Monthly Archives: October 2013

Engineers’ Day 2013: Roy Thiele-Sardiña (BSECE ’82)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering will honor the achievements of eight distinguished alumni during the 66th annual Engineers’ Day celebration on Friday, October 11, 2013. These honorees demonstrate the diverse and profound impact UW-Madison engineers have on industry and academia. In the lead-up to the event, Badger Engineers will be sharing bios of all the award recipients.

Engineers’ Day festivities will begin with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. in the lobby of Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive. Seminars will begin at 8:30 in Room 1610 of Engineering Hall. The evening banquet and awards ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Drive.

Known for his infectious enthusiasm and passion for technology entrepreneurship, Roy Thiele-Sardiña has parlayed more than three decades of industry experience into helping young technology startup companies grow and thrive.

Thiele-Sardiña, a 1982 UW-Madison electrical and computer engineering graduate, launched the Palo Alto, California-based HighBAR Partners in 1995 with Sun Microsystems co-founders Bill Joy and Andreas Bechtolsheim (the name BAR is an acronym for Bill, Andy and Roy). HighBAR prides itself on hands-on management approach that recognizes companies require customized solutions on their path to growth. Tapping Thiele-Sardiña’s professional experience, HighBAR specializes in infrastructure investments in the computer storage and security industries.

From 2003 to 2007, Thiele-Sardiña was managing partner at Steelpoint Capital, an investment firm with assets exceeding $500 million that focused on investments in storage and data security.

Thiele-Sardiña’s leadership in the venture investment world draws from his success as an operating executive for a number of information technology companies. He co-founded Ingrian Networks, a major provider of network data privacy solutions. Its eventual acquisition by SafeNet helped propel that parent company to global leadership in data protection and software rights solutions.

Thiele-Sardiña was CEO and co-founder of Tasmania Networks, a successful network caching software company ultimately acquired by Cisco Systems. At that time, Tasmania Networks had 10 UW-Madison graduates among its 20 employees. Thiele-Sardiña also served on the founding management team for Brocade Communications, which is the leading supplier of backbone infrastructure for data center storage.

From 1985 to 1995, Thiele-Sardiña held a number of positions at Sun Microsystems, starting as an account executive and eventually rising to become director of international sales and later director of corporate development in the Office of the Chairman. Early in his Sun career he helped launch Sun’s telecommunications business and grew it to 10 percent of Sun’s global revenue.

Thiele-Sardiña is an enthusiastic supporter of his alma mater, especially around technology entrepreneurship. He has served as a judge for the annual NEST student software competition, and has provided valuable advice to students seeking to commercialize their ideas. He also led a panel of Silicon Valley UW-Madison alumni during the 2013 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference. In 2013, he joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering advisory board.

Thiele-Sardiña has worked with entrepreneurs around the world, but remains very impressed by Wisconsin professionals. “I think in Wisconsin, the ethics of the people set them apart,” he says. “There’s a lot to be said for investing in the Midwest, in the sense that they have a work ethic that even by Silicon Valley standards is hard to replicate. The technical background and the hands-on engineering focus at UW-Madison is a real plus.”

ECE Professor and Chair John Booske says Thiele-Sardiña built on the core technical expertise gleaned from his ECE education to eventually become a national leader in technology entrepreneurship and venture investment. “Roy is a very positive and forward-thinking person and we value the insights he brings back to the university,” Booske says.

In addition to his 1982 bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UW-Madison, Thiele-Sardiña earned his MBA from New York University in 1989.

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Engineers’ Day 2013: Kristine Ann Theiler (BS ISyE ’88)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering will honor the achievements of eight distinguished alumni during the 66th annual Engineers’ Day celebration on Friday, October 11, 2013. These honorees demonstrate the diverse and profound impact UW-Madison engineers have on industry and academia. In the lead-up to the event, Badger Engineers will be sharing bios of all the award recipients.

Engineers’ Day festivities will begin with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. in the lobby of Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive. Seminars will begin at 8:30 in Room 1610 of Engineering Hall. The evening banquet and awards ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Drive.

As a vice president of planning and operations support for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Kris Theiler works to give industrial engineers a strong voice in the amusement park business.

Theiler’s time at Disney has challenged her to think about problems that might seem unusual for someone with an engineering background. For instance, she helped drastically change the way park visitors experience lines for rides. Theiler was part of the team that developed Disney parks’ FastPass system, which lets visitors return for a ride during a specific time slot instead of waiting in a long line.

