board member spotlight
John G. Dreyer, MS '76
Major: Computer Systems
Title: Program Manager – Air Force Technical Representative
Employer: Quantech Services, Inc.
Location: Lexington, Mass.
Campus Involvement: Off Campus College Bus Service, OCC Assembly, Graduate Student Organization, ACM (campus chapter)
1) What experience at Binghamton most relates to what you do today?
I had a wonderful experience at Binghamton University. I started as a visiting student from SUNY Stony Brook. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics, I met advocates of the School of Advanced Technology (SAT) – Herb Hellerman and Gerald Weinberg – who convinced me that I should join their emerging school. The experience at SAT was a challenge and a gift. I had to prove myself taking foundation courses in the summer and fall. I learned to think outside the box, explore new fields of endeavor (computer and systems science) and gain the knowledge that has carried me throughout my 30+ year career. These skills included analyzing technical information, software design and programming and formal process. I’ve used these skills throughout my career.
2) If you could go back in time and take a class today what would it be?
The classes I took as an undergraduate as a visiting student centered on my major (economics) and requirements for graduation. If I had to do it again, I would take advantage of the rich variety of educational and cultural offerings of Harpur College. Every time I return to campus, I am amazed at the excellence and abundance of arts, music, theatre and humanities; the performances and opportunities to expand my perspectives on life and the world available at Harpur are outstanding.
3) What did you think you would end up doing on graduation day, and what are you doing now?
On graduation day, I had to decide if I wanted to stay in the local area working as a programmer or move to Boston and work for a consulting firm. I chose the latter. I’m glad I made the choice, but it meant leaving a place and people I loved. I wanted to build software systems. I ended up building systems for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and many others. I evolved into a management role, including writing proposals, managing engineers and running a business. Today, I’m working at MIT Lincoln Laboratory (MIT LL) as the chief technical liaison officer for the Air Force managing the MIT LL contract. I get to read and review all the presentations, proposals, technical papers etc., that MIT LL produces and review/recommend for approval all the new work that MIT LL is starting to do. Needless to say, this is a very rich technical environment and very rewarding for me. Although I’m not using my software, systems design or project management skills, I get my technical itch scratched every day.
4) What do you miss the most about Binghamton University?
My days at Binghamton were filled with learning, wonderful people and a beautiful environment. I miss the excitement of exploring an emerging field for the first time and interacting with people who were very open to sharing on an academic and personal level. Not that I don’t do that today, but there were so many people I interacted with at that level on a daily basis while in school. Today, it seems most people are much more reserved. Specifically, I miss Lake Empire, the OCC fellows who interacted with me every day and many loving friends and fellow students who helped me excel at Binghamton.
5) What one thing should every student do before they graduate and leave the University?
With such a diverse college environment, I would encourage every student to take one course in each of the colleges on campus and explore the many disciplines available. I know this is hard to do with the limited number of electives, but you can make time if you truly want to explore all the wonderful experiences Harpur and the larger University have to offer.
6) If you had to give one piece of advice to graduating students, what would it be?
My advice would be to keep learning. College education is just the start. Be ready to keep growing and learning so you can fulfill your dreams. It has been a long four (five or six?) years, but you will cherish this time, so don’t let that experience fade away. The Binghamton University Alumni Association knows this and tries its best to nurture and expand that experience after graduation to connect with fellow alumni, continue learning and exploring, and to maintain and rekindle the experiences and friendships that make Binghamton such an exciting place to be.