Monthly Archives: October 2019

The Craig M. Berge Engineering Design Program logo and the words

The Craig M. Berge Engineering Design Program logo and the words "Interdisciplinary Capstone" in multiple colors on a dark field with blue circuit etchings in the background
With the support of a generous gift, the University of Arizona College of Engineering is launching a strategic initiative to expand hands-on design opportunities into all four years of the undergraduate curriculum.

The Craig M. Berge Engineering Design Program will offer students major-specific design courses, instruction in business basics and the chance to work on community projects from their first year through to graduation.

“These opportunities will help UA students become more versatile and creative problem-solvers — ready to excel even more in their capstone projects and, ultimately, the modern engineering workforce,” said Ara Arabyan, director of Interdisciplinary Capstone.

The senior capstone experience, made successful for more than 18 years thanks to industry and university partners, provides one of the cornerstones of this overarching program. Because the new Craig M. Berge Engineering Design Program encompasses all four years of the undergraduate experience, the senior design course will now be called “Interdisciplinary Capstone.”

“We will still be partnering with industry, helping students to gain real-world experience and helping our corporate partners to gain fresh perspective and talented employees – but now under a fresh name and as part of a new, larger program,” said Dan Klingberg, corporate relations manager for the College of Engineering.

This gift has also endowed the Craig M. Berge Dean’s Chair, to which David W. Hahn, who joined the college in July, has been named.

“I look forward to working with our valued industry partners — who have provided years’ worth of vital support and opportunities for our students — as we build out this new program,” Hahn said. “I’m also enthusiastic about celebrating this transformation with students, sponsors, staff and friends at the inaugural Craig M. Berge Engineering Design Day on May 4, 2020.”

A man with dark hair and a dark suit
A man with dark hair and a dark suit

Christopher Stemple

Young alumni awardee finds education and opportunity take many forms.

One of Christopher Stemple’s first jobs was installing car stereos. He loved it, but he found himself more interested in the equipment’s inner workings than its installation.

“To understand how electronics worked, you had to understand how they were designed and manufactured,” he said. “My commitment to studying engineering happened in high school.”

Stemple earned his undergraduate degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Arizona in 2010. He was the president of the UA chapter of the national engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, an Engineering Ambassador, and a member of the UA chapters of the Biomedical Engineering Society, IEEE and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

A Serendipitous Senior Project

His senior design project, sponsored by Texas Instruments, was a device and accompanying smartphone application designed to monitor the blood oxygen levels of people with sleep apnea, alerting caregivers if the levels drop below a certain point. The project received a first-place award for best analog design – also sponsored by Texas Instruments.

Jobs were tough to find in the Great Recession, and Stemple was hungry to keep learning, so he continued on to grad school at the UA to study biomedical engineering. He and some friends also decided to start an engineering consulting company.

Desert Currents Consulting – of which Stemple was the owner, founder and general manager – launched in 2010. Texas Instruments was one of their primary customers.

“Entrepreneurship wasn’t something I’d thought of doing until I had the opportunity to do it,” Stemple said. “I’m always looking to push myself out of my comfort zone.”

He picked up a second major in engineering management to gain business skills to use at work.

“There are a lot of engineers who don’t understand business processes, and businesspeople who may not understand engineering,” he said. “If there’s someone who can bridge the gap, I think there’s value in that.”

Supporting Future Engineers

Stemple graduated with both master’s degrees in 2011 and ran Desert Currents until 2015, when he decided to try working in industry. He started as a project marketing engineer at Texas Instruments. Today, he’s a program manager and product engineer, helping to oversee research and development for new integrated circuits products.

He stays involved with his alma mater, as an active member of the UA Alumni Association, the chief adviser for the Tau Beta Pi student chapter, a senior design team mentor and a recruiter for Texas Instruments. He even came back as a student one more time, earning an executive MBA from the Eller College of Management in 2019.

For his support and service, the UA College of Engineering is honoring him with the 2019 Young Alumni Volunteer Award. He will receive this recognition at the 56th annual Engineers Breakfast on Nov. 1.

“I truly believe that engineers are change agents, so to impact and develop engineering students and get them into prosperous careers is my way of giving back to the profession,” he said.