Engineering Physics Success Stories

About me:

Amanda Belding photo

Amanda Belding
B.S. in Engineering Physics (2016)
Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, GA

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Research Engineer:
I work for GTRI as a research engineer in the ACL Quantum division. For my job, I work on a variety of projects with a variety of skill sets. Currently I am working on a research project focused on high sensitivity magnetometers. My main job is to build and test an experiment from bottom up, collect data, and analyze it. Every day presents a new challenge, requiring a new skill. 

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
I use my CAD modeling skills for some small mechanical components, my electrical skills to design PCB boards (and populate and test them), my physics skills to set up fiber launches on the optic table, and my computer skills to program IGOR to collect data from our sensor. The two biggest skills that helped me be successful is problem solving and the ability to learn. Most of what I do at work now I did not know how to do in college, and I had to learn as I was working. Being able to adapt and willing to learn something new is so useful in the world of research and allows you to be more valuable to companies. 

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Engineering Physics? 
My advice to students is to get hands-on experience while still in college. While it may eat up some of your summer, it is worth it to get a job you love after you graduate. The only way to stand out is to have great experience and a passion. Also, when going to career fairs, take business cards from those you talked to and email them a thank you note afterwards, restating your goals and attaching your resume. If it is a job you want really badly, email them every couple weeks to check in. The worse that happens is they don't respond, the best that happens is you can get a foot in the door and have a better chance of getting an interview. The best advice for after you get a job is to ask as many questions as you can. That advice is often given, but it is so important. It shows you are listening, interested, and trying to learn more.

About me:

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RJ Hanna
B.S. in Engineering Physics (2015)
Johns Hopkins University APL, Laurel, MD

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Physics Engineer:
I am a Research Engineer at JHU/APL in the Air and Missile Defense Department. I work on a variety of government sponsored projects that are all aimed at improving our national defense. My duties and responsibilities are to be a subject matter expert in optical region of the EM spectrum, because the tasks we are approached with are quite varied. I work with lasers, spectrometers, infrared imagers, adaptive optics, LIDARS, fiber optics… If it involves light, I probably use it! Day-to-day involves analysis/simulation at my desk, building new instrumentation in the laboratory, and occasionally traveling to conduct experiments in the field.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
The most important ability is being able learn new skills quickly. I’m often approached with tasks or projects that involve elements that are completely new to me. What makes a successful engineer is the ability to identify the tools you require to solve the problem, and then having the initiative to equip yourself with them. Communication skills are also critically important, all across the spectrum from writing emails to giving presentations. I would also know how to read technical papers, and be an expert in at least one programming language.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Engineering Physics?  
If you’re interested in getting a job rather than going to grad school, get experience you can put on your resume as soon as you can. It doesn’t matter if it’s academic research or an internship, it’s something recruiters are going to ask about when you go to career fairs. Grades are important, but employers really want to see that you’ve had hands-on experience and have worked with other people in a professional setting. Letters of recommendation also really make you stand out, so take the time to get to know your teachers and faculty. Distinguish yourself so when letter time comes they have something to pull from. My final advice is just enjoy the program, the classes and people are the best!

About me:
Jake Harris

Jake Harris photo

B.S. in Engineering Physics (specializing in Materials Science and Engineering) (2015)
Accenture, Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Management Consultant:

I am a Technology Consultant; currently I am performing a Business Analyst role. My primary responsibilities are to work with the client to identify requirements, build out those requirements into a design, and then aid the rest of our team in coding and testing those designs. My job involves a lot of technical and non-technical communication and is pure problem solving.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Communication skills - being able to effectively communicate ideas, problems, and solutions is one of the most important skills you can have in the consulting world. Most major conflicts I have seen occur are due to poor communication rather than anything else.
Problem solving - this one is pretty important (and self evident). Being able to solve problems, not just in a specific knowledge area but across areas you are unfamiliar with is huge. Having the skills to identify a problem, break it down, and begin to address it (even if you don't really know what's going on) has been one of the most valuable skills I gained through my engineering education.
Adaptability - odds are, you are going to end up doing something you are not 100% comfortable or familiar with. And odds are, you'll keep gaining responsibility and expanding your role, so this process will continue for most of your career. Be adaptable, be willing to learn and try new things - this will ensure you are not stagnating in your professional growth or career.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Engineering Physics? 
Well I'm in IT consulting, so we don't really have a major! However, since most consulting firms see any type of Engineering degree holder as a natural problem solver and attractive prospective employee, most engineers can apply for consulting jobs. I would tell students that if they enjoy fast paced, dynamic work, problem solving, and working with people, the consulting world is for them. If you have a deep desire to do a specific type of engineering work or research, industry is most likely better for you. But if consulting is where you wanna go, then go all out for it. Honesty, problem solving, solid communication, and a passion to continue learning and growing are all excellent skills to cultivate if you want to be a consultant.

