51: PHD in Electrical Engineering and MSOE College Professor-Dr. Eric Durant

Dr. Eric Durant earned a PHD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan and his Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering– MSOE and is currently a professor at MSOE

Dr. Durant has done research in Genetic Algorithms which is a form of Artificial Intelligence and adaptive signal processing focusing on applying mathematics in engineering. He is now digging into Deep Learning for Audio Processing.

Going into college he did not plan to get his PHD or become a professor, he got involved in digital signal processing in undergrad via elective courses and learned that it was an area he could learn more about during graduate school and went on to pursue his PHD. The standard advice is to get your PHD from a different university than your undergrad, but not a requirement by any means.

Many times as a professor, your summers are open for you to work in industry, do research, your summers can be very flexible. MSOE is very focused on teaching and is not an R1 Research University – something to ask when you are taking your college tours to make sure the school is a good fit for you.

He is really fired up about deep learning as an engineering tool and especially how it applies to signal processing – this is a whole new realm.

Ah-ha moment – as a sophomore in college struggling with an assembly language problem in lab, he learned how to debug problems as he struggled to figure out why it was not working. He just stuck with it and finally figured out the small problem he had and that was a very powerful moment. But some advice is when you are not making progress take a break and give your mind a rest and then come back an hour or so later and if still stuck ask a friend or a professor.

He tries to think outside the box, but be you need to be very laser focused on a task but then be able to break away. He likes Feedly to get access to RSS feeds and a book recommendation is Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.

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50: Biology and PHD in Neuroscience researching addiction-Megan Slaker

Megan Slaker earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Bethany Luthern College and a PHD in Neuroscience from Washington State University and is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Medical College of Wisconsin focusing on addiction.

Megan says that a Biology degree is one of the most versatile degrees there is as it sets you up for many different career paths and she has taken the research path in addiction. She is trying to figure out what is happening in the brain when there is an addiction.

Every day is different, doing behavior experiments, cellular investigation, just depends on the day. If you are interested in checking out Megan’s lab in person, please connect with her on linked in: Megan Slaker. Her lab is in the Milwaukee, WI area.

She loves that we don’t know much about the brain so there are so many things to learn and it is very exciting! Two things that can really help the brain are exercise and sleep.

An ah-ha moment was when she realized that she was suffering from impostor syndrome at the start of graduate school and thought she could not cut it and was overwhelmed. Slowly over time she overcame it by just taking deep breadths and just going for it but taking baby steps.

She wishes in college that she would have tried more new things, it is a great time to explore. Some great advice is if you don’t take time to take care of you, no one will.

Megan really likes twitter and you can follow her at @neuro_meg Neuro_Meg

A book Megan suggests is 168 hours by Laura Vanderkam and for fiction the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

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49: Non-traditional route to computer science PHD – Dr. Witty of UNL

Dr. Witty earned a PHD in Computer Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology and is an Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and prior to that was a researcher at Iowa State University.

Dr. Witty grew up in Thailand and has had many jobs prior to becoming a professor, he worked in restaurants, as a mechanic, and as a translator and speaks Thai and English. One of Dr. Witty’s core strengths is always being curious on how things works.

His undergraduate degree is in Philosophy and after buying a $3000 computer in 1994, he decided he wanted to learn how they worked so he took a class in Computer Architecture, specifically for what he wanted to know and that got him hooked. He had no real background in programming languages and was difficult and challenging. He received a lot of mentorship and guidance from Dr. Morris Chang, a professor at the University of South Florida. One of the main reasons Dr. Witty got his PHD is that he likes to educate people.

What really has Dr. Witty fired up is AI and now having compute power to really implement the dreams of AI.

Many time students come into college with one idea and then end up changing, college allows you to change. Many students lack clarity on what they want, but don’t quit college because there are classes you don’t like it helps to build who you are. If you decide to get your masters, one thing that is different is all the students there tend to be very smart and one of the main differences between grad students is some have perseverance and grit and major challenges do not get them down, and that is a critical trait to be successful.

Dr. Witty’s best advice is to have clarity in what you do and a personal habit for success is being detailed orientated.
His favorite phone app is YouTube and the book he recommends is Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

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48: During college realized he did not want to be a traditional Aerospace engineer-Hai Chen

Hai Chen earned a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Kansas.

In Aerospace Engineering you learn a lot about structures, mechanics, dynamics, fluid dynamics to name a few. From a career perspective opportunities exist is companies in Aerospace, defense contractor, Boeing but any company that needs fluid flow engineers like automotive.

Hai did multiple internships as a traditional engineer but realized through those internships he really liked engaging with people and building social environments and being able to solve problems on a larger scale and realized after graduation he did not want to be a traditional engineer but still wanted to leverage his engineering degre. So he joined an international automation company and ran sales and consulted.

His area of expertise now and something he really enjoys is community building and driving growth and feels the world is hungry for authentic connection and communication with each other.

Talking with mentors and peers and what he calls recovering engineers he figured out that you can turn your STEM degree into an amazing career and he would have not taken a different path knowing what he knows now, he would go again for engineering vs a business or marketing degree.

He recommends getting into internships as early as you can to get the real world experience and moving from college into your career you have to be hungry to learn, advance, and have humility.

Book recommendation is “You Are Not So Smart” David Mcraney.

