University of Advancing Technology

Featured Technology University Alumni

Every year the graduating students from this top technology University impress the world as they go on to become respected innovators in their fields.

Browse through some of our alumni hero profiles. If this kind of technology leadership success interests you, you have found the right place.

Rick Ravenell

Rick Ravenell
Game Animation and Digital Video, 2007

Daniel Sontag

Daniel Sontag
Digital Video, 2009

Brian Bonfiglio

Brian Bonfiglio
Digital Arts, 1998

Ryan Carmain

Ryan Carmain
Robotics and Embedded Systems, 2012

Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton
Enterprise Software Development, 2003

Tyler Coleman

Tyler Coleman
Game Design, 2012

Stefan Dieckmann

Stefan Dieckmann
Game Programming, 2009

John Faulkner

John Faulkner
Network Security, 2012

Alijohn Ghassemlouei

Alijohn Ghassemlouei
Network Security, 2009

James Grant

James Grant
Advancing Computer Science, 2009

Merritt Graves

Merritt Graves
Enterprise Software Development, 1999

Kevin Kadium

Kevin Kadium
Network Security, 2012

Jeremy Leung

Jeremy Leung
Network Security, 2007

Robert Lewis

Robert Lewis
Programming, 2009

JT Martin

JT Martin
Multimedia, 2004

Jacob Parks

Jacob Parks
Network Security and Technology Forensics, 2011

Erin Prince

Erin Prince
Game Production and Management, 2009

David Shorey

David Shorey
Multimedia, 2003

Rick Ravenell

Game Animation and Digital Video, 2007


PROFESSION:
Freelance VFX Artist

Rick graduated from UAT in 2007 with a double major in Animation and Digital Video. Before that, he attended a university in Hawaii where he majored in traditional art. When asked why he made the move to Arizona to attend UAT, Rick said, “I knew art was what I wanted to do, I just wanted to do it with a computer.”

Through the usual mix of hard work, networking with alumni contacts, good timing and a little luck, Rick landed a position on the Avatar visual effects team. Since his work on Avatar, companies such as Encore Hollywood and Sabertooth Interactive provide Rick a steady stream of projects involving digital workflows (DiTV) and visual effects for episodic television, MOWs, commercials, music videos and feature films.


Rick

Daniel Sontag

Digital Video, 2009


PROFESSION:
Creative/Promotions Director at ABC 7 Amarillo, TX

Two semesters into his education at UAT, Daniel Sontag realized he enjoyed working on a live set. That’s when he decided to major in Digital Video which ultimately led to his successful career in television broadcast that began even before he graduated. In his last year of college, Daniel directed and produced two TV pilots in Arizona. After graduation, he went on to become media director at two separate companies, one of which allowed him to interview celebrities and attend red carpet events. He is proof that a digital video degree from UAT can take you beyond filmmaking in Hollywood or New York City – into the television broadcast world that is ripe with opportunities in production and management. Daniel was recently recognized at the 2014 American Advertising Awards where he won a Gold and Silver award for his works.


Daniel

Brian Bonfiglio

Digital Arts, 1998


PROFESSION:
Network Security, 2007: Founder, CTO – Checkgateway.com

Shortly after Brian Bonfiglio, class of 1998, started working as a developer at Check Gateway, an electronic check processing company, he was called into the owner's office. Had he done something wrong? Were his responsibilities going to be changed? In fact, the real reason Check Gateway's owner wanted to speak with Brian was to offer him, along with another employee, the opportunity to buy the company!

"At the time I was the IT manager of this company and knew the most about the software and maintaining the network," he says. He gained this foundation in software and web developments while a student at UAT. It's also where he began to build up extremely sound problem-solving skills, first as a student, then as an intern working for UAT's internal IT department during his last year of studies, and later as a full-time employee after he graduated.

The company is currently working on creating additional intern positions. They will look to the UAT student body to fill the openings. These will be project-based internships, where the students will have the chance to see their work impact a real-world business challenge.

