December 2007 - Alumni Spotlight - David Johnson

This alumni spotlight was originally shown in the December 2007 IEM Newsletter.

December's featured IEM alumnus is David Johnson, consulting engineer and owner of Electron Sciences. Electron Sciences provides electrical engineering and project management services to government and industry clients desiring expertise in systems level design, hardware and software development , system integration, and validation. David founded Electron Sciences back in June of 2003 and has several clients including Southern Research Institute, Gas Technology Institute, Archetype, Cameron Measurement Systems, and Loui Consulting Group.

David is no stranger to education; he holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University. David also completed IEM in 2006 and since then has invested in additional Project Management training through the local chapter of PMP. David holds the designation of Professional Engineer and has a US government security clearance. As you can see, David has positioned himself very well for his work as an independent consultant.

When asked about his goals for attending IEM, David said, "Enhance my engineering credentials and meeting talented and motivated people. In addition, I learned the basics of starting a new company. For me the most valuable aspect of the program is the one that continues on after you graduate: it's the relationships."

Few people know, but David entered into the program a bachelor and left a happily married man. His new bride introduced him to the exciting world of scuba diving. In addition to spending time underwater, David is an avid musician. He plays the trumpet, some piano, and classical guitar, with his favorite style being jazz. Another one of David’s hobbies is rebuilding old computers which he plugs into his own home computing grid. He’s got sixteen on the grid so far and counting.

November 2007 - Alumni Spotlight - Robert Pedigo

This alumni spotlight was originally shown in the November 2007 IEM Newsletter.

November's featured IEM alumnus is Robert Pedigo, Command Housing Privatization Manager for Booz Allen Hamilton in Honolulu, Hawaii. In his role at BAH, Robert has responsibility for managing all aspects of housing privatization for USAF MAJCOM HQ staff; advising bases and MAJCOM staff on policy changes, reviewing the privatization program within the Command, creating staff packages promulgating policy and addressing specific privatization issues, participating in source selections for PACAF base housing privatization contract awards, and coordinating with bases and HQ Air Force.

While not currently working in a technology related field Robert’s life was still profoundly impacted by his experiences in the IEM program. We had the pleasure of interviewing him this month, via e-mail.

IEM: What attracted you to the IEM program? (You were in the first class right?)

Robert Pedigo (RP): (Yes, I was in the first cohort: 2000-2002)

At the time, I was working as an IT consultant for an international firm with an office in Birmingham. With a background in electrical engineering, I felt I had a firm engineering basis for IEM, but I needed more information technology-related knowledge to be more effective at my job. I didn't realize at the time how much of the curriculum would be devoted to entrepreneurship, but this turned out to be the most valuable part of the program for me.

Also, the schedule was ideal for a working professional, and that attracted me to the program as well.

IEM: How do you feel going through the program changes your outlook?

RP: Learning the "entrepreneurial attitude" really shakes up a traditional professional's viewpoint. After learning about the market and how to research it, writing a business plan, and presenting that plan to real venture capitalists, I realized that I can start a business myself. I'm not destined to try to grow up in a traditional firm, always striving for senior management positions and maybe one day becoming a CEO. I can be a CEO right now, in a company built with my own two hands. Even though I'm still employed in a traditional consulting firm, I keep looking for that one great idea from which I can grow a business of my own. In the meantime, I continue to hone my skills in business development, marketing, and consulting so that when I do take that leap, I have the confidence to do it right.

IEM: What prompted the move to Hawaii and moving away from the IT field?

RP: After the bubble burst, IT jobs became scarce in the Birmingham market for a while. My firm laid off thousands of employees, including me, and they eventually got bought by a rival. In the immediate aftermath of this chaos, I fell back on my engineering background to find a job that uniquely combined my engineering and consulting skills. While the work I do now doesn't involve information technology, per se, the skills and knowledge I built in the IEM program have come back to benefit my work in many ways. For example, I seem to have developed a keen eye for business trends, stemming from the market research we did in IEM. I also tend to have a knack for developing out-of-the-box solutions that my military clients don't seem capable of, because of their very focused training on purely military solution sets. And on the corporate side, my experience writing business plans has allowed me a good measure of success in turning opportunities into funded contracts.

