Road Less Traveled
By Kate Kurtin
As a distinguished alumnus of both mechanical engineering and civil engineering, Craig Ashmore (class of 1985) has received the highest alumni honor bestowed by the School of Engineering — in 2004 he was inducted into the UConn Academy of Distinguished Engineers. The Academy of Distinguished Engineers at UConn, founded in 2003, honors School of Engineering alumni whose careers are characterized by their sustained and exemplary contributions to the engineering profession through research, practice, education, policy or service. Members are individuals who bring enduring honor to their alma mater as practitioners and as citizens.
Nominated by good friend and fellow alumnus, John Krenicki (ME, class of 1984), Mr. Ashmore is among those alumni who chose a non-traditional approach to the practice of engineering. “Even though I stayed an extra year to complete a second degree, I knew early on that a non-traditional path was best for me,” Mr. Ashmore explains. Before graduating and setting a new path for his career, Mr. Ashmore enjoyed and excelled at UConn engineering. “My favorite class was Strength of Materials with Dr. John DeWolf (CEE). I enjoyed the use of math and material science to predict the behavior of a structure. Additionally, Dr. DeWolf was a superb teacher and became one of my favorite professors,” Mr. Ashmore explains.
After graduation, Mr. Ashmore’s pursuit of new ground received a boost from Roger Gelfenbien (Accounting, class of 1965), then managing partner of Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) as an IT consultant. “Roger was also a graduate of UConn and was very supportive of hiring graduates,” Mr. Ashmore explained. While not engineering work per se, Mr. Ashmore clarifies that it was the analytical skills that he learned in his engineering classes that helped him excel.
After working at Andersen Consulting for four years, Mr. Ashmore returned to school, earning an M.B.A from Harvard Business School. After graduation, he was offered a job at Emerson Electric in St. Louis, MO where he remains to this day. Emerson Electric is a $22 billion Fortune 100 company, and Mr. Ashmore is Executive Vice President of Planning and Development and is a member of the company’s Office of the Chief Executive (OCE). “Emerson is an engineering-centric company with the majority of the OCE holding engineering degrees,” Mr. Ashmore shares.
Though he works and resides in St. Louis, Mr. Ashmore is constantly reminded of his time in Storrs. The most important reminder is his wife of 23 years, Sandra Ashmore (Physical Therapy, class of 1984 and member of the 1980-84 UConn women’s basketball team). “I would say that the greatest highlight of my college years was meeting her,” says Mr. Ashmore. In addition to being a member of the Academy and the proud husband of a fellow alum, Mr. Ashmore also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the UConn Foundation, which manages the university’s endowment.
When asked if he has any advice for young engineers and students, Mr. Ashmore keeps it simple: “Make sure you have a passion for your life’s work.” He explains that the most important thing is to love what you do and be excited about tackling the unknown. “In my case, even though I followed a non-traditional path, each day I am excited by my job and every day is a new challenge.”