Remembering Roberto

Roberto Puon (BSEE '93, MSEE '95), Feb. 5, 1971 - Aug. 30, 2004

Amy and Roberto Puon

Cancer claimed the life of MSU EE alumni and ADTRAN technical wizard Roberto Puon at age 33, leaving us with a tremendous feeling of loss. Faculty and fellow students and workers remember him fondly and with admiration.

Bob Reese (ECE Faculty Member) - "I remember Roberto as a person who could do anything you asked of him, no matter how difficult it was, and do it with a smile on his face. He worked with me in the ERC in the mid 90's and I don't ever remember him failing in a technical task. In that time period, a group of students around campus had formed a paintball club and I was active in it along with Roberto. Many of my memories of Roberto involve him in camouflage, running around the paintball field, having a good time with other members of the club. Roberto enriched the lives of people that he associated with and will be well remembered by those who knew him."

Chip Bagwell ('00) - "Roberto was a mentor to me from my first day at ADTRAN as a Miss. State co-op participant in 1998. Even if he was up against a tight deadline, he could always stop for a few minutes and explore a problem or a design issue that I was having. He also didn't just solve a problem for you. He took the time to guide you though his thought processes so you could understand the solution to the problem."

Wes Reeves ('99) - "Two things always made Roberto stand out; he was always willing to help out, and he was knowledgeable on every subject. Whether it was advice on how two software modules should interact, or how to make a special cable to measure the impedance of an interface, he could help. It was a known fact that he spent more time teaching the rest of us than working on his own."

Tim Schlichter ('99) - "It's hard to put into words just how much Roberto meant to me, professionally and personally. Roberto's technical contributions were far reaching. He was one of those engineers that when he spoke up to give his technical opinion, everyone stopped to listen. He could not have been more highly regarded and respected by his fellow engineers. In terms of technical ability, objectivity, efficiency, patience and humility, there was none better than Roberto.

One of his greatest strengths was his ability to teach the other engineers around him. He had a way of communicating the solution to a problem such that he didn't just come out and give us the answer, but with his guidance we were able to arrive at the solution. Also, he was very teachable. He was always interested in learning new things, getting involved in new projects, and hearing about new technologies. I think this aided his ability to teach the engineers around him."

Jonathan McDonald ('99) - "In our modern world of ever-increasing specialization especially in engineering, Roberto was a rare renaissance man whose broad talents simply exploded the categories into which our profession is sometimes divided. I have witnessed him as comfortable attacking analog problems with high-frequency test equipment as plowing through a massive code base with software engineering tools. No domain of work was beyond him and what he did he did well. More importantly, he never severed his humanity from technology. He was gracious and kind in all that he did. My time with him is valuable and precious especially in grasping what an engineer can be and do."

Kevin Heering ('93) - "Roberto was always amazing in the breadth of his knowledge as well as the depth and became one of the go-to engineers within ADTRAN. He also was very adept at applying his engineering knowledge to solve problems and invent solutions for the products he worked with. However, the most inspiring aspect of Roberto's life was that he did all of these things with a smile and a friendliness that you don't find very often."

Friends of Roberto have raised over $12,000 toward their goal of $25,000 for an endowment to support The Roberto Puon Endowed Scholarship Fund. Contributions can be made to this fund through the MSU Foundation, Roberto Puon Endowed Scholarship, c/o Blake Hudson, Assistant Director of Development, P.O. Box 9544, Mississippi State, MS 39762 or by going online at, entering the site and selecting the Make a Gift tab. To direct a gift to a specific ECE fund, go to Part IV, select Other and type Roberto Puon Endowed Scholarship.