Alumni Achievers

Chris Crump (B.S. 1978)

Alumnus Makes Room for Community Service on his Career Track

After graduating in 1978 with a B.S. in computer science, Christopher Crump headed toward Silicon Valley, ground zero for new and emerging technology. The sunny weather, friendly people, and plethora of computer activity lured him away from North Carolina where he grew up in Charlotte. Chris sees the Silicon Valley area as being the place to be for a glimpse of how things will be in the future of computers. It is the brink where new solutions to problems often happen first.

While still in high school, Chris took part in a two week summer program at NC State for minority high school seniors interested in engineering. He got the opportunity to meet professors and use equipment on campus. This experience, along with his interest in computers throughout high school, made NC State's Department Computer Science the perfect place to go to college.

While going to college, Chris worked as a Resident Advisor in Sullivan Hall, a grader for the marketing department, and a representative at the help desk in Nelson and Burlington halls. What Chris liked most about his time at NC State was the way instructors provided opportunities for practical experience as well as education. The hands-on experience that he was exposed to gave him the added confidence necessary to be successful when entering the work force.

Chris' first job after graduating was with Hewlett-Packard working in operating systems development. From there he went on to work at Corvus, the first local area networking company, in 1983 where he worked on PC LAN applications. In 1987, he became a development engineer at Pyramid, a leading edge Unix server lender. While working his way up to vice president of engineering at Pyramid, he started thinking outside of technology, about how people were using the products that he was helping to create.

In 1994, Chris began working at Sun Microsystems managing the Internet appliance group called Netra.

"This was a very exciting time because the Internet was just taking off and I got a chance to talk to all of the beginning players involved in the Internet," he said. In 1998, Chris went to work at Brocade Communications Systems as director of software engineering. While at Brocade, he was involved in managing all aspects of software engineering and played an important role as the company grew from 100 to 800 employees. He subsequently left Brocade to start his own business focusing on helping small companies.

What makes Chris's work so exciting is the constant change that is occurring in technology, he says.

"People are always thinking of new ways to do things – taking a hairball and creating a business," he said. The ability to apply technology to solve so many different types of problems is unique to this business. Along with excitement are obstacles, especially in the ever growing Silicon Valley area. Most would agree that there are too many people in the area right now, but there are still not enough people to do all the jobs. One challenge that Chris sees is that some of the new graduates do not have the passion and depth that their predecessors had. In the past, computer science majors had to have an inquisitive nature to excel, but with the wealth of information that is available now, that enthusiasm is not always present.

Chris sees our current culture as being an "information-centric environment." He believes that in the future we will have the opportunity to be as connected as we want to be depending on our lifestyle choice. One essential move that Chris foresees is the convergence of our current plethora of gadgets (cell phone, pager, PDA, lap top, palm pilot, TV, stereo) into one product.

Outside of work, Chris enjoys doing a number of interesting things. He enjoys sailing, which he has done for 15 years, and finds that it "gets you away where all you need is the wind and your knowledge." He also enjoys cooking and gardening. Having recently bought a farm, he hopes to plant hops or olives and enjoy the outdoors. His favorite hobby of all is participating in community service. As a devoted member of the Kiwanis, Chris has had the opportunity to work with high school students, paint nursery schools, work at soup kitchens and food banks, and help with raising funds for area projects.

"The satisfaction that comes from doing community service can be equally or more rewarding than getting a product to market," he said.

Chris's entrepreneural spirit, inquisitive nature, and "no fear" attitude when taking chances are only a few of the traits that have led to his success in business. The future is bound to hold more exciting opportunities for him, and we wish him only the best.

- posted 2002 - Ken Tate -

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