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Successful alum credits Professor Smith


Archer, left, and Smith

Steve Archer, left, and Professor Warren Drew Smith.

Related story: "Sac State professor's biomed device granted a patent"

Steve Archer is a successful Sacramento State alumnus who remains grateful for the guidance he received here nearly three decades ago. So much so that the Sunnyvale resident – who is the senior director of electrical development at NeuroPace Inc. – was moved to write to one of his favorite professors, Warren Drew Smith.

Archer’s message reads as follows:

“I'm going to guess that you remember me, not because I'm all that memorable but because you likely remember all of your graduates. I finished classes for a master's in BME (biomedical engineering) in 1990 and over the next year or so completed my thesis on monitoring facial EMG (electromyography) as a method of assessing level of anesthesia.

“A friend of mine just forwarded an article to me congratulating you on a patent award for a fanny pack that monitors patients' movements. I’ve seen many articles about your successes over the years and they make me smile. You did so much for me, and I really don't know how to say thank you in any adequate way. Among other things, you taught me how to write, and that has been a very important skill. You also helped me to understand the importance of learning topics from basic principles and that is something that resonates with me.

“Since graduating, I've truly enjoyed my career. I spent about 10 years at Ventritex in Sunnyvale designing circuits for implantable defibrillators. That company was bought by St. Jude and in 1999, I followed the senior staff to a new company called NeuroPace where we have developed and have been awarded FDA approval for an implantable device to treat epilepsy.

“I credit you and the education you helped me attain for whatever success I've achieved. It is terrific to be able to work on projects that really help people. That sounds sappy, but when I compare what I do to developing disk drives, missiles or some meaningless consumer product, I just can't help but be grateful.”

Archer’s sentiments are anything but “sappy.” To the contrary, they reflect the psychic rewards that Sacramento State professors value so deeply. Archer repeated many of those accolades in a recent phone interview, praising Smith’s “rigorous, high standards” in the classroom. Smith, he says, expected a great deal from his students, which prompted many of them to succeed.

Steve Archer’s success as a biomedical engineer is a tribute to Professor Smith, who continues to inspire and enable engineering students to be the best in their chosen profession. It underscores Sacramento State’s commitment to teaching, learning and service. – Alan Miller