East Coast Fellows Retreat Fall 2011

October 28, 2011 - October 30, 2011

The 2011 Hertz East Coast Retreat (ECR) took place October 28-30, 2011 at the Sheraton Colonial Hotel & Conference Center in Wakefield, MA.  Twenty-five in-school Hertz Fellows, recent grads, a few Board Directors and friends of the Foundation attended.

Retreat events kicked off Friday night with Jay Davis showing a video of the West Coasters’ icebreaker engineering challenge—building a Rube Goldberg machine to light the "Hertz Candle".  This presentation stoked the figurative fire of friendly East vs West competition as it inspired many rueful ruminations of what kind of devices we’d make to light candles. 

The Friday night keynote speaker, senior Hertz Fellow and now Princeton Professor Derek Lidow, spoke on the most statistically significant correlates of entrepreneurial success and failure.  He spoke of the crucial role close connections to customers and suppliers—connections that are often formed serendipitously—have both in entrepreneurial success in general and his own success specifically.

Saturday morning, senior Hertz Fellow and Board Director Stephen Fantone gave the attendees a tour of his optical-testing company Optikos.  He talked about the role serendipitous connections play in one’s post-PhD career path, especially in entrepreneurship. That afternoon, we had hands-on engineering challenges led by Nathan Cooke of MIT’s D-Lab, an interdepartmental collaboration devoted to frugal-yet-ergonomic-and-elegant hacking for international development.  The main challenge was the prototyping of extendible saddle bags that could be added to a temperature controlled medicine carrier that is being deployed by D-Lab in Ethiopia. After, various Fellows informally presented their research and other topics of interest.

Saturday evening, Dr. Fantone hosted dinner at his home while an unseasonably early Nor’easter dropped a horrific amount of snow on New England.  While this blizzard allowed for an inaugural ECR snowball fight, it hopefully will not become an annual tradition.

Finally, on Sunday, Jay closed out the formal activities of the Retreat with two presentations: the first on his exploits after the First Gulf War in uncovering and dismantling Iraq’s nuclear weapons program and the second on his current work as Chair of Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences related to the nuclear reactor disasters at Fukushima.  

Much gratitude goes out to Louis Lerman for funding and facilitating these wonderful retreats, to in-school Fellows Bill Kaminsky and Zach Wissner-Gross for organizing, and to Linda Souza and Amanda O’Connor at the Foundation for ever-present logistical support.