Next UC San Diego Alumni Board President Remembers Engineering Roots
|Matt Newsome, a Jacobs School alumnus, is a vice president and regional director at Cubic Transportation Sytems. He becomes president of the UC San Diego Alumni Board of Directors July 1, 2012.|
San Diego, Calif., June 12, 2012 -- When Matt Newsome was a mechanical engineering undergraduate, he took a structural engineering course from Professor Gil Hegemier. It was 1989. That October, the Loma Prieta earthquake hit, and Hegemier and other faculty members were called to San Francisco to assess the damage. Hegemier returned to campus with a treasure strove of stories about how structural engineering relates to real life.
Fast-forward two decades, and Newsome, now a vice president and regional director at Cubic Transportation Systems, is back on campus as the incoming president of the Board of Directors for UC San Diego Alumni. He will take over the position July 1, 2012.
He also is the one now creating a connection between research and real life through a partnership between Cubic Transportation Systems and the Jacobs School of Engineering. Together, they will research the next generation of intelligent travel technologies for cities.
“We have excellent teams that build some of the best system solutions in the world,” Newsome said. “But you can only take R&D so far. What UCSD brings is the ability to think way outside the box and way into the future.”
The fast-paced evolution of technology requires that Cubic teams have access to researchers with a wide range of skills, Newsome said. They can work together to evaluate, propose and in some cases develop solutions using these emerging technologies. Working with UC San Diego will provide insights in areas Cubic sees as challenging. It also will help apply theories and methods for technology concepts the company predicts will dominate the future.
“What better way to go invest in your own community, your own university and all of these wonderful students to help us grow our company while we give back,” he said. “It seemed too obvious to me.”
As the next president of the alumni board, he also plans to build new bridges between the campus and its alumni. “My number one goal is connection,” Newsome said. “Connection with our current alums, the alums we may have lost touch with and with all those new ones that are coming.”
One way to strengthen this connection will be to open an alumni house on campus, which will become reality in a couple of years, Newsome said. The space will be home to a technology center, among other resources.
Newsome said he also plans to listen to alumni to find out more about what they want to get out of their connection to campus. Do they want networking? Training? Job hunting advice? “It’s really understanding all of our alumni and moving toward programs that will help everyone,” he said.
Newsome said he has been inspired to give back to UC San Diego by some of his mentors during his college years and by the experiences he’s had on campus. The university taught him a very precious lesson, he said.
“I learned how to learn here,” Newsome said.
There were more lessons, outside the classroom: “I learned how to grow,” Newsome said. “I learned how to work. I learned how to make friends. I learned true relationships.”
During Newsome’s five years on campus, Ernie Mort, then the dean of Revelle College, became a mentor. “He’s just one of the most giving, fantastic men I’ve ever met,” Newsome said. “He’s been a real inspiration for me to come back to the campus and give back.”
Mort recruited Newsome to be an orientation leader for Revelle, which provided him with a taste of the working world. The job taught him to interact with people and to problem-solve. By the time he had his first interviews for engineering jobs, he had learned how to communicate, he said. “In so many of those interviews, it’s not that you can write out that equation. It’s that how you say it.”
In addition to classes and work, Newsome also had fun on campus. He was part of an intramural, one-pitch open softball team during his undergraduate years. “I had eight of my best friends on that team,” Newsome recalls. “We never lost a game.” He still keeps in touch with many of his former teammates. Their championship picture hangs on the wall of his office, along with the Guardian story chronicling their victory.