To address such problems, Disney has to analyze reams of customer behavior and survey data and develop ideas and opportunities to improve the experience. But that’s no more outlandish than the problems Theiler remembers tackling as an undergraduate student in industrial and systems engineering.

“I did time studies on a bartender pouring tap beer; an experimental engineering project with Professor George Box in which my friend Lita Noreen and I managed to build a study around suntanning; and learned to spin my pen in Linear Programming—a skill that many have asked about,” Theiler says.

She also fondly recalls the friendship and camaraderie that develop when going through engineering school.

After graduating from UW-Madison, Theiler earned an MBA from the University of California-Los Angeles Anderson School of Management. Before joining Disneyland as a business planner, she held industrial engineering positions at ABB Electric, Synergic Resources Corporation, and Magnetek Electric.

In moving up through positions of increasing responsibility at Disney, Theiler has helped to highlight how much engineers have to contribute to the company.

“The industrial engineering team at Disney Parks is extremely integrated into the business, well-respected, and called on to provide insight and understanding into issues and problems facing the organization,” she says.

Theiler has been involved in many key projects, including the opening of Disney’s California Adventure, Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, Walt Disney World’s New Fantasyland and the development of Shanghai Disneyland. Still, she is most proud of having advanced the careers of the engineers she has worked with, and having made those engineers an important part of the company’s decision-making. She is a recipient of the Golden Spirit of Disneyland award.

Currently a resident of Long Beach, California, Theiler enjoys running, biking, travel, jewelry making, and spending time with friends. She is a proud aunt of 13 nieces and nephews. Her family also includes parents Carl and Barbara Theiler, and siblings Julie, Connie, Sara, Stacy and Andy.

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Engineers’ Day 2013: Jeffrey Sprecher (BSCBE ’78)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering will honor the achievements of eight distinguished alumni during the 66th annual Engineers’ Day celebration on Friday, October 11, 2013. These honorees demonstrate the diverse and profound impact UW-Madison engineers have on industry and academia. In the lead-up to the event, Badger Engineers will be sharing bios of all the award recipients.

Engineers’ Day festivities will begin with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. in the lobby of Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive. Seminars will begin at 8:30 in Room 1610 of Engineering Hall. The evening banquet and awards ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Drive.

NOTE: Jeffrey Sprecher will also give a free talk on Friday, October 11 at 2 p.m. at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. Full details here.

In December of 2012, Atlanta-based CEO Jeff Sprecher embarked on a corporate adventure that would capture the attention—not to mention amazement—of the international financial world: The purchase of the iconic New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Before the big NYSE news, Sprecher, who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical and biological engineering in 1978, had been steadily cultivating more than a decade of success as founder, chairman and CEO of IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) of Atlanta, a global operator of derivatives exchanges and clearing houses. Beginning in 2000, Sprecher transformed ICE from a focus on energy markets, into a broad range of traded asset classes including agriculture, credit derivatives, emissions, equity indexes and foreign exchange.

ICE went public in 2005, listing its stock on the NYSE. By 2010, Forbes magazine had named ICE the nation’s fastest-growing financial services company.

But Sprecher’s latest acquisition will merge the Internet-based cutting edge of ICE with the time-honored, people-driven clamor of the NYSE trading floor. In an era of “flash crashes” and other challenges related to unfettered computer-generated trading, Sprecher hopes to provide a fresh perspective on market structure challenges and is leveraging the acquisition to promote the dialogue on these issues.

A Madison native, Sprecher graduated from UW-Madison in 1978 and began his engineering career with industrial company Trane in La Crosse and in southern California, while also working nights and weekends to earn his MBA from Pepperdine University. In 1984, Sprecher began his entrepreneurial quest as a partner in Western Power Group in Newport Beach, a developer, owner and operator of large power plants in California. Sprecher purchased the Atlanta-based Continental Power Exchange in 1997, which he would ultimately transform into ICE in 2000.

His leadership of ICE has earned him many accolades, including finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year program (2002) and finalist in the “MarketWatch CEO of the Year” award (2006). That same year, The Wall Street Journal recognized ICE’s stock as the top one-year performer.

Sprecher serves on the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Global Market Advisory Committee, the Energy Security Leadership Council, Metro Atlanta Chamber, Buckhead Coalition, and Atlanta Committee for Progress.

Sprecher and his wife, Kelly Loeffler, are highly active in the Atlanta community in fundraising and philanthropy. Loeffler is an accomplished executive as vice president of corporate affairs at ICE, and as co-owner and co-chairman of the WNBA Atlanta Dream, the first women-owned professional sports team in Atlanta.

