Alberto Bonfiglio—PhD student in Robotics at Oregon State University—is a renaissance man. A quick look at his hobbies reveals his varied and diverse interests: fencing, motorcycle riding, flying, horseback riding, playing bass and guitar, scuba diving, competing in Spartan races, or simply pushing his sons Connor Tiberius Kamea and Anakin Jean-Luc Kekoa along hiking trails with his wife Danielle and their two dogs.
Born and raised in Palmero, Italy, Alberto moved to the states in 1995 on a scholarship to attend flight school. He moved to Texas, got his flight instructor licenses, and started flying. It wasn't long, however, before Alberto was lured back into the work with computers he had done in Italy and he decided to set up a small business as an independent software engineer and consultant in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. As he progressed in this career, Alberto found himself flying less and less and working more and more until flying became more a hobby than a profession.
After a few years, Alberto once again yearned for something new. He left Italy ten years before and built a new life in America, but here he was in Texas doing the same work in a different place. Alberto decided it was once again time for a change and started school at the University of Texas in Arlington as a McNair Scholar. Here he researched sea turtle behavior in Mexico and ultimately graduated with a B.S. in Biology with Honors.
Alberto loved working with animals while pursuing his undergraduate degree, so he applied to Texas A&M's competitive College of Veterinary Medicine program in College Station, Texas. During his time there Alberto sat in on a presentation from the Army about joining the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps after graduation and decided to apply, thinking, "This country has been very good to me, and here's my chance to give back!"
Alberto and Danielle moved all over the world while in the Army. Initially, Alberto interned for one year at the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Hospital in Texas and worked with U.S. Military Working Dogs, training in internal medicine, surgery, radiology, and emergency medicine and critical care. Afterward, he was stationed in North Carolina and then Germany, where he and Danielle had their first child, Connor. When it came time to leave the Army, they wanted to raise Connor close to family and decided to move to Oregon to be close to Danielle's parents. Alberto retired as a U.S. Army Captain, completed half a Master's Degree in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, and they bought a ranch in Lebanon, Oregon.
After moving to Oregon, Alberto got a job at the Willamette Animal Hospital in Corvallis working the emergency night shift. This wasn't enough to occupy his time and mind, however, and he decided to pursue a Ph.D. in robotics at Oregon State University while holding down his full-time job at the Vet's office. Although it's a lot of work, Alberto loves the opportunities it provides him. He believes, like computers when he started working with them over 20 years ago, robotics is the future and the place to be right now, and glad to be here doing the work. "Right now I'm just writing and enjoying and acquiring knowledge."
It's obvious at this point that Alberto's pursuit of experience and knowledge won't be slowing down anytime soon.