Jan McClure was one of four women in a physics class of 200. It was Professor Emeritus Irvin Swigart's sophomore physics lecture class. The students were seated alphabetically, and the guy next to McClure was Michael McCleery-they met for the first time that day. "I got really lucky,' said Mike. Later, after they had both completed their undergraduate degrees, they married.
'Math was always my favorite subject: said McCleery. "As a child, my cousin would gather the neighborhood kids to marvel while I solved long-division problems on the sidewalk in chalk. Yes, I was quite the geek'
As a senior at South High School, she was encouraged to apply to the U, Stanford University, and Carleton College in Minnesota. She was accepted to all three, but her parents couldn't afford to send her out of state. "My father never owned a credit card and paid cash for his cars and our home. I was only 17, so the idea of financial assistance was never a consideration,' she said. ·1 received a scholarship to the U and could live at home. I'm glad it worked out that way since I met Mike at the U.
In addition to their classes, she and Mike enjoyed Greek life-Mike was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. and she joined the Golden Hearts little sister group. They both enjoyed the special friendships they made and still get together for reunions when they visit Utah.
She loved skiing. She and Mike would arrange their Tuesday/Thursday schedule so they could finish classes by 10 or 11 a.m. 'We'd wear our ski clothes to class, so we could go directly to the ski slopes for a half-day pass." she said. "In the warmer months, we enjoyed hiking and backpacking in the mountains.'
After receiving a bachelor's degree in math (with a minor in physics), she taught math at Lincoln Junior High in Salt Lake City, the same middle school she had attended and where Mike's mother also taught. "The kids called us the upstairs Mrs. McCleery and the downstairs Mrs. McCleery; she said. "They were going to call us the old and the new, but Mike's mom squelched that idea quickly.'
She also began taking graduate night classes. The next year, she and Mike moved into his parents' basement so they could afford to both attend school full time.
Her favorite math teacher was Professor Don Tucker. "He was caring and wise, and I still remember his exciting outlook on mathematics, as well as his humor,' she said. The late Professor Emeritus William J. Coles was her thesis advisor and encouraged her to use Professor Emeritus Klaus Schmitt's new, unique approaches to boundary value differential equations for her thesis. Dr. Schmitt's findings enabled her to prove a set of non-linear stability equations each in less than a page-theorems that had previously taken many pages to prove. Those three professors mentored her and gave her confidence during her orals.
During the summer, she was working for the Math Department, typing up new math books written by department professors. The day before the semester began, Professor Tucker realized he hadn't received an acceptance from one of the teaching fellows from Stanford. He knew McCleery had applied as a teaching fellow and ran into the office where she was typing to ask if she wanted a half-fellowship starting the next day, teaching one undergraduate math class. "Sure!" she exclaimed. A few hours later, Dr. Tucker ran in again and yelled, "Make that a full fellowship!'
After she and Mike received their master's degrees in 1973, they began working at Ford Aerospace in Silicon Valley-she spent nearly 20 years there while they raised their two daughters. She began as a scientific programmer with assignments, such as satellite design and tracking, circuit simulations, raster-scan analysis, and microprocessors.
She enjoyed the variety and wide range of programming languages she learned and new technologies. She found that her studies at the U equipped her with strong analytical skills and a passion for problem solving. During her tenure, she was promoted to software manager, responsible for the company's software design tools, artificial intelligence, software security, and computer and configuration management.
She left Ford Aerospace after accepting a job in a commercial software company, eventually moving on to become director of quality assurance at ASK Computers Ingres Database division in Alameda, Calif. Later, she was a product line manager for ASK MANMAN, responsible for marketing, development, and customer support.
The dot·corn boom was going strong, and she was invited to join a startup that focused on building sales tools for semiconductor companies. Starting a company had been her dream for years. She and two other co-founders formed lntelic, which was later renamed Azerity. She created the product prototype, formed an engineering team, and served as vice president and chief technology officer. 'Those years were the highlight of my career,' she said. ·we had a great deal of success because of the industry knowledge of my two partners and the quality of the talent we were able to attract.' McOeery solicited a manager she knew from Ford Aerospace to join them.Together they developed a new, practical software methodology that resulted in bug-free, on-time, scalable, reliable, and maintainable enterprise software.
Azerity's product was called "ProChannel" and was used by 30,000 semi-conductor company sales reps and distributors worldwide. After the U.S. economy began to slow in the 2000s, she and her partners sold the company, but their product is still being used worldwide today. Jan stayed on to consult for the new company and retired in 2014.'
Her advice to students is to study hard but also enjoy college life. 'Some of the friendships you make at the U will last a lifetime,' she said. She encourages students to study math, physics, astronomy, and computers to broaden their analytical skills and to open up a wide spectrum of possible vocations. In terms of a career, her recommendation is to find a company to work for that has a product or service you want to put your time and effort into-a product that excites you and with a working atmosphere that inspires you to be your best.
The McCleery's live in Discovery Bay on the California Delta, which marks the confluence of the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River. The Delta is 1,000 miles of waterways, and they enjoy exploring them by boat. A decade ago, McCleery and others formed Save the California Delta Alliance, when the state of California planned a big tunnel construction project that would have ruined the Delta. She served as president for several years, and the nonprofit has been raising money for scientists to testify on behalf of the alliance. To date, they have successfully pushed back on proposed projects that threaten the Delta.
McCleery has written several books, including two children's books. One is called The Fable of the Farmer and the Rsh educate kids about the water issues in the Delta and how to be good stewards of the environment. Sassy the Salmon is about the circle of life.
She has also written two non-fiction books:
It Starts with an Idea about her software startup adventure, including advice on software development and management. The other, Class of '67, is for her granddaughter and contains stories about growing up in Utah. She had so much fun writing them that she went on to write two spy novels: Alias Juno Wolfe and Who ls Juno Wolfe. All titles are available on Amazon under her name-Jan McCleery.
by Michele Swaner