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47: Founder and CEO of Integrated Roadways-Tim Sylvester

Tim Sylvester earned a Bachelor in liberal arts with an emphasis in English and Communications and then pursued an Electrical and Computer Engineering degree from The University of Missouri-Kansas City and is the founder and CEO of Integrated Roadways which has a very unique solution for the information super highway – smart pavement by putting the antenna directly into the roadway!

Tim went to college because he was supposed to, but didn’t really know why he was there and decided to pursue English because he lacked the confidence that he could actually complete an engineering degree. Going to a rural high school he did not have any Calculus so thought STEM was beyond his capability, but realized later in life he could do it and now he is running a technology company. The English degree has helped him immensely in his engineering career.

Some strong advice from Tim is to read, and read a lot – we have lost that ability to self-study and also if you want to be an entrepreneur do NOT get a business degree!

An ah-ha moment was driving to and from work with roads under construction; there has to be a better way and also if the road paid for itself, it would a great solution by selling data about traffic.

Tim recommends that to get through college, you want to know why you are going and should have a clear purpose, if you don’t then maybe you should wait.

Best advice is don’t listen to most people’s advice, you should accept their advice and listen to what they have to say but don’t think you need to obey it. And a habit is to make sure you get enough sleep, you really need 8 hours of sleep, eat properly and exercise.

From a reading and book perspective, Tim recommends science fiction.

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46: Entrepreneur and President of Brooks Stevens-Mike Roberts

Mike Roberts earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently the President at Brooks Stevens which is a product development company.

Mike has had an entrepreneurial spirit since the beginning, went to school for engineering but never planned to actually put that into practice as such, he wanted work on the sales side – but he really wanted that technical background which is why he did not go down the business degree route.

Expertise – design automation has been the general theme of his 30 year career path and has made several moves along the way, you have to be sensitive to industry changes and changes in the world to make sure you are doing the right things for yourself and family. Managing relationships and expectations are key for success.

Really fired up about new product initiatives, innovation and development and the impact of technology in products with the billions of devices connected.

At the age of around 20, he learned how to program programmable logic controllers (PLC) and became the subject matter expert for the sales organization.

High school came very easy to Mike, did not have to study very much to get very good grades, but college was not an extension of high school – was a lot more work.

For attributes – he is interested in how someone solves a problem and to have very good communication skills. If you can’t articulate a message you will not reach your peak performance.

Best piece of advice is to put the needs of others first, they get taken careo of and you get taken care of as by product. He recommends getting up and getting to work early as that is when the brain is at its freshest and you really need to have a life-long mission of learning. You never graduate from the school of hard knocks.

Linked is his favorite web site and the book he recommends is Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why. Start with why and then work backwards to the how.

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45: Used Internships to figure out what to do-Biomedical Engineer-Ryan Kohl

Ryan Kohl earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from Saint Luis University and is currently working in regulatory affairs at Lundbeck which is a pharmaceutical company and had many internships through college. The job opportunities are pretty limitless once you graduate from writing software, medical imaging to designing medical equipment an even heading off to medical school.

At school Ryan took a lot of electrical engineering courses along with coding and image processing courses but determined the work was a little to solitary than what he wanted to do and determined it was not the right path for him. His expertise now is in regulatory operations and labeling and there is no typical work day. Trying to create a high quality of life for people is very important to Ryan.

Some advice heading off to college is to get involved in as many things as you can and always ask questions of things you are interested in. And as you launch into your career you need to be flexible and open to change. Don’t say no to opportunities even if you are afraid of failure

Best advice “Things turn out best for people that make the best of the way things turn out”. A personal habit for success is to ask as many questions as possible.

A recommended book is “Phantoms of the Brain” by V.S. Ramachandran.

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44: Morphing from Mechanical Engineering to Statistical Analysis – Akbar Agha

Akbar Agha earned an Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois and is a Statistical Analyst at Grainger.

Akbar enjoys amateur car road racing, doing do it yourself projects with Arduinos and enjoys Salsa dancing. He has changed careers three times since he graduated in 2014 but his mechanical engineering degree has empowered him to pretty much do anything he wanted. For statistical analysis you need to know how to apply math and he had to do some self education beyond the mechanical engineering degree to be qualified. If he had to go back to college knowing what he knows now he would have leaned towards electrical or computer science.

He recommends getting some programming experience in high school and in college figure out how to work well with people.

Best advice is that everyone’s advice is biased to their own situation, there is no right answer, listen to what they have to say and pick it apart and apply it to your situation and a personal habit for success is exercise and a healthy diet.

H Recommends Evernote for note taking and the book he recommends is “Dreams of My Father” by former President Barack Obama.

Parting guidance is don’t define your goals by what others around you expect of you define them as what makes the most sense to you.

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43: Architectural and Structural Engineer – Jacob Bolda

Jacob Bolda earned an Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering and a Masters of Engineering in Structural Engineering from The Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) and is currently working at CSD in Milwaukee, WI.

Architectural Engineering will cover all the pieces that go into actually building the building and Civil Engineers tend to do more of the building site preparation. Structural engineering, at it’s core, revolves around making sure the building stays up.

To get through college, Jacob says you need to figure out during high school how you learn and also make sure to nurture your network and give value to those around you without expecting anything in return.

Jacob is also involved with “The AEC Collective”. The AEC Collective is a community for the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction fields.

