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Alumnus Erik Jansen Likes Tackling Tech Challenges
December 5, 2013
Erik Jansen fell in love with Rose-Hulman while attending the intensive two-week Operation Catapult summer program after his junior year at Indianapolis’ North Central High School.
“I got to live on campus and interact with other geeky, over achieving math and science students,” recalls the 1978 electrical engineering graduate. “I got the benefit of exposure to college-level facilities, ideas, and professors. After that, Rose-Hulman had the incumbent advantage. I knew I wanted more.”
Jansen remembers being excited about Rose-Hulman’s curriculum when he arrived on campus.
“I’m a naturally curious person, and naturally curious people love nothing more than the toughest mysteries, challenges, and puzzles,” he says.
One of the biggest challenges for Jansen, and others, on campus was a course in Information Theory.
“The mathematics (behind the course) would choke 99.999 percent of all mortals. It was brutally difficult,” he says, never considering dropping the course. “People who go to Rose-Hulman don’t give up, and they don’t give in. I learned an important lesson in that course: When things are difficult, you need to find someone who is smarter than you, and work alongside that person to learn.”
Jansen’s career has been devoted to building technology-based businesses. After executive roles at Texas Instruments, he spent a decade working for Wall Street investment banking firms, and helped form Palo Alto Technologies in California. Now based in Seattle, he is founding partner of the financial advisory firm of Jansen, Remmers, Nichols & Bernier, Inc.
The Rose-Hulman Alumni Association recognized Jansen this fall, presenting him with the Honor Alumni Award during homecoming.
When not investing, Jansen is an avid adventurer with a variety of interests that include travel, photography, and coins. He serves on the U.S. Mint’s Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and helps select the artwork that goes on U.S. coinage, bullion, and honorary gold medals.
Jansen’s appreciation for Rose-Hulman continues as he is president of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity Holding Corporation. He was a member of the institute’s Board of Trustees from 1997 to 2005, gave the commencement address to the Class of 2000, and received an honorary degree that same year.
“At homecoming this year, we ran our annual meeting for the fraternity. A half dozen guys, ages 18 to 20, walked up to me afterwards and said: ‘Thanks for caring about us.’ That meant so much to me. I got that benefit from Rose-Hulman long after I graduated,” he says.