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...Alumni Success Stories


Drew and Rachel Card

USC’s College of Engineering and Computing is a very special place to Drew and Rachel Card. Not only did they both receive great educations there, but it is also the place where they met and began their lives together.

Drew received a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1998, and Rachel received a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 2000. Rachel also received a MS in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2002. Their journey started at USC and so far has taken them to the Northeast, across the country and eventually back to SC where they currently work together making video games.

Drew is Co-founder and Creative Director of Void Star Creations, an independent video game developer started in early 2006. Rachel joined the company in June 2007 to manage the business and communications functions. Drew explains that Void Star’s mission is simple, “We deliver high quality games that are first and foremost fun to play.” On February 6th, Void Star launched their debut title, Poker SmashÔ, on Xbox LIVE® Arcade on the Xbox 360™.

It may seem like starting a video game company is a non-traditional choice for engineers, but to them it is the best background they could have received. Drew’s passion for 3D graphics started while he was working as an undergraduate research assistant in the Visualization lab in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at USC. He uses the programming skills that he first learned at USC to this day as the Lead Programmer for Void Star. And Rachel credits USC with teaching both of them analytical and problem solving skills that are applicable to all complex problems, including those involved in running a business.

“We are truly grateful for the educations that we received at USC,” Rachel said, “and we feel very fortunate to be able to pursue our dreams.”


Ryan Jones

In 1997, Ryan Jones received a B.S. in mechanical engineering and graduated valedictorian from of the USC College of Engineering.  Receiving a fellowship from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he continued his studies in the cryogenic engineering laboratories at MIT where he developed a free-piston cryogenic expander with an emphasis on remote applications. 

Ryan was awarded an M.S. degree in mechanical engineering in 1999 from MIT and moved to the Washington, D.C. area to work for the science and technology division of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  Working at the CIA exposed Ryan to many emerging technologies in a unique atmosphere that utilized both his technical and personal skills.  During this time, Ryan continued to pursue independent entrepreneurial opportunities with contacts from USC and the greater Columbia area.  Despite the unique opportunities of the CIA, Ryan returned to MIT in 2000 and continued his studies in the mechanical engineering Ph.D. program where he developed a new experimental technique for quantifying visco-elastic properties of interfacial fluids. 

Ryan finished his Ph.D. in 2004 and moved back to the Washington, D.C. area where he has been working with a small engineering consulting and research and development (R&D) firm (Dominion Engineering, Inc.) that is currently very active in the nuclear power industry.  Ryan works closely with industry leaders such as the Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Electric Power Research Institute on both long term R&D and emergent technical issues throughout the industry.  Ryan has presented these collaborative efforts at conferences in both the U.S. and abroad.

When he is not working, Ryan has a diverse personal life which encompasses activities ranging from music, playing guitar, and fitness to an admiration for the elegant complexities of nature.  Despite currently living elsewhere, Ryan was born and raised just outside of Columbia, SC and will always consider Columbia to be his home. 

As noted during his USC commencement address in 1997, “no matter where you go or what you do, never forget where you come from,” Ryan credits the University of South Carolina (particularly the SCHC and Engineering Department) for providing him with a world class education and establishing the professional bases that will continue to shape his future and the opportunities that have yet to be defined. 

Richard Langdon


In 2001 Richard received his BSME at USC.  In 2003 Richard also received an MS as a member of the Advance Actuators Research Group (AARG) under Dr. Rocheleau. From there he has sought to work in conceptual design. 

His goal is to bring new, innovative products to life.


Richard’s road to engineering was molded from his previous military experience in the US Navy. He found himself in the engine room of the USS Thorn (DD-988) and targeted heavy industry for his career path after USC.  In his first job, out of engineering school, Richard worked for Spirax Sarco, Inc. in Blythewood, SC as a Project Engineer.  His focus was designing industrial pumps.  It was during this assignment that he learned the importance of having project management and leadership abilities to compliment his engineering education.  “During the majority of the new product introduction (NPI) process engineers are naturally expected to provide leadership to the team because of their technical abilities.  This is especially true for companies with technical or engineered products and services.”  Richard began to find that most of his time, during NPI projects, was being spent managing the people and processes, not purely related to design.  “It turned out that the technical problems weren’t always the most challenging aspect of the new product design and development process in industry.”  


