Dean’s Council helps build a bridge to the broader engineering community

Left to Right: Joe Burton, Laura Bushnell, Mike Hilton, Dean Alexander Wolf, Ahmed Hamdy, Brandon Allgood. Not pictured: Ed Shulak.
James McGirk

On October 31st, six leading figures from the broader engineering and technology community converged on UC Santa Cruz for the inaugural Baskin School of Engineering Dean’s Council meeting. The mission of the Council is to help ensure that the bold research and well-rounded graduates of Baskin Engineering can best be deployed in the world beyond UC Santa Cruz.

“The Dean’s Council represents an immense opportunity for our school to connect to the engineering community in a way we haven’t before,” said Baskin School of Engineering Dean Alexander Wolf. “And, of course, this also represents an opportunity for the world to connect with us.”

The first meeting focused on ways to best represent Baskin Engineering to the outside world. Members highlighted the creative confidence of UC Santa Cruz engineers. Not only do Banana Slugs know how to solve problems technically; they think globally, bringing skills gleaned from other disciplines.

The Council is chaired by Laura Bushnell, a partner at King & Spalding, LLP who serves on the Board of Trustees of the UC Santa Cruz Foundation and the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County. The other council members include Brandon Allgood, co-founder and CTO of Numerate, who also serves as a UC Santa Cruz Foundation trustee; Joe Burton, president and CEO of Poly, Santa Cruz’s largest technology company; Ahmed Hamdy, VP and head of early clinical development at Acerta Pharma; Mike Hilton, Chief Product Officer and director for Accolade, Inc., who was this year’s commencement speaker, and Ed Schulak, Chairman of EdenRoc Sciences, LLC.

“For the past twenty-two years, Baskin Engineering has been the best kept secret in the Bay Area,” Wolf said. “The Dean’s Council brings a diversity of opinion, experience and deep connections so that we can help our graduates begin careers, find ways our research can best impact the world around us, and find opportunities for partnerships and funding for the next generation of engineering breakthroughs.”

The six council members represent a broad range of interests and experience. Consistent with their roles on the council, they are passionate about building a better future through science and technology. The Council is looking for ways to tap into their network, facilitating faculty and student entrepreneurship, bringing employers to campus, and creating opportunities for funding and employment.

“I’m thrilled and honored to be heading up [Dean Alexander Wolf]’s Council to help him execute on his vision for the engineering school,” Bushnell said. “We are excited to help Alex build bridges and spread awareness of the cool stuff happening on campus. It’s also interesting to get close to the research being done by post docs, students and grad students and see the possibilities for commercialization and company building.”

Bushnell, aside from her legal expertise, is intimately connected to the venture capital community in the San Francisco Bay Area. Allgood earned a Ph.D at UC Santa Cruz and has been instrumental in developing Numerate’s technological vision, which combines artificial intelligence and small molecule drug design. He has 15 years of expertise in large scale cloud and distributed computing, AI, and mathematical modeling. Burton has decades of experience as a technology and engineering executive, and holds several communications patents. Hamdy has been a founder, a chief executive, and led research teams in various pharmaceutical companies. He holds an MD and has a background in experimental pathology. Before joining Accolade, Hilton co-founded Concur Technologies (now SAP Concur) and has a deep background in sales automation. Schulak was a prominent architect before creating a series of companies, most recently in molecular biology, genetic sequencing, bioinformatics, and early stage drug development. Two of these companies are currently licensing Baskin Engineering technologies.