K-State graduation year: 2009
Degree: BS in electronic and computer engineering technology
Current employer: K-State Salina
Position: Research lab technologist
How many times did you change your major during college?
Once—and I changed universities at the same time.
Describe the process of choosing your major:
In my case, I knew what I wanted after high school, but I didn’t ask enough questions about the major I was getting into before enrolling. I saw that some of the classes I would be taking didn't really match my interests, but thought the other classes in the major would even things out. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and I started a major that wasn't a match for me. The name of the major didn't match the course work I was expecting with my limited experience from various events at high school competitions under that exact name. After doing a thorough search at my first school for a better match, I found that I had to look elsewhere.
After much searching I found two options in Kansas that had what I was looking for. K-State Salina was one of them. Like many, I didn't pay much attention to the Salina campus the first time around. However, when I focused strictly on classes, I knew that it had exactly what I was looking for. Choosing to go to K-State Salina (after visiting and asking lots of questions) was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
What activities/organizations were you involved in while in college?
K-State Salina Student Government Association
Association for Computing Machinery
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers student chapter
What tips do you have for current K-Staters about opportunities to take advantage of while still in school?
Get in on as many of those free fun student events as you can throughout the year, especially the first week of school. It 's a great way to interact with and meet other students.
Did you complete an internship or have related work experience prior to receiving your job?
I completed a summer internship at a local industrial company. Part of that experience involved traveling to and working at an auto plant for a short time assisting with the install of new equipment. Though extremely demanding, this was a highlight of the summer, seeing how cars are made from start to finish— as well as getting a behind-the-scenes look at processes that are off limits to plant tours.
Describe the process of finding your first job:
I was fortunate that networking played a large role in my first job. A couple of weeks after graduation I was hired full time by K-State on a grant. I didn't need to move or anything. It really worked out well. The department head I had worked for as a student worker played a big role in my hire, and that person is my immediate supervisor now.
Briefly describe a typical day at your job:
I arrive in the morning and usually catch up on email. After that I usually resume work on a continuing project. I meet with my supervisor twice a week, and have a progress report meeting among group members once a week. I work the standard 8 to 5 and am paid a salary. There is one downside in that I don’t get paid overtime. The upside is that I don’t need to turn in timesheets, and if I do work late I can sometimes come in later the next day to even things out.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy working on cutting-edge technologies. It's rewarding to see the end result of things I spent a lot of time working on.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
I think that keeping up with changes in a fast moving industry would be one of the challenging. There are a lot of day-to-day challenges and troubleshooting problems that I face. Sometimes it is like trying to solve a big puzzle, and that can be very challenging.
What advice would you give someone interested in your field?
I had a class that focused on a very specific area of the industry—so specific that I never thought I would use most of the information at all in the future. While I did well in the class, I didn’t pay as much attention as I probably could have.
It turned out that the exact information covered in the class came up in my job not long ago. I had to basically put myself back to school for a day to catch up, and then look at references and my old textbook a few times along the way.
It's a really good idea to pay as much attention as possible and take good notes, because you never know when you will need to use information, no matter what the topic is, in the future. I know most people have heard this before, but it really is true.