Engineer, Lawyer: Distinguished alumna Dion Messer made the best of her education

Dion Messer, electrical engineering, was honored as Distinguished Alumna at homecoming celebrations in early October.  She addressed scholarship donors and scholarship recipients at the 26th Annual College of Engineering Scholarship Breakfast.

The advice I would give current students at NMSU is to take the fullest advantage you can of the excellent education you are receiving. This is your time to absorb it all. When you leave NMSU, you’ll leave with a foundation upon which to make a career and a profession,” said Messer. “Remember to be kind, to be generous and to never burn bridges because you just don’t know what life holds.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from NMSU in 1984, Messer began her career working as a communications engineer with a NASA contractor at White Sands Missile Range to keep communications to the Space Shuttle up and running while it was in flight. She ventured on to earn her master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin, after which she became recognized worldwide as a digital signal processing expert who co-invented nine U.S. patents and authored numerous peer-reviewed IEEE publications in that same area.

She later earned her law degree at the University of Texas School of Law before spending a year in a judicial clerkship and working for the Honorable William Bryson at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. In following years, she served as a patent litigation attorney at the law firms of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Weil, Gotshal & Manges before moving on to Limelight Networks, Inc. as the general counsel of intellectual property. There, she led a team and second-chaired a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, winning 9-0, all while creating a patent portfolio of more than 150 patents in less than five years. Before retirement, she drafted patent applications at the law firm of Kilpatrick Townsend.

Her commitment to people also extends back to where it all began. At NMSU, she serves on the NMSU Foundation Board of Directors, is an active member of the NMSU Alumni Association and has been donating to her alma mater since 1987. Her philanthropy includes two facility namings in the College of Engineering that provide funding for faculty and student research opportunities. She also invests in the President’s Associates Scholars program – NMSU’s premier scholarship for New Mexico students.


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