIED: Dec. 16, 2011

RESIDENCE: Santa Cruz

OCCUPATION: Professor emeritus, San Jose State; former instructor at UC Santa Cruz, former planning director for Santa Cruz County

CIVIC LIFE: Mayor of Santa Cruz, 1974-1975; member of the City Council from 1974-1981; former president of the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments; co-founder of Three Americas nonprofit

Alumni Association Presents Wintry Campus Tableau

Alumni Association Creates Wintry Campus Tableau

Alumni Association Presents Wintry Campus Tableau

President Qayoumi tours the Washington Square Winter Wonderland created by the Alumni Association's Clifton Gold.

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Snowmen, polar bears, and penguins are dancing across the windows of the University Advancement suite in Clark Hall, where SJSU Alumni Association Events and Outreach Coordinator Clifton Gold has decked the halls. A man of many talents, Gold worked after hours to design and paint wintry scenes of campus on six glass panels. The tableau features a whole bunch of familiar if frosty landmarks including Tower Hall, Spartan Stadium and the fountains and gates that grace San Jose State. In the lobby, a carousel horse, gingerbread men and gifts beckon staff to give generously to the UPD Holiday Toy Drive. Assisting Gold were two elves, Events and Project Coordinator Valerie Gonzales and her sister Laurice Rubalcava. View more photos.

SJSU in the News: Tesla Motors HR “Point Man” is an SJSU Alumnus

The man to see about a job at Tesla

Originally published by the San Jose Mercury News Dec. 10, 2011.

By Dana Hull

As millions of Americans desperately search for jobs, Tesla Motors (TSLA)’ Arnnon Geshuri is racing to fill some. He’s the point man for a company on a hiring spree, looking for top-flight engineers, vehicle technicians, sales experts and even an executive chef.

Tesla is ramping up to manufacture its all-electric Model S sedan at the former NUMMI plant, now renamed the Tesla Factory, in Fremont. It currently has 1,400 employees worldwide, a figure expected to roughly double by the end of 2012 and double again by the end of 2013.

“We’re going to have hundreds of openings at the Tesla Factory,” Geshuri said in an interview at Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters. “We’re going to bring manufacturing back to California, and it’s going to stay.”

But landing a job at Tesla is not easy — it’s looking for the best of the best.

“Do you question tradition and constantly think of ways to improve status quo? Do you thrive in environments where brilliance is common and challenge is the norm?” its website asks. “Are you excited by challenge because you’re among the best in your field? If so, you’d be in good company at Tesla Motors.”

Geshuri, 42, has a track record for assembling great teams and putting people to work. His reputation as a Silicon Valley legend in the realm of staffing and recruiting

was cemented at Google (GOOG), where he oversaw a recruiting staff of 900 that fielded 2.5 million job applications in one year.

He got his first job in human resources while still a graduate student in industrial and organizational psychology at San Jose State, when the former NUMMI auto plant hired him as a consultant. Geshuri held frank discussions with line workers to find out what would make a better working environment and zeroed in on the need for better communication within the plant.

From there, Geshuri went on to Applied Materials, E-Trade Financial and his own startup. He’s always been fascinated by the intersection of business and human behavior and likes to cultivate talented people around a common cause.

He’s rarely had to look for work himself: Google came knocking in 2004, when the company was about to go public and explode in size. Geshuri met with Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt on a weekly basis as they sought to hire the best engineers from around the world. From 2004 to 2009, the employee head count skyrocketed from 2,500 to more than 20,000.

“I thought I knew recruiting and staffing but Google really changed my perspective,” Geshuri said. “It really forced me to think about how to cultivate talent and make Google the destination point, and everyone in the company was responsible for bringing in more talent.”

Geshuri never thought he would leave Google. But now he’s two years into his next act at Tesla. He joined the electric-vehicle company in November 2009, when the company’s head count was about 600. Geshuri remembers walking through a vacant former Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) building on Deer Park Road in Palo Alto with J.B. Straubel, Tesla’s chief technology officer.

“I was walking around Tesla’s future headquarters while under construction with J.B. and he said something like, ‘Imagine building this place with the best of the best,’ ” recalls Geshuri, who loves the startup phase of a company and the chance to have a hand in creating a unique corporate culture. “He pushed on the right buttons.”

