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From Satellites to Chocolates to Countless Other Industries, UC San Diego Alumni Make an Impact

Thousands of alumni expected to return to campus May 31 through June 3 for Alumni Weekend 2012

Last October, on an observation deck about eight kilometers from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, ViaSat co-founder and chief technology officer Mark Miller, a graduate of UC San Diego, waited nervously for the countdown to commence. Miller would wait in the viewing room until he found out whether ViaSat-1—the highest-capacity satellite in the world—had reached geostationary orbit some 35,000 kilometers (22,000 miles) above the earth. If successful, it would mean fast, reliable Internet access for underserved subscribers across North America.

UC San Diego Alumni

Where They Live

  • More than 141,000 UC San Diego alumni live across the globe.
  • 73% live in California, with the highest percentage living in San Diego (40%)
  • 21% live in the U.S. (non-CA)
  • 1% live abroad
  • 5% address data unavailable


  • 52% men
  • 48% women

Degrees Awarded

  • 51% received a B.A.
  • 28% received a B.S.
  • 20% received a graduate degree
  • 1% degree data unavailable

Meanwhile, back at the ViaSat headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., the company’s other co-founder and CTO, Steve Hart, M.A. ’80, and his wife Sue, Ph.D. ’86, joined the employees who had gathered with their families to watch the launch from afar.

Miller saw the flash of ignition first. “Before the rocket lifts, you see flames coming out the side, and it’s a second or two before the rocket takes off,” he recalls.

“You could feel it in your bones,” adds Hart of the scene back at ViaSat. “When the rocket took off, everyone in the whole building was holding their breath.” The launch had been a success and, at that moment, the employees felt more out-of-this-world than their orbiting satellite.

The trajectory of ViaSat is just one example of the entrepreneurial exuberance and intellectual prowess that define the many UC San Diego alumni who live in our region. Graduates from San Diego’s leading research institution continue to impact local industries from science, technology, medicine and public service to business, education, politics and the arts.

Today, there are more than 141,000 UC San Diego alumni, with the highest percentage (40 percent) living in San Diego.  According to over 28,000 San Diego profiles on LinkedIn, the top local industries employing UC San Diego graduates are biotech, computer software and research. Top employers include UC San Diego, Qualcomm and Hewlett-Packard.

The ViaSat satellite, covered with grayish panels, sits atop the Proton rocket on the railcar transporter. It will be tilted up to vertical on the launch pad, and the panels removed.

Thousands of UC San Diego’s stellar graduates from our community and across the nation are expected to come back to campus May 31 through June 3 for Alumni Weekend 2012.

“It’s not your typical reunion weekend,” says Suzi Sterner, senior director of programs at UCSD Alumni. “It’s four days filled with fun, unique experiences and old and new friends.”

Some of those unique experiences include:

  • Career Boost Camp for graduates interested in professional development, starting a business or navigating the dynamic job market;
  • Taste of UCSD, where five internationally recognized UC San Diego faculty members will discuss their groundbreaking research;
  • Family Night at Birch Aquarium, popular with all ages;
  • Summer Beach Party and Surfing Invitational at Black’s Beach
  • Alumni Celebration on Saturday night, when UCSD Alumni honors its own during an event that benefits student scholarships. This year’s recipients include:
    • Outstanding Alumnus
      William A. Lee, M.Sc. ’79, Ph.D. ’82
      Senior vice president in research and pharmaceutical development
    • Distinguished Leadership
      Jan Tuttleman, M.B.A. ’06
      Angel investor and business development and licensing consultant
    • Emerging Leader
      Albert Yu-Min Lin, Muir ’04, M.S. ’05, Ph.D. ’08
      Research scientist
    • Honorary Alumni
      Darcy and Robert Bingham
      “Philanthropeneurs” and community leaders

To learn more about Alumni Weekend, visit at

Albert Lin

(From Left) William A. Lee, Jan Tuttleman, Albert Yu-Min Lin, Robert and Darcy Bingham