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Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Success Stories

About me:
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:
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:
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:
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:
Lauren Slutzky        
B.S. in Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2011)
B.S. in Psychology (2011)
Ph.D. in Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2016)
Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, OH              

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Research Scientist:
I do a wide variety of materials science research projects focusing on formulation and product development for consumer, industrial and medical products.  I currently work on two projects for the Office of Naval Research, where I develop and design medical devices and personal protective equipment for our armed forces.  I also do market strategy for consumer products, helping our clients innovate their current product offerings.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
The projects I work on typically involve a team of 5 engineers and scientists, a project manager, and our business development/sales team.  Beyond my technical skills, I have to be able to communicate with everyone on our project effectively.  In project engineering work, your ability to work on a team is often more important than your technical skills, since you can always learn new technical skills!

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering?
Know how to market your skills, and literally list what skill sets you have.  Skill sets can be technical, as well as “soft skills” such as leadership, project and time management, etc.


About me:
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:
Ujesh Vora
B.S. Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering (2015)
Nestlé, 1st Rotation: Solon, OH, 2nd Rotation: Medford, WI

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Operations Management Trainee:
As an Operations Management Trainee, or OMT, you rotate through 3 different positions over a course of 5 years. In the first rotation, you are placed in a manufacturing facility and work on two projects crucial to delivering the businesses objectives. In the second rotation, you become a front line (production, maintenance, or quality) supervisor and are responsible for developing and managing people. In the 3rd rotation, you take on a more corporate role working on projects that can impact several divisions, facilities and brands. 

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
To be successful in this role, you have to be willing to work well with others. In this job, you get involved in several different functions and projects in a short amount of time, so being able to learn from those who have the knowledge for your work is key to your success during your rotations. In addition, being flexible on where you live is also important as you do move up to three times as an OMT.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering?
The advice that I would have for those majoring in Food engineering would be to participate in as many problem solving activities and projects as you can. The skills you'll gain from problem solving will not only prepare you for real world challenges, but also develop your abilities to work with others.