Most of the 217 jobs currently listed on Tesla’s website are for design and manufacturing engineers based in Palo Alto and Fremont. But the company is also looking for an assistant store manager in Newport Beach, an intern in Zurich, vehicle technicians in Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo and an executive chef. As Tesla’s brand has grown in the wake of its successful IPO in June 2010, résumés have poured in. On average, Tesla receives 300 applications for every job opening.

“We’re searching for excellent individuals,” Geshuri said. “We want people who are exceptional in their own right but share the same DNA and can collaborate as part of a team.”

To find the best and the brightest, Geshuri has built a recruiting staff of 25 people. But all Tesla employees are encouraged to think of themselves as recruiters, and referrals are a vibrant part of the hiring process. CEO Elon Musk has often said that staffing is his top priority and that the value of the company is measured by the quality of the talent. He plays a hands-on role in hiring and personally interviews many of the job candidates.

Former NUMMI workers make up a big pool of potential employees to choose from. College campuses are also key: Tesla has reached out to colleges and universities that have active Society of Automotive Engineers competitions, forming relationships with faculty advisers and keeping tabs on top students and winning teams. It’s a global search: Tesla employees have relocated to the Bay Area from the Midwest, Germany, Asia and elsewhere.

About 25 percent of Tesla employees are women, a higher ratio than that of many Silicon Valley tech companies. And Tesla has hired nearly 60 military veterans, including several from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As the nation slowly emerges from the economic downturn, many workers face the daunting task of reinventing themselves. Geshuri has some advice: Social networks like LinkedIn are effective, but make sure that your information is current and in-depth. And instead of simply listing the most recent jobs on a résumé, be sure to elaborate on what exactly you did in each job.

“Sometimes people miss an opportunity to describe their exceptionalism on their résumé,” he said. “What made them exceptional in that role?”

Gaps in employment can also be overcome.

“We’re looking for people who are proactive. We want people who are go-getters,” he said. “When you were in between jobs did you go back to school, pursue a favorite hobby or volunteer? Whatever hand you were dealt, are you emerging better?”

Eric Burgess worked for Geshuri at Google and now at Tesla. He says Geshuri is both a player and a coach who wants people to be successful. He regularly takes part in interviews with job candidates and has a knack for peeling back the layers of a résumé.

“He’s really good at getting interesting nuggets out of people,” Burgess said. “He pulls things from résumés that aren’t related to the job to see what the person has learned from the experience. He’ll ask you why you became a history major.”

Though hiring and recruiting is a big part of Geshuri’s job, as vice president of human resources he’s also building Tesla’s culture. It’s a typical startup: People arrive early, stay late and work hard.

Tesla tries to alleviate some of the pressure by providing shuttle buses with wireless Internet access to ferry employees who live in San Francisco and elsewhere to and from work. There’s an employee garden on the hill above the parking lot, and everyone is encouraged to exercise and stay healthy. Employees can sign up to have boxes of organic vegetables delivered to Tesla. And some of those vegetables could be served in the company’s cafeteria once he’s found the perfect executive chef.

“They have to not just create a great menu, but programs for healthy living,” Geshuri said. “And they need to be an effervescent personality.”

Contact Dana Hull at 408-920-2706. Follow her at Twitter.com/danahull.

ARNNON GESHURI

Born Iowa; moved to Porterville, a small town outside of Bakersfield, when he was 10. Now 42 years old, Geshuri resides in Los Gatos.

Job Vice president, human resources at Tesla Motors since November 2009

Previous jobs Director of staffing operations at Google from 2004-09; vice president of human resources and director of global staffing for E-Trade Financial; Applied Materials

Education Bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC Irvine; master’s in industrial/organizational psychology from San Jose State

"Hemp Plastic Water Bottles" Steals the Show at Innovation Challenge

“Hemp Plastic Water Bottles” Steals the Show at Innovation Challenge

Junior JD Leadam stands to the left of his project poster board for Hemp Plastic Water Bottles presented his idea to a passerby. Poster board includes a picture of the design and an explanation of his project

Junior business major J.D. Leadam won first place in several categories at the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge for his entry, Hemp Plastic Water Bottles (Dillon Adams photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Nearly 200 Spartans competed Dec. 1 in the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge, including junior business major J.D. Leadam, who took first place in several categories, winning $2,000.

“I learned that if I truly believe in an idea, then I can sell anyone on it,” Leadam said.

