Spotlight On
SIS Alumnus Joe Trost, Master of Telecommunications (MST), 1993

Joe Trost (left) and Professor Richard Thompson in the Tele Lab, March 2003.

Joe Trost hesitated as he faced his decision about attending graduate school. Then this thought crossed his mind. He could be a programmer with a computer science or even a business master’s degree… and be one of millions, Or he could earn a Master of Science in Telecommunications (MST) and be one of a select few. He chose the MST program at Pitt for its 50/50 blend of technical lab work and classroom learning. He could see that at Pitt, hardware people and software people came together to form a multidisciplinary experience that really let students learn about entire systems, from the human factors right down to the resistors and capacitors.

Joe Trost is flat out friendly. He’s the sort of good guy that most people just naturally respond positively to. As a student he hit it off with his Telecommunications instructors, especially with Rich “Dr. T” Thompson. Matriculating in the summer of 1991, but still scrambling to find housing, Joe received an invitation to stay with the Thompson’s temporarily… Mrs. Thompson once coined their home “Dr. T’s Home for Wayward Youth!” In the classroom, Joe initially struggled, but with Dr. T’s encouragement he learned to “run, not just jog along,” and rose to the top of his class. Trost and Thompson remain true friends today.

Joe is currently the Director of Software Sustaining Engineering for the Broadband Routing and Switching (BBRS) division of Marconi, Plc. Marconi is a UK based telecommunications and networking equipment supplier with a major facility located near Pittsburgh, PA. Joe’s division is a significant supplier of ATM switches to corporations and governments. He leads three product line teams, 14 people in all. These teams focus on software bug fixing and the development of customer requested features. He says that his MST gives him the technical underpinning, which combined with his solid non-technical and people skills, gives him a genuine niche.

Joe joined FORE Systems in 1995 when it was a booming telecom startup with about 320 employees. At the peak in 1999, when FORE was bought by Marconi, about 2,300 were employed at the Pittsburgh facility. Now that number hovers at about 900. Although three years of contracting sales have caused painful restructuring at Marconi and across the industry, Joe feels that the cyclic downturn is bottoming and is convinced that his MST expertise will remain valuable long into the future. Through it all, Joe has maintained an extremely active and close relationship with the Telecommunications Program at Pitt. He considers his contributions of time and money to be “interest payments on my MST education.” And, he concludes, telecommunications is fundamental to the economy; computers will be ever more densely networked in the future.

The Marconi home page:

The Marconi BBRS products page: