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ECE Celebrates Two Outstanding Alumni

Over the recent Homecoming Weekend, Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department Head Christopher Hollot presented the College of Engineering Outstanding Senior and Junior Alumni Awards to two individuals who, through exemplary accomplishments, epitomize the potential of an ECE education. Winner of the Outstanding Senior Alumni Award was the late Apostle G. “Butch” Cardiasmenos, who had retired as the Chief Technologist at Lockheed Martin. The recipient of the Junior Alumni Award was Brian Q. Huppi, the president and CEO of Huppco in San Francisco, California.

As College of Engineering Dean Ted Djaferis said about the award winners, “It is wonderful to have such talented, idealistic, productive, and dynamic leaders represent the College of Engineering.”

Dr. Cardiasmenos, who died suddenly on June 4, 2011, was a close friend and ally of the College of Engineering. After receiving his B.S. from the University of California Berkeley, he went on to earn his M.S. from the ECE department in 1976 and also received his Ph.D. in astronomy from UMass Amherst in 1978. He was the president and chief scientist of L-3 Communications Essco before he worked for Lockheed Martin. "Butch," as he was affectionately known by family and friends, was a published author, the recipient of several scientific achievement awards, and holds several technological patents. He was the sitting chair of the ECE department’s External Advisory Board. In addition, Butch worked tirelessly to make research connections and was a cheerleader for the department and a proponent of the UMass Amherst Innovation Institute.

Butch met ECE Professor Sigfrid Yngvesson, then a post-doc, at Berkeley. He was greatly impressed with Butch’s energy and enthusiasm and asked him to work on his research project. This turned out to be the beginning of a life-long collaboration and friendship. In 1970, Yngvesson accepted a faculty position in the ECE Department at UMass Amherst, and Butch joined Yngvesson and his research team.

Butch went on to cultivate a deep interest in physics, astronomy, and related engineering work. Beyond the research laboratory, he performed astronomical observations with a receiver he built and installed at the Haystack Observatory in Westford, Massachusetts. He was also one of the leaders in installing the Five College radio telescope at the Quabbin.

Butch was the husband of Joan (Friedman) Cardiasmenos, to whom he was married for 35 years, and father of Timothy and Caroline. Butch’s family and friends remember him as a brilliant, creative, kind, gentle, and generous man, who loved dogs and was always busy at home tinkering with do-it-yourself projects. Butch’s family was the centerpiece of his life, and the time he spent with them is what he cherished most.

Brian Huppi, who grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, graduated from UMass Amherst in 1993 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, and two years later he returned to UMass to get a second B.S. in electrical engineering. If asked why he decided to get the second degree he would tell you, “I wanted to add more tools to my toolbox.” While getting his E.E. degree, Brian was an undergraduate teaching assistant and vice president of the local Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society chapter.

After graduating Cum Laude in 1998 from the ECE department, Brian was hired by Apple Computer, where he worked as part of the hardware design team developing the company’s first iBook consumer laptop. During his eight plus years at Apple, Brian helped develop the touchscreen technology that is used in Apple's popular iPhone and iPad products and is a named inventor on numerous patents to date, including 13 issued and other patent-pending applications.

In 2006 Brian started Quentin Labs, an electrical and mechanical engineering consultancy catering to technology companies in the Bay Area and beyond. With a strong desire to be involved in the new “greentech” movement, Brian’s first long-term consulting job was with Tesla Motors, the maker of the Tesla Roadster, an all-electric sports car. He also worked with Amazon to help redesign of the Kindle.

Brian has recently taken a fulltime position with one of his clients, Nest Labs of Palo Alto, California. Nest has just announced its first product, the Nest Learning Thermostat. This $275 home thermostat senses the presence of people and, via a wifi network, allows one to control the Nest from one’s phone.

Brian currently lives in San Francisco with his wife, Jessica, and newborn daughter. He continues to stay in contact with the ECE department at UMass and has supported the senior design project through donations and guest appearances via teleconference.

“As a department, we are proud to call Brian one of our own,” said Hollot at the awards ceremony. “He embodies the foremost attributes we wish of our alums: technical excellence; possession of dreams; drive to follow dreams; individuality; social conscience, and, as one of my colleagues put it: a comprehensive sense of curiosity.”

Recipients of the College of Engineering 2011 Outstanding Senior Alumni Award have brought recognition and honor to the College of Engineering through their professional achievements, leadership, and service to the profession, university, and society. Recipients of the College of Engineering 2011 Outstanding Junior Alumni Award are worthy ambassadors for the UMass Amherst College of Engineering and have shown extraordinary effort and notable success in their early careers. (December 2011)