Why did I take an assignment to Hawaii? Why not???

October 2007 - Alumni Spotlight - Gil Ramos

This alumni spotlight was originally shown in the October 2007 IEM Newsletter.

The featured IEM alumnus for August is Gil Ramos. Gil is employed with AT&T as a staff manager in the Gulf States Construction and Engineering organization. In his role as staff manager, he focuses on compliance reporting for Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. This is a new role, which he began on July 1, 2007.

When he is not working his daytime job Gil works on his website, meets with a small group of entrepreneurs within AT&T, and works on two business plans. Gil hopes of one day launching an idea as either his own online business or a jointly owned business with his small AT&T group.

In his spare time, Gil enjoys playing chess, classical guitar, and going for a run at Jemison Park with his wife, Ruth.

Besides his work on designing business plans, graduate studies have given him the sober realization that educated individuals are responsible for assuming leadership roles within their communities. For Gil that means being involved in church with strategic goals and sharing with others what he has learned. More particularly, he is involved in a ministry that coaches people financially with cash flow problems.

Thinking back to his time in IEM, he was challenged with the question of investing himself into goals that he will cherish during his twilight years. One year later some of those goals are beginning to materialize.

Feel free to contact Gil via e-mail at

September 2007 - Alumni Spotlight - Dan Retzer

This alumni spotlight was originally shown in the September 2007 IEM Newsletter.

The featured IEM alumnus for August is Dan Retzer, Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer for XcitekSolutionsPlus, LLC (XSP). In his role as XSP’s CTO, Dan is responsible for all technology operations, which includes the Software Development Lifecycle, Project Management, Product Management, and IT/Systems Management. Dan started with XSP five years ago and has been promoted up through the ranks from his original position of Development Manager to his current position.

When asked how he managed the transition from a technical manager to Managing Director and CTO, Dan admits, “I am fortunate that the goals of the company are in line with my personal and career goals. That’s the real secret…if your goals are aligned with your company’s [goals]; the two of you can grow together.” He also adds that the IEM experience challenged him to open his perceptions from the tactical responsibilities of a day-to-day manager to the strategic and abstract modes of thinking required of Senior Executives.

Dan entered the IT field with somewhat of a non-traditional undergraduate degree – a BA in Technical Communication from Auburn University. Anyone that spends five minutes talking with Dan, will find that he has excellent verbal communication skills and is an expert in his field; it appears that his undergraduate degree really paid off.

Dan completed IEM in 2006, earning his MSEE. During his time at IEM, Dan developed the Service-Oriented Enterprise Engineering Lifecycle (SOE2L) - a lifecycle for managing enterprise-wide implementation of Service-Oriented Architectures. He co-presented the SOE2L at the Ninth World Conference on Integrated Design and Process Technology in July of 2006. Much of the SOE2L fueled the architecture of XSP’s latest product release – XSP™ V5, which is a Service-Oriented platform engineered specifically for global financial markets and built around a flexible, service-based platform.

Dan’s passions outside of the office include cultivating (unsuccessfully) a golf habit, cycling, and indulging in online mayhem via Xbox Live. He is a huge Auburn fan and attends all the games, carrying season tickets for many years. Dan loves to travel with his wife and plans on striking it rich when he vacations in Las Vegas later this year.

Even though Dan has poured much energy into his career and into the XSP product, Dan’s family remains his primary focus. Dan and his wife have two children: Carmen, their six year old daughter, and their son Phillip, who is three. No matter how hectic Dan’s office life becomes he is home every night and weekend to spend time with his family. “You have to maintain a balance,” Dan says, “Without a balance between career and family, you have dissonance. This dissonance can really impact you as a person. Any good manager will tell you that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of the people around you.”

Feel free to contact Dan via phone at 205.439.5771 or by e-mail at

Join Dan on LinkedIn