The magazine of the Case Alumni Association
at the Case School of Engineering

A message from Case Alumnus Editor Robert L. Smith

Encouraging words

I love words of wisdom, maybe because I have so few to offer. “You’re not as good as you think you are,” is what I would tell my 22-year-old self. Thanks to Case alumni, our new graduates have a deeper font of knowledge to draw from. They maybe have more need for it, too.

The Class of 2021 endured a year like no other. The cancellations and disappointments fell like the rain. Too many suffered a grievous loss. They have come out on the other side of a pandemic with hard-earned Case degrees. Now what? Now this:

Have dreams and goals…. 

Take care of yourself…. 

Take notes and take risks…

Eighteen of our alumni, all men and women of achievement, are helping send off our May graduates with guidance they would give to their younger selves. They are speaking to members of the Class of 2021, but their advice is timeless.

You, too, will get a boost hearing from people like Ka-Pi Hoh ’84, MS ’87, PhD ’89. She’s one of the top scientists at Lubrizol Corp. but also a change agent who helped establish its research centers in England and China. How does she do it?

“Network broadly to understand how the organization works and who does what,” she advises. “Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know… and, even more importantly, how you work with them.”

She adds: There are more opportunities to be successful doing something you enjoy.

I was anxious to hear back from Bruce Banks ’64, the top patent producer at NASA Glenn. What’s his secret?

Keep a notepad by your bedside, he advises, for those late-night flashes of brilliance. Also, examine what would happen if you did the opposite of what you know is a possible solution.


Many of you had the chance to hear from Don Thomas ’77, PhD, the NASA astronaut who delivered a riveting keynote address at our Engineers Week Reception in 2020. Don told a tale of epic perseverance. He followed a boyhood dream to the stars, again and again.

When you read his counsel, I think you’ll agree it could help young alumni to realize their dreams. I think you’ll also appreciate that he wants them to experience that kind of success and satisfaction in life. We all do. Godspeed to the Class of 2021.

Robert L. Smith

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Case Alumni Association, Inc.
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