Alum Notes

Alum Notes

We take pride in celebrating the good news of our fellow alumni. Where has life taken you since graduation? Tell the Tech alumni community about career changes, achievements, family news, awards, and more by submitting an alum note using the form below.

All Notes
  • All Notes
  • Awards & Publications
  • Career Milestones
  • Life Celebrations
  • Memories
  • Technite Diamond Club
  • Volunteering

Class of 1954

Victor Huggard

July 11, 2023

As a graduate of BTHS in 1954, I applied for admission to RPI, MIT and Cal Tech. While accepted to all three, due to financial considerations, I was accepted and chose instead to attend Cooper Union in Manhattan and continue to live at home in Queens. Shortly after starting college, I tired of commuting to school which I had done for almost 5 years and enlisted in the Army. I spent the next three years stationed in Germany as a military policeman in a Special Weapons Atomic Support unit. When discharged, I applied for admission to Valparaiso University in Indiana where I received a BSCE in 1962. During the next five years, I worked as a highway design engineer and as a building construction engineer while attending Brooklyn Law School at night. In 1967 I graduated with a Juris Doctor and was admitted to the bar and practice of law in New York.

I left New York with my family — a wife and two children — and moved to Schenectady, New York and was employed as the City Building Inspector and Assistant Director of City Development. After 3 years, I became Director of Engineering and Public Works for Schenectady County.

In 1972, I received my Professional Engineer’s license and was appointed Commissioner of Construction Contract Administration for the State of New York. I remained in that position until my retirement in 1996, developing and administering millions of dollars in contracts for State office buildings, mental health hospitals, and prisons.

Since retirement I have served my community as a volunteer fireman and fire policeman, have been an Emergency Medical Technician for both the fire department and the local ambulance corps, and for the past 20 years have been the CEO of the ambulance company serving the Towns of Wilton, Saratoga and Northumberland, New York.

While my first wife passed away many years ago, I have remarried and have four four children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Life is good.

Class of 1953

Howard Strassner

July 11, 2023

My Tech education helped me first by qualifying me for a partial scholarship at Purdue in Indiana. This led to a first job as a “boiler maker”/engineer in New York. My concerns with energy led me to Bechtel, in San Francisco, where I served as a mechanical engineer in power plants. My favorite work at Bechtel was on energy-conservation systems for mining and metallurgy projects. The move to the Bay Area gave me the opportunity to hike and ski in the Sierra Nevada and sail on San Francisco Bay. This helped me find my wife Ruth, who passed in November 2022, after 51 years of marriage.
My daily commute on the BMT to Tech began with a half-mile walk to my elevated stop in Brooklyn. On the way, I learned to adjust my walking pace to just catch my local. My early understanding of train headways led me to my long-term advocacy of public transit as a partial solution to our climate crisis.
My birth in the middle of the Great Depression led to my frugality and to owning some property in the most expensive city in the world. This made it possible to partially retire early to enjoy more hiking, sailing and travel. My part-time projects on energy conservation systems for metallurgy projects made work fun.

It is now seventy years since I left Tech. These days, I wonder, if I could test well enough to enter Tech now that it admits women and more people of color. I visited once and am happy to send modest annual checks. These days I wonder, with Tech admitting women and more people of color, if I could test well enough to be accepted. My only contact in San Francisco with another Technite was with my wife’s old neighbor who graduated ten years before me, was nearly a Nobelist in chemistry, and knew the Nobelists who went to Tech.

Thank you, Tech, for helping a Flatbush boy have a pretty good life.

Class of 1988

John Ziemann

June 22, 2023

Hey everyone, I just wanted to tell you that I graduated college last year! Queens College, Class of 2022! It only took me 34 years, LOL! I did it mainly for personal reasons. I went back to school to study Russian, as my wife is from Russia, and I wanted to be able to speak with her family over there. After I started in school, I figured that I would finish my Economics degree while I was already enrolled. So eight years later  I can now speak broken Russian and I have a college degree! I hope you are all well.

Class of 1978

Robert A. Ripps

June 5, 2023

The non-profit neighborhood organization, Tribeca Trust, has come out with an expanded full-color edition of the book once known as Texture of Tribeca with text from Professor Andrew Dolkart of Columbia University. The new edition is entitled Tribeca & its Architecture: An Illustrated History. It has a new format, new color images, a new cover, several new maps, and rarely-seen historical photographs from the New York Public Library and the Museum of the City of New York.

