“Founder Don La Salle inspired me to take on challenging assignments and excel in their execution. The goal, of course, was to deliver science education to curious young minds through organized interactive hands-on activities.”
While at Talcott, Simonian worked alongside founders Dr. Don La Salle and George Atamian, science educators Lydia Gibb and Bill Danielson, and current director Jonathan Craig. Simonian landed an assignment at TMSC after graduating from Tufts and some time spent as a science and mathematics teacher at a Boston high school. "Every day at TMSC was filled with exciting challenges. We were always working with the latest technologies and were developing hands-on methods for enriching the students’ minds."
During his tenure, Simonian worked with early solar equipment software and notably helped draft a Title IV application for federal funds, which was ultimately awarded to TMSC.
His studies at Tufts included Astronomy and Physics classes under Nobel Prize winner Allan Cormack. Consequently Simonian could often be found after hours at the Center’s observatory.
The "On the Shoulders of Giants" program, which is still going today, was initially conceived by Director La Salle and implemented at this time. Volunteering to be the on-site designated photographer Simonian documented many of these events, then developed the black and white film and prints in the Center's darkroom. "Don La Salle kept the program and us moving. One week we would be sponsoring an astronaut, and the next week we would be supporting a dolphin intelligence expert."
Simonian takes away two key insights from his time at TMSC. One is the self-confidence he gained by working on innovative assignments that required a mix of long hours and creativity. The second was that the environment itself, which reminded him of a present-day high technology company. "There were some long hours and hard work, but it was pure joy just to show up every day and meet that day's challenges."
After leaving TMSC, Simonian earned a Master's Degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and went on to enjoy a successful business career at Digital Equipment Corporation. He later enjoyed continued success as an early Internet entrepreneur. In fact, he named his company Cotal Systems, with the name "Cotal" as an inspired derivation of Talcott.
“After visiting recently, it seems like the atmosphere of nurturing creative, hands-on education is alive and well. Looking back, those were special times and my time at TMSC is something I cherish and will never forget.”