Leadam won Most Innovative Idea, Best Elevator Pitch, and People’s Choice awards for his entry, “Hemp Plastic Water Bottles,” an idea that replaces single-use water bottles with biodegradable plastic water bottles made from industrial hemp.

“Regular water bottles will release toxins over time and when they are buried in our landfills, they last for all eternity,” Leadam said. “We want to replace them with bottles made out of hemp, which are 100 percent safe and biodegradable.”

Leadam plans on entering the Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition this spring, using the money that he won from the challenge to make a prototype and contact manufacturers in China.

“I am really looking to make this happen,” he said.

Teaching Innovation

Other projects included ePrepared, an online community providing counseling sources for high school and college students; Applications Complete, an innovative way to track everyday receipts; and Spherical Drive System, a new concept for a motorcycle designed to balance like a Segway.

This was the first time The Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship, within the College of Business, extended its signature fall event to all majors.

Undergraduate and graduate students, as well as  alumni from all seven colleges participated. President Mohammad Qayoumi and College of Business Dean David Steele presented the winning awards.

“I think that we were successful in creating a cross-disciplinary collaboration for our first year,” SVCE Director Anuradha Basu said.

Industry Professionals

Over 25 community members helped with judging the exhibits and the elevator pitch contest. They included 11 CEOs/founders, two attorneys, two angel investors, two venture capitalists, a banker, and four managers from Cisco and Intel. Around 10 judges were SJSU alumni.

Included on the panel of judges were Arlo Inc. Co-founder Dave Hadden and Tower Foundation of SJSU Board Member Wanda Ginner, who headed her own independent CPA firm for several decades.

“I noticed that the personal appearance and presentations of the students were better than last year, and the elevator pitches were significantly better,” Ginner said. “I just had the feeling that the students were really invested.”

Hadden felt his experience was his biggest contribution.

“Without being critical, we can point out things to help students,” he said. “You could tell having a real world experience was meaningful to them.”

SJSU in the News: Engineering Alumna Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Lockheed Martin Executive Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace Group

Originally published by Lockheed Martin Nov. 2, 2011.

SUNNYVALE, Calif., November 2nd, 2011 — The Women in Aerospace (WIA) national organization presented its 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award to Julie A. Sattler, a vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (SSC), during a Nov. 1 ceremony in Washington, D.C.

A nonprofit organization, WIA is dedicated to expanding women’s opportunities for leadership and to increasing their visibility within the aerospace community.

Sattler, a 27-year Lockheed Martin employee, was recognized for her leadership in the development of space-based communication systems that protect warfighters worldwide and for her contributions to the advancement of future leaders.

“We are proud to have Julie on our team and we congratulate her on receiving this prestigious award,” said Joanne Maguire, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. “Her technical achievements, leadership skills, passion for mentoring and devotion to operational excellence exemplify her commitment to our industry and those who choose careers in aerospace.”

Sattler currently serves as a vice president and general manager of one of SSC’s largest lines of business focused on developing some of the most sophisticated space systems for sensitive national security.

Sattler has achieved many firsts during her career with Lockheed Martin. She previously served as the first female vice president of SSC’s engineering organization and as the vice president and program manager of a multi-billion dollar military communications satellite program, known at the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system, another first for a female at Lockheed Martin. Sattler also successfully delivered other critical programs, including Milstar and the Defense Satellite Communications System.

Sattler earned bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering from San Jose State University and is a graduate of the Executive Program Management Course at the Defense Systems Management College, the Harvard Program for Senior Executives in National and International Security and Lockheed Martin Executive Development and Leadership Program.

Sattler also mentors a host of early and mid-career Lockheed Martin professionals and is actively involved in several organizations including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Society of Women Engineers and the National Defense Industrial Association.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s 2010 sales from continuing operations were $45.7 billion.

Media Contact: Steve Tatum, 408-742-7531; e-mail, stephen.o.tatum@lmco.com

SJSU in the News: Alumnus Appointed NCAA Enforcement Director

NCAA selects William Benjamin to join enforcement staff

Originally published by the NCAA Nov. 9, 2011.

William Benjamin, currently the deputy chief of police at the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, has been named a director of enforcement with a focus on football. A 28-year police force veteran, he commanded more than 1,150 uniformed officers and 100 detectives in his previous position. Benjamin is also a former college football student-athlete from San Jose State and participated with the Indianapolis Colts. He has also served as a coach and mentor for youth football.

