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.

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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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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1: Mechanical Engineering – Mike Gilling a recent mechanical engineering graduate.

Mike Gilling is a recent a Mechanical Engineer working at Husco International in hydraulic design. Mike provides insights on getting through college and what attributes are needed to be successful in college and launching your career.
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0: Introduction to the “STEM on FIRE” Podcast

Episode 0 provides a background of myself (Jeff Nigh), why I created the podcast and an overview of the podcast flow.
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