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Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Success Stories

About me:Kavian (Kave) Anderson-Spells photo
Kavian (Kave) Anderson-Spells
B.S. in Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2016)
Milkbone, Buffalo, NY

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Process Engineer:
As a process engineer, I am primarily tasked with leading projects that require testing to evaluate process changes, providing support to employees as a production supervisor and researching process equipment in order to make quotes.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Thermodynamics, mass and heat transfer, fluid mechanics, control systems, mass and energy balancing, and instrumentation.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering?
I would tell students to get a very broad experience. Learning in the classroom is essential to obtaining a college degree, but experiences as far as extracurricular activities, volunteering, and studying abroad are also amazingly effective learning tools. I spent some time teaching engineering concepts to school aged children and participating in engineering service learning in countries like Costa Rica and Ghana. 


About me:
Monica Backs
B.S. in Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2018)
ms consultants, inc., Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Water Resources Engineer:
I design stormwater best management practices, as well as build hydrologic and hydraulic models for public and private clients. My primary responsibilities include watershed analysis, hydrologic and hydraulic analysis, and design of various hydraulic structures. Through the design of storm sewers to rain gardens, I try to reduce the environmental impacts new projects have on the surrounding area by capturing and redirecting stormwater, preventing erosion, and managing floods.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:​
Some skills or abilities that are required for being successful as a water resources engineer include familiarity with software such as HEC-RAS, AutoCAD/Civil3D and ArcGIS, knowledge regarding stream systems and hydrology, technical writing, and an eye for detail. Beyond technical skills, effective communication, time management, and the ability to work in an interdisciplinary team are extremely important.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering?​
In a lesser–known discipline such as Ecological Engineering, it’s all about how you market your skill set! The majority of the engineers in my field studied civil engineering, so when I started my job hunt, I knew I had to highlight that I was bringing a new set of skills to the table – one that would supplement the knowledge of the team. Highlight the technical skills you have in common with your peers in other disciplines: critical thinking, problem-solving, math, etc., but then stress the differences. Your understanding of natural processes, stream morphology, and soil science will be exceptionally beneficial as green infrastructure becomes more and more popular for stormwater management. Additionally, make sure to get involved. Take advantage of networking opportunities, join professional organizations or clubs, and/or spend time volunteering. Stepping out of your comfort zone leads to growth, new skills, and meeting like-minded individuals or other people in your field! In Columbus, some environmental organizations to consider getting involved with are Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, Green Columbus, and Friends of Alum Creek and Tributaries.


About me:Marie Gildow photo
Marie Gildow
B.S. in Environmental Systems Engineering, Penn State University (2010)
M.S. in Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2015)
American Electric Power, Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Environmental Engineer:
As an Environmental Engineer, I support coal, gas, and hydro electrical generation plants with stormwater and wastewater issues related to plant operations and permitting. A large part of my job is renewing, interpreting, and maintaining compliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits which regulate process wastewater and stormwater. I also work with aboveground storage tanks, and ensure that they meet engineering and regulatory standards. As part of my job, I visit many different power plants and utility line projects in different states and review their environmental management practices.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
My role requires strong communication, reading, and writing skills.  While technical knowledge and engineering skills are a necessary base, the most important aspect of my job is working with regulators, construction managers, and plant operators to make sure we understand and are compliant with environmental laws. This can involve reading and interpreting permits and other legal language, and using that to provide guidance to plant workers and construction crews. Developing personal relationships with those people is also critical, so good interpersonal skills are really necessary.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering?
My advice is to use your undergraduate summers to have a lot of different experiences. One summer, I worked as a field technician for the forest science department collecting stream and fish habitat data. Other summers, I had internships with an oil company working on environmental remediation projects. My summer experiences led me to make the decision to go to graduate school. I also worked as a consultant for two years between my B.S. and M.S. degrees, which I think gave me a lot of valuable experience and I would highly recommend to anyone thinking of getting a post-graduate degree.


