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A Tale of Two ETM Alums
A Tale of Two ETM Alums

As keynote speakers at the 2015 hooding ceremony for Engineering and Technology Management (ETM) department, two alums returned to share how their education and experience at PSU shaped, and continues to shape their careers.

Jim Teeter and Tim Bennington-Davis met as graduate students in the early 1990’s. From the beginning they shared many common interests and experiences:

Both studied electrical engineering as undergrads and earned BSEE degrees.

Both had ample industry experience. Jim spent five years as a lab assistant at the University of Illinois, his alma mater, before spending another five year stint as an engineer at Sony in San Diego and eight at Fujitsu in Hillsboro.  Tim had been working at Tektronix since graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 1981.

Both were seeking the opportunity to emerge as leaders in the tech industry.

“As an engineering student you spend all your time mastering an intensely focused domain of knowledge,” explains Tim. “You aren’t taught how product development is done. You aren’t exposed to how operations work, or how to set priorities, or think in models.”

Established in 1987, ETM was, and still is, a novel program that is best described as the fusion of business strategy, personnel management and technology.

“At that time the common wisdom was to go back to school and get an MBA,” says Jim.  “I looked at MBA programs in both Oregon and California, and although there were a number of fine offerings, none of them seemed to address my technical interests or needs. ETM was a perfect fit and the experience directly contributed in many ways to my success in technology leadership.”

Jim and Tim grew to know one another as they each balanced full-time, work, school and growing families. Jim graduated in 1995, Tim in 1997. Over the years their professional paths crossed many times. Tim continued to work for Tektronix until 2001. By that time Jim was Vice President of Manufacturing at InFocus having built his reputation by upgrading the company’s production capability from a slab of concrete to production on an international scale. Jim recruited Tim to the position of Director of OptoMechanical Engineering. They remained coworkers at InFocus until many years later when they parted ways to pursue separate startup ventures.

Today Jim and Tim are colleagues once again at a different startup company SmartRG, maker of residential gateways - products that link a connected home to a larger, outside network. A product that might serve as a metaphor for the secret to their successes.

“The network you build while working together in teams at PSU, and in the workplace, is more than a group of people you connect to on LinkedIn,” says Tim. “The way the ETM program teaches you to think, and the relationships that came out of it have made all the difference. I can tell you first-hand, the network works.”

To serve the needs of working professionals, Engineering and Technology Management courses are offered at night, year-round, and can be attended at any of three campuses - PSU’s downtown campus, Wilson Creek in Washington County, and at the Oregon Institute of Technology in Wilsonville.