Logo: University of Southern California

Middle East Visit Energizes Local Viterbi Alums

Alums Are Establishing Gulf States Alumni Club

May 15, 2009 —

On a recent Middle East Trip, Dean Yannis Yortsos spoke to approximately 60 very enthusiastic USC Viterbi School alums who are now in the process of establishing the Gulf States USC Viterbi Alumni Club.

“We wanted to re-connect with our alumni there and it was a very successful trip,” said Yortsos.  “There was a large group of our alums who were among those attending the Middle East Oil and Gas Show and Conference, which was sponsored by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and held in Bahrain.”

Left to right are Katherine Aschieris of the Viterbi School
External Relations Dept; Nabeel Al-Afaleg, chief technologist
at Saudi Aramco's EXPEC Advanced Ressearch Center;
Dean Yannis Yortsos; and Muhammad Al-Qahtani, executive
director of Petroleum Engineering and Development for Saudi
Bahjat M. Zayed (BSPTE’85), who is the manager of the Sea Water Injection Department in the Exploration and Producing Business Line at ARAMCO, remembered Yortsos as one of his professors at USC and was gratified to see him at the oil and gas conference and visiting with alumni.

“I am not surprised that he became the dean of the Viterbi School of Engineering,” he said.  “Dr. Yortsos was probably the most articulate and professional in my eyes and in the eyes of some of my colleagues.

“My favorite professor was Dr. Lyman Handy.  His character and self composure rubbed off on me.”

Katherine Aschieris of Viterbi’s External Relations Department who also went on the trip said she had found at least 35 Viterbi alumni alone at ARAMCO, but there were also contingents of Viterbi alumni at Shell Oil, Schlumberger and other corporations.  All of the alumni she met on the trip were anxious to connect with USC.

“It was a point of prestige with them,” she said.  “When they attended USC, they learned about America and they formed a network of American friends and contacts that they still rely on today.  Most of those friends are alums of the Viterbi School.”

Zayed said that the highly competitive programs and the elite students he associated with at USC earned him respect and proved a significant career advantage career.

The dean made presentations on the Viterbi School and answered questions.  Alumni asked questions about the school and brought up technical issues with the dean, who is a chemical engineer, about energy, petroleum and chemical engineering.

“But they also wanted to know how well USC’s football team will do this year, and they asked me about Pete Carroll,” laughed Yortsos.  “They watch our games on television and they are just as big fans of Trojan football as our domestic alums.”

Nabeel Al-Afaleg and Yannis Yortsos
Aschieris said all of the Viterbi School T-shirts, caps and other items were snapped up.  The most sought-after items were “Beat UCLA” buttons.

On the trip, the dean also met with Aramco leaders to talk about the possibility of making graduate engineering programs available through the school’s Distance Education Network, and of research collaboration.

“Aramco employs a large number of engineers who could benefit from many of our graduate programs,” said Yortsos.  “They have state-of-the-art labs and other research facilities. Equally importantly, I was gratified to see that key research and engineering positions in the company are held by Viterbi alums.”

Since the trip, Aschieris said the Middle Eastern alums have begun organizing a new USC Viterbi Middle East Alumni Club, tentatively to be based in Bahrain.