About me:
Gauri Girme
MSc., Bioinformatics and Biotechnology, Pune University (2010)
M.Tech., Bioinformatics and Biotechnology, Pune University (2011)
M.S., Biological Engineering,The Ohio State University (2014)
Knowlton Deveopment Corporation (KDC), Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a GMP Plant Hygienist:
As a Plant Hygienist, I am primarily tasked with managing a plant wide sanitation program for manufacturing and filling/packaging areas, leading projects to evaluate cleaning validations for the production of cosmetics (soaps, sanitizers, and hand gels), providing support to the microbiology lab as a Subject Matter Expert (SME), oversight of Clean in place (CIP) and Clean Out of place (COP) activities throughout the facility, conducting investigations for non-conformances related to cleaning, sanitizations and microbiology.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
My role requires a strong general biology and microbiology background with a solid understanding of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Strong communication, reading, and writing skills are all important. Often we have RIE’s (Rapid Improvement Events) which require an understanding of the Six Sigma Principles.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering?
My advice is to get ample hands-on experience in the labs to obtain better conceptual understanding of the subjects that interest you. Classroom learning coupled with lab training widens your subject matter expertise. I would also recommend reading the latest research articles to stay updated on your areas of research and expertise. In addition to classroom learning, it is equally important to participate in extracurricular activities. I volunteered to teach at an orphanage in India during college and that was an amazing learning experience for me. Be positive. Get out of your comfort zone to achieve continuous improvement.


About me:Austin Herman photo
Austin Herman
B.S. in Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2011)
Kroger, Cincinnati, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Process Analyst:
I am part of a process improvement team. I use statistical analysis to determine best practices to improve the efficiency of various operations on the retail side of our company.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Cross functional team leadership, Statistical Analysis, Understanding of Lean/Six Sigma principles, Basic Statistical Coding (MATLAB, R), Excel, Public Speaking, and PowerPoint are all required skills/abilities for my role.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering?
I would say that engineering is great because it makes you marketable. Engineering above all else teaches you how to be a problem solver, and companies today are looking for that skill. It is in high demand. I started my career off as a traditional engineer, but have moved more into a statistical analysis position. I’m not a “traditional engineer” anymore, but I still have to use the math, and problem solving skills I learned in my engineering courses every day. Ultimately, engineering opens doors to a lot of different fields because of the rigorous training you go through and the problem solving skills you obtain.


About me:
Adam Khalaf
B.S. in Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2014)
M.S. in Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2016)
CDM Smith, Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Environmental Engineer:
As an engineer at an environmental engineering consulting firm, I get to work on a wide variety of projects all across the country. My time is split between environmental remediation projects, ecological conservation/restoration work, and water resource engineering projects. The remediation work involves reviewing engineering reports, analyzing lab data, and project management support related to cleanup of sites with hazardous chemical contamination. The ecological work includes things like conducting wildlife surveys, habitat assessments, wetland delineations, and stream restoration projects. My job also provides lots of opportunities to travel and do field work. Every day is something new.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Consulting requires an interesting mix of technical and personal skills. A strong technical base in engineering and science is important, but so are strong communication and writing skills, the ability to work in interdisciplinary teams, and paying attention to detail. Things can change quickly in consulting work, so it’s also really important to be adaptable and willing to try new things.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering?
This field can take you in a number of different directions, so be proactive about pursuing your interests. Take a variety of different classes and keep an open mind about taking on new opportunities. It’s also important to seek out internships or research experience to help you learn about possible future careers and develop marketable technical skills.
   
I would also encourage students to make an effort to get to know the faculty and staff in the FABE department. In my experience, everyone is approachable, supportive, and always willing to help. Definitely invest in those relationships.


