Pockets of Patriots

Editor's Note: Every so often in our search for stories we come upon a "pocket of Patriots," or rather a company or organization that has a high concentration of Mason alumni working there. Sometimes this is coincidental; more often it is the result of the active recruitment efforts of enthusiastic alumni. It is that kind of story we plan to tell in this column.



The Mason Spirit: The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of George Mason University

Pockets of Patriots: Look, Ma, No Hands!

Alumni at a Fairfax firm strive to make technology wearable and fashionable

By Tara Laskowski

Although Xybernaut sounds like a villain in a James Bond movie, this Fairfax company creates wearable computer technology that would make Q, Bond's gadget man, proud. The company's hardware and related software for people who need hands-free technology are used in a number of applications, from assistive technology for kids with disabilities to telemaintenance technology for the Department of Defense.

Founded in 1990, the company has a global outreach with offices in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. But in its Fairfax office, you'll find many employees with local roots who know what it's like to walk through the Johnson Center or cheer on our athletes at the Patriot Center. Because of the great relationship Xybernaut has with George Mason, many of its employees are alumni or current students at Mason.

Josh Hollerith, B.S. Management Information Systems '01, began working for Xybernaut as an intern and was hired full time as a computer specialist at the company after his graduation. As with many Mason students, the internship was a critical way for Hollerith to get his foot in the door and discover the inner workings of a company. "I like working here because Xybernaut is such a leading-edge technology company," says Hollerith. "It is exciting to see where the future will take us."

Other Mason alumni enjoy working for the company because of its friendly and laid-back atmosphere. The staff is small in number, and everyone generally knows each other.

Ed Bach, B.S. Marketing '81, leads an executive East Coast sales team and routinely hires other Mason alumni because of their reputation. "Typically, those with degrees from George Mason tend to be conscientious and hard-working employees. I have never hired a George Mason graduate who has not excelled," he says.

The alumni who work at Xybernaut credit their Mason education for their success. "I visited other schools around Virginia and didn't feel like they were on the same level as Mason, with its newer buildings and great location in technology-rich Northern Virginia," says Hollerith.

Robert Droppa, B.S. Business Management '02, who works as a customer service manager at Xybernaut, agrees and says that the strength of George Mason lies in its people. "What attracted me to George Mason was the diverse representation among the student body and the quality of the professors," he says.

Droppa began working for Xybernaut after high school. The company's CEO offered him a job as a co-op, with the company paying for two classes per semester and giving him a firsthand opportunity to see how the business world functioned. "Working here greatly helped reinforce what was being taught at George Mason," says Droppa.

Current Mason student Terry Hollis is earning an information technology degree while working as a facilities assistant at Xybernaut. She says she chose Mason in part because it is so highly accredited.

The Xybernaut Patriots connect with each other, remembering certain classes or projects that were particularly challenging or fun while at Mason. Some of the alumni are also still connecting with the university. Bach, for example, has been involved with fund-raising efforts for the university and may have yet another opportunity to be involved—his son has expressed an interest in playing baseball for George Mason in two years.

For more information on Xybernaut, visit www.xybernaut.com/home.asp.