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Engineers’ Day 2013: Michael G. Pecht (BS, Acoustics, ’76, MS ECE ’78, MS Engineering Mechanics ’79, PhD Engineering Mechanics ’82)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering will honor the achievements of eight distinguished alumni during the 66th annual Engineers’ Day celebration on Friday, October 11, 2013. These honorees demonstrate the diverse and profound impact UW-Madison engineers have on industry and academia. In the lead-up to the event, Badger Engineers will be sharing bios of all the award recipients.

Engineers’ Day festivities will begin with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. in the lobby of Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive. Seminars will begin at 8:30 in Room 1610 of Engineering Hall. The evening banquet and awards ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Drive.

A highlight of Michael Pecht’s undergraduate studies in acoustics at UW-Madison, he says, was working with physicist William F. “Jack” Fry to better understand violins and why the great violins were great. In the decades since, Pecht has helped dozens of organizations understand the reliability of far more advanced and esoteric technologies as founder and director of the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE) at the University of Maryland.

Pecht, who is a professor of mechanical engineering and applied mathematics and consults for 22 companies, is a world-renowned expert in strategic planning, design, test, IP and risk assessment of electronic products and systems. Institutions ranging from 3M to the National Defense Industrial Association have recognized Pecht for his contributions to such fields as electronics reliability. In particular, Pecht is credited with pioneering work on the physics-of-failure concept of reliability.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in acoustics in 1976, the Milwaukee native went on to earn master’s degrees from UW-Madison in electrical engineering and engineering mechanics. He earned his PhD in engineering mechanics from the college in 1982, and shortly after that began work as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland. He founded CALCE in 1987, and grew it into the largest electronic products and systems research center focused on electronics reliability. Today it receives funding from more than 150 of the world’s leading electronics companies, and more than 50 PhD and 100 MS students have earned their degrees under Pecht.

His writings—including more than 20 books—have been cited almost 1,900 times. His list of professional honors includes the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Reliability Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor in the reliability field. Under his leadership, CALCE’s global impact has been recognized with such honors as the Alexander Schwarzkopf Prize for Technological Innovation. In addition to memberships and fellowships with several technical and honorary societies, he serves as chief editor of Microelectronics Reliability International and associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Components, Packaging and Manufacturing Technology.

As a UW-Madison student, Pecht was an avid squash player and won many university and state tournaments.

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Engineers’ Day 2013: Susan B. Ortenstone (BSCEE ’79)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering will honor the achievements of eight distinguished alumni during the 66th annual Engineers’ Day celebration on Friday, October 11, 2013. These honorees demonstrate the diverse and profound impact UW-Madison engineers have on industry and academia. In the lead-up to the event, Badger Engineers will be sharing bios of all the award recipients.

Engineers’ Day festivities will begin with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. in the lobby of Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive. Seminars will begin at 8:30 in Room 1610 of Engineering Hall. The evening banquet and awards ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Drive.

Ask Susan Ortenstone how her time as a UW-Madison civil and environmental engineering student helped her thrive as an energy executive, and the answer won’t necessarily involve a technical issue or even academics.

“I believe people issues are usually associated with the biggest workplace challenges and opportunities,” says Ortenstone, a native of Racine who now lives in Spring, Texas. “My education helped me develop problem-solving and project management skills and capabilities that have served me well throughout my career.”

Ortenstone embarked on a long-term test of those skills in 2003, when she became a senior vice president of energy-focused El Paso Corporation. Low morale, numerous legal and financial challenges had many believing El Paso would not survive. As part of a new executive team, she spent eight years turning El Paso around.

By the time the company was acquired in 2012, she says, not only did it boast the highest total shareholder return in its peer group, but more than 90 percent of employees indicated that they were proud to work for El Paso Corporation. In addition to striving to transform the culture within the company, Ortenstone also oversaw a massive renovation of its skyscraper in downtown Houston.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in 1979, Ortenstone became an engineer for Tennessee Gas Pipeline, and then went on to managerial roles in gas supply, business development and strategy for Tenngasco Corporation and Tenneco Gas. In 2001 she became CEO of Epic Energy, a joint venture among El Paso and several other companies. In 2012 she began working as chief administrative officer of Copano Energy LLC, and helped manage a successful transition when the company was acquired by Kinder Morgan in spring 2013. Currently a retired Texas registered professional engineer, she is still deciding what will come next.

“I have had a fantastic career in the energy industry and may do something totally different moving forward,” she says.

