Former Leadership Award Scholar Gives Back

Steve Sulack ’03, M.S. ’05 isn’t new to leadership. As an undergraduate, he was an outstanding Leadership Award scholar and treasurer of the Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honors Society. Now, he gives back to the community that supported him as a young student through the Sulack Family Leadership Scholarship he established with the Cal Alumni Association (CAA). “I remember my connection to Cal through CAA. As a scholar, I appreciated that it was alumni giving back to Cal students and hoped that someday I could do the same.”

During graduate school, Steve was one of three students working with Dr. David Auslander for the Lawrence Berkeley Lab doing satellite simulations of spacecraft for the SNAP program to stare into deep space looking for supernovae. After earning a masters in mechanical engineering, Steve worked as a spacecraft controls engineer at Lockheed Martin.

As an undergraduate, he worked at the Space Sciences Lab at Berkeley on another satellite project, CHIPS, which observed local interstellar plasma. A former engineering colleague from the lab eventually recruited him to Google, where he now works at X (the Alphabet research and development facility formerly known as Google X) for projects like self-driving cars and robotics.

“Google has a culture that really supports and encourages its employees to give back to the community,” says Steve. “I appreciate that CAA helps students directly and that they cast a wide net to students of diverse backgrounds. This made the scholarship a good fit for my family. I’m grateful I could do this in my 30s so I can continue to be involved and do more over time.”

Steve also helps build the relationship between CAA and Google through the Google Cal Corporate Alumni Committee. The Cal-Googlers, now numbering more than 1,200, have come together to build a community, volunteer, and provide resources for the University. They collaborate on projects including scholarship application readings at the Googleplex, bringing students to Google for tours, and events that celebrate the Cal contribution to Google. Steve smiles, “It’s fun to be part of a Cal cluster within a Stanford-founded company.”

Raised in Southern California, Steve lives with his wife and daughter in the South Bay and likes having proximity to Berkeley. “Cal is unique for having so many top-rated departments,” he says. “It’s a great place to explore any interest.” He would encourage any student interested in attending Berkeley to visit their top colleges. “When I visited the Berkeley campus, I knew it was the place for me—it felt like I belonged. Put yourself in the environment, talk to students, see what life is like, and see how you feel about it. Gather the most data that you can to make an informed decision, and then make the best of it,” explains Steve.

Currently, Steve enjoys spending much of his time parenting. His wife is also a Cal alumna and, according to Steve, the best thing that happened to him at Cal. The first Golden Bears in their families, they are gradually introducing their daughter to the Cal culture. Along with Cal football, he continues to support The Leadership Award and participate in Cal-Googler events. “Cal was a big part of my life. I like to have these continuing ties. I feel very connected to Cal and look forward to the future.”


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