University of Vermont

cems
College of
ENGINEERING AND MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES

Featured Alumnus

Lt. Governor Brian Dubie '81

Brian Dubie grew up in Essex Junction, and lived in Essex Junction attending local schools, and then the Air Force Academy. After two and a half years, he enrolled in the University of Vermont and then graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. While at University of Vermont, he joined the Air National Guard and flew F-4s and then F-16s. Simultaneous with his time in the Guard he started at Goodrich Aerospace as a mechanical engineer and then as a manager in the aerospace fuel management side, commercial and military, in Vergennes. After eight years he changed careers, and pursued a job with American Airlines in 1989 where he continues as a pilot.

He is one of five members of Vermont's State Board of National Forests, is a Certified Tree Farmer, and with his brother, Mark, is a co-owner and co-operator of a 15,000-tap maple sugaring operation, Dubie Family Sugarworks. He is an affiliate of the Vermont Association of Scientists and Engineers, and on St. Johnsbury Academy's Board of Trustees.

Awards

In 1998, he joined the United States Air Force Reserve. He serves as an Emergency Preparedness Officer in the National Security Emergency Preparedness Agency. In that role, he earned a Meritorious Service Medal, First Oak Cluster, for his actions in New York following the September 11, 2001 attack.

In September 2005, Dubie served for two weeks on the Gulf Coast in the relief effort for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and for his service was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Second Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Air Force Commendation Medal, First Oak Leaf Cluster, for outstanding achievement at 1st Air Force Hurricane Katrina Operations Center. He is currently a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.

He is the 2004 recipient of the New England/Canada Business Council's Annual Leadership Award, the Vermont Chiefs of Police Association's Martin Award, the National Guard Association of the United States' 2007 Charles Dick Medal of Merit and a 2008 recipient of American Airlines' Order of the Eagle.

Public Service

Dubie served on the Essex Junction School Board from 1995-2000, and as Chair from 1996-2000. Since 2000, he has been School District Moderator. He served on the Essex Junction Community Drug Awareness Committee from 1993-1995, and as assistant coach for Youth Football and Little League. He has been on the Board of Directors for Vermont Systems, Incorporated since 1995.

He was first sworn in as Vermont's 85th Lieutenant Governor on January 9, 2003. He was sworn in to a second term in 2005, and a third term in 2007. In addition to his duties as presiding officer in the Vermont State Senate, Lieutenant Governor Dubie chairs Governor Jim Douglas' Homeland Security Advisory Council, made up of representatives of federal, state and local governments, the Vermont National Guard, first responders, law enforcement, emergency managers and public health officials.

Interview

Dawn Densmore, director of outreach and public relations for the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS), discussed with Dubie how he got where he is today, his goals, accomplishments, and future vision.

DD: Your days at UVM provided you with a base knowledge of mechanical engineering. Does that knowledge assist you now in your role as Lt. Governor for the State of Vermont?

DUBIE: Yes, and there's a lot I've learned as a pilot that helps me, as well, in state government. As an engineer and as a pilot, you have to cooperate to solve complex problems in a timely fashion. The FAA requires pilots to do a check ride every nine months, which involves a two hour oral exam on aircraft systems and emergency procedures, and four hours in a flight simulator, with failing engines, failing mechanical and low weather situations. Flying is not a solo sport. Neither are careers in engineering, computer science, or mathematics or positions in government — these are all collaborative endeavors.

DD: What are your thoughts on Dean Grasso's vision of engineering education as providing graduates with an understanding of the technical rigors of specific fields, as well as an appreciation of the importance of a comprehension of the humanities, social sciences and the arts within engineering?

DUBIE: Dean Grasso is a national leader. He has reinvented the education of engineering right here at UVM's College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. He and his team are committed to graduating well-informed, well rounded individuals, trained to be future leaders — the leaders we need to create a better world. I am very proud to be associated with UVM, as a graduate and collaborator.

DD: Your position as Lt. Governor provides you with opportunities to serve Vermonters, the nation and the world. What issues are you most committed to?

Lt. Governor Brian Dubie '81 DUBIE: My number one commitment is to inspire and challenge the next generation of Vermonters to study, learn, and expand its horizons to make our world a better place.

In the immediate term, I'm very committed to helping grow our state's economy, to promoting the aerospace and aviation sectors in our state, and to providing an environment in our state that enables older Vermonters to maintain their health and stay active and involved in our communities. We can change the world if each of us combines our passion and knowledge with discipline and education.