About me: 

 Picture of Anastasia Lawson (EPH Success Stories)

Anastasia Lawson
B.S. in Engineering Physics (2014)
Altamira Technologies Corporation, Fairborn, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Senior Engineer Scientist: I work for Altamira Technologies, a small business defense contractor, in the R&D department. Currently, our primary customer in the Dayton area is the Air Force. My projects have primarily been for the Air Force’s infrared analysis squadron. Our team develops algorithms and tools to process, analyze, and disseminate infrared data and intelligence to many parts of the Government and Intelligence Community. On my current project, I am the Technical Lead. My job is to act as the liaison between my team and our Government customers to ensure we develop solutions which match the customers’ objectives, capabilities, and timelines. It is my job to regularly meet with my task leads to review their technical progress, help resolve any issues, and fulfil reporting requirements. As the Technical Lead I also interface with external customers and contractors to meet other requirements such as quality control evaluation boards.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
For this job, I fuse my background in physics and engineering with my experience in Intelligence from the Army. My background helped me understand some of the key areas involved in the work, including: infrared light, semiconductor physics, remote sensing, data transmission, and data analysis. The math I learned in undergrad was also generally sufficient to understand most of the mathematics involved in the processing and analysis algorithms. Three other key skills I use on a daily basis are: technical writing (for emails, reports, and proposals), presentation skills, and organizational skills. I am currently working on building software development skills in Java and Python as they would enhance my utility to my team.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Engineering Physics?​
My first recommendation is to add some software engineering skills to your plan if they are not already part of your degree path. At a minimum, I recommend proficiency in Python and familiarity with Java and MATLAB. Along with a strong technical background, these software skills are needed to create the proof of concept tools and algorithms we use for data processing. My second recommendation is to develop a plan, even if it’s rough, for the next 5-10 years. You should think about how far you’d like to go in your academic career, what fields you’d like to work in (especially if you already have a focus area), and what type of roles you’d like to fill (specifically technical versus management). The types of roles are not mutually exclusive but few companies are currently structured to have a clear career progression plan for those fused roles. Starting your career and knowing where you want to end up can help you create a short term plan which will set you up for long term success.

About me:

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Ross Mayo
B.S. in Engineering Physics (specializing in Materials Science and Engineering) (2015)
Phoenix Technical Solutions, Grove City, PA

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Engineering Physics Engineer:
I help create repairs and tolerance specifications for the re-qualification of overhauled GE 7FDL and GEVO diesel locomotive engines, so they can be reassembled and returned to GE's railroad customers.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Many of the skills that I used in Physics Senior Lab have directly applied to this position. Projects start with an idea for a repair on a part, such as a cylinder head, then I research the part and possible repair. The selected concept and alternatives are presented to senior engineers. When that is accepted I generate the technical specification of the repair a validation plan that includes all the research needed and required testing (with test plans) to prove the repair won't be adverse to the engine and present that again. After that review passes, I work with other Phoenix and G.E. teams to get the testing completed, and present the results in a final review. Finally, I assist the Manufacturing Engineers in implementing the new or updated technical specification on the shop floor. The end result is fewer used parts being thrown away in engine overhauls, and can add up to millions of dollars in savings.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Engineering Physics?  
Physics gave me much more insight into the methods that are actually used in my work. I've found that the adage "Engineering is 20% engineering and 80% communication" to be completely true. Creating research and lab presentations instead of just filling out lab report forms has been critical to success in G.E. Defending the presentation hasn't been quite as tough as in Physics Senior Lab, but walking into a review without thorough preparation just doesn't fly. I've also discovered that I'm essentially producing about one minor technical document a day, often an email to senior engineering, who decide if my research on a detail they asked me to clarify during reviews is acceptable, or if the change in the test plan I've proposed is going to work well. Engineering theory and classical mechanics come up in my work, but the bulk of my work is research and communication - things that were emphasized in my Physics lab courses.

