Long-standing partnership with Harris grows stronger
Pop quiz: What’s the name of the Florida-based company that employs nearly 350 RIT grads and plans to hire more?
Answer: Harris Corp., an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 150 countries. The company’s RF Communications Division, located in Rochester, is one of the region’s largest corporate employers, with about 2,000 workers.
“We’re very busy,” says Ed Maier, vice president/general manager of Engineering and Operations for Harris RF Communications. “We’re hiring a lot of engineers.”
The company hired 26 RIT grads in fiscal year 2007 and is continuing that pace in 2008. In addition to hiring graduates, Harris is the largest employer of engineering co-op students. Currently, 36 co-ops are on the job, and more than 600 students have worked for the company over the past 10 years. Many of the grads and co-ops are in Rochester, but others work at the company’s operations in Denver, Florida and Washington, D.C.
“RIT does a great job preparing its engineering students for the marketplace,” says Tom Kenney ’80 (computer engineering), vice president, Product Line Management, Harris RF Communications. “The engineering curricula provide a good mix of theoretical and practical education, and the co-op program is top notch. We are very comfortable hiring RIT grads, because we know they can hit the ground running.”
RIT alumni have done well at the company. In addition to Kenney, several other RIT grads hold top leadership roles. For example:
- Steve Marschilok ’84 (electrical engineering) is vice president/general manager of International Government Systems.
- Mike Maurer ’83 (MBA) is VP/Controller.
- Dick Rzepkowski ’75, ’82 (electrical engineering) is VP Communications Security Products.
- Joe Nakoski ’82, ’89 (electrical engineering) is engineering director.
Besides providing jobs for RIT grads and co-ops, the company has been a strong supporter of RIT’s programs. A recent gift of $400,000 funded construction of the Harris Corp. Computer Engineering Design Center in the new wing of the James E. Gleason Building, which opened in September. Harris also donated $10,000 to the Women in Engineering program in RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
Maier, who serves as executive sponsor between Harris and RIT, says he hopes to expand the relationship. On a tour of the building in December, Maier met with Kate Gleason College of Engineering department heads to talk about areas of common interest. He says Harris would be interested in sponsoring research projects if the company can be assured of retaining ownership of any intellectual property resulting from the work – a position RIT President Bill Destler advocates.
“Typically, colleges are very open, so there’s the possibility of our competitors benefiting – for free – from research we sponsor,” says Maier. “An agreement regarding intellectual property is very important to us.”
Destler has stated that American universities could greatly boost the nation’s competitive position by making faculty and staff, students and facilities available to companies “to carry out corporate research and development projects at low cost and without the usual intellectual property fights that usually derail such efforts.”
RIT is highly regarded at the top level of the company. Robert K. Henry, chief operating officer, made a special effort to attend the dedication of the new engineering facility in September and spoke at the ceremony.
“RIT’s reputation precedes it in the engineering community,” says Henry. “It is known for producing many of our nation’s talented engineering professionals, and we are proud that many of them choose to work at Harris. As our relationship with RIT grows, we look forward to working together to help cultivate the top technology minds of tomorrow.”
About Harris Corporation
Harris RF Communications Division, located in Rochester, is a leading supplier of secure voice and data communications products, systems, and networks to military, government, and commercial organizations worldwide.
Harris Corp. is an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 150 countries. Headquartered in Melbourne, Fla., the company has annual revenue of over $4 billion and 16,000 employees — including nearly 7,000 engineers and scientists. Harris is dedicated to developing best-in-class assured communications™ products, systems, and services. Additional information about Harris Corp. is available at www.harris.com.
RIT Works! focuses on the contributions
of RIT graduates in the workplace.