Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Samuel Frommer


Name:Samuel Frommer

Occupation: Urban Planner

Education (UR and additional): BS (Chemical Engineering), University of Rochester, 2007; MUP (Urban Planning) CUNY Hunter, 2013

Current city/state of residence: Brooklyn, NY


When and how did you choose your major?

I started at UR with the intention of studying biomedical engineering, but after the first semester I switched to chemical engineering because I realized that I was more interested in environmental and energy issues than medical ones.

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

While at UR I had worked on a campaign to make the new engineering building (what is now Goergen Hall) a green building.  It was a really interesting project and by the time I finished my Take Five I knew that that’s what I wanted to do.  I moved to New York City where I was fortunate enough to get a job as a green building consultant.

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

I am an urban planner and the senior designer at Sam Schwartz Engineering, a transportation consulting firm based in Manhattan.  I work primarily on bicycle and pedestrian projects, doing a lot of analytical mapping, community outreach, and graphic design.  It’s a really amazing job for me because I get to marry my love of quantitative analysis with graphic communications.  I chose this career because I believe that people should have transportation choices that improve urban life and help to mitigate the impacts of 20th Century auto-centric planning.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

Basic engineering skills, like analytical thinking and being able to communicate complicated ideas, are fundamental and translate well to any job.  It may sound simple, but employers are impressed by an engineering degree, especially in fields that engineers don’t normally work in.  Having that education has definitely been an advantage, especially when you come out of college with nominal work experience.

What advice do you have for current students?

Just because you are an engineering student does not mean that you can’t study abroad.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  With some planning and maybe a course overload, it is entirely possible to get the invaluable experience of living in another country, and even learn a new language.