Brian says, "I am very proud as a graduate of UAT to see them continue to make huge leaps to become one of the top technology Universities anywhere."


Brian

Ryan Carmain

Robotics and Embedded Systems, 2012


PROFESSION:
Instructor, Barton’s Summer Academy, Beijing

Innovation could be Ryan Carmain’s middle name. It has garnered him some well-deserved awards—even before he graduated in 2012 in Robotics and Embedded Systems. He co-developed a 3’x3’ LED cube with another student and they both received $1,000 UAT’s Artistic Innovator Scholarship. He also won first place in the Avnet Tech Games Solar Scrimmage with his solar powered water pump and was awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

“Overall, the classes I took really helped prepare me for the competition,” says Ryan. “My three circuit design classes in particular were helpful.”

Ryan also is a natural mentor. While he was still at UAT, he was an LEC Tutor at UAT, where he helped students who were struggling in various technology areas, such as Robotics and Programming. Soon after graduation, he was an instructor at Barton’s Summer Academy in Beijing, China, for one month, where he taught robotics, rocketry, math and English to Chinese students in grades 2 through 9. Currently exploring new opportunities, he hopes one day to work at NASA.


Ryan

Brian Clifton

Enterprise Software Development, 2003


PROFESSION:
Senior Software Engineer, GoDaddy.com

UAT alumnus Brian Clifton is in go mode in more ways than one. He’s a UAT 2003 graduate in Enterprise Software Development. Not only is he a senior software engineer at GoDaddy.com, the largest domain name registrar in the world, but he also recently released a game on XBOX 360 through game company Morgopolis titled Magicians and Looters.

During high school in Florida, most of his friends and former classmates couldn’t relate to Brian’s passion and his desire to write code and program. When he received a UAT brochure in the mail, he knew that’s where he needed to be.

Once at UAT, he was introduced to a lot of great people including Professor Phill Miller. He helped Brian realize software engineering was his true passion. Now a mentor himself, he has spoken at UAT’s Tech Forum and advises his team at work.

Just like UAT was a good fit for Brian, he feels GoDaddy.com also is a good career fit. He is building a stellar reputation in his profession and is continually sought after by some of the biggest online companies on the planet.


Brian

Tyler Coleman

Game Design, 2012


Profession:
Founder, Retora Game Studios

Game Design graduate Tyler Coleman is founder and creative director of Retora Game Studios. Retora specializes in full service game and mobile app development, including individualized art and design services.

A long-time member of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), Tyler is dedicated to growing Phoenix as a premier location for game development and would like Retora to be the catalyst. He envisions Retora as being a larger studio or collection of smaller studios within the next five to 10 years.


Tyler

Jaylyn Dawson

Human Computer Interaction/Digital Maker and Fabrication, 2013


PROFESSION:
User Experience Designer, Dish Network

Relocating form her home in Phoenix, Arizona to "Colorful Colorado", just south of Denver in Englewood, alum Jaylyn Dawson is enjoying the magnificent scenery and her new job as User Experience Designer for Dish Network. Jaylyn, who graduated in 2013 with degrees in Human Computer Interaction and Digital Maker and Fabrication, loves all things design, and Colorado is where it's at.

"The best thing about going to college at UAT was all the opportunities that UAT helps to foster. I studied abroad in France, I was the art director for a TEDx event, I showcased one of my projects at the Phoenix Art Museum, went to the HCI International Conference, and I was part of the My Music Mosaic project which allowed me to get some hands-on, real-world experience."

Jaylyn found UAT through a random Google search. She had already gone to a big state school but it was too big and impersonal for her. Her parents were also helping her pay for her education and they really wanted her to stay in Arizona, so after looking into the school and then taking a tour, it seemed like a good fit. What really influenced Jaylyn's decision to go to UAT was its small size and the tons of technology available to her as a student. Once she got here, it was both the faculty and her experiences there that helped prepare her for the real world

Jaylyn's job responsibilities at Dish include taking environment design requirements and conceptualizing what those changes will look like for Dish users. She also conducts observations and interviews to uncover problems, spends a considerable amount of time educating colleagues about design decisions and how they relate to the user experience.


