The Ronald and Valerie Sugar Distinguished Speaker Series

Freeman Shen, founder, Chairman and CEO of WM Motor

The Ronald and Valerie Sugar Distinguished Speaker Series brings national and international leaders in engineering and related fields to campus. The program is primarily geared toward UCLA Engineering students, giving them an opportunity to hear first-hand from technology leaders and innovators on what it took to get where they are, and the critical issues facing society that engineers must address.

The series was made possible by a major gift to UCLA Engineering from the Sugars, both alumni of UCLA. Each program, by invitation only, is for UCLA Engineering students, as well as faculty, staff and select alumni.

Past Speakers (2016 – 2017)

About The Ron And Valerie Distinguished Speaker Series

“I met Ron and Valerie during my first few weeks here, and Ron emphasized that a school-wide distinguished speaker series could really benefit our students,” says Jayathi Murthy, the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean of UCLA Engineering. “They will get a first-person connection with someone leading the technology landscape and hear what’s on the horizon. And, most of our speakers are alumni of the school. So in addition to hearing their insights, I hope our students also see that they too can reach the top in their chosen field.”

“As UCLA students, Valerie and I both received an invaluable educational experience that was more than our classes,” says Ron Sugar, who earned three degrees from UCLA Engineering. “Through this new distinguished speaker series, which we’re both very proud and honored to support, we hope current and future students will get a good window into what lies ahead and get an idea on how they can shape their own careers following graduation.”

Ronald and Valerie Sugar are long-time supporters of UCLA Engineering. In October 2016, the couple gave a $5 million gift to the school creating an endowment that will support the dean’s top priorities. The school’s deanship was renamed in recognition of the gift. In 2011, the Sugars gave $1 million to create an endowed faculty chair in engineering.

Ronald Sugar graduated summa cum laude in engineering in 1968 from UCLA. He received his master’s degree in 1969 and his Ph.D. in 1971 in the same field. He was an executive in the aerospace, defense and automotive industries. Most prominently, he served as the chairman of the board and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corporation from 2003 until his retirement in 2010. He is currently a director of Apple, Chevron Corporation and Amgen, and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Valerie Sugar graduated magna cum laude in history in 1971 from UCLA and earned a master’s degree in library science from USC in 1972. She held professional positions in library science and computer science at the RAND Corp. and The Aerospace Corporation. Subsequently, she has focused on family, artistic and philanthropic endeavors.

The Ronald and Valerie Sugar Distinguished Speaker Series invites international engineering and technology leaders to share their experiences with UCLA Engineering students, faculty and staff. These events – held exclusively for the UCLA Engineering community – include a moderated discussion with the guest, audience Q&A and a post-event reception for further idea sharing and networking.

Questions? Please contact:

Sarah Low
(310) 825-1628


UCLA researchers develop a new class of two-dimensional materials

A research team led by UCLA scientists and engineers has developed a method to make new kinds of artificial “superlattices” — materials comprised of alternating layers of ultra-thin “two-dimensional” sheets, which are only one or a few atoms thick. Unlike current state-of-the art superlattices, in which

Mehta receives NSF CAREER Award to bring robots to everyone

Ankur Mehta, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, has received a National Science Foundation CAREER award, the agency’s highest honor for faculty members at the start of their research and teaching careers.