Alumni Spotlight

Just who is a typical CASL graduate?  The simple answer is that there is no such person.  CASL alumni have a diverse range of skills, talents, experiences, and goals.  By “spotlighting” someone every other month, we hope to introduce you to our diverse group of alums ... and maybe you'll see a familiar face.

Name:  James Miller

Degree, discipline, graduation year:  B.S. in Mathematics, 1978

What are your current job responsibilities and/or volunteer activities?  I am a Fellow with Hewlett Packard, and the industry Chief Technologist for Energy, Manufacturing, Communications, Industrial, and Entertainment. My responsibilities include building key client relationships, advising senior leadership on technology trends and initiatives, and providing oversight and thought leadership to effectively grow Hewlett Packard  and client business.  I work on the development of  global business and information technology strategies to address the changing business environment for multiple industries. I represent Hewlett Packard as an alliance partner with several industry organizations and often have speaking engagements on the subject of information technology trends and future direction. I have been fortunate to have travelled throughout the United States as well as Europe, South America, China, and Australia.

I am currently the Treasurer of the UM-Dearborn CASL Alumni Affiliate and have represented Hewlett Packard at charity and community events. I have also participated in the annual UM-Dearborn Mathematics Career event.

Does your career/volunteer work relate to what you studied at UM-Dearborn or is your degree in a totally different field?  My studies in mathematics as well as the core classes and electives at the University of Michigan-Dearborn prepared me well for the roles and assignments I have had throughout my career. The problem solving and analytical skills developed through the mathematics program provided a solid foundation for my work in the information technology industry. The courses in psychology, anthropology, and the humanities enabled me to work with people and cultures globally. Classes in the life sciences have helped me in my work with clients in multiple industries. Finally, the writing assignments and papers for my courses provided me with the experience and techniques for the many documents and presentations required in my role.

Looking back at the classes you took, pick out one of your favorites and tell why.  One of my favorite courses was Non-Euclidean Geometry. This course promoted critical thinking, logic, proof development, and presentation skills. The class included only eight students which contributed to a high level of collaboration and interaction. Each student was required to present a section of content every two weeks. This required each student to know the section content in detail and be able to instruct the class with the guidance of the professor. Many of the concepts of the course required abstract thinking and the ability to deal with visualization challenges.

If there was a “favorite” professor(s), let us know and why.  I was privileged to have many professors that were dedicated to developing their students and had a passion for the subject matter in the courses being taught. The professors that influenced me most in the mathematics area include David James, Soon Chung, and Roger Verhey. I also enjoyed taking multiple anthropology courses with Dan Moerman and Marquisa Moerman. The automotive industry overview course with Lars Bjorn helped to expand my knowledge from a global perspective.