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Alumni/ae Notes

* December 2009
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On the Bookshelf

50 Year Club Notes

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O’Sullivan ’85 Receives Distinguished Service Award
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* From Fries to Fuel: Invention Converts Used Cooking Oil to Energy
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The Rensselaer Alumni Association awarded its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to Sean O’Sullivan ’85 at a ceremony held at the Heffner Alumni House Oct. 1. The DSA recognizes service of the highest order to Rensselaer, to a profession, to the nation, and to humanity.

“Sean O’Sullivan is the epitome of the 21st-century Rensselaer graduate,” said President Shirley Ann Jackson, who presented the award. “An engineer, a venture capitalist, a ‘creator of things,’ his life is a voyage of discovery, and he cares passionately about humankind and our duty to each other.”

O’Sullivan was one of the original founders of MapInfo Corp., an enterprise launched with three fellow students at Rensselaer. After the company rose to international success, he left to pursue interests that included music, software development, and filmmaking. He founded SOS Ventures, a global enterprise that has backed more than 18 companies.

O’Sullivan has also pursued charitable and humanitarian initiatives. He founded Jumpstart International to help Iraqis reconstruct their war-torn country, and through SOS Ventures, he created the O’Sullivan Foundation to promote economic development in the developing world.

At Rensselaer he has supported the “Change the World Challenge” competition, the Rensselaer Center for Open Source Software, and the International Engineering and Science Capacity Building Fund, among other causes.

O’Sullivan returns to campus often to speak with students about technology and entrepreneurship and, said Jackson, to share a message that technology can help to build peace through hope and prosperity.

“Our goals must be the ambitious kind: to create something great and to do it with compassion,” O’Sullivan said in accepting the award.
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