MARIO GARZIA SAYS HIS FATHER—a mathematician and engineer—made him study hard as a young boy in Argentina. He was so well educated as a youth, he skipped three grades and was only 16 when he enrolled at The University of Akron. He says his greatest passion was playing soccer, until he met his wife, fellow Zip Marjorie Wilson, who made him study! At first, he thought his future would be in medicine, but two calculus courses that were required for a pre-med major changed that vision. Garzia credits a UA math professor for showing him “beauty in calculus” and igniting his career.
Mario and Marjorie Garzia during a visit to campus last year.
With a B.S. and M.S. in mathematics from UA and a PhD from Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Garzia took his profound understanding of mathematical theory to industry, applying it to the nascent field of computer science. He worked for Bell Labs just as the Internet was transforming the way people could communicate around the globe. There, he was named Distinguished Member of Technical staff, a title awarded to fewer than 10% of Bell Lab employees.
Microsoft recruited him and that’s where he found his true calling—figuring out how to collect the ever-increasing amount of data and make it meaningful and reliable. Whether it was the launch of Windows 7 or the development of Bing, one of the nation’s largest search engines, the excitement for Dr. Garzia was in making all the available data useful for consumers. Along the way, he rose to become Partner, a level achieved by less than 1% of Microsoft employees, and he earned several patents.
Before he retired from Microsoft in 2014, Dr. Garzia helped develop the Data Sciences discipline and a new career path was forged for brilliant mathematicians and others who would follow in his footsteps. And back at the UA campus, he and his wife support the next generation of data scientists with an endowed scholarship (named for his father Ricardo Francisco Garzia) for graduate students in applied mathematics, computer science, and electrical engineering. They also support the Alfred W. Wilson, Jr. Gerontology Nursing Scholarship named for Mrs. Garzia’s father.
Marjorie Garzia says her husband thrives on mentoring others, inspiring curiosity and discovery. As an Akron Zip who has achieved the American Dream, he is truly nurturing the dreams of others.