About me:

Ritvik Vasudevan photo

Ritvik Vasudevan
B.S. in Engineering Physics (specializing in Computer Science Engineering) (2016)
Deloitte Consulting, Cleveland, OH 

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Engineering Physics Engineer:
I work with clients to solve their most challenging business problems and improve financial performance, whether it be providing general strategy, sourcing revenue generation, sizing market opportunities, restructuring for implementation, or creating value across the supply chain. At a high level, I build analyses, visualizations, and presentations, as well as facilitate conversations to unbutton the deep inner-workings of an organization. Our end game is to create meaningful strategic recommendations for our clients. Day-to-day, I reach out to people to grow my knowledge base, manipulate and analyze data to quantify our solutions, and communicate my findings to stakeholders (e.g., project managers, partners, clients, etc.). 

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
I think the most important skills at my level are being a quick learner, effective communicator, and structured, analytical thinker. A couple of important qualities that really set you apart at the firm is the ability to "know your audience" and have great attention to detail. In general, it helps to have strong critical thinking skills and an ability to contextualize the ideas and challenges in front of you (i.e., big picture thinking). 

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Engineering Physics?  
For a role in management consulting, major doesn't matter. Your motivations, experiences, and story do. I know there are a lot of undergrad consulting clubs and informational groups, and those are great to demonstrate an interest in the field, but there are so many other unstructured, out-of-the-box opportunities at Ohio State worth exploring. Showing that you're involved with in a broad variety of projects that all revolve around creating strategic change and being client-facing is just as, if not more, valuable than joining a consulting student org. At the end of the day, you want your experiences to reflect the story you want to tell about yourself.

If you're unsure about your major, I always recommend engineering physics to folks because you can build strong quantitative, analytical skills that are valued in any field or career path. I chose the major for a couple reasons: 1) I liked physics! and 2) I'm a creative person and felt that the major would give me the skills to build the things I wanted to build. 

Lastly, a lot of folks tell me that they're unsure of how to break into a business-oriented role like consulting because they come from a STEM background. This is where your experiences on campus can make a difference. It's great to say that you want to use the quantitative/data analysis skills you've developed in the classroom to drive business change, but it's even better when you've actually taken steps on campus to field that interest. Hope this helps! Feel free to reach out with any questions.

About me:

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Anthony Versino
B.S. in Engineering Physics (2011)
Illinois Tool Works, Glenview, IL

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Director of Engineering:
I am Director of Engineering for a division of Illinois Tool Works that provides solutions to the Residential Construction industry. As a director, I participate in all annual plan, long range plan, and talent review activities for the business, focused on aligning our technical strategy with the overall goals of the business. My teams are organized around new product development, regulatory compliance, and a structural testing lab. I set the strategy for the Engineering group, develop yearly objectives and personal development goals in order to support our greater divisional and enterprise goals.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
The shift towards a leader and people manager is a tough one, especially if you love the technical side, although I love what I do still. The skills I rely on most revolve around talent development, strategic thinking, business acumen, and leading through influence (rather than positional power). ITW's business model revolves around Pareto's principle and simplicity. I need to identify the 2-3 most important things that will help drive the business and structure my teams goals around that. As a technical leader, I am indebted to my Engineering Physics degree, as it was the fuel that allowed my to deliver results in my earlier Product Development roles, and now in order to structure our teams internal competencies.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Engineering Physics?  
If you don't love what you are doing, change it. Take the time now to explore whats available and immerse yourself, find out what you do and don't like. Having a career in a type of engineering or industry that you are passionate about will get you up every day and enable you to deliver some amazing things, as well as provide a foundation for great career growth. I took 3 years off of school after my junior year, working full time for ITW, developed some new products, was granted a few patents, and when I decided to finish my degree, I finished my last few semesters with a 4.0. The only unnatural path you take is one that you don't love.