Homecoming: Haas VP of Sales and Marketing Returns to His Alma Mater to Help Dedicate New Haas Labs

Scott Gasich regularly worked on machines at Cal Poly, as seen here in 1998.
Scott Gasich, pictured at Cal Poly in 1998, was a regular in the machine shop. He is now vice president of sales and marketing at Haas Automation. (Photo courtesy of Scott Gasich)
Scott Gasich, shown in a Cal Poly racing car in the 90s.
Scott Gasich was a member of the Cal Poly Racing team when he was a mechanical engineering student in the 90s. Here he is pictured sitting in a Formula One car in 1998. (Photo courtesy of Scott Gasich)

In the spring of 1998, Scott Gasich was intrigued when he saw an internship opportunity with Haas Automation posted on the bulletin board outside the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering office.

At the time, he had been working on two Haas machines at Cal Poly and actively involved with Cal Poly Racing.

“I’ve always taken an interest in how things work and making things,” said Gasich, originally from Ventura County. “Cars and motorsports were an early passion that continue to this day.”

Nearly 25 years later, Gasich – now vice-president of sales and marketing at Haas — will return to Cal Poly Friday, Jan. 21, when two labs are renamed in honor of a $350,000 donation from the Gene Haas Foundation.  The foundation was launched in 1999 by Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation and a key figure in NASCAR and Formula One Racing.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled to include comments from Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong, College of Engineering Dean Amy S. Fleischer, Gasich and more.

Prior to his return to campus, we asked Gasich, a mechanical engineering graduate who was involved with Cal Poly Racing as a student, about his experiences both at Cal Poly and Haas.

What are your best memories of working in these two labs as a student?

For me it was simply learning how to operate a machine tool and make a raw piece of material into a finished part.  What made that possible was Ken Brown and Rob Conroy, the two professors for that lab, who trusted me to learn how to run and operate those machines by myself.  It was very liberating and confidence-inspiring to have two professors say, ‘Have at it’.

What sorts of things did you learn in the labs?

Making parts isn’t easy.  Going from a design that looks simple on paper or CAD to a physical part is sometimes more challenging than designing the part.  Features you draw in CAD can sometimes not be easily made in reality.

What made you decide to go to Cal Poly?

Visiting the campus while a senior in high school, we stopped by the Aero Hangar.  I saw the Formula team working on a car, and I knew this was a school I had to attend.  Building a race car while at school — what’s not to like about that?

How did working in the machine labs best prepare you for your career at Haas? 

Having a detailed and hands-on understanding of how things are made makes you far more ready for industry.  Manufacturing is about making things.  Learn by Doing is all about making things.

What is your role now – and how has it changed? 

Vice President of Sales and Marketing.  Yeah, odd for a degreed engineer to hold this position, but it makes the task of selling and supporting our customers and machines easier.  

After working in engineering, assembly and the machine shop, the sales role became a good fit as part of selling a technical product is having a strong technical background. The marketing part of the job has the same elements — it has become more technical in nature over the years.  Now it’s not about the prettiest ad/or slickest catalog.  It’s about using digital platforms (technical in nature) to provide customers with information and details to help them use our machines for their best results.

 What’s always been great about Haas is that we are always changing and trying something new.

What’s it going to be like coming back to Cal Poly for this dedication 20 years later?

Honestly, I’m a slight bit envious of how awesome these labs are at Cal Poly.  The level of technology, modern labs and continued belief in Learn by Doing is what continues to make Cal Poly a great place to start a career.  

How does this partnership help both Cal Poly and Haas?

We get access to hands-on, motivated and productive engineers to help us remain a strong and successful company.  Haas can give back with machines, money and time to ensure there is always a school like Cal Poly to help train the next generation of engineers.

The Cal Poly College of Engineering understands there has been an enormous amount of turmoil and transition due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). As we continue offering support to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, we also continue providing critical updates as well as college highlights. Ours is a college full of creative and bright engineers and staff. For more information on COVID-19 visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For more information on how Cal Poly is responding to COVID-19, visit the Cal Poly Coronavirus website Coronavirus website.

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