Alumni Profile: Rene Guermonprez of Aptar CSP Loves Developing Engineering Talent
Rene Guermonprez, ChBE 1989, say she’s grateful for the many people who looked out for her on her way to becoming the first college graduate in her family. And now she’s committed to paying it forward.
Those who facilitated her journey included not only many professional mentors, but also a family she babysat for who allowed her to use their car to reach her classes at Armstrong State University, where she first earned a degree in chemistry before coming to Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering.
As she worked summers as an intern at the Union Camp paper mill in Savannah, Georgia, engineers there recognized her potential and encouraged her to come to Tech. “I worked in the chemical development area at the mill and realized I needed a chemical engineering degree to advance,” she says.
Guermonprez, who grew up in Long Island, New York, and moved to Savannah in 10th grade, says she never took the help and guidance she received along the way for granted. “Now it’s inherent in me to try to do the same for others,” she says.
Alumni Profile: Savannah Lee's Goals for Fulbright Studies Involve Helping Disabled
Georgia Tech alumna Savannah Lee, ChBE 2018, wanted to win a Fulbright scholarship so much that she sprinted 2,000 feet up a remote mountain in Montana in order to find a cell signal. She’d needed to reach those writing her recommendations.
A Stamps President’s Scholar at Tech, Lee was leading a two-week, team-building expedition of incoming scholarship recipients through the Montana wilderness last August that coincided with the application process.
By late March, she learned that she’d won a Fulbright scholarship to cover her tuition and living expenses as she earns her MBA in international human resources at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei from fall 2019-spring 2020. “I screamed when I saw the e-mail,” she says.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program, designed to increase mutual understanding between residents of the United States and people of other countries.
Alumni Profile: Ashley Hancock Develops Medical Device to Curb Opioid Abuse
As the opioid addiction crisis grew to epidemic proportions, Georgia Tech alumnus and entrepreneur Ashley Hancock saw an opportunity to save lives while working with a physician and an addiction specialist. They have developed a medical device that can help patients adhere to prescribed dosages by controlling access to their medication and dispensing it properly.
In 2013, the team founded the Atlanta-based company Intent Solutions, whose iPhone-sized smart-dispenser alerts users when it’s time to take their painkillers and only dispenses the amount prescribed via thumbprint sensor, never giving anyone access to the entire contents of the medication. The device collects and transmits adherence data via the cloud to monitoring organizations and caregivers. It can detect too frequent attempts to access pills or if anyone other than the patient is trying to reach the medication stored in the tamper-resistant device.
“Even though the opioid crisis may not have been as broadly known then as it is today, once we dug in and did the research, the problem was evident, with people dying every day and tremendous associated costs,” says Hancock, a strategic marketing professional who earned his BS from the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering in 1990.
Alumni Profile: Food R&D Expert Carlos Barroso Exploring Healthier Opportunities
With years of experience leading research and development for top companies in the food and beverage industry (PepsiCo Foods and Campbell Soup), Georgia Tech alumnus Carlos Barroso has recently become intrigued by vegan food and how delicious it can be.
Barroso, who earned his BS from the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering in 1980 with highest honors, now runs his own consulting company, CJB and Associates, which services leading companies as well as innovative startups. These firms include biological sciences companies that are developing sustainable food products from fermented algae as well as cultured meat and fish grown from cells in the lab.
As a consultant and mentor to entrepreneurs in product R&D, testing, and innovation, Barroso draws on his chemical engineering background to help them scale up, making food products that both taste good and are affordable to the masses. “If you can’t do those things, then you don’t have a product, just some interesting science,” he says.
Alumni Profile: Lucy Pettitt-Schieber Ensures Integrity of BP’s Gulf of Mexico Wellstock
For the first few years of her career, Lucy Pettitt-Schieber was one of only several women – and the sole female engineer – working and living on one of the oil rigs operated by BP in the Gulf of Mexico.
After earning her BS from Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) in December 2012, she started as a well intervention engineer with BP the following year, executing operations on the rig to help fix issues with any of the wells in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I had a great experience. Everyone looked out for me as a junior engineer. They knew I was there to learn. While I didn’t have a whole lot in common with the other rig crew, I grew up playing sports, so I could relate to people on that level.”
She adds: “Living on the rig two weeks on, two weeks off was important to understand all of the equipment involved as well as the lifestyle and the vocabulary. Everybody has a different word for every piece of kit on the rig. By the time you get back in the office, you’re ready to write the procedures you learned to execute out there.”
Alumni Profile: Mandy Salmon Wins Fulbright Award to Conduct Heart Research
Alumni Spotlight: Jim Tucker Survived Bomb Disposal Duties in World War II, Building Successful Career in Pulp and Paper
After he interrupted his studies at Georgia Tech to serve in World War II, Jim Tucker (ChE 1947-Co-op) opted to train in the U.S. Army’s bomb disposal program, learning the design of German, Japanese, Allied, and U.S. bomb fuses, and how to identify them by touch.
“My choice of bomb disposal was based on several factors, the primary one being a desire to save lives, not take them. I also had confidence in my abilities which included attention to detail. I had repaired clocks and other mechanical devices since I was 10, taking them apart and reassembling them. I could also remain calm during crises, and had the ability to organize and direct a group.”
Today, at age 95, Tucker is one of two surviving members of the “Co-op Boys,” a group of his classmates in metro Atlanta who were called for duty after enrolling at Tech in 1939 and 1940. Tucker and fellow alumnus/veteran James Ivey still meet for lunch every other month with Marilyn Somers, director of Georgia Tech’s Living History Program.
“Our group discussions have allowed me to recall memories long stored and forgotten,” he says.
Tucker knew he’d be called for duty as soon as the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor at the end of the first quarter of his sophomore year. Though he hoped he could wait until after graduating with his chemical engineering degree, he was called to active duty in April 1943.
When he selected the bomb disposal specialty, he learned it had a saying – “You go up fast!” – with a double meaning: Your military career could blow up with promotions, or you could from mistakes.
The bomb-disposal techniques he learned had been developed by the British Royal Engineers, who lost 360 of the 400 men initially assigned to this trial and error project.
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Alumni Spotlight: John Burson
At the May 2017 doctoral and master’s Commencement ceremony, Georgia Tech awarded an honorary doctor of philosophy degree to John H. Burson III, ChE 1956, MS MET 1963, Ph.D. ChE 1964. This is the highest honor that can be bestowed by the Institute.
The embodiment of a 21stcentury Renaissance man, Burson is a physician, a former Georgia Tech professor, a military veteran, an involved community citizen of his hometown (Carrollton, Georgia), an enthusiastic volunteer, and a generous philanthropist.
Tours of Duty
A retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, Burson served in the Army Reserves for 30 years. At the age of 70, Burson asked that he be returned to active duty, and he was deployed in Iraq for three tours in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2011 as part of the military’s “Boots on the Ground Physician’s Program.” He earned combat medical badges and commendation medals.
Burson, who earned his medical degree from Emory, has had a distinguished medical career that includes service as chief of staff and chairman of the board of trustees for Tanner Medical Center from 1994-2012, an active member of the Tanner Urgent Care Clinic staff, and a self-employed physician at the Villa Rica Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic.
He is a licensed diplomat of the National Board of Medical Examiners, a fellow of the American Board of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is also a professional engineer licensed in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and California. In the academic arena, Burson was an associate professor and adjunct professor in chemical engineering at Georgia Tech from 1959-1975, an assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine, and a principal research engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s predecessor institution from 1959-1975. He received the Regents Award from the University System of Georgia Board of Regents in 2015.
He has made extensive philanthropic contributions to Tech through the years.