Jacob recommends Asana for a to-do list and recommends the book “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss.

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42: Energy Storage Engineer (Electrical Engineer) – Neil Pineda

Neil Pineda earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and a Minor in Math from the University of Illinois and works as an Energy Storage Engineer at E.ON focused on Lithium Ion batteries for energy storage on the power grid. He notes that if really interested in battery design, a degree in Material Science would be valuable and possibly a PHD.

While looking for an internship during college, it took a lot of resiliency, but once you get that first internships, the follow on ones get a bit easier since you already have experience. What helps is to get involved with clubs at school.

His best advice was to fail fast and fail early and there is no such thing as too much math!

The book that Neil recommends is “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan.

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41: Civil Site Engineer with Expertise in Storm Water – Mark Koegel

Mark Koegel earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and works as consultant engineer for Kleinfelder.

He works as a Civil Site Engineer with an expertise in storm water and spends about 25% of his time out of the office in the field and focused now on Business Development.

Mark is really fired up about the ASCE Grand-Challenge and is open to anyone.

I loved Mark’s Ah-Ha moment talking to a complete stranger in the airport that changed his mindset, “The past is the past you can make your own outcome” and some advice is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and just try.

His favorite book is the “the Caine Mutiny” by Herman Wouk.

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40: Mixed Signal Integrated Circuit Architect – Luke Beno

Luke Beno earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech and is currently a Mixed Signal ASIC/IC Architect for Triad Semiconductor. Prior to Triad, he worked at GE Healthcare in the X-ray group and also at Plexus Technology Group.

Luke’s area of expertise is in RF design and discuss the differences between digital and analog.

To be successful in college you need to exercise discipline and balance, by balancing studying and non-studying activities as you need to take time to recharge.

In work as well as in your life, you need to have a high level of integrity and a sense of humility and the best advice is to be smart and run with scissors.

His favorite application is Wikipedia and the book recommended is “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman.

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39: Nuclear Engineer Focused On Nuclear Power Plants – Drew Nigh

Drew Nigh, (if you have questions for Drew, please connect with him on linked in) earned a bachelor and masters degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently a Risk Management Engineer at Jensen Hughes.

Drew focused on the power side,nuclear reactor design which has a heavy mechanical focus, and some other areas that you can pursue with nuclear engineering are medical applications as well as the biological side looking at the affects of radiation on the body.

He notes that you don’t have to be too concerned about what exactly you are going to school for, you can always adjust and even transfer schools.

Some advice is to just say thank you for any feedback and look at the feedback in a positive way.

The book he’s currently enjoying is “Think Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman.

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38: General Engineering, Art and Innovator at Ford – Victoria Schein

Victoria Schein earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering from Smith College and is currently a Design engineer and innovator at Ford Motor Company and is also heavily involved with Girls Who Code.

Victoria also has a strong background in Art and at Ford has 40+ patents. Her expertise is in innovation and really enjoyed the small class sizes at Smith College and appreciated the ability to focus her school projects into areas that interested her.

Autonomous vehicles really has her fired up being on the forefront of designing the next generation vehicles.

She mentions multiple times the importance of having a strong network along with mentors and her mom provided her the best advice “Do not settle for less and you only get what you settle for”.
She attributes staying organized as a habit that contributes to her success.

She really enjoys Ted Talks and the book she recommends is “The Start Up Of You” by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha.

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37: Civil Engineer Specializing in Remediation – Ken Mika

Ken Mika earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and a masters in Engineering Management also from UW-Platteville and is currently an Operations Manager at O’Brien & Gere.

Ken provides a great overview of Civil Engineering career options and also talks a bit about research areas. He really likes that there are no typical days, every day is different and there is a mix of being in the field and also in the office.

During college you will take classes that you may never use after graduation but it teaches you how to just work through it and furthermore the text books tend to be black and white and you need to learn how to apply that knowledge to the real world.

Some really great advice is:
It does matter if if you make mistakes, you will make mistakes, it is how you rebound and learn form those mistakes that matters most.

Ken also received the “Young Engineer of the Year” award from STEM Forward

Favorite Book:
“Who Moved my Cheese” by Spencer Johnson

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36: Mechanical Engineer in Manufacturing at Tesla – Kenton Harris

Kenton Harris earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia and is currently a Senior Manufacturing Engineer at Tesla. He started out in mechanical packaging and then went to work at a start up on a blimp design for the Air Force – but never was built. He really wanted to see his designs make it into production.

With his mechanical engineering background he helps out a lot with Design for Manufacturability (DFM) whereas an industrial engineer would be more involved in setting up the manufacturing flow. His expertise is in specifying a process to create a product and how to properly test the results and is really excited about robotics and automaton.

Some really great advice is:
“hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard!”
and in print on his wall 11 words to keep him focused
“One thing at a time, most important thing now, start now”.

Some websites he really enjoys: “iFixit” and “Adafruit” and “How it’s Made” – You Tube Channel.

Favorite Book: “Manufacturing Process for Design Professionals” by Rob Thompson.

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35: Mechanical Engineer and Project Manager in HVAC – Megan Schulze

Megan Schulze earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly and a Masters of Science in Management from Colorado State University Global Campus and currently works as a Project Manager at Dewberry and is an active member in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

She started out working in a nuclear plant and gained interest in the area of saving energy and also realized that every project needs a project manager. She currently specializes in heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC). As a consultant and project manager Megan spends a lot of time in the field, which she really enjoys.

