University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 2/1996
ALUMNI PROFILE: Hospitality by design

     While still in his teens, Joseph E. (Jay) Thompson III,
Delaware '77, realized that he must soon resolve a paradox: The
career he wanted was also the career he dreaded.
     Should he pursue a degree in engineering or not?
     Since childhood, Thompson had anticipated such a career, but
an after-school job in a drafting department had shown him too
many engineers in cubicles, designing the perfect mini-widget.
     "I had nightmares about being stuck in an office," Thompson
says. So, at 19, his choice seemed clear-get a degree in liberal
     Eventually, Thompson's heart triumphed over his misgivings,
and halfway through his college years, he transferred to the
University of Delaware to enroll in the mechanical engineering
department. There, he learned that the engineering field wasn't
as rigid as that first encounter suggested.
     No cubicles for Thompson. He's now a corporate director of
engineering for Marriott International, headquartered in
Washington, D.C. He travels the world to ensure that new hotel
construction and potential acquisitions will meet Marriott's high
technical specifications and standards. Operating hotels also are
invited to consult with Thompson if they are having technical
problems. In addition, Thompson offers design input to
manufacturers working on state-of-the-art hotel room amenities,
such as energy-efficient air conditioners.
     On special occasions, Thompson even acts as an unofficial
ambassador for engineers. He recently participated in the
Industry Leaders Roundtable series videotaped at UD. His program
is one of 13 to be broadcast on cable to students from coast to
coast, who are working toward a bachelor's degree in hotel,
restaurant and institutional management. Part of a joint project
of UD and the Denver-based Mind Extension University, the taped
roundtable discussions are broadcast over the Jones Education
Network, which is devoted to distance education.
     Thompson saw this appearance as a chance to encourage hotel
operators to make engineers part of their management teams. It
also gave him a chance to demonstrate that "there is a variety of
opportunities for engineers," including non-traditional roles.
     Thompson's attendance at Delaware extended a family
tradition. His father, Joseph E. Thompson Jr., received his own
mechanical engineering degree in 1951; his mother, Geraldine L.
Thompson, received a master's in education in 1968; and his
brother, Keith, received his accounting degree in 1977. When Jay
married Ann Bosak, Delaware '76, he gained two additional alumni
relatives, brother-in-law Jim Bosak, Delaware '79, and aunt-in-
law Jane Trewyck Martin Cole, Delaware '54. Niece Amy Thompson,
Delaware '98, has extended the tradition yet another generation
by coming to UD to pursue a liberal arts degree.
     No one knows yet what or where Thompson's 10-year-old son,
J.T., might choose to study, but a reliable, proud source has
spotted him building in the dirt pile in the undeveloped area
near the family's Potomac, Md., home.
                      -Priscilla Goldsmith, Delaware '78, '85M