Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Dan Gray
Name: Dan Gray
Education (UR and additional): B.S. in Optics, University of Rochester, 2002. M.S. in Optics, University of Rochester, 2003. Ph.D in Optics, University of Rochester, 2007.
Current city/state of residence: Niskayuna, NY
Job Title: Lead Optical Engineer
Employer: GE Global Research
Family: Wife and one son
When and how did you choose your major?
I chose my major at the end of my freshman year. In that year I took several types of engineering courses, one included an overview of optics. Through talking to older friends who were in the optics program at Rochester and seeing some of the hands-on lab work they were doing I decided to enter the program. Even in my junior year I questioned the choice to study optics but I’m certainly glad I stuck with it, as I find it a very fulfilling field to work in.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
After I finished my undergraduate degree in optics, I entered the PhD program at the University of Rochester. Initially I had only planned to get a only Master’s degree, but once I discovered the depth and exciting research opportunities at the Institute of Optics I decided to stay on for the full PhD. An additional factor that influenced my decision was the economic down turn from telecom bubble.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
I am an optical engineer in the Applied Optics Lab at General Electric Global Research. I work on research and development for short and long term product development in several different optical fields. I particularly enjoy this type of work because of the balance between academic style research and industrial product development.
How do you balance your work and personal life?
The balance between work and personal life can vary depending on your personal life status as well as specific demands in the workplace. My approach is to remain flexible and to make sure both aspects are fulfilled.
What advice do you have for current students?
My advice is to take every opportunity in your undergraduate experience to explore different career options. Industry, academic, or national laboratory summer internships are especially valuable, as well as opportunities to study or work abroad.