Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Fall 2017 - 48
water project in Ibadan, Nigeria. In the summer of
1980, I was hired by Hazen and Sawyer and was
sent to Egypt, where I managed the improvements
of the water systems in Port Said, Ismailia, and Suez
for the Suez Canal Authority. Back in the U.S., I
did water projects in PA, NJ, and NY and retired
in February 1997."
Our Classmate Ernesto Blanco (ME) died recently and MIT (you know, that other engineering
school) prepared a nice eulogy, as follows in part:
Ernesto E. Blanco, a renowned inventor, mechanical designer, and beloved former professor in MIT's
Department of Mechanical Engineering, passed
away on March 21, in Murrieta, Calif. He was 94
years old. Over the span of a half-century, Blanco
designed a number of groundbreaking devices
that aided the handicapped including the ﬁrst
stair-climbing wheelchair and an improved Braille
typewriter. Born in pre-revolutionary Cuba, Blanco
began his career as chief draftsman of Havana's
city planning department. In 1949, he left for
the United States, where he earned a bachelor's
degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer. Blanco brieﬂy returned to Havana to lead the
University of Villanueva's mechanical engineering
department. In 1960, after the Cuban Revolution,
Blanco left every item he owned behind and ﬂed
to the United States under the guise of a vacation
to visit his American-born wife's family. Within a
week of arriving in the U.S., Blanco was offered
an assistant professor position at MIT. In 1964, he
temporarily left MIT and accepted a role on the
faculty at Tufts University. He then took a ﬁve-year
hiatus from academia, acting as a textile technology consultant before founding his own company
in 1974. However, it wasn't long before he was back
in lecture halls. During his nearly 38 years at MIT,
Blanco developed a reputation as a consummate
educator who treated every student, faculty, and
staff member with the utmost care and respect.
He emphasized creativity and analytical rigor in
his courses. His compassion and consideration for
everyone he encountered, along with his sartorial
choices, earned him the affectionate title as "the
man in the white lab coat."
Our classmate Ray Irish (CE) died March 21, 2017.
John Noyes sent me his obituary, a part of which
is as follows: "After college, Ray was employed by
his father as a civil engineer in the family business
in Westchester County. He then moved to Glens
Falls and spent 20 years with Rist-Frost Associates,
eventually becoming a partner in the ﬁrm. Ray
then worked for himself before retirement." Ray
graduated with the highest GPA among CE graduates and he attended all of the early class reunions.
As noted in the Spring 2017 issue, Ned (Charles
Edward) Gulbran Jr. (BArch) and Barry Steinberg (CE) also died recently. Barry practiced civil
engineering for 60 years, the last 25 as owner of
Steinberg Associates, out of North Haven, Conn.
His designs and work may be seen throughout the
region. Ned lived and worked as a landscape architect in Seattle, Wash., and his obituary noted he
was an outdoorsman, traveler, rower, member of
48 RENSSELAER/FALL 2017
the Swedish Club and of First Church of Christ
Scientist, Mercer Island.
Keep those emails coming in and don't forget to
check out our website periodically as I will add
information as I get it: http://fgriggsjr.wixsite.com/
rpi-class-of-1956. -Frank Griggs '56; fgriggsjr@
You're receiving this issue just as we are celebrating our 60th Reunion in Troy. As of this writing
we have over 80 classmates and over 65 guests
with another 30 who are planning on attending.
The 1957 Spectrum Award goal is now $100,000;
our ﬁrst student winner has been chosen, with the
award presented at our class dinner. As of early
May, the fund stands at $66,000, with 49 class
donors. You can make your gift online at https://
impact.rpi.edu/project/3034. Four or ﬁve students
from RPI's Red and White leadership group were
to join our Class Dinner and share their experiences today, allowing us to compare ours of the
1950s. The extended weekend promised to be very
interesting and exciting!!!
Last February I had the sad pleasure of attending the Jones family's "Celebration of Bob Jones's
Life" at their retirement community in RiverWoods, N.H. It was a wonderful affair with many
people there paying tribute to Bob Jones and his
many accomplishments. I had the opportunity to
visit with Bob's wife, Dian, their kids and grandkids ... "chips off that very accomplished block."
Many of Bob's large and professional photos were
prominently displayed of family and the interesting places, adventures, and animals of their life
experiences. Bill Gardiner had come down from
Maine and Al Stearns and Dick Young ﬂew up
from Virginia. Bob was a very active RPI alum and
supporter, including signiﬁcant activity in development, including having established the Dian C.
and Robert I. Jones '57 Scholarship.
John Fisher provided the following: Carl Hoffner,
a '57 graduate from the special Naval Ofﬁcer Civil
Engineering course at RPI, made a $25,000 gift to
the '57 part of the Spectrum Fund, and explained,
"I very much wanted to have my class reach the
endowment level for the Spectrum Award project."
Carl and his wife have lived in Palo Alto, Calif.,
since 1970. I also live in Palo Alto and spent several
hours with Carl and discovered some surprising
things about our classmate.
Carl spent a year at the University of Virginia,
transferred to the Naval Academy, graduating in
1953, and received an MBA from Stanford. Notwithstanding those credentials, he credits his 12
months at RPI in the accelerated CEng program
for much of his career success in construction and
maintenance of military structures. He spent time
in Guam, Hawaii, and California, as a naval ofﬁcer and in the civil service. He noted managing
the construction of a special facility in Hawaii for
assembling atomic bombs used in testing.
Carl's dad, also of Annapolis, was away from home
On the Bookshelf:
RECENT BOOKS BY RENSSELAER
Learn Git in a Month of Lunches
Rick Umali '90 * Manning Publications, 2015
Learn Git in a Month of Lunches
introduces the discipline of
source code control using Git,
the modern distributed version
control system, popularized by
the GitHub service. Aimed at
beginners, the book concentrates on the components of Git
that will make you productive and comfortable with
managing your source code, either locally or across
the Internet. Each chapter is digestible in a lunch
hour, and within a month, says the author, you'll be
using Git with ease.
Rick Umali '90 moved to Boston after graduating
and has never left. He has worked in technical
support, training, and consulting.
Trent Gillaspie '08 * Flatiron Books, 2016
Judgmental Maps is a sharptongued and witty collection of
maps of America's greatest cities
in all their brutally honest glory.
What started as a joke between
comedian Trent Gillaspie and his
friends in Denver quickly grew
into a viral sensation. Gillaspie's
JudgmentalMaps.com blog has been seen by millions
worldwide and featured in leading publications. The
blog, and now this book, both offer a look at city life
that is at once a love letter and hate mail from the
very people who live there. Nearby Albany is featured
in the book.
Trent Gillaspie '08 is a comedian and technology
product manager living in Austin, Texas.
Creating a Portable Money Machine
Walter D. Blake '56 * Amazon Digital Services, 2017
After many of years of investing
and trading, both successfully
and unsuccessfully, the author
decided to apply his mathematical background to create a new
technique for generating very
highly successful transactions,
with a minimum of risk, using
options. Unlike most books on investing or trading,
which provide theoretical approaches to success, this
book provides step-by-step details on how the reader
must apply his or her own efforts to duplicate the
approach developed by the author.
Walter Blake '56 worked as a securities analyst for
a New York Stock Exchange ﬁrm and as a licensed
stockbroker before running his own company.