Recently, we had a chance to catch up with IOL alum, Alan Ames, who started working at the lab in 1998 with the Ethernet testing group. During his 4-5 years at the lab he worked on MAC & Autonegotiation testing and his final project was on MMI-MAC. Alan received his Master’s degree in EE from UNH in 2005, although he spent 2 years undecided. He credits his time at the IOL for his decision to pursue a degree in EE, saying “It was the IOL that sent me in this direction.”
While asked to reflect on his time at the lab, Alan remembers taking full advantage of the learning environment and availability of mentorship while working here: “Hadriel Kaplan, Bob Noseworthy and Andy Baldman were constant aids any time I was curious about anything and wanted to learn how to solve a problem. I still point out Andy’s BER paper to clients who do not understand BER testing as well as they think they do. I believe it is a very good basis for introduction, and further education for a large part of the engineering world.”
After graduating, Alan began designing communication test systems for satellites, which prepared him for his first career position as a lead communication systems engineer on what is now known as the Fermi space telescope (formerly known as GLAST). Alan went on to work with a few different satellite projects with Google Images and NASA before being offered a position that would allow him to travel and live in France while working. His original commitment in France was only for a few months, which turned into 6 months and eventually into 6 years! Alan found working in a different country to be challenging at first but it also forced him to grow and expand his communication skills. He spent a lot of his time traveling and working in the field which he found to be a nice change of scenery from an office or lab environment.
Currently, Alan is Founder and Owner of Vingineers, which is located in France. The idea of Vingineers began during a visit to a friends local winery where they started discussing the use of drones in agriculture. Based off Alans experience and love for technology, their discussion continued and eventually turned into an idea for performing analytics for wineries based upon drone and satellite data for wineries. “I am building my own products which help people in their work, and of course it is a constant learning experience which is what I appreciate most.” Alan created this opportunity for himself using his engineering expertise and innovative problem solving skills. In addition, Alan also owns a consulting firm, AMES Space Comm LLC, where he works with various organizations throughout Europe and the US providing expertise within communications systems engineering.
Catching up with IOL alumni is always insightful and it's great to hear about personal experiences and growth from being an undergrad student/employee to working in industry. Alan credits his time at the IOL for preparing him to become a successful entrepreneur. “Becoming an entrepreneur gives a massive amount of both responsibility and freedom. As a business owner, I appreciate the freedom that I have, as well as the responsibility that comes with it. The IOL gave me the freedom to work independently, but also gave me full responsibility over the results of my work.”
In closing, Alan’s advice to current students wishing to pursue a similar path is to do your homework and choose the harder path! “This has always been my motto, it doesn’t matter if you have failures because you will learn about yourself. We are too oriented towards ‘always win’ attitudes, but winning at bigger battles means failing at earlier ones and learning from our weaknesses.”
Thanks again Alan for taking the time for this IOL Alumni Spotlight! If you’re an IOL Alumni who would like to be featured in a future spotlight, please email Erica today.
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