Bill DePatie, E’86
In second grade, Bill DePatie asked his mother, "How do you spell electrical engineer?"
Even then, he knew what he wanted to do.
From the time he was a little kid building electronic gizmos from toy kits, to now - as vice president of hardware engineering for EMC - DePatie, E'86, has been interested in hands-on engineering.
Northeastern was the perfect place for DePatie, because co-op provided him with the real-world experience he craved. He did all of his co-op jobs at a division of North American Phillips in Connecticut, working on microprocessor-based automation for the company's manufacturing lines.
Quite simply, he loved it.
During DePatie's second year on co-op, North American Phillips considered cutting the co-op program to save money.
"I was so thrilled with the experience I was getting," recalls DePatie, "that I said to my boss, ‘I don't care if I get a paycheck or not. I love doing this. Even if you get rid of the salary, you need to know I still want to stay on board.' "
His boss was so impressed that he convinced the company to stick with co-op - and DePatie.
DePatie is certain that the solid background he got at North American Phillips landed him a job at Data General, then one of the top minicomputer companies in the world.
"There is no doubt in my mind that my co-op experience was the launching point for all the things I was able to accomplish," he says. "I was able to walk in the door and I had experience in computer architecture, machine language coding, applications of microprocessor-based design - and it was all hands-on, real-world, real application experience."
At Data General, DePatie's career shot forward. He started as an entry-level engineer, but within several years he was leading teams of other engineers on key projects. He continued to gain more experience in designing computer chips and boards, based on proprietary and Intel X86-based architectures, taking a leadership role in developing many new products. He continued in senior management when EMC acquired Data General in 1999.
At EMC, DePatie's career has continued to progress rapidly. He has held numerous senior management positions in hardware engineering, and today serves as a key contributor to strategic direction and holds responsibility for the development of all of EMC's hardware platforms.
In this role, DePatie leads a global hardware engineering organization with development labs located in North America, Europe, and Asia. The platforms that his organization develops are utilized across all of EMC's product lines.
"Here I am responsible for the hardware development of all of EMC's products," he says. "I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't go through co-op."