The management aspect of new product development fascinated Richard and he began to target his personnel development in this area.  Consequently, Richard began pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree from the Darla Moore School of Business.  His goal was to further investigate project management and “The business side of engineering that so heavily influence our careers.”  Richard completed the PMBA program at DM SOB in 2007.

By the time of graduation, he had a discovered that he possessed a strong interest in the challenges of the energy problems facing society today.  “I see the engineer playing a pivotal role in solving the energy problems of our times.
It is my engineering education that has placed me in a position to have an impact on the outcomes that will define how energy is generated and distributed in the future.”
Richard is now a member of the Economics of Generation and Distribution (EGaD) team in Advanced Technology Operations at GE in Greenville, SC.  This team is charged with evaluating the business impact or value of engineering changes and conceptual designs in the various energy markets relative to the commitment and dispatch of the proposed generation units. 


Richard is in the process of relocating to the Greenville area along with his wife, JoAnna, and two children, Abbey, and Richard Collins.  Want to buy his house in a great neighborhood? Richard and JoAnna are, also, recreational triathletes.  They are members of the race committee sponsoring the “Tri the Midlands” sprint triathlon in Northeast Columbia this coming June 2008. to register.  Come and join the fun!


John D. Ward

My wife Marcia and I live in the upstate of South Carolina where I currently work for GE Gas Turbines as a turbine blade design engineer.  While at USC, I was active with the USC Racing Team, USC Marching Band, and was a member of the Center for Mechanics of Materials and Non-Destructive Evaluation where I performed research for both NASA and the Air Force Research Lab. I was also the team engineer for Sam White Racing, and served the Boy Scouts of America as a scoutmaster and Eagle Scout board of review member.

I have worked for GE for a little over a year and I have filed several patents ranging from turbine blade design to advanced sealing and cooling devices.  It was during my time working with the USC Racing Team that I realized that there's always a better way to do or design anything. The competition-driven desire for excellence that the various engineering-based teams produces in a student is very similar to the competition in any market; be it for airplanes or for model airplanes.  It was that teamwork and competition at the USC Department of Mechanical Engineering that helped to define for me what being an engineer is all about. The small classes are well structured such that discussion is always encouraged and access to the professors is made easy.  This makes the educational process very enjoyable even for the most introverted of students.

The team-building, work ethic, and unparalleled quality of instruction produced by the fundamental elements of the Department of Mechanical Engineering is what has and will continue to be one of the best drivers of success in all of our engineering students and alumni.

Ward received both his bachelor's degree in May 2002 and his master's in May 2004 in Mechanical Engineering from the University of South Carolina's Mechanical Engineering Department.  His thesis defense was titled "Experimental Investigation into the Fracture Behavior of Friction Stir Welds in 2024-T351 with Flaws Located at Various Angles and Proximities to the Weld."

David A. King

David A. King graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Department with a bachelor's degree in 1983 and shortly after joined NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as a main propulsion system engineer.  Since then, he has held several titles, both in management and leadership, including Deputy Director of Shuttle Processing, Shuttle Launch Director, and Director of Shuttle Processing through 1999.  As Shuttle Launch Director, King oversaw six Space Shuttle launches.  He was promoted to the rank of director of Space Shuttle Processing in 2000 where he managed and coordinated the Shuttle program at the Kennedy Center and oversaw approximately 5,400 employees.  King now heads the Marshall Center in Huntsville, AL, having been named director in 2003.

During his tenure at NASA, King has received many accolades, most recently in August 2005 receiving the Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Executives, the highest award given for government work.  He was one of only four NASA employees honored and among 55 nationwide to be selected for the Distinguished Service Award by the President.   This award is given yearly to deserving senior federal employees for exemplary leadership and service.  The nominations are made by a board of private citizens who give their list of recommendations to the President.

King was also awarded NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2000 and 2004 for his work with technical or administrative agency programs.  In 2001 he received the Presidential Rank Award for Meritious Executives, given to senior executive employees for their accomplishments over their career.  He also received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1996, which is given to those who have shown substantial initiative and creativity over their careers.

King received his bachelor's degree from the University of South Carolina in Mechanical Engineering in 1983 and his master's in Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology.  He now lives in Madison, AL with his wife and two daughters.



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