I am also enormously excited about a telecommunications pilot project we have brought to Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. TerreStar Systems is the company that's investing its own dollars in this project, to play with some cutting-edge, 4G technology in our state. Late this year, they will launch the biggest commercial satellite ever made. The satellite will be integrated with terrestrial infrastructure to provide the first ubiquitous, seamless voice and data internet protocol mobile telecommunications in ever deployed — all on regular digital devices. They will roll out this service, utilizing applications tailor-made for stakeholder groups in our Northeast Kingdom — people who work in public safety, telemedicine, agriculture, transportation, education, and so forth. It's very exciting for our state to be on the leading edge of a technology that will once again transform telecommunications. I might add that TerreStar has developed an ongoing relationship and ongoing dialog with UVM CEMS, which is playing a role in the pilot project.

DD: What area do you find most challenging?

DUBIE: It's the part of the job I take most personally and most seriously: to continuously grow opportunity for young people in our state.

DD: You continue to make contributions to education, most recently as a speaker to approximately 375 elementary, middle and high school students at the Vermont Air National Guard in honor of Engineers Week in February. How significant are these events for students?

DUBIE: An event like this helps create a dream in the hearts and minds of young men and women and links that dream to what they learn in the classroom. It helps them to visualize their future and equips them pursue their dreams — by learning to think logically, work with others and communicate their ideas to the world. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics provide an opportunity to create a better world. This might sound like a grandiose dream, but there are Vermont companies like Clean Earth or Northern Power, that are already doing this. Several examples are:

  • Vermont-designed and Vermont-built wind power systems that are generating power, cleaner and more cost effectively than diesel generators, on the North Shore in Alaska.
  • A company in Ferrisburgh, Vermont makes a human-powered generator that can be pedaled from a chair or attached to a bicycle. They sell it over the internet. The Russian government has ordered them for Siberian forestry camps.
  • A company in Wilder called Concepts NREC produces software used to produce state-of-the-art turbochargers for jet engines. One facility I toured during a trade mission to Shanghai produces 400,000 turbochargers a year. 90 percent of them stay in China. When you put a turbocharger on a diesel engine, you have a more efficient engine that produces less pollution. China has daunting pollution challenges; Vermont workers and Vermont companies are providing solutions.

When I was in China, I looked at the Chinese newspaper one day. There was a front-page picture of a Chinese astronaut with government leaders. China had just joined the space club. Deep inside the paper was an article about a public opinion poll. It said that seven out of ten Chinese people would rather have a clean environment than send Chinese astronauts into space. That's an economic opportunity for Vermont companies, and these companies need future employees.

Every turbine and compressor blade made by GE for aircraft engines, except for one, comes from Rutland. When you look at Vermont exports, the Province of Quebec is our largest trading partner. Vermont is Quebec's second largest trading partner. We're a bigger trading partner with Quebec than China is, or Japan. Our next largest trading partner is China, and it is the fastest growing source of our exports. Americans take issue with China on its human rights and social justice record; it is my belief that engagement and dialogue are necessary to help build a better world.

DD: Global warming is a hot topic. Can you share your thoughts on it?

DUBIE: In 2006 I was deployed to Iraq as an Air Force Reservist. One night, I stood on a rooftop with one of three commanding Generals. He said to me, "America has to declare its freedom from oil that comes from dangerous parts of the world." That inspired me when I came home to redouble my efforts to work with UVM researchers on alternative energy, and to help Vermont innovators and green businesses develop, teach and market, cutting-edge, real world answers to the world's environmental challenges.

If UVM research teams can produce hydrogen more efficiently than is currently possible, using materials that will not break down with exposure to water, the world will take a giant step toward a clean hydrogen economy. The project's Principal Investigator is UVM Professor Walter Varhue. He says, "The emergence of nanotechnology science and engineering carries great potential to solve the challenges of photo-enhanced spitting of water to produce hydrogen cleanly and efficiently."

We are committed as a state to help move toward energy independence and to do it with research dollars. We can encourage Vermont farmers to grow bio fuels and we can invest in more green projects. Vermont's high schools, colleges and universities can be partners in research.

Vermont companies like NRG Systems, Northern Power, Clean Earth Technologies and Concepts NREC are world leaders in those fields.

Vermont is among the top states with new patents awarded per capita. The U.S. Department of Energy is investing billions of dollars to develop the "hydrogen economy" to address global climate change.

Three reasons to go in this direction are energy and economic security, environmental protection, and national security. The challenge from global warming is for us to create a hydrogen economy, or produce ethanol fuel from our abundant forest products. The dream that Vermonters can travel on clean hydrogen highways is an exciting vision for the world.

DD: And finally, do you have a role model?

DUBIE: I'd have to say my father. His priorities began at home. He provided great guidance. His priority was to get a degree first — a college education. He was very proud to be the first person in his family to accomplish that. He told each of us, "You are going to college! I'll provide you with all the moral support you need." What he really meant was, "Get out there and get to work!"

For more information visit: www.ltgov.state.vt.us.