Today she is really fired up about energy efficiency, saving resources and likes that she is helping the community and directly helping people every day by making them comfortable.

At the age of 22 she was let go from her job at that time and took that as a failure; her ah-ha moment was she realized that it was a failure of the company and the role she was in no longer existed. Megan also realized the power of a solid network – she was able to utilize her network to secure another position.

In college you need to take care of your self – take study breaks and exercise to re-energize your self for these challenging curriculums.

Her favorite book is “A Writers Reference” by Dianna Hacker

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34: Electrical Engineer Working on Drones at GoogleX – John FitzSimons

John FitzSimons earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering (EE) from Purdue University and has worked at Motorola, Northrop Grumman and now currently at GoogleX working on drones.

At Motorola John helped design cell phones starting out in battery charging, moving into display technology, and then into high speed processor design. Jon then moved to Northrop Grumman designing Electronic Warfare (EW) equipment. His expertise is high speed processing and then interfacing that processing power to the outside world. At GoogleX working on drones, while is pilots license is not 100% applicable, he says it has helped. Outside of work he has done some glass blowing and metal work which has been quite interesting.

John provides advice that college is a place where you should try to take in as many experiences as you can and you need to take time during the day to re-charge.

John’s recommended book is “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” by Richard P. Feynman

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33: Manufacturing Aircraft Engines and SWE President – Jonna Gerken

Jonna Gerken earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Management Engineering and an MBA in Technology Development from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and currently works at Pratt & Whitney managing manufacturing engineers.

She indicates that in the aviation environment they have to design and manufacture engine parts that can be built at high volumes greater than 100,000 and for 40+ years. There is a strong push to 3-D printing, but not all parts lend themselves to that technology.

For manufacturing engineers many have come in through mechanical and aerospace engineering as well as industrial engineering – the key is problem solving. She is fired up about all the new technology in the manufacturing area and making parts out of materials that did not exist until recently.

There is also a myth out there that all engineers are really good at math and science. There are many engineers that were challenged by math and science but worked hard at it an therefore became successful – the key is to work hard and have the proper mindset.

One of Jonna’s habits that helps her be successful is to be organized.

Jonna’s favorite phone apps is Venmo – payment app and her recommend book is “How we get to Now” by Steven Johnson. This is available on Audible and you can get a free book from Audible at www.stemonfirebook.com and can cancel within 30 days and keep the book of your choice.
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32: Electrical and Software Engineer – Jon Butzine

Jon Butzine earned a Bachelor of Science degree in both Electrical and Software Engineering from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and a Masters in Healthcare Technologies Management from Marquette University.

The knowledge of both Electrical and Computer Science has allowed him to span the breadth from Enterprise systems to embedded systems which has allowed him to work on many different programs, and of course you will always be working in teams.

He is really fired up about Biological Engineering and the quantified self which also beings in the connected world, the Internet of Things (IoT).

When he learns a new subject, he takes the approach that he will be teaching it to someone else and says in college make sure you learn the material to actually gain the knowledge vs simply to pass a test.

One of his favorite internet resources is the Radio Lab Podcast.

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31: Civil Engineer involved in Leadership and Sales – Dayna Johnson

Dayna Johnson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and a Masters of Engineering Management Degree from Valparaiso University and is currently working at GE Energy and part of the Accelerated Leadership Program (XLP). She is also heavily involved in the Society of Women Engineers SWE as Director of Achievement.

Dayna is involved in the sales process at GE energy and is really fired up about renewable power and her interest in Civil Engineering stemmed from a field trip where she was able to see how a sewage plant worked, and decided that was her path, and yes she does like rabbits!

In college she recommends finding a smart roommate and to become friends with others in your same major so when you have to do group projects, you know those whom would make good partners. Also in college she would encourage you to obtain some leadership skills, like being an officer in a club or society, like SWE. In your career she says to stay flexible so you can take opportunities that come your way.

Her favorite phone app is Audible and her recommended book is “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni.

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30: Chemical Engineering with Environmental Emphasis – Kerrie Greenfelder

Kerrie Greenfelder earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering with an Environmental Emphasis from the University of Kansas and currently is a Department Manger at Burns & McDonnell.

The foundation in Chemical Engineering allows her to work on the chemistry and biological side of water. She works a lot with cities and municipalities to help them solve water waste challenges and you guessed it, she is fired up about water and how she is able to apply new technologies for clean water generation and reclamation.

In high school she did not have to study much, but in college it was a different story, after getting behind a bit she realized she needed to read the text books and STUDY, STUDY, STUDY. Kerrie also recommends taking the technical writing course(s) as you will need the ability to convey technical information clearly.

As a hiring manager she of course will look at your grades but also at your involvement out side of school, community involvement and leadership in organization.

Her favorite book is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

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29: Actuary, Predictive Analytics, Hit Show Survivor – Christine Hofbeck

Christine Hofbeck earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Business Administration from MIT. She has been a pioneer in the area predictive analytics and holds an FSA status from the Society of Actuaries. She has held various executive level positions and was one of the last two standing on the hit CBS show, Survivor.

