After retirement, Tom Seel is entering his next chapter through mentorship and meaningful connections.
Graduating from Michigan Tech in 1985 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering, Tom Seel spent 35 years dedicated to a successful career in the automotive industry. Seeking a way to share his expertise and prepare current students for the evolving worlds of industry and academia, he found the perfect avenue to fulfill this purpose through the Time & Talent (T&T) initiative at Michigan Tech.
“My career was completely rewarding and absorbing. Upon retirement, I realized that I now had time and relevant knowledge,” Seel said. “From my perspective, that time and knowledge came with a responsibility to share. Tech started my career with a well-rounded pragmatic engineering education. Logically the place to share is where it started. The mission of the Time & Talent initiative was a perfect match.”
The impact of alumni involvement in higher education extends beyond the classroom, especially at Michigan Tech. T&T creates opportunities for alumni engagement by connecting talented Michigan Tech alumni to current students, faculty, and staff through guest lectures, presentations, and learning opportunities.
Efforts from T&T volunteers like Dan Green ‘83 and Jenny Johnson help unlock the potential of a program like Time & Talent. Leveraging alumni networks for student success, Johnson reconnected with Seel to discuss his interest—the timing couldn’t have been better.
“As an alumni, Time & Talent is about building relationships with students and professors. I can honestly say I gained new insights from the students with each guest lecture I gave,” Seel said. “Thank you is due to the professors who were willing to give up some of the valuable class time with students. It was clear to me that these professors understood the value of adding some industrial perspectives into the classroom. Tech is a special place and it is great to see and contribute to programs like Time & Talent.”
Seel’s sentiments continued to express appreciation for the faculty involved, including Ruth Archer, Laura Connolly, James DeClerck, Darrell L. Robinette, and Manish Srivastava, representing Michigan Tech’s Enterprise Program, College of Business, Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, and Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology.
For economics professor Laura Connolly, Seel’s wealth of experience afforded the ability to connect what students learn in the classroom to their future careers, emphasizing how cross-disciplinary knowledge enhanced his career success by understanding both business and engineering aspects. Connolly saw firsthand the potential of alumni-student programming.
The Time & Talent program has the potential to create a lasting impact on many students. The program not only directly connects alumni with current students, but it also illustrates to students the benefits of giving back as they progress in their careers.
In the words of Joseph Kodwo Awuni, a graduate student studying mechanical engineering, the Time & Talent initiative creates practical benefits for students seeking guidance and preparation for their future careers.
“It really helps, definitely. Now that we are going into the field, we need some form of experience and then some form of guidance. Alumni are already exposed to some of these things,” Awuni said. “So, when they come around we are able to listen to their experiences. We are taught about current trends in the industry and it helps and prepares us to also think for ourselves as young engineers who are now entering the field.”
After a distinguished career, the Time & Talent initiative at Michigan Tech allowed Tom Seel an opportunity to share decades of experience with students and faculty. Through guest lectures and volunteer connections, the program not only bridges the gap between academia and industry but also highlights the importance of giving back.