Jaylyn

Stefan Dieckmann

Game Programming, 2009


PROFESSION:
Director, Cape of Good Games Pty Ltd, South Africa

Stefan Dieckmann completed his UAT degree in Game Programming in 2009. Before returning from Arizona back to his home in South Africa, he sent his resume to several recruiting firms there. As he says, “From that, I scored an interview with Luma Studios in Johannesburg. They develop PC and cellphone games. I got the job and was immediately put on the game Flipt as a programmer.”

One of the keys to getting assigned to Flipt was that he already had experience with the game engine being used to build the game—Torque Game Builder from Garage Games—from a programming course at UAT.

Stefan feels that one of the big advantages for UAT graduates is “hands-on experience with the very same software and hardware that is currently being used by the professionals in the industry.” He also feels that UAT added another skill in his tool box by being involved in the team-based projects which are common for undergraduates.

“I came out of UAT already knowing how to work as part of a team with other developers, artists and programmers, which is the way the industry works.”


Stefan

John Faulkner

Network Security, 2012


PROFESSION:
Associate Security Analyst, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

Since graduating from UAT in 2012 Summa Cum Laude with his BS in Network Security/Engineering, John Faulkner has been working as a Security Analyst performing first level incident response and security monitoring; first for Apollo Group and currently (as an Associate Security Analyst) for Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

“I was always one of those kids who played with mom and dad’s computer—usually breaking it and hurrying to fix it before mom and dad got home,“ explains John. “From that point, I kept wanting to learn and do more.”

After attending a community college, he learned about UAT from a friend. Although he didn’t know what area he wanted to pursue yet, he took the tour of the technology University that included the nationally renowned Cyber Security Cave endorsed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). He learned more about the field, and was hooked.

Later he would realize he picked a rewarding career as an Associate Security Analyst at Charles Schwab & Co. in one of the hottest areas of technology in the world.


John

Alijohn Ghassemlouei

Network Security, 2009


PROFESSION:
Senior Network Security Executive, Sony Entertainment

Alijohn Ghassemlouei [CISSP, CEH] worked for almost a decade as a senior penetration tester for a federal agency and has been contracting security-cleared technical work since graduation. He was born in Southern California, attended college in Arizona, and currently works in San Diego, California as a THE senior Network Security executive in charge of SONY Entertainment. (Yes, he is the one making sure you cannot copy the new COD.) During his time in school, Alijohn led two teams to the Western Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, placing 2nd for two consecutive years.

Shortly after graduating from the University of Advancing Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Network Security, he co-authored The Hacker's Guide to OS X: Exploiting OS X from the Root Up. For over three years, Alijohn traveled cross country with a small team of specialists assessing the technical security controls for diverse federal customers, including DOE & NASA. Throughout all this, Alijohn has volunteered at multiple Black Hat conferences and has competed in various Defcon competitions since 2008. Professionalism, leadership, and organization are three of Alijohn's best qualities. When not in front of his Macbook Pro, he loves racing GoKarts or relaxing with a good thriller novel.


Alijohn

James Grant

Advancing Computer Science, 2009


PROFESSION:
Graphic Design / Social Media, Perfect Pooch

As an undergraduate at UAT, James Grant created STOC (Stock Ticker Orbital Comparison), an interactive data visualization that had its world premiere at the SIGGRAPH 2009 Information Aesthetics Showcase in New Orleans, LA.

After graduating, James went to work for Fabrica, Benetton’s communication research center. Benetton is the global fashion brand and retailer headquartered in Italy. As a Resident in the Interactive Department James designed, developed and produced projects like the Unravel, an interactive window display.

