After eight years toiling in the “computer room” at John Deere’s Quad Cities location, Merlin Sebastian ’76 knew that a college degree would be necessary to reach his goal of working in the company’s systems department. Originally from Postville, Sebastian was aware of Upper Iowa and took classes via UIU’s Correspondence program from 1974-1976, including three weeks on the Fayette Campus in 1976.
“I remember Dr. Charlie Clark fondly as well as Dr. William Drake, an IT professor at UIU,” said Sebastian. “Dr. Drake would joke with some of us who were already working full-time with computers, which weren’t all that common in the mid-1970s, that we might know more about them than he did! But there was no question that without my UIU degree, I would not have completed a 36-year career at John Deere, primarily working in systems.”
During his illustrious career, Sebastian developed processes using what were new technologies at the time, including working on the Mainframe and with IBM and Tandem computers to put together warehouse systems. One of his most satisfying projects was integrating an automated storage and retrieval system into John Deere’s warehouse control system. His work took him to John Deere’s facilities in Germany, sparking a love of travel that would stay with him well after his career. Following his retirement from John Deere, Sebastian consulted for Rock Island Arsenal on a nearly full-time basis for eight years.
Merlin and his wife, Lynne, have been married for nearly 58 years and enjoy traveling around the world, including five trips to Japan and long cruises in different parts of the world every April. They have three kids, 12 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.