July 5, 2017

Setting Off on New Adventures: Alfonso Gutierrez Retires From UWEBC, RFID Lab and IoT Center

Lori Wilson | UWEBC Marketing & Communications Manager

Alfonso GutierrezAfter more than 15 years, five positions, and countless projects and papers, Alfonso Gutierrez retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison on June 30. Alfonso’s roles with UW-Madison have been as varied as his interests. He has served as:

  • Research and Education Director and Supply Chain Management Practice Director of the UW E-Business Consortium (UWEBC).
  • Director of the UW RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Lab.
  • Research Director of the UW Internet of Things Lab (now the UW Internet of Things Systems Research Center).
  • Lecturer in the Industrial and Systems Engineering department.

Through each position, center and project, the best part for Alfonso was the people.

“I’ve been blessed to work with smart, creative and nice people,” said Alfonso. “The member companies involved in my projects, the students who actually made the results happen and the support from our UWEBC staff were a key part of my experience.”

Before he joined the consortium, Alfonso worked for more than 20 years in consulting for Accenture, Grant Thornton and Andersen Consulting. His work took him across the United States and abroad, working in a wide variety of industries, including healthcare, food, automotive, energy and banking. When he joined the university, Alfonso was Employee #2 at the UWEBC.

 “The consortium was literally a start-up, so there was no track record or performance to analyze,” said Alfonso. “I was immediately very impressed with Raj [Veeramani, UWEBC Executive Director]: his intelligence, his drive, his rigor. You should have seen my application process. It was like an admission exam to an MBA program. But mostly I was attracted by his vision. Raj was and continues to be a visionary. And I wanted to work hard toward that vision.”

Alfonso was also drawn to the UWEBC’s mission of innovating with new technology through peer-to-peer learning and industry projects.

 “The internet was just being ‘tested’ by industry, and I had a few pioneering projects in that arena in my practice with Accenture,” said Alfonso. “Today the vison of UWEBC 20 years ago is a reality, and we have gone thru a few re-envisioning in those years with the Internet of Things and RFID.”

Alfonso’s list of ground-breaking projects is long and varied and includes:

  • Served as Co-Principal Investigator on a research project to launch a transfusion blood tracking system that involved three nationally recognized blood centers and two hospitals.
  • Introduced real-time location technology of mobile assets to three Wisconsin hospitals.
  • Worked with Endries International to design an innovative electronic Kan-Ban type of system using RFID.
  • Began the use of low-cost RFID for parking control, which is the standard process for most UW parking ramps and other universities nationwide.

“Since 2001, Alfonso has made a tremendous impact on the UWEBC,” said Raj. “He has helped launch several major initiatives and industry offerings. In particular, his leadership of the RFID Lab has resulted in numerous innovations and applications of RFID technologies on campus and in industry.”

Alfonso capped his career by deepening his involvement with students. For the last two semesters, he has served as the instructor of the capstone senior design course in the Industrial and Systems Engineering department, and he also taught a semester of Introduction to IoT: Technologies and Applications class.

 “Innovation is unstoppable,” said Alfonso. “I encourage our younger innovators and entrepreneurs to ‘get rebellious’ with the status quo and find new ways to develop ideas.”

Those that know Alfonso also know his love of travel and new experiences. This passion inspired his next venture: five months traveling in Spain and Portugal, including the El Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trek by foot around Spain, accompanied by Lena, his English Setter. Patty, Alfonso’s wife, will be the logistics leader and scout.

After Alfonso is “settled” into retirement, you may find him working on projects in Madison, Wisconsin, or building a cottage in the mountains of Colombia.

“I plan to spend six months there, six months here and three months traveling around the world,” said Alfonso. “I know it doesn’t add up, but now I have the luxury to be inaccurate.”

Thank you, Alfonso, for more than 15 years of distinguished service to the University of Wisconsin! If you would like to get in touch with Alfonso, please email him at alfonso.gutierrez@wisc.edu.

A Storied Career

Alfonso’s time with the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been marked by impressive achievements and accolades. He has been recognized by the UW System Board of Regents, industry peers and even a Wisconsin governor. Alfonso has:

  • Served as the Research and Education Director and also the Supply Chain Management Practice Director for the UW E-Business Consortium.
  • Helped launch the UW Internet of Things Lab (now the UW IoT Systems Research Center) as a Research Director.
  • Led the UW RFID Lab as its Director.
  • Worked with Endries International, UW Hospitals and Clinics, CNH Industrial, Pacific Cycle, Appleton Papers, Sun Chemicals and many other companies on RFID projects.
  • Coordinated the UWEBC’s Business Process Management Master Class.
  • Instructed classes as a lecturer in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department.
  • Awarded an official Certificate of Commendation from Governor Doyle recognizing contributions toward expanding innovation in Wisconsin and growing the state’s economy.
  • Elected as an active member of AIDC 100, an international organization of automatic identification and data capture professionals.
  • Received the 2011 UW Regents Academic Staff Excellence Award, recognizing his “professionalism, impressive accomplishments and outstanding devotion to the quality of research and education in the University of Wisconsin System.”
  • Awarded the Distinguished Researcher title in recognition of contributions to the state and university.
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