“Bill brings not only robust investigatory and leadership experience, but also a keen understanding of the sport of football as a student-athlete, professional player and coach,” said vice president of enforcement Julie Roe Lach. “He will add valuable perspectives to our talented and diverse staff.”

Benjamin will lead a team of football-focused investigators charged with building knowledge, meaningful contacts and actionable leads to better inform investigations. The director of football position was one of 12 redefined or newly created positions from the enforcement department’s restructuring in June. These structure changes included the formation of a development unit, allowing information cultivation to be the same level of focus as investigations and case processing.

“I’m looking forward to joining another great team of people who are making a positive difference for student-athletes,” said Benjamin.

Over the course of Benjamin’s career, he has worked in many different areas of the police department, including his most recent positions as the deputy chief of the Operations and Criminal Investigations divisions. He also previously served as a lieutenant and squad leader in the homicide division and was a United States Marine Corps officer.

SJSU in the News: San Jose Sports Hall of Fame Inducts Alumnus Peter Ueberroth

Mark Purdy: Peter Ueberroth is the most influential American sports figure of the last 50 years

Originally published by the San Jose Mercury News Nov. 8, 2011.

By Mark Purdy Mercury News Columnist

If you are a history geek — stand up and be proud! — then you are probably like me. You are fascinated by the “what ifs.”

What if Joe Montana had decided as a kid to play soccer instead of football? What if the Brooklyn Dodgers had never signed Jackie Robinson in 1945? What if the Warriors had not traded Wilt Chamberlain to Philadelphia in 1965?

Or what if, in 1956, San Jose State had not given athletic scholarships? Had that been the case, the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games might have never happened — or could have been a huge flop. Because that means Peter Ueberroth, who went to college only because of his SJSU water polo scholarship, might never have left behind his Sunnyvale childhood to change the Olympic world as we know it.

The San Jose Sports Hall of Fame consists of 81 athletes, coaches and special contributors. (Full disclosure: I am a board member who votes for the inductees.) But when Ueberroth joins the group Wednesday night with four other worthy new members, he will do so with an entirely different qualification: The most influential American sports figure of the past 50 years.

And no, that statement is not an overreach.

Look at Ueberroth’s resume.

In successfully staging those 1984 L.A. Games, he also radically reoriented the Olympics into a new commercially sponsored model that is still followed today, for better or worse.

Then he became Major League Baseball commissioner and conducted the game’s first real drug crackdown (principally cocaine, in that era) while cutting deals to make more teams profitable — and coaxing the Chicago Cubs into installing lights at Wrigley Field.

After that, Ueberroth assembled a consortium to buy Pebble Beach back from foreign interests and polished up the property to a brighter sheen.

By my score card, that makes three significant contributions in three major areas of sports. What other person can match that?

And to think that Ueberroth came close to not even getting beyond Sunnyvale’s Fremont High, where he was a bright and athletic kid with no immense ambition.

“I didn’t take college prep courses and had no intention of going to college,” Ueberroth told me a few years ago, characterizing himself as a “C-minus student.”

But then fate intervened. Ueberroth’s high school football coach, Ken Stanger, was a San Jose State graduate and telephoned the water polo coach there to tout Ueberroth as a potential recruit, even though he’d never played the sport. After a brief tryout in which Ueberroth jumped in the pool and threw a water polo ball to various targets, he was offered a partial scholarship.

Ueberroth didn’t blow the opportunity. By his senior year, he led the Spartans in scoring. Meanwhile, a business professor named Scott Norwood persuaded Ueberroth that he had a future in commerce. This led to a postgraduation job with a charter airline … which led to Ueberroth founding a travel agency that he built into the second largest such business in America … which led to his Olympic gig.

During interviews over the years, however, Ueberroth has never failed to credit his San Jose State years as the springboard for his success. His fraternity brothers there recall how he grew from the curious freshman into the entrepreneurial senior — even as he kept breaking his nose during water polo matches.

“I remember he made money by taking Hertz cars back to Los Angeles and then driving others back to San Jose,” said Barry Swenson, the South Bay developer who was a classmate. “He always worked. He earned everything he’s ever gotten. I’ve never seen a guy work so hard in my life.”

Swenson was interviewed for the video presentation that will be used to introduce Ueberroth at the induction dinner, as was another of his longtime friends, Clint Eastwood. The actor/director is part of the Pebble Beach ownership group and also serves with Ueberroth on the Monterey Peninsula Foundation.