Neighborhood photographer Robert A. Ripps (class of 1978) recreated and updated most of the original 1980’s images with contemporary views. Tribeca book designer and packager Linda Secondari of Studiosecondari designed the new edition. Lynn Ellsworth wrote a new preface. New maps allow readers to plan walks around the neighborhood.

The book sells for $40, including tax and shipping, and is available for purchase on the website.

Class of 1966

Ken D’Alessandro

May 10, 2023

Brooklyn Tech saved my life. I could have gone to my neighborhood high school and become just another goof-off. Whenever I think of Tech, which is often, I can’t help but reflect on what I do for a living and where I am professionally. It is my strong personal belief that none of it would have been possible without Tech.  I learned far more in high school than in college. I remember one day, while taking the first of two required mechanical drawing courses at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the teaching assistant, with whom I had no prior contact, walked up to my desk, looked at my quickly-finished perspective drawing, shook his head from side to side, muttered “Brooklyn Tech” and walked away without further comment. I was exempted from Mechanical Drawing II since there was nothing new they could teach me. When I was 19, I went to Zelf Self Service Machine Shop, a sadly long-gone Canal Street business, to fabricate some steel parts for a machine I was helping to build. Probably because of my youth Mr. Zelf asked me, “Why should I let you go anywhere near any of my [lathes and milling] machines?” I told him I had graduated from Brooklyn Tech. That was all he needed to hear before granting me access. While I do not know how many others share this feeling, I know for certain that Tech taught me how to think, organize, and analyze in order to solve problems and accomplish things. All of us were exposed to hands-on technology to a degree I do not think was possible at other New York City high schools. To this day I am not shy about taking apart broken electrical and mechanical things and am often able to repair them. Although I probably did not consider it at the time, SOS, on which I served for four years and held every rank except Captain (Fall ’65 and Spring ’66 slots held by my classmates Herb Henkel and Dennis Fagan), was an extremely valuable leadership training experience.

Class of 1963

Ron Vazzano

April 17, 2023

In the New York Times’ Metropolitan Diary, Sunday, April 16, 2023, I have a piece entitled “Orchard Street.” Technites who shopped on Orchard Street and remember it well might enjoy the lighthearted moment I once experienced while shopping there decades ago.

Class of 1951

Henry Sanoff

April 3, 2023

I graduated Brooklyn Tech in Aeronautical Technology in 1951. Studied architecture at Pratt Institute, BArch, March, 1962. Professor of Architecture, UC Berkeley, 1963-66; North Carolina State University (NCSU), 1966-2005.

I am Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the School of Architecture, College of Design, of North Carolina State University (NCSU), served as the USA editor of the Journal of Design Studies, and principal founder of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), established in 1969. I have lectured and been a visiting scholar at many universities worldwide. In my career, I have been the author of many articles and books, including Democratic Design, School Building Assessment Methods, Methods of Architectural Programming, Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning, Design Games, Integrating programming Evaluation and Participation in Design, Creating Environments for Young Children, and Visual Research Methods. Several are translated into Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish, and Russian. As a tribute, Woxsen University (Hyderabad, India) established the Henry Sanoff Chair Professorship of Architectural Design.

Class of 1957

Luther Allman

March 28, 2023

I’m a kid from Harlem who went to a Special Progress (SP) Class at JHS 115, combing 7th and 8th grades into one year. In 9th grade, I was encouraged to take the entrance tests for Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, and Tech. I took all three but Tech won out because it had a fabulous pipe organ. I had taken pipe organ lessons since age 10 on a relatively small organ in an old Harlem church. Tech’s was the largest I had ever seen and I was hooked! So I came to Tech and met Clifford Troxell in the Music department, who was in charge of the organ and also played it. He immediately became a mentor when he found I had been taking lessons. I also played the piano for the school glee club which he directed.

