During our recent visit to LA and Seattle, we had the pleasure of meeting with old and new friends; some alumni, some not – all friends of Chalmers in different ways!
It all started on Monday night, February 18th, when we met with our old friends Tönis (E62) and Maud Tilk to celebrate a recent birthday as well as a long-standing friendship and two strong supporters of Chalmers. Thanks Tönis and Maud for a very memorable night in Manhattan Beach!
Since we had a tour at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory the next morning, we took the long trip out to Pasadena on Monday night to avoid getting stuck in the crazy LA traffic the next morning – you don’t want to be late to an exciting meeting like that!
At 10am on the dot, we met up with our tour guides, Chalmers alumni Raquel Rodriguez Monje and Sofia Rahiminejad, both of whom now work at JPL in different capacities. During our two-hour visit we got to see the next mars-lander being built as well as the nano-fabrications lab, the NASA control room and a couple of test areas – very exciting! Before our two hours were up, we met with no less than 6 alumni, currently working at JPL; apart from Raquel and Sofia, it was Johan Nilsson, Luis Millan, Aurore Sibois and Rohit Gawande, a big thanks to you all for taking the time out to meet with us!
Believe it or not, we were still not done with LA! Tuesday night was the climax of our visit, when we threw a very well attended alumni&friends event at the pent house of the Shangri-La hotel in Santa Monica. Around 40 people showed up, over 30 of whom were alumni, most of them completely new acquaintances to us!!
What a night, Gudrun Giddings and her team at SACC LA had done a great job in helping us with reservations and practicalities and Gudrun started off the presentations with a warm welcome to everyone and some very appreciative words about Chalmers. Much to our surprise, we were honored with a visit by the owner of the hotel, Tehmina Adaya, who gave a highly acclaimed tribute to Sweden and everything Swedish.
After this wonderful introduction we felt very comfortable giving our presentation about the current status at Chalmers and all the very exciting projects that are going on here! We also took the opportunity to talk about our cases for support, not least the scholarships to American students, our much appreciated on-going U.S. case for support. As an extra treat, we had the great pleasure of listening to Sofia Rahiminejad, Chalmers alumnae who is currently conducting her post doc at JPL, thanks in part to funding from the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation. Sofia told us about her journey to where she is today, how she came to choose Chalmers and how her time here has helped her get to where she is today – such a wonderful role model for the young generation!
Spirits were high throughout the night and in the end, we had to be thrown out after already outstaying our reservation by an hour. How wonderful to meet alumni that devoted to their alma mater – once again, thanks to all who attended and helped make the evening such a success! We hope to see you again soon, either in LA or somewhere else. Maybe in New York during Memorial Day weekend or even in Gothenburg – we are always happy to get a visit.
The next day, there was a bit of a set-back as our flight to Seattle was delayed. What started out as a 1-hour delay soon turned into almost 5 hours, which meant that, unfortunately, we missed the meetings we had planned at the University of Washington that afternoon but what can you do, we’ll have to save that for our next visit. Thursday, February 21st, was an absolutely gorgeous day in Seattle, as we were told, the only nice day of that week and we thoroughly enjoyed walking to our first meeting with the Nordic Scholars Institute, a fairly new organization that aims to create an exclusive post graduate educational program for some of the best scholars in the U.S. at the Nordic Five Tech Institutes, of which Chalmers is one. Very exciting and impressive work, we hope this will turn into reality since we strongly believe in strengthening the bonds between Chalmers and various counterparts in the U.S. Our next meeting was with Erik Pihl, head of community engagement at the new Nordic Museum in Seattle who told us about the history of this amazing museum and, not least, the big campaign that made the relaunch of the brand new, state-of-the art museum possible. Again, so impressive and humbling, it certainly goes to show the strong connection to Scandinavia that is ever present in the Seattle area.
The high-light of the Seattle visit was, once again, the alumni&friends gathering we had on the night of the 21st. We were generously hosted by the Honorary Consul of Sweden, Lars Jonsson and his wife Laurie McDonald Jonsson on their yacht, the Golden Eagle, and taken on a dinner cruise on Lake Union and onto Lake Washington. Since it was a clear, albeit a bit chilly, night we enjoyed an amazing view of the city’s skyline and the beautiful coastline surrounding it. Good food and drink in the company of old and new friends, made for another great event with Chalmers in focus.
Once again, it is safe to conclude that Chalmers’ reputation is solid and carries respect far outside the boundaries of Sweden. Much of that is of course thanks to you, our alumni and friends who help spread the word throughout your lives, in your day-to-day work and actions!