Alumni Profile: Gary Kazin, ChE ’69
Note: This article was originally published in the June 2012 CUAA Newsletter
Gary Kazin, ChE’69, is retired from a long civil service career at the US Army Picatinny Arsenal, including ordnance system production and testing, and facilities construction project management. He earned a master’s in Chemical Engineering in 1972 from NYU and is a licensed Professional Engineer in New Jersey. His current interests include photography, cycling, and railroads, and he drives a senior citizens’ bus part-time. He actively participates in CUAA events and initiatives, including Phonathon. He was recently elected to the 2015 Alumni Council.
Gary Kazin was interviewed by Mary Lynch ChE’82. Kazin is retired from a long civil service career at the US Army Picatinny Arsenal, including ordnance system production and testing, and facilities construction project management. He earned a master’s in Chemical Engineering in 1972 from NYU and is a licensed Professional Engineer in New Jersey. His current interests include photography, cycling and railroads, and he drives a senior citizens’ bus part-time. He actively participates in CUAA events and initiatives, including Phonathon. He was elected to the 2015 Alumni Council.
A: Chemical Engineering, 1969. I got a Master’s Degree from NYU in 1972, just before they closed the campus and consolidated it with Brooklyn Poly. I then went for a Professional Engineering License in New Jersey – more pounding the books!
Q: What are your favorite memories or activities you enjoyed most while a student at The Cooper Union?
A: Green Camp was probably number one, with trips there being a lot of fun. Freshman orientation: one day we all decided to dress up for dinner (we had nice clothes for some reason), but wear shorts. Professor Hollinger took one look at us and pronounced: “What a forest of legs!”. I took my wife there on our first real date, Field Day. She won a pie-eating contest, and we enjoyed square dancing. The Hiking Club ran an annual Turkey Roast at their shelter in the woods; that became a Sierra Club event and I’ve attended it for about 25 years, rain or shine. There was also fraternity life and labs – especially unit operations lab.
Q: How do you feel The Cooper Union experience influenced you as you progressed through your career?
A: I got a good “problem solving” attitude and tools for solving problems. I needed to understand what our contractors were doing, as many people involved in my projects didn’t have a chemical engineering background. I met a lot of other Cooper alumni at work as well.
Q: You have recently been elected to the Cooper Union Alumni Association as a Council Member. What are you looking forward to most in this new role?
A: Though I was a student for four years, donated regularly, and participated in the Phonathon, I don’t know much about Cooper’s “internal” workings. I hope to learn about what really makes Cooper run and how to help it do better, especially financially.
Q: We hear that you will be riding in the NJ MS 100 Bike ride on September 22 and 23. Please tell us more about that.
A: I cycled casually as a teen, then largely quit when I got a car. I resumed riding in my forties as a way to be more active. For a few years, I kept a bike at work to travel around the campus, which is pretty spread out. After I retired in 2004, I began riding more. I saw a flier about the MS 100 in a restaurant and took it as a personal challenge to do more.
The MS 100 is a two-day cross-country bike ride covering more than 50 miles each day, and at that time I hadn’t ridden more than 20 miles in a day, so I had to get into better shape. It is a fundraiser; at that time riders had to get $300 in donations. I didn’t know much about Multiple Sclerosis and didn’t know anyone with it, so it was really an eye-opener the first year. I learned about the disease and what was being done, and that I did know people with it.
I figured the fund-raising would be harder than the cycling, and it was for the first few years. I just got the $300 in 2005, going door-to-door at businesses in the area, and finished the year with 1000 miles. Now, I don’t have a problem getting donations or doing the ride. I keep a log and have cycled more than 1000 miles each year since I began the MS 100 ride; last year I did 1625. I have ridden 500 miles so far this year.
The dedication of some of the other volunteers, the amounts of money they raise, and the time they put into it are awesome. For the “gluttons for punishment,” there are POWER LOOPS, additional rides. One rider I know does 100 miles each day! We have lots of camaraderie on the course, and the overnight stop at a hotel is great, but I always remember why I’m there.
I can always use more donations; please contact me for details.
Q: What else do you do with your time, being retired?
A: I drive a senior citizens’ shopping bus three mornings a week for a nearby town. It’s a lot of fun and a necessary service. I try to get to the gym at least once a week. I belong to several organizations and am active in most of them. Alice and I like to travel. We don’t like group travel, so it takes a lot of planning – right now I’m researching Scandinavia. I’ve been to all 50 states, adding Hawaii in 2011 and Alaska in 2009. The Alaska trip included trains, buses, planes, a cruise, and they all had to connect. When we get home, there are thousands of pictures! I don’t know how I ever found time to go to work!