Besides music at Tech, I discovered a love for technical drawing/drafting courses with all their mechanical instruments. I thought about going out for track or basketball, but couldn’t do everything and music was my first love. The highlight of my Tech experience was when Mr. Troxell asked me to play the organ at my graduation — the 70th Tech commencement — on Thursday, June 27, 1957. I still have the graduation program; I was second in the lineup, playing the organ solo, “Midsummer Caprice.” I also still have the BluePrint for June 1957, with a picture and message from Principal William Pabst. My pic is on page 54 but a mistake confused my bio with Gordon Allison’s. He was from Queens; I’m from Harlem. Michael Weiss, who is still involved with Tech, signed my yearbook. (Thanks, Mike!) After Tech, I went to the City College of New York (CCNY) and got a part-time job as a draftsman at Rosenblatt & Sons Naval Architects at 350 Broadway. They had so much work from federal contracts that they told me I could work anytime: before classes, after classes, evenings, or weekends. Before I knew it, I was classified as a Senior Draftsman – Piping Specialist and loved the work. By 1959 I was making far more than any classmates in part-time jobs, and by 1960 was putting in more hours on the job than on my classwork.

I took a year off from college to capitalize on opportunities available in marine drafting and design. I was called down to my local draft board because I had has a student deferment. Rosenblatt & Sons contacted the draft board and told them the work I was doing was critically needed for the large defense contract they had with the U.S. Navy.  I then got an offer of a lifetime from the draft board: if I accepted a transfer to the naval base in Bremerton, WA as a civilian contractor working for Rosenblatt in New York, and committed to working for five years, they would cancel any draft action and pay me $12 per day, seven days per week, tax free for working for Rosenblatt at the naval base. I immediately accepted and took my first plane ride from New York to Seattle, then a one-hour boat ride to Bremerton, WA. In 1965 I completed my military obligation and was transferred to San Francisco prior to being officially discharged. I then joined Richfield Oil’s Military Fuels and Marketing Division, where I remained for 35 years, and am now happily retired in sunny Southern California. I have three daughters, including a lawyer in Colorado, and five grandchildren – all in college or recently  graduated.

Class of 1967

Gerard Walsh

March 8, 2023

I was proud to play football from 1963-1967 under the guidance of legendary coach Adam Cirillo. If you were a member of the team, life at Tech was a little bit different. We were grouped together in a homeroom (i.e., “T” prefect) with our fellow team members. This promoted camaraderie but also allowed Adam to address the group on both team and school matters. We also received academic assistance when needed. That was the overriding theme at Tech: academic excellence.
At the time, our team practiced across the street in Fort Greene Park. It was not a field, it was a dirt hilltop shared with broken bottles and rocks. It is amazing that we performed as well as we did. We would practice till the sun went down, cross Dekalb Avenue, go up to the locker room, shower, dress, then most of us would hop on a bus or subway back home. On Friday we would take our equipment home to bring to the game on Saturday. No fancy bus rides for us. And, since we did not have a field of our own, we played our home games at Boys High’s field. All this sounds like complaining, but it was a process we rolled with and never thought we were deprived.
Lastly, I would like to share some some of my more vivid  memories of Tech. I remember the ‘fairy-dust battles’ in foundry; going to Dykes Lumber to get a piece of pine when we ruined our step V block in Shop; gathering in our beautiful auditorium for assembly sessions; torturing the slop cops at lunchtime; avoiding the SOS in the hallways; dreading walking to classes on the upper floors; figuring how to turn a three-view drawing into an isometric; and hoping Mr. Kaufmann would not call on you to discuss the Weekend In Review section from the New York Times, etc., etc.

Class of 1963

Ronald Vazzano

March 8, 2023

After graduation from Tech, I attended Manhattan College where I earned a BBA with a major in advertising. I spent 31 years as a media director at major ad agencies in New York and L.A. That career was interspersed with a seven-year stint as an actor (still am a member of Actors’ Equity). Twenty-four years after I returned to advertising, I retired in 2003 from the Publicis Groupe, a French-owned international advertising and media company.

I’ve spent the last 20 years as a writer, poet, and speaking performer and frequently do public readings through the auspices of the writers’ groups I belong to: Italian American Writers Association (IAWA), Irish American Writers and Artists (IAMWA), and the Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC). I have written a monthly online piece I call a MuseLetter. It is now in its 19th year and can be accessed here.

I didn’t turn out to be an engineer, but was able to apply the training and discipline I learned at Tech, through its challenging curriculum, to other professions and life endeavors. I have not set foot in  Brooklyn Tech in 60 years and look forward to returning for Homecoming, March 25, 2023.

Write an Alum Note

Write an Alum Note