About me:Logan McClish photo
Logan McClish
B.S. in Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2014)
The Watershed Company, Kirkland, WA

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Water Resources Engineer:
My responsibilities include hydrologic and hydraulic analysis, watershed analysis, stream restoration design, stream analysis and assessment, wetland design, wetland delineation, and sometimes fishing.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Adaptability, strong communication skills, time management, CAD, GIS, HEC-RAS, hand sketching, and Microsoft programs are all required for being successful in my role.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering?
Seek to gain technical skills while in school and find work opportunities. Figure out what you like to do and then be OK with putting some of those ideas off for a few years while you gain important experience. You're never stuck. Be moldable and be positive. Don't settle, get out of your comfort zone.


About me:
B.S. in Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2011)
B.S. in Psychology (2011)
Ph.D. in Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2016)
Checkerspot, Berkeley, CA       

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a  Scientist:
As a scientist, I lead materials development at a venture capital- backed biotech startup. Our company genetically modifies algae, to produce unique oils that we extract and chemically convert to polyols. I formulate the polyols into a variety of polyurethane materials, and work with product managers to use these new polyurethanes in new consumer products.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role: 
Working at a startup, you must be flexible and have a team mentality. There are lots of hats to wear in a startup. Some days I am repairing lab equipment, other days I am working with our marketing team in defining value propositions for our products, other days I am working with our legal team to draft work agreements with other companies, the department of energy, and the department of agriculture.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering? 
Learn how to market your skills and understand how to market skill sets specific to individual jobs. In my current role, I emphasize my skill sets across biology, chemistry, materials science and business development everyday and I got my current role by articulating how my skills would help our company grow and be successful.


About me: Jamie Tylicki photo
Jamie Tylicki
B.S. Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2012)
Accenture, New York, NY

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Business Technology Consultant:
I am part of our Financial Services practice, specializing in Credit Consulting and Commercial Banking. My clients have included top US and Canadian banks, and most recently I have worked with fintech startup nCino to implement their Salesforce-based Loan Origination System.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Consulting is all about being able to think on your feet and adapt to the client and project at hand. Strong communication skills, the ability to manage people at all levels, and time management are the keys to being successful. Specific to my current projects, basic Salesforce configuration and knowledge of Commercial Lending processes are necessary.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering?
I chose consulting over a more traditional engineering company because I wanted the ability to work in a variety of industries and projects within those industries without having to change companies, and I was able to test the waters in different areas before deciding to specialize. If you're looking to get into consulting, work on being well-rounded and have a mix of extracurriculars, leadership roles, and projects/internships on your resume.


 


About me:
Chase Wright
B.S. Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2013)
Master of Business Administration (2018)
Mettler Toledo, Columbus, OH

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Industrial Product Manager:
My primary responsibility in my current position is product management for a line of industrial weighing products in the United States and Canada. It entails product lifecycle management (PLM), profitability analysis, strategic marketing, pricing, sales forecasting, and developing sales tools. I also visit manufacturing plants around the US to consult on process optimization and yield maximization. Lastly, I do some design work for custom industrial weighing systems.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
One of the most important skills in product management is the ability to work well with a team. Developing an excellent product with global colleagues and selling it successfully for years as colleagues come and go is a team effort. Data-based decision making is also a critical skill that can make or break your career as a product manager. The ability to absorb technical information is also key for understanding industrial products and markets which tend to be complex and fragmented. I would say those are the three primary skills/abilities along with time management, of course, that are keys to success in my role.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering?
First and foremost, practice collaboration with your classmates to help each other learn course material. There will be many times in your career where you need someone's help to understand something and they need yours. With that, try your best to learn what you pursue as well as you possibly can. Subject matter experts are very valuable to organizations. Work hard and be patient. Not everyone gets their dream job out of college. I certainly didn't. Hard work and patience really does pay off. It did for me. It will for you too. Challenges are opportunities. That view will make you attractive as an employee at any level of an organization. My last word of advice is to recognize that your career path can change from what you major in and that's okay. Your field of study in undergrad is not a commitment to that specialization for life so don't be discouraged if things don't work out for you in that field. However, analytical and problem-solving skills you learn as an engineering student can be fundamentally applied to any career path so make sure to learn and develop those skills.