In this episode Christine describes the different types of actuarial positions and an overview of what actuaries may do on a daily basis. She is fired up on how predictive analytics can be used as well as artificial intelligence in the actuarial profession but you need to keep ethics in mind, just because it can be done, is it ethical?

Some great advice is to work really hard early in your career and it will pay off in the end and that relationships are very important.

Christine’s recommended book is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

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28: Data Scientist – Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning – Kyle Ambert

Kyle Ambert earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a PHD in Bioinformatics and is currently a senior research scientist in deep learning. His work integrates the fields of distributed computing, machine learning/deep learning, and applied analytics.

Kyle touches on the differences between deep learning (his focus) and machine learning. This requires a very good knowledge in mathematical modeling and if interested in this field a good understanding of differential equations, linear algebra, and statistics would be needed.

He is really excited about all the opportunities for artificial intelligence in the healthcare field.

Kyle’s recommended book is Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

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27: Civil and Architectural Engineer in Transportation – Ebtesam Hazbavi

Ebtesam (Eb) Hazbavi has an Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering from Azad University and a Masters in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is currently working in Transportation for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Eb touches on the different career options for Civil and Architectural Engineering and indicates that team work is very important. She is fired up on how technology is going to change transportation, especially with autonomous vehicles.

She talks about how every choice has an impact on your life so you need to think about those choices and that every day brings new opportunities.

Her recommended book is “Who Moved my Cheese” by Spencer Johnson.

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26: Chemical Engineer with a great varied career – Murthy Munagavalasa

Murthy Munagavalasa has a PHD degree in Chemical Engineering which he earned while working at SC Johnson. What is interesting is that Murthy was scared of Chemistry but comfortable with Math and Physics. It turns out the Chemical Engineering is more about math than chemistry.

While working at SC Johnson, he has had the opportunity to work with many customers and his ah-ha moments have come when what he thought would be a great prototype ended up not going over very well, and prototypes that he thought were not that great got great acceptance by the customers. – Always involve your customers during product development!

Back when Murthy was heading off to college, he really wish he had a mentor to help him figure out what was important and what was not.

Some advice while in your career is to take on projects that are critical to the companies success and you should always spread positivity.

He recommends listening to Ted talks and you should write a personal mission statement and review regularly to make sure what you are doing aligns with what is important.

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25: iOS App Developer and Electrical Engineer – Tom Ganley

Tom Ganley earned an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State and a masters in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and recently completed an iOS app development course at DevMountain. He is currently a Senior iOS app developer at Move, Inc.

While a 4 year undergraduate degree is not required, you could go from high school to a coding bootcamp, Tom feels that the 4 year degree is very valuable.

He likes to start his day reading blogs to learn something new as technology is every changing. From his point of view, the future is in augmented reality, overlaying images on top of live images.

To launch into college successfully, he highly recommends truly understanding the concepts it will make future courses much easier that continue to build on the early concepts.

Best advice? You don’t need to be an expert in everything, ask questions in the areas you are not the expert in.

Favorite app is “Medium” and book is “Think Like a Freak”

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24: Chemical Engineer in Manufacturing – Jennifer Morikawa

Jennifer Morikawa earned a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Michigan and a Masters Degree in Interdisciplinary Engineering from Purdue University. She currently works at General Motors (GM) in Manufacturing.

She chose Chemical Engineering over a Chemistry degree as she wanted to see things being manufactured and created. Being in the production area, she gets to interact with many people and is always working with new technology.

An Ah-ha moment she had was when she heard that work life balance is a myth it is really work life integration. Some advice for students starting out in college is to get a solid foot hold that first semester and then start getting involved with activities and take on some leadership roles.

If you are in high school or younger you get get involved with SWE Next.

Also remember, you CAN have it all, just not all at once!
Engineering needs all types, get those experiences and share them with the world.

A good book is Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Jennifer also recommends to utilize Get Abstract.

you can get free from Audible at www.stemonfirebook.com and can cancel within 30 days and keep the book of your choice.
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23: PHD Mechanical Engineering and New Product Manager – Aroon Viswanathan

Aroon Viswanathan has a PHD in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin Madison. He is currently a Manager of New Product Development at Generac.

He started out working in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) where you can simulate very complex models like explosions and fluid flow for aircraft design. Outside of the traditional mechanical design some other fields of mechanical engineering are Materials Engineering and Fluid Mechanics.

What he likes about engineering is if you have an idea, you can realize that idea, if that sounds interesting to you then engineering could be a great path for you. He believes learning about programming is important, not to the level of a Computer Engineer or Software Engineer but you need to understand the concepts of what it is capable of as it will be controlling your mechanical system.

In new product development, you need to understand what your customer really wants so you design a product that will be valuable in the market place.

An ah-ha moment? When he was introduced to SWOT analysis which is your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and recommends you perform one on yourself.

Best piece of advice: Don’t limit yourself.

A phone app is Scholly to help find scholarships for college.

Book recommendation is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey which you can get free from Audible at www.stemonfirebook.com
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22: PHD Physics Student Doing Research with Graphene – Kathryn McGill

Kathryn McGill is a PHD student at Cornell University and currently doing research in Condensed Matter (a liquid or solid) vs Particle Physic. She has been focusing on graphene which is a 1 atom thick conductive material.

