The well-known saying, “Cougs helping Cougs,” is thoroughly embedded in the philanthropic spirit of Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture alumnus Andrew Pilloud (’11).
Each year since earning his degree in computer engineering, Andrew follows the lead of EECS alumni who generously invest in the student experience at WSU. He knows firsthand the impact made by fellow Cougars in supporting equipment purchases and laboratory upgrades. While participating in student organizations such as WSU Amateur Radio Club and Linux Users Group, Andrew worked on projects using equipment made possible by private support. He enjoyed the opportunity to test his problem-solving skills in the laboratory and spent countless hours experimenting with the theory he was taught in class and applying it to real-world concepts.
“I want to make sure future students have the same opportunities I did,” he says. “When I was a student and we needed something, the alumni were eager to help.”
WSU’s Linux Users Group (LUG) is among the areas Andrew supported with an annual gift. LUG president Rachel Forbes emphasizes private support has helped the club continue updating servers and equipment used to host club websites and other student projects. LUG also hosts two annual computer gaming events. The club seeks sponsorships from other on-campus student organizations as well as industry-sponsored prizes. Private support covers the cost of renting the CUB Senior Ballroom and providing food for participants. Club members set up the networks and coordinate event details for the more than 250 students from all disciplines who gather for a night of fun, she says.
Rachel and her classmates are currently tackling the club’s largest project to date: developing a new Linux Learning Lab. The lab will provide safe, reliable equipment to enable students to learn about Linux, and gain networking, development, and system administration skills outside the classroom. Club officers will oversee the operations of the lab and experienced faculty will advise when needed.
The project will require a significant investment to get going, Rachel says, but will greatly benefit the students. “Without donor funds, we would not be able to push the club and give students these amazing resources to help them learn and love Linux and other open source software,” she says.
The Voiland College EECS Undergraduate Laboratory Renovation Fund, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Excellence Fund, WSU Amateur Radio Club, and Marching Band Development Fund are other areas Andrew supports, drawing from his student experiences and fond memories. He was president of the Amateur Radio Club and played trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band. Additionally, he had two summer research jobs working on Teleoperated Lunar Robotics at NASA Ames Research Center.
“WSU gave me the opportunity to get a first-rate education with the flexibility of having time to self-study in my own areas of interest,” he says.
His engagement in campus organizations opened doors in the work place too. “The biggest impact of WSU on my professional success was the networking that occurred in student clubs,” Andrew says. “My first employer shared my résumé with a recent WSU grad before interviewing me. The graduate didn’t know me but he knew other students who were involved in the same groups. One of those students vouched for my competence and that was enough to land me an interview for what ended up being my first job out of college.”
Andrew currently resides in Seattle and works at Igneous Systems, an early stage tech startup. He continues his engagement with WSU as a member of the industry evaluation panel for EECS Senior Design projects. While working for a previous employer, Isilon, a Seattle-based tech company, Andrew served as a mentor for the senior projects and actively encouraged the company to become more involved at WSU.
In his spare time on weekends, he enjoys hiking and camping. He also volunteers as a referee at Washington FIRST, a robotics competition for middle school and high school students. He recently was granted his first patent.
Giving back to WSU makes perfect sense to Andrew. “You can direct your gift to go exactly where you want. What part of your WSU experience are you fondest of? Earmark your donation to that group’s fund and help today’s students have the same positive experience you did,” he says.