As Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) begins implementing its new strategic plan, its journey to achieve a bold vision of becoming a world-class institution will be guided by an Executive Think Tank comprised of respected industry leaders from throughout Oregon and the U.S. The group gathered virtually for its inaugural meeting February 11.

Oregon Tech’s Executive Think Tank is made up of recognized industry change-makers who will provide relevant and inventive real-world insights from their respective fields. These volunteers will serve as a high-level leadership consultative council for Oregon Tech’s president, Dr. Nagi Naganathan. Their ongoing advice and professional experience opportunities for students and faculty will enable the university to better prepare its graduates for the demands of the future, where technical and cultural competence and strong leadership skills are essential.

The Executive Think Tank is composed of 18 senior leaders of organizations and businesses—many based in Oregon—that intersect with the university’s mission and vision.

Think Tank members are:

  • Stefan Bird, president and chief executive officer, Pacific Power
  • Ashton Eaton, product development executive, Olympic Technology Group at Intel Corp.
  • Mark Ganz, recently retired chief executive officer, Cambia Health Solutions
  • Kanth Gopalpur, principal, Kestrel Advisors
  • Brian Hall, chief executive officer, NIC Industries, Inc.
  • Danny Jacobs, M.D., MPH, FACS, president, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)
  • Sridhar Kota, Ph.D., ASME Fellow, Herrick professor of Engineering, University of Michigan; executive director, MForesight
  • Andy Macklin, director, Smart Cities and Grid Products Division, Portland General Electric
  • Nandini Ranganathan, Ph.D., founder and executive director, CETI
  • Mike Starr, recently retired vice president of Actuation, Boeing; Oregon Tech alum and Trustee
  • Paul Stewart, president and chief executive officer, Sky Lakes Medical Center; Oregon Tech Trustee
  • John Tapogna, president, ECONorthwest
  • K.S. Venkatraman, senior director of AI Computer Architecture, NVIDIA
  • Rod Wendt, vice chairman, JELD-WEN Board of Directors
  • David Widmann, president and chief executive officer, Konica-Minolta Healthcare Americas
  • Pia Wilson-Body, president, Intel Foundation
  • Duncan Wyse, president, Oregon Business Council
  • Fred Ziari, president and chief executive officer, IRZ Consulting and Engineering; Oregon Tech Trustee

Dr. Carol Dahl, executive director of the Lemelson Foundation, joined the group’s first meeting as a guest participant. The conversations were robust with common themes emerging from across the healthcare and engineering sectors. Oregon Tech will incorporate ideas emanating from the discussions into existing processes and pedagogies as well as create new pathways forward for students to succeed. There will be two meetings each year.

“Industry consistently recognizes Oregon Tech for preparing students who are career-ready at graduation. One way to continue to keep that competitive edge is to actively listen to industry needs and trends and hearing ideas straight from the sources,” said President Naganathan. “Innovations are built on partnerships that erase the line between the university and the industry stakeholders, and we look forward to the continued input from this distinguished group.”

Mr. Stefan Bird, president and chief executive officer of Pacific Power and chair of the proceedings, said, “Oregon Tech builds programs and offers degrees in response to and in anticipation of industry demand. We applaud President Naganathan’s outreach to hear directly from industry leaders who are driving change actively in their respective sectors. Such discussions are critical to ensure that strong engineering, technology, health care, business, and applied science professionals are readily available to serve Oregon, the region, and the world. Oregon Tech recognizes the imperative of moving in sync with all sectors as change becomes more rapid and market demands pivot. The first meeting was an exciting and energetic start to this dialog.”

Oregon Tech is ranked first in Oregon and in the top 4% in the nation for graduate Return on Investment (ROI). Oregon Tech envisions expanding its role as Industry’s University and as a world-class polytechnic institution, inspiring the leaders of tomorrow.