Depending on the phase of the research she will either be working in a clean room wearing a bunny suit, building up the experimental apparatus and taking data, or writing the results in a research paper.

She is really excited about teaching and nano-submarines which can be deployed in your bloodstream – still a work in progress.

Her best piece of advice is to get a good night sleep, that is so important and also to be self aware/mindfulness.

A phone app to help gamify your task list and goals is Habitica.

Book recommendation is Honeybee Democracy by Thomas D. Seeley

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21: Micro Grid Power Engineer, PHD in Electrical Engineering – Kaitlyn Bunker

Kaitlyn Bunker earned a PHD in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech University and currently works at the Rocky Mountain Institute in Boulder Colorado. She is an active member in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

She focuses her work in Power and Energy specifically in the micro grid and renewable resources area doing a lot of work with the Caribbean Islands and is really fired up about transforming the power grid.

While studying to take her exam for her advanced degree, she realized that while it is important to prepare and worry a bit about it, you should not place undue stress on yourself or panic.

A recommendation for students heading off to college is to get involved with student organizations, it is a great way to practice leadership skills in a safe environment and then you can leverage those skills in your career.

A phone app recommended by Kaitlyn is Asana and a book recommendation is Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Don’t forget to get a free audio book like “How to win friends and influence people” from Audible at www.stemonfirebook.com
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20: Entrepreneur, Physics, Computer Science & Math – Kevin Crenshaw

Kevin Crenshaw earned a Physics degree and a minor in Computer Science and Math and is now an entrepreneur, CEO, and Author of Neverboss. He is a leadership coach for hands off leadership.

He says that because Physics Majors are not afraid to tackle very tough problems they are actually in demand in the financial world where solving problems with math is the norm. One thing to note about STEM careers is that it is not about learning a bunch of facts and figures, it is about training the mind to think so you can solve any type of problem.

You always need to be aware of and watch for opportunities and be able to seize them by being flexible, adaptable, and agile.

When solving problems, the most interesting problems are about people, and you want to be a catalyst for others.

Advice for high schoolers:
1) Always focus on the principles as they never change
2) Train your brain – just read articles
3) Get a job and learn how to work

Advice for launching into your career:
1) Be teachable and be humble
2) Take initiative – don’t wait to be told
3) Be agile – does not need to be perfect, get it out an prefect it quickly

Best advice Kevin ever received: People do things for good reasons, so always carefully clarify before you reach a negative conclusion.

Recommended book “How to win friends and influence people” – Dale Carnegie (available on Audible)

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19: Computer and Robotics Embedded Software Engineer – John Pratt

John Pratt earned a Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Originally thinking of going a pure Electrical Engineering hardware route and working on audio hardware his Play Station stopped working and he tore it apart and fixed it and realized he really enjoyed doing that which drove him towards the Computer Engineering path.

Now working on embedded software for robotic vision, he really enjoys it because with embedded software there are many constraints, such as the processing power and memory size that makes designing those systems fun and challenging. He spends a lot of time in the lab connected to the hardware during development and recommends that when you do your designs, you design them for the long haul. The software you design will live for a long time, so take care to document, make it readable and maintainable.

John also recommends that you find something in your field to play with to help bridge the theory you learn in college to the practical application side but be careful not to chase to many cool ideas as you are also defined by the things you do not do. Find one thing and learn it well. He enjoys reading C|net and recommends the book “America the Ingenious” by Kevin Baker

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18: Chemical Engineer Working on an Off Shore Rig – David Hughes

David Hughes earned his Bachelors Degree in Chemical Engineering from Penn State. He had no idea what he wanted to pursue in college and was debating between business and engineering. David determined that it would be difficult to go into engineering with a business degree but could go into business with an engineering degree, so he chose engineering.

He highly recommends getting as many internships, co-ops, and studying abroad even if it takes more than 4 years to get through college.

He sees protein engineering as growth field for Chemical Engineering and has many friends in this area. Also, Chemical Engineering is much more math focused that it is Chemical focused, you essentially take an output from a chemist and create a process on a vary large scale.

Book recommendations:
“The Prize” by Daniel Yergin
“The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

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17: ASCE (Civil Engineering) President and Las Vegas Program Manager – Kristina Swallow

Kristina Swallow earned an Undergraduate Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Arizona and a Masters Degree from UNLV (University of Nevada Las Vegas). She is currently the American Society of Civil Engineers president and a Program Manager for the city of Las Vegas, Nevada. She has also run her own company and was a Lead Transportation Policy Adviser for a Senator in Washington D.C. where she helped shape legislation.

Civil Engineering can have many different paths; support community development, manage water resources, create building structures, develop transportation strategies, or be on the operational and maintenance side.

For many Civil Engineering positions, a Masters degree will be very helpful and in many cases required. One must always remember that engineers are taught to solve problems however Civil Engineering is a people serving profession, so you need to make sure you are solving the right problem.

Kristina recommends staying on top of everything in college, you cannot afford to get behind, and be sure to get plenty of sleep. You should get involved not only with your professional societies like ASCE, but also try to broaden your interests. Her best advice is to just say, YES, and to always be reading.

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16: Power and Computer Engineer Focused on Smart Grid – Salam Bani-Ahmed

Salam received his undergraduate and masters degrees in Computer Engineering while growing up in Jordan and is finishing up his Electrical Engineering PHD at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee focusing on Power Engineering and the Micro Grid / Renewable Energy.

