Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Matt Herron
Name: Matt Herron
Occupation: Engineer, FBI
Education (UR and additional): B.S. / M.S. in Chemical Engineering, University of Rochester, 2002.
Current city/state of residence: Chicago, IL
Community activities: playing sports, going to church, fighting crime, crushing evil.
Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?
I thought Chemical Engineering sounded like a good field to get into and the UofR has a well-regarded program. Additionally, when I visited the campus I liked how friendly it seemed. Possibly though, it was entirely because I was able to play for the hockey team.
When and how did you choose your major?
Tons of people in my family are engineers, so I came to college figuring I’d try it out. I loved Chemistry when I was in high school, and I figured Chemical Engineering sounded like a good way to stay in that field. It wasn’t until after I got to college that I found out that Chemical Engineering is all math and physics. Surprise!
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
I played on the UofR ice hockey team and made good friends there. I loved taking the bus around with the team on weekends to play wherever we happened to be going. I was a TA for a couple of ChE labs and I also was involved in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) where I got to help with some pretty rewarding community outreach with handicapped kids and the Rochester Museum and Science Center.
What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?
The computer lab in Gavett Hall was an amazing resource for wasting lots of time when I should have been working.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
I worked for 6 months for the EPA on a contract with an environmental non-profit. I got into it because it sounded cool and it involved my ChE degree, so I figured I’d get some good experience. After the contract ended I went back to the UofR to get my Masters
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
Now I work for the FBI and only tangentially do anything with ChE. I got into it because it’s rewarding and I do things that make me feel useful and that few other people have the opportunity to do.
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
The process of thinking that you develop as an engineering student; thinking through problems or experiments and coming up with the next logical step to take. I like to use the fact that I have degrees in Chemical Engineering as a tool to get people to think I’m smarter than I might actually be – but I can only play that card when I know there aren’t people around who actually do engineering.
What advice do you have for current students?
Don’t feel like if you don’t enjoy every detail about your major that it’s not the one for you. Come up with something you’d like to be doing after school because it seems like fun, not because it’s what everyone in your major does. Even if your studies aren’t the traditional path to it, there’s always a way to relate them.