He says that, “The ability to take experimental classes that ran with small class sizes and were focused on being project-based and finding a topic that was interesting and developing projects about it couldn’t have happened anywhere other than at UAT.”

Back in the states, James has built up a business as a freelance graphic designer and is in the early stages of launching his own company.


James

Merritt Graves

Enterprise Software Development, 1999


PROFESSION:
Vice President, Cerberus Capital Management

Merritt Graves graduated from UAT’s first class of Enterprise Software Development students with a Bachelor of Science degree. He soared from there, going on to earn an MBA from City University of New York – Baruch College - Zicklin School of Business. Additionally, Merritt became a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer and holds a professional certificate in Derivatives and Risk Management from the New York Institute of Finance.

Merritt's hard work led to building an impressive portfolio of extensive experience designing and delivering applications to meet a wide variety of business needs in the financial business industry. It all began with his high school teacher who connected him with CAD classes and ultimately UAT. "Software engineering is a wonderful field to get into," says Merritt. "A beautiful latticework forms in your head, like an ice sculpture."


Merritt

Kevin Kadium

Network Security, 2012


PROFESSION:
Senior Network Administrator/Lab Manager, Eagle Research Group

Kevin Kadium completed his degree in Network Security in 2012—spending his senior year interning for a local advertising and marketing agency before being hired on full time as their Network Administrator after graduation.

Kevin has been playing around with computers and electronics since he was a kid. When he was 9 years old, for example, his dad bought him a computer—not a shiny new computer, it was in a thousand pieces. It took Kevin, with his dad’s help, weeks to put it back together.

UAT provides one of the best approaches to learning for someone like Kevin. Not only are the majors and classes at UAT designed to prepare students for top-level jobs, most of the professors are teaching from the perspective of their experience in high-level tech jobs.

Access to this level of expertise paid off big for Kevin—who was determined to get a national security job. In 2013 he was hired on as the Network Administrator/Lab Manager for Unwin in Germantown, Md. Working his way up, Kadium is now the Senior Network Administrator for the Eagle Research Group.


Kevin

Jeremy Leung

Network Security, 2007


PROFESSION:
Security Engineer, Cryptographic Services Team—Wells Fargo;
Founder—HeatSync Labs

Jeremy Leung is a 2007 UAT graduate and past president of DC480—University of Advancing Technology’s hacking club. Today, he works as a security engineer for Fortune 100 companies like Wells Fargo.

Jeremy is also chairman and founder of HeatSync Labs—the Phoenix metros’ preeminent hands-on hangout for hackers. The lab is a membership-supported nonprofit that gives tech entrepreneurs and inventors access to expensive technology and professional-grade, high-tech tools they couldn’t possibly afford on their own.

After graduating, Jeremy got a job at CWIE, an Internet service company, as a junior administrator. The job gave him a good foundation for higher-level network security positions. After CWIE, Jeremy branched out on his own as a security engineer contractor, primarily for Wells Fargo.

Jeremy credits his career trajectory in large part to UAT, its professors, clubs and environment—where students, professors and industry leaders are always collaborating with each other on next generation technology.


Jeremy

Robert Lewis

Programming, 2009


PROFESSION:
Software Engineer, Tennessee Heart and Vascular Institute

Originally from Paris, Tenn., Robert Lewis found his way back home to the Volunteer State after graduating from University of Advancing Technology in 2009. Robert is now making a real difference in the medical field as a software engineer at the Tennessee Hart and Vascular Institute. Robert uses C# to write pragmatic solutions for the healthcare industry.

After graduating from UAT, Robert learned of an opening at the Heart Institute. It was for a senor position, but they asked Robert to show them what UAT taught him. “They sat me down in front of a Compiler and said show me some recursion and some SQL. I did, and they hired me the same day.”

The Tennessee Heart and Vascular Institute is an official site for GE Healthcare. Robert and the software engineering team developed their own EMR. Doctors from around the world come to train with it and provide feedback so that it has been able to evolve over time.