He values the PHD aspect to his education as the PHD helps with problem solving techniques; you have to train your brain to solve problems. It is also important to get involved with industry/companies during college so when you graduate you have the theory along with the practical implementation side.

Back when Salam was heading off to college, he wishes he would have spent more time on the basics like physics, chemistry, and math. He also recommends that you surround yourself with people you look up to or want to aspire to and also you should never wait until the last minute, time management is so important.

The best advice came from his father who said you should not get angry, always count to 10 (or better yet 11) before responding. His father also taught Salam how to read the dictionary and still does today! At some point you will hit a bottom, that will simply force you to work harder.

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15: Geotechnical/Civil Engineer – Passion from being in Earthquake at 13 – Menzer Pehlivan

Menzer Pehlivan, whose passion came when she experienced an earthquake at age 13, earned a PHD in Civil Engineering in 2013 from the University of Texas at Austin with a focus in Geotechnical Engineering and is currently a Geotechnical Engineer at CH2M.

Civil Engineering has 6 types of Majors; Structural, Geotechnical, Transportation, Hydro-logical, and Construction Engineering. A Geotechnical Engineer specializes in Earthquake engineering/ground motion and a masters degree will be very useful vs simply a 4 year undergraduate degree. What is exciting about Geotechnical engineering is that every project is different as you need to make sure that every building will stand up and the ground is always different.

Menzer notes that engineering is all about solving problems and there is always A way!
She was questioned by her high school teacher why a girl would want to be an engineer, but her grandfather who believed in her said to go for it! When you believe you can do it, then do it!! and there will be many times you will doubt yourself, so find that one person who believes in you to bring you up when you are doubting.

Menzer was also involved with the IMAX movie Dream Big.

Recommended book is “Talent Is Overated” By Geoffrey Colvin.

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14: Data Scientist: Math focused Economics Major – Nathan Braun

Nathan Braun graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with an Economics Degree with a Math Emphasis. He is currently a Data Scientist at CoreLogic and runs a Fantasy Football Analytics website called Fantasy Math Fantasymath.
Data Science is a blend of Math, Statistics, Computer Science, and Business and there are 3 types of data scientists:
1) Modeler: Predictive analytics and Machine Learning.
2) General Data Analyst: Describes the data and makes it visual for business analysis.
3) Data Engineer: Designs the injest engines for acquiring the data in large servers.

Many data scientist pick up the programming aspect, and many programmers pick up the analytics aspect.

Recommended book is “Principles” By Ray Dalio

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13: Mechanical Engineer Running a Test Cell at John Deere – Jordan Porter

Jordan Porter graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a Mechanical Engineering degree and runs a test cell for diesel engines at John Deere. In his test cell, he can simulate the engine being run in pretty much any location around the world.

In high school he doubled up on math his freshman year and took 6 math classes in high school to help prepare for college. In college he co-oped and interned at multiple companies including John Deere,

He feels people skills are very important and enjoys getting paid to learn, fix, and break things. He says you have to learn to persevere as there will be many times the solution will be elusive and do not be afraid to ask questions. It is very important to pay attention to details but you do not need to be perfect. Some advice he received from senior management is to become an expert is some discipline!

Jordan recommends joining organizations like the society of automotive engineers: SOA

Recommended book by Jordan:
“The Power of Habit” – Charles Duhigg

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12: Mechanical Engineer and MBA – Design to Program Management – Gregg Eberhardt

Gregg Eberhardt graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree and obtained a Masters in Business Degree from Marquette University. He started out as a process engineer in lean manufacturing and has also done design engineering and then moved into product management and program management. He believes you need to be a life long learner and is fired up about data analytics.

You should become self aware of what your talents are, that is very important, and you need to be persistent as you will run into obstacles no matter how good you are. He is also a 3 time Iron Man Finisher!

The two books Gregg recommends is the “Bible” and “Skunks Works” by Ben R. Rich

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11: RF Engineer/Electrical Engineer with Biomedical Emphasis-Amanda Emrich

Amanda Emrich graduated from Northern Illinois University with an Electrical Engineering degree with an emphasis in Biomedical and is now an RF (Radio Frequency) Engineer working on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Equipment. She actually has a teaching degree as well, and went back to school for engineering.

During her undergraduate degree she focused on antenna theory but on the job is where she was able to bridge the gap between theory and how to apply to practical problems. Amanda recommends that you always explore new opportunities, join organizations in college, attend career fairs, attend conferences, and volunteer at STEM events.

if interested in RF engineering check out microwaves101

For women pursuing engineering, Amanda recommends joining the Society of Women Engineers: SWE

Recommended book by Amanda:
“Microwave Engineering” – David M. Pozar

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10: Software Focused Electrical Engineer and Project Manager – Teresa Hutton

Teresa Hutton graduated with a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Marquette University and started out with an interest in image processing and was able to apply software techniques to implement electrical engineering concepts. Through the course of her career, she needed to make a decision whether to stay in the engineering role or move into project management. She decided she liked working with teams and enjoys making them as productive as possible and moved into program management role. She’s now a SCRUM team master/leader for a Server User Interface team which is almost a 180 degree change from the embedded software side she started out in.

When looking for new people for her team, she looks for individuals that are life long learners and and able learn new things. She has been able to leverage her participation in Toastmasters to help convey her messages effectively.