Ortenstone has stayed connected with the college as a member of the civil and environmental engineering advisory committee. She also serves on the advisory boards of Women in Energy and the University of Texas Cockrell School of Engineering.

A sports fan and runner, Ortenstone has raised two sons. Andrew is a sophomore at Arizona State University, majoring in film, and Alexander is a freshman at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, majoring in economics and business.

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Engineers’ Day 2013: Kristin Myers (BSBME ‘02)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering will honor the achievements of eight distinguished alumni during the 66th annual Engineers’ Day celebration on Friday, October 11, 2013. These honorees demonstrate the diverse and profound impact UW-Madison engineers have on industry and academia. In the lead-up to the event, Badger Engineers will be sharing bios of all the award recipients.

Engineers’ Day festivities will begin with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. in the lobby of Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive. Seminars will begin at 8:30 in Room 1610 of Engineering Hall. The evening banquet and awards ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Drive.

In just a decade, Kristin Myers’ career has taken the Wisconsin native from a UW-Madison degree in biomedical engineering to a Harvard MBA, and from medical-device development to leadership and investment roles in the healthcare industry.

Myers prides herself on her willingness to take big leaps. The biggest yet was moving from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Hartford, Connecticut, to accept her current job as chief of staff for the CEO of health insurance provider Aetna.

“There was a lot I could not anticipate about the role, but it’s been the greatest challenge yet,” she says.

As an undergraduate, Myers felt she and her classmates became equipped to make a difference in technology, healthcare and the lives of others. “We had a small program and it really allowed us to spend a lot of time together and really get to know each other and our professors,” she says.

For five years after graduating, she worked for Medtronic in Minneapolis and New York, taking on increasing responsibility as she led development and sales efforts for the company’s implantable medical devices. In 2008, she began working on medical devices from the investment side as a partner at Skyline Ventures in Palo Alto, California. Armed with the Harvard MBA she earned in 2009, she continued her focus on investment in devices and diagnostics in 2012, as a principal at Arboretum Ventures in Ann Arbor.

Last year, Crain’s Detroit Business named Myers one of the Detroit area’s top young professionals in its “40 Under 40” series. Crain’s profile noted that moving from Palo Alto to Ann Arbor was hardly a conventional choice, but gave Myers the opportunity to help manage a new venture-capital fund.

Last fall, the UW-Madison Department of Biomedical Engineering named Myers a distinguished entrepreneur and invited her back to campus to give a lecture entitled “Rethinking what innovation means in healthcare and medicine.”

Myers is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, the Harvard Business School Alumni Association, and the BME Alumni Association. She has served on the boards of many companies, including Medivance. In her free time, Myers enjoys spending time with her husband Dave and dog Aiden, practicing yoga, and cycling, swimming and exploring new cities. Her family includes her mother, Pam Myers; her stepfather Pat; her sisters Melissa and Lindsay; her brother Jerod; and her husband’s parents, Albert and Hong.

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Engineers’ Day 2013: Paul R. LaPointe (PhD Mineral Engineering ’80)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering will honor the achievements of eight distinguished alumni during the 66th annual Engineers’ Day celebration on Friday, October 11, 2013. These honorees demonstrate the diverse and profound impact UW-Madison engineers have on industry and academia. In the lead-up to the event, Badger Engineers will be sharing bios of all the award recipients.

Engineers’ Day festivities will begin with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. in the lobby of Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive. Seminars will begin at 8:30 in Room 1610 of Engineering Hall. The evening banquet and awards ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Drive.

Paul R. LaPointe has used his UW-Madison training in geology and mineral engineering to show the energy industry how important it is to understand fractures in hard rock.

“In the 1970’s, not too many people worried about how to rigorously characterize and model the natural fractures in rock for engineering design,” LaPointe says.

As LaPointe finished his master’s degree in geology at UW-Madison in 1976, engineers began turning to more complex problems that would require them to better understand the effects of natural fractures. But after an inspiring visit to a granite quarry with Materials Science and Engineering and Geological Engineering Professor Bezalel C. Haimson, he decided to pursue a PhD in rock mechanics.

“I was able to blend my structural geologic background with my newly developing engineering skills to formulate novel ways to characterize and model fractured rock masses for engineering purposes,” he says.

His graduate work was an early contribution to a modeling approach and technology that came to be called Discrete Fracture Network (DFN) modeling. After completing his PhD, he spent 11 years working at ARCO Oil and Gas as both an engineer and a geologist, where he formulated and tested novel mathematical characterization techniques for fractured reservoir development and undiscovered resource assessment, and for which he won ARCO’s Major Technical Achievement award in 1987. Moving to Golder Associates in 1992, he continued to develop and commercialize DFN technology and currently manages Golder’s worldwide fractured reservoir consulting services. La Pointe was the co-recipient of Golder’s Outstanding Technical Excellence award for 2011, Golder’s highest award, for his role in the development of DFN technologies for shale gas and oil shale.

