Do you know what Min Kao, Co-founder of Garmin GPS, Mark Dean, Co-inventor of the personal computer, and Peyton Manning, NFL quarterback and Super Bowl Champion and MVP, have in common? They are famous alumni of the University of Tennessee (UT) – one of our developing partners in the US. To shape a better future for Lucite International (LI) and our partners, there must be a shared understanding of where our journey is heading, a set of commonly held values, plus a healthy amount of creativity, energy and motivation for getting things done. One of the best ways for us to go about shaping a sustainable future is by celebrating the diverse talents and experiences of our employees and encouraging them to reach beyond our organization. US Communications Specialist, Jenna Skinta talked to Alan Ledger, Regional Sales Manager for the US Monomers business, based at The Lucite Center, about combining his work and past education to create opportunities for LI and UT, where he studied and is now national President of the Alumni Association (UTAA).
Do you have a particular focus for your term as UTAA President?
AL: As alumni, many of us have experienced powerful “UT moments” that have impacted our lives. These include making life-long friends with other students from different cities, states, and countries, being exposed to new horizons, exciting knowledge and ideas, as well as gaining a valuable education that enables us to pursue meaningful careers. My mission is to encourage our alumni to be the supporting power that helps create new “UT moments” for even more people. With alumni support, UT can continue to expand its important work in continuously improving the world we live in, much like how LI uses its creativity and innovation to challenge the status quo of our industry.
The Torchbearer is the symbol of UT Knoxville, and the name of the highest award conferred annually by UT on a student. To be a ‘Torchbearer’ is the ultimate student honor, representing tremendous academic achievement, leadership, and service.
What benefits do you see for LI coming out of your presidency?
AL: I believe my role will help raise awareness of LI/MRC across UT alumni and with the university’s administration, faculty, staff and students. Although LI has both its Americas HQ and key manufacturing in Tennessee, we are relatively unknown. This exposure should help us improve our recognition as an excellent potential employer for all levels – student placements to experienced professionals. It will help us create new connections for partnering in areas such as future science, technology and new product development projects. I’m also sure that we can help our local communities understand and connect with us better as a result of them learning more about the work we do as good corporate citizens.
What benefits do you see for UT?
AL: There have been a variety of UTAA presidents including businesspeople, lawyers, doctors and educators across different private and public entities. But I am somewhat unique in working for a major global manufacturing firm that has its Americas HQ in Tennessee. I think this aspect gives UT and LI unique potential to build an exciting, ongoing relationship offering mutual people- and project-based benefits such as: employment, work experience opportunities, collaborating at the science and innovation level, and perhaps looking at business and operational processes.
How can UT help LI live its core values?
AL: UT is a large, exciting and vibrant center for cutting-edge research, education, innovation and discovery. This includes advanced research in engineering, sciences and technology led by UT’s science colleges and its powerful partnership with the famous Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL). It includes UT’s Health Science Center in Memphis, which performs advanced medical research and educates the majority of doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists in the state. UT also has a prominent undergraduate and graduate business school with study and expertise in many areas, from management, finance and marketing to logistics and supply chain. And on the creative side, UT is also a center for advanced study in arts, architecture, philosophy, literature, music and performance. I believe passionately that the university has a tremendously positive impact, which extends beyond educating our young people and providing research programs and services that improve the lives of families all across our state, country and the world. Its work also fits strongly with LI/MRC’s KAITEKI philosophy and by working together, we can help one another to achieve even more.
Research that is shaping ideas for the future
One example of progress is with the research support and advanced manufacturing expertise of UT’s ORNL, which is famous for the “Manhattan Project” atomic research during WWII and is the US Department of Energy’s largest science and energy laboratory. It has 4,400 scientists and engineers in over 100 disciplines and is a world-leader in advanced materials research with initiatives in advanced composites and polymers, carbon-based materials, new and energy efficient manufacturing technologies and 3D printing. On 17 November 2015, a LI team, pictured above, met with representatives from UT’s Corporate & Industry Engagement office and College of Engineering. They shared overviews of UT/ORNL’s capabilities that coincided with LI’s interests. This was an important first step in exploring areas of collaboration in working together on technical, research and innovation projects.
With over 360,000 alumni across the world, UT’s reach is hugely powerful. Here are just a few of their stories.
Min Kao 1977, Co-founder of Garmin GPS
Kao is the “min” in the company name, “Garmin” – a Garmin watch is a runner’s best friend. In 2012, UT’s Min H Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building opened – it was built using a $12.5m gift by Kao.
Mark Dean 1979, Co-inventor of the personal computer
Every time you connect a monitor, keyboard, or mouse to a computer you have UT alumnus Mark Dean to thank for making it work. As well as co-inventing the PC, he is responsible for developing the technology that allows us to connect devices to computers. Dean was recently named a National Academy of Inventors Fellow.
Dr James Eason 1987, Surgeon, performed the liver transplant for Steve Jobs, Apple CEO
After notable positions in the US, Dr Eason returned to UT Health Science Center to become Chief of Transplantation. He specializes in liver and kidney transplants with research interests in steroid-free liver transplantation and renal insufficiency in liver transplantation. Job’s surgery was performed in Memphis.
Howard Baker Jr 1949, Former Senator, Ambassador, White House Chief of Staff
Baker served as Tennessee State Representative and minority and majority leader during his 18 years in the US Senate. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984 and was White House Chief of Staff from 1987-88 under President Ronald Reagan. UT’s Howard H Baker Jr Center for Public Policy on UT’s campus carries his name.
Peyton Manning 1998, NFL quarterback, Super Bowl Champion & MVP
An All-American at Tennessee and won the Sullivan Award for the top amateur athlete in the nation. In 2006, Manning led the Indianapolis Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI and was voted Super Bowl MVP.
Dr Rhea Seddon 1973, Surgeon, and one of the first US female astronauts
Seddon was one of the first women to join the general surgery residency at UT Health Science Center and one of initial female astronauts selected by NASA in January 1978. Seddon went on to spend 19 years at NASA, and completed three space shuttle flights (‘85, ‘91, ‘93).
Captain Scott Kelly 1996, Research, International Space Station
Kelly earned an MA in aviation systems from UT and will stay aboard the International Space Station for one year (the longest time for a person at the station). NASA will study the effects of this space travel compared to his identical twin, who remains on earth. This result of the study will help with NASA’s goal of sending a manned spacecraft to Mars by the 2030s.
Amy Miles 1989, CEO, Regal Entertainment Group, the worldħ largest motion picture theater operator
With her unique expertise, Miles serves on the boards of corporations including Townsquare Media Inc., Radio Systems Corp, Digital Cinemas Implementation Partners, National CineMedia LLC, and the Norfolk Southern Corporation.
UT has more than 49,000 students spread over four campuses, each with its own research and technology initiatives. Its prominent business school offers one of the USA’s top supply chain programs, it has a highly regarded engineering department and major research initiatives in bio-fuels and bio-chemicals. It was also selected by the White House to lead a $259m partnership called the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, a group formed to develop advanced composite materials for automotive, aircraft and other industries, boasting major corporate names such as Ford, Volkswagen, Boeing and Airbus as partners.
The University of Tennessee is comprised of four campuses. For additional information about them, please follow the links below.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
The University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
The University of Tennessee, Martin
The University of Tennessee, Health Science Center, Memphis