As a lawyer and humanitarian, Walbesser puts his engineering skills to good use

Elisia Diaz, Jesse Pohle, Walbesser, and Greg Lelonek with their new friends. The Score International group brought toys, activity books and supplies for students at this preschool/kindergarten in Nassau.

Elisia Diaz, Jesse Pohle, Jordan Walbesser and Greg Lelonek with their new friends at a preschool/kindergarten in Nassau, Bahamas. The Score International group brought toys, activity books and supplies for the students.

by Rebecca Rudell

Published January 18, 2018

Growing up, Jordan Walbesser (JD ’10, BS computer engineering ’07) didn’t know if he wanted to be an engineer or a lawyer. So when he got to UB, he earned a degree in each field. Today, he works for Mattel (one of its headquarters is in East Aurora, N.Y.) as in-house counsel—or as Walbesser puts it, “a toy lawyer.”

“When I go around the world, people know the University at Buffalo. It’s like Niagara Falls. Meaning we don’t think twice about it, but we’re very lucky to have such a fine, world-class institution in our backyard.”
Jordan Walbesser, Engineering Alumnus
Mattel

His job entails negotiating agreements and partnerships, counseling the business about social media regulations, and drafting and reviewing technology licenses. He has even worked with the United Nations on a partnership to cross-promote sustainable development goals into the storylines of the animated children’s television series, “Thomas & Friends.”

Before Mattel, Walbesser worked for Hodgson Russ as a patent attorney, which brought his engineering background into play regularly. “I acted as a translator between scientists, engineers and lawyers,” he says. “My engineering degree allowed me to speak everyone’s language.”

He adds that his engineering background also helps him approach problems creatively, as well as logically and analytically, to find solutions that benefit everyone involved.

Speaking of benefiting others, this past September, Walbesser travelled to Nassau, Bahamas, to work with the missionary group, SCORE International, to address some of the societal issues in the area like poverty and education. The point of the trip was mostly community engagement (Walbesser described it as an “exploratory mission”) to see where local people needed help. He stresses that the Bahamas isn’t all resorts and tourists; a block away from high-end hotels are people living in dire situations who need assistance.

His engineering skills were required there as well. Aside from clearing vacant land and building a swing set for local children using tools run off of generators and very limited resources, Walbesser and his group met with community leaders to analyze the local situation and determine how to make an even bigger impact on future trips. He mentioned that he’d love to attend a medical mission to address obesity, diabetes and better access to hospitals in the future.

Walbesser utilizes his talent and enthusiasm at home too, namely on UB’s Engineering Alumni Association board, where he serves as chair of the Engineer of the Year committee and an ad hoc committee that is currently reviewing and replacing the bylaws of the board’s constitution.

He mentions how proud he is of UB and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, saying: “When I go around the world, people know the University at Buffalo. It’s like Niagara Falls. Meaning we don’t think twice about it, but we’re very lucky to have such a fine, world-class institution in our backyard.”

Jordan Walbesser (in blue), Jeff Hackett (on ladder) and Tom Bartus (right) construct a playground in Nassau, which quickly became a locus of activity in the community.

Jordan Walbesser (in blue), Jeff Hackett (on ladder) and Tom Bartus (right) construct a playground in Nassau, which quickly became a locus of activity in the community. 

Walbesser and Hackett shovel and level “white dirt” (caliche), as grass, topsoil and rubber pellets—which are commonly used in the U.S.—are prohibitively expensive for Nassau communities to maintain.

Walbesser and Hackett shovel and level “white dirt” (caliche), as grass, topsoil and rubber pellets—which are commonly used in the U.S.—are prohibitively expensive for Nassau communities to maintain.