Distinguished Gannon alumnus returns to campus

Nov 8 • News, Top Stories • 1274

Gannon students were given the chance to interact with and learn from distinguished alumnus John D. Mangus in the Waldron Campus Center as he gave a presentation Thursday afternoon.
Mangus received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Gannon in 1956 before serving in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps until 1959. Afterward, he continued his education at Penn State University where he finished with a Master of Science degree in physics.
Most of his career was spent at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Md., where he established an optical system engineering capability for the design, fabrication, assembly and calibration of space flight optical systems.
Approximately 50 students — most of whom were various engineering majors — gathered to listen to Mangus discuss his latest project, the James Webb Space Telescope.
He said the telescope has been his mission since 2000 and is expected to be completed and launched in the spring of 2019.
Mangus said that Webb will be the premier observatory for thousands of astronomers in the next decade. It will be able to study various phases of the universe’s history, from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of our solar systems and others capable of supporting life.
In the hour-long presentation, Mangus discussed in great detail the dimensions, design, structure, components and full functionality of the telescope.
He also elaborated upon his role in the manufacturing and configuration of the telescope’s mirror and its mechanisms.
Mangus also used his time on campus to relate his experiences in various engineering practices to the students as helpful lessons.
Engineering students like those in attendance for class with Wookwon Lee, Sc.D., an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, were able to learn about Mangus’ career, perspectives and thoughts about life-long learning.
“It is often beneficial if one can recognize the need for, and pursue, the opportunities for lifelong learning along the course of one’s professional career,” Lee said.
Mangus’ return was orchestrated by Nancy Bird, the director of Alumni Services, who sees merit in alumni visiting their alma mater.
“Having former graduates back motivates students to study particular matter and follow in the footsteps of alumni,” Bird said.
She also said having alumni come back to Gannon gives them a chance they might not have previously had to learn about campus life, the students and all the current goings-on they would have missed since their departure from the university.
It is her hope that the consistent return of alumni could potentially develop a strong mentoring program for students. Bird said she suggests that all students take any opportunity that presents itself to interact with alumni.
Students like Kevin Kauffman, a software engineering and computer science major, also see the value of interacting with graduates, especially with those in the same career path. Kauffman said he believes alumni can offer insight to current students about what they did during school to boost their resume, what kind of internships they had or what their first job was like.
“I think it is so much more helpful when alumni talk about their transition,” he said. “For the student, listening to a testimony can be helpful in confirming that they really do want to pursue this path and if hearing what it’s like in the real job isn’t appealing, then they can have time to switch.”



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