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URI alumnus donates $93,900 for
engineering entrepreneurship lecture series
KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 13, 2003 -- In the early stages of his engineering career, Tony Risica worked for several large, well-known corporations, including AT&T and Motorola. But his career quickly gained speed when he became involved in two small start-up companies, Sonus Networks and Arris Networks.
"You can often do a lot more at a smaller company than at a larger one," said the Franklin, Mass. resident who grew up in Westerly, "and you can gain a lot more, too. Being involved in starting a company obviously takes a great deal of hard work and long hours, but having the right product at the right time is key."
Risicas successes at Sonus and Arris convinced him of the importance of giving college students a taste of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. As a result, this spring he made a $93,900 contribution to the University of Rhode Island, from where he graduated in 1978 with a degree in electrical engineering, to establish the Anthony J. Risica Endowed Lecture Series in Engineering Entrepreneurship.
"Typically, when most students graduate from college they dont go to a start-up company, but for some students it may be the best way to go at some point during their career," Risica said. "At a start-up, you have a better chance to have an impact and see your ideas turn into products. You are part of building a company where success depends on developing the right product and delivering it at the right time."
As a founder, vice president and chief system architect at Sonus Networks in Westford, Mass., Risica knows what hes talking about. The company provides switching equipment and software that enables voice to be delivered over data networks. He is responsible for establishing the technical direction and product architecture for the company, and formerly handled all software development.
Previously he was a senior manager at Cascade Communications after it acquired the start-up Arris Networks, where Risica was part of the founding engineering team.
When he decided to make a significant contribution to his alma mater, Risica learned that one of the greatest needs in URIs College of Engineering was a well-funded lecture series that would allow students to learn from important figures in the engineering world. Because of his belief in the importance of educating students about entrepreneurship, he decided his lecture series would focus in that area. Risica quickly committed to contributing 30,000 shares of Sonus Networks stock, which at the time was worth about $50,000. But when the stock transfer was completed, its value had risen to $93,900.
"Tonys support of the College of Engineering, and his efforts to ensure that our students learn about engineering entrepreneurship, will go a long way toward expanding the horizons of our students and opening career doors they might not have considered otherwise," said Robert Clough, senior development officer for the College of Engineering. "We are sincerely grateful for his generous contribution and commitment to his alma mater."