Alumni Spotlight: Class of 1969

uc davis mechanical aerospace engineering class 1969
The Class of 1969 with Dean Jennifer Sinclair Curtis. Photo: Brady Oppenheim/UC Davis

By Rachel Steere

The UC Davis College of Engineering Class of 1969 was a dynamic class of tight-knit engineers and several of them have stayed in contact since graduating nearly 50 years ago.

Since graduating UC Davis, Laird Parry, B.S., mechanical engineering, ‘69, “followed his nose” when it came to his career and pursued the opportunities that were presented to him. After he was drafted and served in the military, he worked a variety of jobs that included designing fishing boats for an architecture firm, researching for multiple organizations, working with an energy conservation group and more. Eventually, one of Parry’s past professors asked him to join him at FlowMole Corporation. They needed an engineer’s point of view to help develop a device that could install electric and telephone cables without digging a trench. Parry joined the company and was involved with the engineering development and commercialization of the FlowMole system that is now used worldwide. Parry stayed with them for about 10 years and then moved on to OMAX Corporation to help develop the OMAX water jet machining system, which is used in the Engineering Student Design Center today. “An engineering degree teaches you how to think, analyze a situation and the best ways to reach a solution,” said Parry. “I used that my entire life. I think having that technical background and the ability to think and solve problems is a great universal degree to have.”

John Baum, B.S, aerospace engineering, ‘69, also enjoyed his UC Davis experience. “I had a phenomenal experience at UC Davis. Coming from Southern California to this smaller college town where the school and town were so connected gave me a great feeling of community,” said Baum. “It was a wonderful education and a great environment to be in. It wasn’t just a classroom experience, we had the ability to physically build something and put our ideas into practice and then back in the classroom it had so much more meaning.” Baum spent a lot of time at the university airport pursuing his flight training while studying at UC Davis. He knew exactly what he wanted to do when he graduated from UC Davis and had an invitation to interview with United Airlines on the day of graduation.

He spent the first six months after graduation as a flight test engineer at Lockheed and then spent 37 years at his dream job flying commercial planes for United. Baum has been back to the university multiple times to visit, has enjoyed the College of Engineering Alumni Celebration events and has happily given back to the college.

Parry and Baum have nothing but fond memories of their experiences at UC Davis and both mentioned how their other classmates went on to do great things as well. “We were taught by all of the professors that now have buildings named after them,” said Parry. “We felt like we were getting a very good education, while having a good time. There was a lot of hands on work, which was a great thing for us engineers. Everyone who got out did okay. Davis was just the right size and we really became a close knit community.”

Category