The Buzz

Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Katie Schwertz

Name: Katie Schwertz
Age: 26
Education (UR and additional): B.S. in Optics, University of Rochester, 2008; M.S. in Optical Sciences, University of Arizona.
Current city/state of residence: Tucson, AZ
Job Title: Design Engineer
Employer:  Edmund Optics


When and how did you choose your major?

I started at UR with the intention of doing statistics and decided to take Optics 101 as an elective after hearing about the field of Optics from an upper classman in the program because it sounded pretty cool. After learning about all the cool effects in nature that can be explained by optics and all the applications and fields that rely on optics technology, I decided to stick around.  Wayne Knox was a pretty fun person to learn from!

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I spent the summer after graduation traveling and relaxing (and going broke…) before I started the Master’s program in Optics at UA. I had a tough time deciding whether to go find a full time job or continue school, but in the end, I decided I wanted to solidify my technical knowledge more and take the opportunity to live someplace different and explore different areas of optics.

What do you do now, and why did you choose this career?

I currently do opto-mechanical design for Edmund Optics. In grad school, I focused on opto-mechanics since I thought it was an interesting cross-discipline, and there weren’t a lot of people in that field. I find design work challenging, but very rewarding, especially since I get to see some of the products I work on being used by customers and in our labs.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

I don’t know if I do… it’s not easy! I love my job, but I try to make sure my job is not my entire life. I keep up on hobbies outside of work and try different activities when the opportunities come up.

How are you still connected with the University?

The company I work for recruits from the University of Rochester, so I’ve had the opportunity to come back to campus a few times and meet current students in Optics. Also, I try to keep up reading the Rochester Review and any alumni emails that go out. I run into a lot of alumni as well at different industry shows, so it’s nice to keep up with other alums and see what they’re up to.


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