During Eastwood’s comments, he made an interesting point: Ueberroth’s best asset in all of his roles might have been his ability to adjust on the fly, skills he likely learned as a water polo player.

“He is a very creative guy,” Eastwood said. “A great problem solver. And because he is very creative, he’s always looking for the positive way to get things accomplished. He doesn’t give up easy. That’s how we have the Pebble Beach company. … He’d make a terrific film director because he’s got a good memory and a good eye for things, and he handles people well, which is the whole secret.”

And how about Ueberroth’s athletic skills today, say, as a golfer?

“He’s deceiving as a golfer,” Eastwood said. “He plays it down that he’s not a good player. But he can play. I don’t think he’s a sandbagger. He’s just one of those guys who’s a good competitor.”

It is possible, I suppose, that everything in Ueberroth’s life would have happened exactly the same way if he had decided never to take up San Jose State on that water polo scholarship. It is also possible that Joe Montana would have become USA’s greatest soccer player instead of a Super Bowl winner. But I know what I believe: The sports world is better off for the actual decisions that those two guys made.

Contact Mark Purdy at mpurdy@mercurynews.com or 408-920-

San Jose Sports Hall of Fame Inducts Two Spartans

San Jose Sports Hall of Fame Inducts Ueberroth, Lambert

San Jose Sports Hall of Fame Inducts Two Spartans

Art Lambert (above) and Peter Ueberroth were inducted Nov. 9 (photos courtesy of the San Jose Sports Authority).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Two San Jose State alumni were among five athletes inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame Nov. 9 at HP Pavilion.

Peter Ueberroth served as an Olympic leader and baseball commissioner. Art Lambert was an SJSU and Stanford water polo player and coach.

Other inductees this year included figure skaters Rudy Galindo and Kristi Yamaguchi, and Santa Clara University and NFL quarterback Dan Pastorini.

The 2011 Class brings the total number to 81 of South Bay sports figures in the hall of fame, which recognizes each honoree with a bronze plaque permanently installed on the concourse at HP Pavilion.

The annual induction is an event of the San Jose Sports Authority, San Jose Arena Authority, HP Pavilion Management/San Jose Sharks and the City of San José.

The event benefits Special Olympics Northern California and high school sports programs. Read more.

Passengers boarding VTA light rail.

Recent Grad Wins VTA Mobile App Contest

Passengers boarding VTA light rail.

Vashishtha Jogi, who recently graduated with a master's in computer engineering, won with "San Jose Transit."

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

In June, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority launched a contest challenging professional developers and hobbyists to create a mobile app to enhance the VTA travel experience.  Members of the public submitted a variety of apps that are supported by Apple’s operating system, Google’s Android platform, or both. After carefully evaluating all contest submittals, “San Jose Transit” designed by Vashishtha Jogi was declared the winner! When asked why he entered the VTA contest, Jogi cited his interest in public transit and desire to make it easier for the public to navigate the system. “I love learning new technology, and this industry plays a huge role in my desired career path,” said Jogi.  “I aspire to be someone who builds something useful for other people and not done by anybody else.” Jogi recently completed his master’s in software engineering at San Jose State in August. The app offers schedules for light rail, bus and train service. Read more.

Jack Harding, left, and Natalie Harding pin lieutenant stripes to the uniform of their son, Jack Jr. Photo courtesy of Jack Harding.

Matriarch Influences Family’s Military Service

Jack Harding Sr., left, and Natalie Harding pin lieutenant stripes to the uniform of their son, Jack Jr. Photo courtesy of Jack Harding Sr.

Jack Harding Sr., left, and Natalie Harding pin lieutenant stripes to the uniform of their son, Jack Jr. Photo courtesy of Jack Harding Sr.

By Sarah Kyo, Public Affairs Assistant

The Hardings can thank multiple family members for their military service, including three generations of men named Jack.

Natalie and Jack Harding Sr. are SJSU staff members: She is the director of Academic Budgets, and he works on all of the campus telephone lines, as the telecommunications network analyst.

Their son, Jack Jr., graduated from SJSU in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy.

After completing internships, Jack Jr. thought about what to do with his post-college life. During that time, two people close to him died, including his grandmother.

“When she passed, it put things into perspective that basically I just needed to do it,” Jack Jr. said about joining the military.