Parting piece of guidance is you have more potential than you can ever imagine!

Recommended books by Teresa:
“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – Stephen R. Covey
“Game Storming” – Dave Gray
“Turn the Ship Around” – L. David Marquet
“Neverboss” – Kevin Crenshaw

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9: Industrial and Systems Engineer focused on Data Analytics – Brett Bodenburg

Brett Bodenburg graduated with an Industrial and Systems Engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison and is pursuing a master degree in Computing from Marquette University. He notes that you will not find a lot of jobs simply called Industrial, they are typically under the heading of Data Analytics, Data Scientist, or Data Engineers. If you like Business and Engineering Industrial and Systems engineering mixes business with engineering. You can tune your industrial degree during your last 2 years of school, Brett chose to focus on the quantitative approach with data modeling. What is important on the job is to be able to take the data collected and translate it into business sense and be a good story teller to be able to explain the story the data is showing.

Brett indicates that starting out in the STEM field can be intimidating and you don’t need to consider yourself a genius, just put in the work to get through.

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8: Chemical Engineering / President of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers – Bond Calloway

Bond Calloway earned his Chemical Engineering degree in 1984 from Auburn University. He has enjoyed a 30+ year career at the Savannah River National Laboratory most recently as the Associated Laboratory Director of Clean Energy Research. The national laboratories perform research in areas such as solar energy, electrical grid, nuclear fuel, and fusion energy. Most chemical engineers will start out in plant support or possibly product design but the career options are vast, you can move into sales or the financial world to name a few. You have heard about Artificial Intelligence and Neural Networks, Bond actually applied these techniques to chemical engineering before they were household terms.

As a freshman in college, he recommends picking up something new, as you simply do not realize the opportunities available to you and you should also learn how to present in front of people, the soft skills.

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7: Actuarial Science / President of the Society of Actuaries – Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown has a Math degree and pursued Actuarial Science by taking the Actuarial Tests and is now the President of the Society of Actuaries (SOA). You can now attend schools that are Centers of Excellence for actuary that provide classes designed to teach you the material you need to pass the first handful of actuary tests.

Jerry’s expertise is in investments and risk management and was the chief actuary at multiple companies. He states that you can make a lot of money and have fun doing it if you are willing to put in the work. Jerry is excited about predictive analytics and recommends regardless of you STEM degree to have some computer skills. The people that sit on the sidelines and complain at work will not be successful and you should try to get a varied education and be open to opportunities that come your way.

If interested in Actuarial Science check out the following link www.beanactuary.com
be an actuary

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6: Environmental/Civil Engineer – Mythbusters The Search – PHD Tracy Fanara

Tracy Fanara (Dr. Tre) PHD in Environmental Engineering and star of Mythbusters the Search talks about what Environmental Engineers do and insights into being successful. Inspector Planet A BS in Environmental/Civil as all that is required to get a job after graduation and believes if you go the non-engineering route, you need at least a masters. At most schools now Environmental and Civil engineering are combined as there is a lot of crossover and as far as a typical workday for a research scientist, well there is non which keeps the job exciting!

She recommends that you allow yourself a path and journey through college and always follow your passion and be creative with it.

Tracy likes the engineering route as the classes teach you how to finish the challenging classes and is definitely worth it to spend nights studying, the classes can be very difficult!

Some advice is to never hesitate to ask questions and very key for your first job; intern, co-op, full time is that perception is reality.

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5: IEEE President/CEO – Electronics Engineering – Karen Bartleson

Karen Bartleson is the IEEE CEO and President with a long history at Synopsys, an Electronic Design Automation company. She has a BS degree in Engineering Science with and emphasis in Electronic Engineering. Her original intent was to pursue Biomedical engineering but was too new of a field so she studied many disciplines. Her career started as a software engineer and worked into modeling transistors for simulation used in Integrated Circuit (IC) design. A strong belief is the advancing of technology for the benefit of humanity and she is really fired up about Ethics in technology, especially with a lot of artificial intelligence (AI) coming our way. A paper brought up during the discussion was Ethically Aligned Design: Ethics
Karen says, never pass over opportunities and you need courage to get through college.
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4: VP of Engineering – Joe Pfaff – Electrical Engineer and Masters in Business

Joe Pfaff is the VP of engineering for off road vehicles at Husco International. He has an Electrical Engineering Degree and an MBA (Masters of Business Administration). Multi-domain fluency is key, and those engineers that can cross over between mechanical, electrical, and software very valuable. Disruption of whole industries are being taken over by the digital domain, that is firing Joe up. Joe also talks about an Ah-ha moment where they decided to quit complaining and just figure out how to do it! Also find out about the 4 C’s; Creativity, Capability, Communication and Collaboration and always be humble so you and your team can find the best solution.
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3: Biomedical Engineering – Kayla Carter engineering and track

Kayla Carter is a Biomedical Engineer who balanced a track scholarship and engineering through college and talks about how it is important to fully utilize your support network.

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2: Computer Engineering – Aaron Hartwig a recent computer engineering graduate

Aaron Hartwig is a recent Computer Engineering graduate working at GE Healthcare in the Computed Tomography (CT) Group doing Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) design using the VHDL language. Aaron did not write any code until college but found his passion through various courses in college.

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