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Mike Monteleone

BS Civil Engineering ’84, MS ’86

Mike Monteleone

Can you tell us a little bit about the Alumni Career Services webinars you’ve hosted over the years with Drexel Alumni? What topics do you focus on?
I would say my webinars are focused on the prescient issues and challenges that we face in business today. My next topic on Oct. 27 will be on COVID-19 and the new reality it has created in the workplace. Some examples of my past topics include taking charge of your career, managing up, leadership and A player burnout. I got interested in volunteering as a speaker about three or four years ago when I felt a desire to get involved and give back to the Drexel community as an alum. At that time, my son was finishing his degree in computer science at Drexel and the Alumni Office reached out with opportunities to get involved like hosting a webinar or a “Summer Sendoff” for incoming freshman students from Georgia. My wife and I also volunteered by hosting Summer Sendoffs and we loved it. So, it’s been a journey.

Living in Georgia, have you found it difficult or easy to volunteer and stay connected to Drexel?
Thanks to technology, the webinars I host are great. I love to teach, and this was a way to do that and also get my firm’s name out in the Drexel community without all the travel costs. Now, networking in person, especially since COVID-19, has been more challenging. The webinars seem to be the best way for me to network, stay in touch with Drexel, teach and donate my time and talents.

You come from a family of Dragons. Why was Drexel the right University for you, your wife and your kids?
My wife, Veronika ’85, and I actually met in high school in New Jersey. After high school, I ended up going to Burlington County Community College to take undergraduate core classes to reduce costs and to see if engineering was a path I wanted to go down.  At the time, Drexel was known for engineering and was noted to be a “working mans” college and was highly regarded. In addition, the co-op program was a way I could earn some money for school while actually working as an engineering co-op student. I worked for Hill International in Willingboro, New Jersey. It was a great experience, doing claim litigation engineering support. As I was coming to graduation in 1984, the job market was not good, so I took the opportunity to stay in grad school and get my masters in geosynthetics as an RA for Robert Koerner. I was able to build my program within the civil department with a focus on soils/geosynthetics/ solid waste design, which at time no one had offered. These were ground-breaking studies. It set the stage for the next 35 years of my life. 

My wife graduated top of her class in electrical engineering. I think she was the first woman to do that. She went on to work and got her MS in electrical engineering from University of Pennsylvania at night. We both loved our Drexel education. For our middle son, David, Drexel offered a unique BS in computer science with a gaming concentration. Again, it was a unique program in a field he was interested in. He also received a nice academic scholarship. My youngest daughter, Grace, went to UNC Chapel Hill and graduated with a degree in sports science but wanted to pursue her DPT in physical therapy. She looked all over the country and applied to the top 10 schools in DPT, Drexel was on that list. She got accepted and got an academic scholarship for the DPT program and she started in September 2020. So far, so good! So, we’re all a family of Dragons except for my oldest daughter, Julie, who went to Georgia Tech. But we don’t talk about that!

What’s one interesting fact about yourself that your fellow alumni would be interested to know?
I love nature and being outdoors and spending off season time at my house in the outer banks.

What are the goals of the Southeastern US Dragons group that you’re working to build in Dragon Network?
My goal is to build an active and robust network of Drexel alumni that interact and help each other in professional development.  

What’s one piece of advice you would give to Drexel’s newest alumni?
My best advice comes from Major Dick Winters, WWII 506 PIR: “Hang tough.” It’s going to be a rough year yet. Keep working hard and don’t ever give up! Keep your Dragon Network close and don’t be afraid to go wherever you might have to go for work. Think outside the box. I have been through several recessions in my career and you just need to work through them and network.