Jack Jr. shocked his parents when he told them that he had enlisted in the Marines.

“We never really wanted him to join because of the war that was going on,” Jack Sr. said.

Jack Jr. said he knew joining the military during wars in Afghanistan and Iraq meant deployment. What was most important to him, though, was serving his country. Natalie says Jack Jr.’s grandmother influenced her son’s decision.

“My Lola had a huge impact on it,” Jack Jr. said of his grandmother. She would tell her grandson that he would make a good officer.

Jack Jr. was in Afghanistan for seven months. He recently earned the rank of captain.

The late matriarch and patriarch, Clara and Jack – affectionately known as Lola and Grandpa Jack – impacted their family’s attitudes and experiences with the military.

After all, the U.S. military brought together a poor boy from an Arkansas farm and a young girl from a wealthy Filipino family.

World War II and Its Aftermath

Jack Harding Sr.'s parents pose for their wedding portrait. Photo courtesy of Jack Harding Sr.

Jack Harding Sr.'s parents, Clara and Jack, pose for their wedding portrait. Photo courtesy of Jack Harding Sr.

Wanting to make a better life for himself, Grandpa Jack voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, predecessor for the Air Force. He would make a career out of his service, traveling to locations as diverse as the Pentagon and the Philippines.

It was in the Philippines where he met his future wife Clara, who worked at the United States’ Clark Air Field Base.

During World War II, not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Japan gained control of Clark Air Field Base. Clara and her family lived nearby in Angeles City, so they fled to the city of Bataan.

They thought the American forces were going to save them, but they never came, Jack Sr. said.

Instead, the Japanese captured Clara and her family, who became part of the 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war involved in the infamous Bataan Death March. Thousands died during the brutal return to the capital city, Manila.

To protect her daughters from being raped by soldiers, Clara’s mother put dirt on their faces and matted their hair to disguise their beauty – it worked.

Clara’s father was sent to a prison camp, where he would eventually die. A brother died in a siege at Corregidor Island in the Philippines.

During the United States’ Liberation of Manila in 1945, Clara and her remaining family lived in a bomb crater covered with tin. They were stuck in the middle of a fierce battle, and Clara lost another brother that night.

“Her brother was killed that night by an artillery shell,” Jack Sr. said. “He came outside of the hole to make sure they were going to be OK, I guess, and an artillery shell hit a tree he was sitting under and killed him.”

The next day, they heard a rumbling sound and popped out of the hole in the ground, only to be surrounded by — U.S. troops, who saved them.

“They scared the crap out of some poor, young G.I. because they were all dirty,” Jack Sr. said. “They looked like rats living in these holes.”

A couple years after the liberation, Clara met Grandpa Jack, stationed at nearby Clark AFB. They married and started a family.

Jack Sr. became emotional when thinking about his late mother and what she had been through during the war.

“She’s indebted to this country and the military because they saved her and her family,” he said, his voice breaking and his eyes teary. “That’s why she always encouraged my son and myself to join the military because of what they did.”

The 1970s and Beyond

Jack Harding Sr. sits in a jet. Harding served as a Navy jet mechanic. Photo courtesy of Jack Harding Sr.

Jack Harding Sr. served as a Navy jet mechanic. Photo courtesy of Jack Harding Sr.

After retiring from the military in 1973 as master sergeant, Grandpa Jack moved his wife and eight kids to San Jose. Jack Sr. said he didn’t do too well in school, so his mother suggested that he look into the military.

“Maybe they’ll straighten you up, and you’ll enjoy it,” she told him.

Jack Sr. actively served in the U.S. Navy as a jet mechanic from 1976 to 1980, and was in the reserves for eight years afterward.

He said he loved the experience, which gave him responsibilities and leadership training.

For the Hardings, Veterans Day is about family. Jack Sr.’s wife, Natalie, thinks of the sacrifices that families make for their loved ones who are serving.

For Jack Jr., he acknowledges his family at home and his fellow soldiers, “the family in your mind that you’re fighting for and the family next to you that you’re fighting with.” 

Jack Sr. expressed thanks to those who serve in the military.

“You know, my mom appreciated the American military ’til the very end, which she tried to instill in us, which she did and we all do,” Jack Sr. said. “All I can say is what these young men and women sacrifice for this country, life and limb, where would we be in this country without them?”