The DFN software and technology Golder created allows engineers to create 3-D models of fracture patterns in rock in order to solve flow, transport and geomechanics problems. It has been used in applications from nuclear-waste repositories to dams, transportation tunnels and the development of shale gas, and has become the industry-standard approach to the characterization and modeling of large carbonate oil fields. Having played a significant role in the development of a new technology, and working with it from its earliest days where it was the subject of academic research, through to the present where it is a widely-used technology, is the achievement of which he is most proud.

LaPointe fondly recalls the geographically and intellectually diverse group of students and professors he worked with at the College of Engineering.

“In the ‘70s, the number of students who were not U.S. nationals was fairly low in many geology departments, including Madison’s, but matters were quite different in the College of Engineering,” he says. “I became part of a very large, highly multicultural and multidisciplinary team. It was wonderful”

LaPointe has shared his expertise on rock fractures and other subjects through numerous books, professional publications, lectures and courses for professional societies and universities. He is a member of many technical and honorary societies, including the American Rock Mechanics Association where he served on the Board of Directors, Sigma Xi, and the Society of Petroleum Engineers, including an international lecture tour on the topic of fractured reservoirs, and was elected a Fellow of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. LaPointe is grateful to his wife, Margaret La Pointe, and his late mother, Gladys La Pointe, for their support throughout his career.

In his free time, LaPointe is an avid cross-country skier, sea kayaker and soccer player. He lives in Woodinville, Washington.

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Engineers’ Day 2013: Brian L. Haas (BS,ME and EM, ‘86)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering will honor the achievements of eight distinguished alumni during the 66th annual Engineers’ Day celebration on Friday, October 11, 2013. These honorees demonstrate the diverse and profound impact UW-Madison engineers have on industry and academia. In the lead-up to the event, Badger Engineers will be sharing bios of all the award recipients.

Engineers’ Day festivities will begin with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. in the lobby of Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive. Seminars will begin at 8:30 in Room 1610 of Engineering Hall. The evening banquet and awards ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Drive.

Brian L. Haas’ career touches upon some of the breakthroughs that create modern microchips.

In eight years at Applied Materials, Inc., and throughout his tenure at KLA-Tencor, (currently as a senior vice president of global customer operations, satisfaction and quality) he says, “the industry was counting on us.”

Haas says his proudest moments have been leading large engineering teams to develop new products for enabling microchip manufacturing at that time, including Applied Materials’ 300mm RTP in 1999 and KLA-Tencor’s Surfscan SP2 in 2004. “They literally enabled our customers to produce the next generation of microchips,” Haas says.

The son of UW-Madison alumni Allen and Dolores Haas, he draws on his own busy undergraduate years in the College of Engineering. In spring 1985, he led a 25-person Tau Beta Pi team to first prize in Engineering Expo, overseeing the design and building of a prototype Magnus Effect windmill. He taught engineering drafting and graphics for three years as an undergraduate assistant for Professor Ernest F. Manner. In his role as a house fellow in the Lakeshore dorms, Haas met his future wife, Mary Leider-Haas.

After completing undergraduate degrees in engineering mechanics and mechanical engineering and mathematics, Haas went on to Stanford University, where he earned his MS and PhD in aeronautics and astronautics.

He then began work at the NASA Ames Research Center in northern California, serving as a senior research scientist and manager there from 1991 to 1995. Applied Materials hired him as a senior process modeling engineer, and from there he ascended to managing the company’s rapid thermal process product unit.

Haas joined KLA-Tencor in 2003, initially as vice president of Surfscan engineering, , and eventually as general manager of the Surfscan and reticle inspection divisions, developing products that enable manufacturers to inspect microchips for defects.

His honors include holding 12 U.S. patents; winning the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics National Public Policy Award in 1994; and receiving a Stanford hypersonics fellowship. He serves as a mentor for the Women Unlimited LEAD program and for the Santa Clara University Global Social Benefit Incubator. He also serves on the UW-Madison College of Engineering and the Mechanical Engineering industrial advisory boards.

Haas lives in San Jose, California with his wife, Mary Leider-Haas, and his children Tanner, 17, Corinne, 17, and Trenton, 12. He enjoys snowboarding, fitness, and playing guitar.

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