K-State graduation year: 2009
Degree: Bachelor of Science 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?
I did change my major once, when I transitioned from another University to K-State.
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. Many of the course descriptions looked like a good fit, but a few didn't really match my interests. I figured most majors would have some classes like that, and the other core classes would make up for those that I wasn't particularly interested in. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, and I started a major that wasn't a match for me. The course work did not match at all with what I was expecting. Although I had experience from various high-school events and competitions under the exact name as the major I was now in, the definition was completely different! The University major ended up being such a narrow, focused area that it was something I had not even been exposed to in the broader high-school events, for which I won awards. After doing a thorough search at that particular University for a better match, I found that I had to look elsewhere after my first year in school.
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 initially; however, when looking primarily at the education and 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 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?
Summer internships are a great way to gain experience related to your field of study, and may lead to full-time employment once you graduate. You may also be able to gain some great experience during the school year by applying for student worker positions on campus.
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 installation of new equipment. Though 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 generally off-limits.
Describe the process of finding your first job:
I was fortunate in being hired a couple of weeks after graduation by K-State to work on a funded project. I didn't need to move or anything. It really worked out well. Networking played a large role, with the department head I had worked for as a student worker playing a big role in my hire. He continued to be my immediate supervisor for a few years.
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, or multiple projects depending on the priorities at hand. We usually have a quick group meeting once a week, with a larger meeting once a month. The meetings help keep everyone informed on what everyone else is doing, and what the major priorities are. I spend a lot of time in front of a computer doing research and working with technical data. Some days I will preform electrical integration and troubleshooting functions, with occasional electrical design and programming.
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. I also like preforming a variety of different functions, as opposed to a single type of task such as writing reports all day every day or something. I enjoy contributing a small part to a heavily evolving industry.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
There are a lot of day-to-day challenges and troubleshooting problems that I face. It is usually a challenge to come up with solutions to problems that are totally unanticipated. Sometimes something does not seem to work like I thought it would, and other times something works out very well when I had doubts. A lot of times my job is like trying to solve a big puzzle.
What advice would you give someone interested in your field?
Thee were a few specific engineering technology class subjects that I never thought I would use at all in the future; some of these ended up coming in very useful for my work. While I did well in these classes, I didn't pay much attention as I probably could have. I could have made things easier by taking more detailed notes in class so it would be easier to refresh on subjects in the future. You never know when you will need to call on your education to solve problems out there. It is really important to know the basics, and know where you can find more specific information you may need. I still keep my old textbooks and class notes for reference. A lot of times I can find certain information there faster than on the internet. Taking good notes really helps one retain information, and provides good future reference-for tests and beyond.