Where does Robert see the third largest industry in the U.S. going? “I see everything moving into the Cloud in terms of healthcare. That technology has really come to fruition for the past few years and healthcare is definitely high on technology.”


Robert

JT Martin

Multimedia, 2004


PROFESSION:
Lead Designer, Senior Creative Director, FabCom

JT was one of those out there, artistic, Tinker Toy and Erector Set kind of kids—perfect training for a career in advertising. He manages and directs creative staff and evaluates projects. Previously co-owner of Brownfeld and Martin Design, JT comes from a long and diverse history in advertising with previous clients including America West Airlines, Arizona Biltmore, Arizona Heart Institute, McDonald's, Motorola, Syntex, and Pebble Tec to name only a few. He’s a decorated ad man, credited with Addy's, an Effie, HSMAI, a Prisma, a Telly, a Tina—and a Kim, his wife of 29 years. What would he be doing if it was something other than outstanding creative design? Marine biology.


JT

Jacob Parks

Network Security and Technology Forensics, 2011


PROFESSION:
Federal Government (Classified)

Jacob Parks was 18 years old on his first day at UAT. By the time he graduated in summer 2011, less than two years later, he was 19 and embarking on the type of life that movies are made about. Jacob now has a job with the federal government (they asked him not to say more about it than that).

He has two degrees—a Bachelor of Science in Network Security and one in Technology Forensics. And, Jacob, who grew up in Bakersfield, Calif., is most likely going to be living and working somewhere on the East Coast.

“I was considering going to UAT, but what really sold me is that one of the school advisors sent me a handwritten card.” says Jacob. “That said to me, ‘You’re not going to get lost at a large school. You’re not going to be just a number."

While Jacob’s story is awesome, he isn’t the first UAT student to get snapped up by the federal government a few months before graduation. One of the reasons the government heavily recruits from UAT is because it’s a Center of Academic Excellence for its Information Assurance degree. That’s a hard-to-come-by designation from the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.


Jacob

Erin Prince

Game Production and Management, 2009


PROFESSION:
Game Producer, Gameshow Network

Erin wasn’t always on a technology career path. She was a student at University of Texas at Arlington as a Theatre major when she realized technology could be a better fit. “It didn’t occur to me that making video games was an actual job until I was sitting in a 3D modeling concepts lecture and the instructor mentioned game production. It hit me like lightening. I knew at that moment I wanted to be in game production management,” she says.

Erin transferred from UT Arlington to UAT because only a few schools offer this masters level specialization. She loved UAT’s personalization and specialization in her career field. She was a producer for Playdom, an online social network game developer that’s a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company as part of the Disney Interactive Media Group. Developing games played on Facebook, Google+ and MySpace, Playdom was recognized by Lead411 as one of the ‘2010 Hottest Silicon Valley Companies.’ Today, Prince is a proud Game Producer for the Gameshow Network.


Erin

David Shorey

Multimedia, 2003


PROFESSION:
Freelance VFX Artist

Originally from Madison, Wis., David has worked on many movie and television projects—wielding his artistry in VFX, 3D Depth, CGI, post production, graphic design, stereoscopic composition, animation and restoration.

To date, David has bee involved in more than 50 Disney movie trailers and over 10 movies including the 007 movie Quantum of Solace, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Bobby.

“Typically, my area of specialty is invisible art, kind of the artistic cleanup crew,” David says. “I finalize the look of shots so that any rigging wires or other objects that should not be there are removed, blemishes magically disappear, and physical features are enhanced to coincide with the role or movie theme. Sometimes, I get to have extra fun, like in Fred 2: Night of the living Fred when I superimposed a skinny guy’s head on a muscle man’s body.”

David also has become a teacher, presenter and mentor to students throughout the country, and recently presented at UAT’s annual Tech Forum event.


David
Student Innovation Projects
Student Innovation Projects
Student Innovation Projects