Outstanding Alumnus(a) Award 2015: Alfred Chuang M.S. '86

2015 Outstanding Alumnus(a) Award winner Alfred Chuang, M.S. ‘86
By Benjamin Ginsburg

Alfred Chuang MS ’86, one of the most well-known and well-respected innovators in Silicon Valley, knows that success is partly due to preparation and luck, but mostly due to the efforts and bright ideas of people.

“I think this is a thing that we almost always underestimate,” said Chuang, whose first company, BEA Systems, employed more than 15,000 people across 38 countries. “The success of anything really comes from the people. It doesn’t come from the technology. Technology doesn’t build technology. People build the technology; people make and implement these technologies and make things happen.”

Chuang cites the hands-on research opportunities he had at UC Davis as some of the strongest influences in building his passion and enthusiasm in software development. But beyond an education, UC Davis put Chuang in close quarters with equally passionate fellow students, through whom he forged strong friendships and professional connections. Since graduating, Chuang has revolutionized the ways in which web services  for e-businesses are built, bringing together the talents of thousands of individuals to make technology more intuitive, more accessible, and more user-oriented.

Though currently serving as the chairman and CEO of Magnet Systems, he regularly visits UC Davis as a Distinguished Lecturer, and he serves on the College of Engineering Dean’s Executive Committee, bringing his expertise to the next generation of innovators.

“Education has to be the way to change the world,” said Chuang, winner of the 2015 Outstanding Alumnus Award. “It’s something that we’re obligated to contribute to. I mean, there’s no law, but I think we have to do.

UC Davis can be the top school in every field, but those of us who came here have to come back and spend the time to make that happen.”