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Materials Science and Engineering Success Stories

About Me:
Janelle Becker
B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering (2014) 
H.B. Fuller, St. Paul, MN 

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as an Area Technical Specialist: 
As an Area Technical Specialist, I support a sales team as the technical resource for our customers and am the liaison between the lab and the sales team. My company sells industrial adhesives and I'm responsible for determining if a product is the right fit for our customers, helping them optimize the use of our product, and troubleshooting when things go wrong.  Because of my responsibilities, I work with many different groups both internally and externally, including quality, production, marketing, sales, and R&D.   

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Being in front of a customer representing your company, you need to be able to listen, pay attention to detail, and be patient.  It’s also important to be able to successfully present your information, whether that's verbally, or through presentations, reports, or spreadsheets.   Understanding chemistry, rheology, and material behaviors are important to the adhesives industry in developing products and identifying root cause of failures.  

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Materials Science and Engineering? 
There are many different avenues and specialties in Materials Science, and because of this variety, we have many different opportunities! Whether you want to work in a lab, be on the production floor, or be more customer facing, take time to explore these options to find the right fit for you, because the possibilities are endless!

About me:
Kelvin Hux
B.S. Materials Science & Engineering (2012)
Honda R&D Americas Inc., Raymond, OH

Describe your overall duties / responsibilities as a Materials Research Engineer:
My work focuses on the application and development of elastomeric and styrenic plastics for the automotive industry. This can range from working with suppliers during a quality assurance visit to testing and proving out a new material to apply to automobiles. As far as specific testing, on certain days I could be running a durability test for suspension parts, performing a hot to cold temperature cycle for vehicle confirmation, or developing a new test method and setup to represent vehicle market usage.

Explain the skills / abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
Communication – This is an important skill that applies to any job and quite honestly life in general. If you can’t communicate your plan nor your projects, don’t expect someone else to have a clear understanding. I routinely communicate with associates whose first language is Japanese, so clear communication is of the utmost importance in my day-to-day work life.
Perseverance – The most rewarding projects never follow a smooth and easy path. You will most certainly run into setbacks and frustration when working on any new technology, unique problem, or difficult challenge. Since these are inevitable issues, the key for success is how you handle them.
Positive Attitude – This not only helps you be successful but it also benefits those around you. Personally, this helps with perseverance. Do you let the boat sink, finish the trip on a battered boat, or continuously strive to repair the boat to reach its ideal state? My point is that you cannot allow yourself to get disgruntled to the point it affects  the quality of your work. Having a positive attitude helps you and those around you to be tremendously successful.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Materials Science and Engineering?
Engineering is tough. You will hear that a thousand times. You’ll spend your fair share of studying overnight, hours locked away in a lab, and the occasional not so “easy” exam. Every engineer experiences this but you won’t be able to find the same environment that MSE provides. While I was in school I enjoyed smaller class sizes and the tight group of 40-50 students in my graduating class. Bonding with the smaller group made the overnight studying , exams, and labs bearable. The MSE faculty are highly capable and qualified to teach almost everything about materials. Whether it is polymers, metals, electronics, or ceramics, understanding the behaviors of materials is essential for any engineering job, and The Ohio State University Materials Science & Engineering department is a perfect place to learn.

About me:
Libby Hogben
B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering (2005)
Mars, Inc., Pet Care Division, Franklin, TN

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as Research & Development Manager for Exclusive Brands:
I lead a team of product developers and process engineers in the private label division of Mars Pet Care.  We design dry dog and cat food and semi-moist dog treat products for customers like Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club.  I represent R&D in the product design bid process, lead customer-facing quality initiatives and set direction for our business as part of a multifunctional leadership team.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:  
Some of the skills required in my role are the ability to deal with ambiguity, creative problem solving, and strong communication skills.  It’s also important to have strong influencing skills and a desire to continuously learn.  The ability to collaborate with many different business functions, such as marketing, sales, manufacturing, finance, etc.  Finally, I think that a sense of humor and compassion for others are important skills for all leaders.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Materials Science and Engineering?  
Keep in mind that MSE’s are successful in many kinds of careers, including those with consumer packaged goods companies.  The technical depth and problem solving abilities that an engineer brings enable companies to bring faster and stronger innovation to their product portfolio.  Look for opportunities to take business courses to develop your business acumen and to have internships with companies in your field of interest.

About me:
Marcy Allen
B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering (2012)
M.S. in Materials Science & Engineering (2014)
Textron Systems, Wilmington, MA

Describe your overall duties/responsibilities as a Materials Engineer, Missile and Space Systems:
I support materials R&D and manufacturing for our programs, including the Avcoat® and RV product line. This includes everything from researching and qualifying new materials to analyzing processes using statistics to meet quality and throughput metrics. I also lead root cause investigations when we have a technical issue, suggest solutions, and implement process changes, working closely with supply chain team members in both lab and manufacturing environments. In addition, I advise our program office with technical expertise including risk analysis for future contracts, cost and schedule estimation, and presentation of technical metrics to our customers.

Explain the skills/abilities that are required for being successful in your role:
There are three main skills/abilities that are required. First, knowledge and passion for materials. Technical knowledge and skills take you far, but passion keeps you engaged and interested. Second, learning on the fly. Engineering classes not only give you knowledge, but they give you both analytical and conceptual problem-solving ability. This is a great and necessary skill for the real world, where each day brings a new type of challenge. Lastly, strong communication skills. I give presentations to customers and upper management frequently, and it’s important to convey technical information concisely, in terms of how it will affect the company.

What advice would you give to students who are considering majoring in Materials Science and Engineering?
Consider doing a specialized internship early on in your college career, even if you are not sure what you want to do. MSE has so many specializations; it can be hard to decide which one is best for you. Ask a professor you like if they have any summer internships available – you will be surprised how many do, or are willing to find a space for someone! This can help you narrow down your class selection and your career path!