Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Julia Cosse

defaultName: Julia Cosse

Occupation: Graduate Student

Education (UR and additional): B.S. (Mechanical Engineering) University of Rochester 2008, M.S. (Aerospace Engineering) California Institute of Technology 2009, M2 (Fluid Mechanics) École Polytechnique (France) 2010, expecting to finish Ph.D. in Aeronautics from California Institute of Technology in 2014.

Current city/state of residence: Pasadena, CA


Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

One of the things that I really liked about the University of Rochester curriculum was the fact that I wasn’t going to be tied down into one discipline. Many universities I was looking at would force you to transfer between colleges inside the university if you wanted to switch from psychology to engineering. Rochester allowed me to study whatever I felt like without having to jump through hoops.

When and how did you choose your major(s)?

When I started at the University of Rochester I was torn between studying psychology and mechanical engineering so I enrolled in introductory courses in both. After my first year I realized that while I found psychology very interesting, engineering was a better fit for me. I’m very happy with the choice I made, and I’m also glad that I had the opportunity to wait on making that choice.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I worked at Todd International Theatre program as the master electrician. As such, I was responsible for the lighting in all of the plays, teaching and leading a group of students in setting up the various light effects for the shows. While this was a lot of work, it taught me a lot about how to organize and lead a group of people in a large-scale project. The theatre also has an incredible group of people that I really enjoyed working with.

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

I started graduate school the fall after I graduated from the University of Rochester. My senior year I applied to graduate schools (in the fall and winter) and attended several of the on campus recruiting events put on by the career center (late winter and spring). During this time I talked to several companies about what sorts of things I would be doing if I were to take a job straight out of undergrad. Ultimately I decided that graduate school would open the doors on opportunities I thought were most interesting (teaching and research).

How do you balance your work and personal life?

To be perfectly honest this is something I still struggle with. There is always a battle between personal and professional obligations, and I haven’t always done a good job of keeping my life balanced. While I certainly could improve this balance, my recent strategy is to avoid working on the weekends. Everyone needs some time for themselves to recuperate, and learning how to allow yourself to take that time is important.

What advice do you have for current Hajim School students about their time on campus, graduate study, or the first few years after college?

One of the best things that I did was getting involved in research early on. I was able to get an internship at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics during the spring term of my sophomore year. Following that, I spent two summers in research labs across the country, which provided me with a better understanding of what graduate school would entail. I think it’s incredibly important to put some thought into your career outside the classroom, and to find a few jobs or internships prior to graduating so that you have some real working experience and a better understanding of what you want to do after graduation.

Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Nicole Ruszczak

ruszczakName: Nicole Ruszczak

Occupation: Medical Student

Education (UR and additional): Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering; Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Current job title: Medical Student

Current city/state of residence: Philadelphia, PA

Community activities: Surgery Club, Volunteer Activities


Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

Because of the biomedical engineering program, and the wide variety of classes offered.  I also really liked the small class sizes.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was very involved with BMES, the Biomedical Engineering Society.  I held a few leadership positions in this club and learned how to delegate tasks as well as how to work together as a member of a team.  It was also a lot of fun to plan social and academic events for my fellow classmates, and to get to know engineering students in other years.  I was also a member of a sorority, and made many close friends that I am still in contact with today.

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

I started medical school at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. I have been interested in medicine since I was a teenager, so choosing to go to medical school was an easy decision for me! I also think that my Biomedical Engineering background helped me make an easy transition to med school.  It made me familiar with a lot of current issues in medicine and basic anatomy, and also helped me develop an excellent work ethic and great study skills.

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

I am currently in my last year of medical school, and am now interviewing for General Surgery residency positions. I will be starting my residency in July.  I really enjoy working with my hands, so being able to operate and see patients is something that is very exciting to me. I also love the technology involved in surgery and am excited to see what new modalities will be developed in the future.  I also think that surgery is a challenging field, and it will push me to continue learning and studying during my entire career.

Where would you like to be in five years?

In 5 years, I will be finishing up my last year of General Surgery residency. I think I will most likely also be applying for a fellowship in Vascular Surgery. I hope to work for a hospital in the New York or Philadelphia area.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

It is very difficult to find time for yourself while in medical school, but it is very important to do so!  My friends and I would plan occasional “study breaks” where we would do something fun – Like go out to dinner, see a movie, or go the gym.  Even though it sounds counterintuitive, I believe that taking these breaks from studying actually helped me do better on exams.  I also spend a lot of time with my boyfriend, who is also in medical school.

Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Michael Peritz

defaultName: Michael Peritz

Occupation: Engineer

Education: BS Chemical Engineering and MS Chemical Engineering both UR

Current job title: Process Engineer

Current employer: Wollaston Alloys, Inc.

Current city/state of residence: Brighton, MA

Family: 1


When and how did you choose your major(s)?

I went with chemical engineering, because I loved chemistry, but did not want to give up math.  That may seem like a weird answer to some people, but it allowed me to learn a lot about the way the world works, and gave me a new perspective on life and on solving problems.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was a part of Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity.  A lot of people perpetuate some negative stereotypes about fraternities, but my experience gave me a lot of skills employers were looking for.  Some of my responsibilities in the various positions I held during my time at SAM came up in interviews and seemed to impress a lot of people.  It was also a great way to make friends, meet a ton of new people, and relieve stress.

What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?

The career center was really helpful.  I had no clue how to write a resume or cover letter and they taught me both.  Several employers I interviewed with commented that my resume looked professional, and that it was one of the reasons they decided to speak with me.  The career center also provides other services like mock interviews which can be very helpful.

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

After graduation, I decided to stay at U of R for a 5th year and participate in the chemical engineering 3-2 program.  It was a great choice for me, because I knew a lot of my friends were having trouble finding jobs, and I knew a Masters degree would help.  They also allow you to circumvent taking the GRE, and give you a big scholarship.  After I finished that program, it took me about 3 months to find a job which is much better than average.

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

I recently accepted a job offer at a high alloy steel castings foundry in Braintree, MA.  I am not 100% sure about what my responsibilities are because I just started, but my role is as a process engineer working on designing and controlling the castings process from a chemical engineering standpoint.  I chose the career because it offers a highly variable, challenging, and extreme environment.  I like working with my hands, so this is perfect.

I would like to be an engineering or operations manager.  This type of job would allow me to make higher impact decisions, while still focusing on engineering and the things I learned and love. 

How do you balance your work and personal life?

In Boston, it’s easy.  There is so much to do, there really isn’t any excuse not to get out there and have a good time.  Most cities have sports teams you can join that are meant for young working people, so they schedule games around work schedules.  I recently joined a basketball league starting next month.

What advice do you have for current Hajim School students about their time on campus, graduate study, or the first few years after college?

This may sound redundant, but study hard.  There are a ton of really competitive candidates out there that have done a lot of interesting and relevant work.  Improving your grades can give you a leg up.  I also recommend getting a crummy job after college (unless you get hired immediately).  I worked in retail for a couple months and it taught me a lot about how to talk to and deal with people.  It also gives you some extra money to pay your rent, groceries, etc.

 

Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Tyler Kieft

kieftName: Tyler Kieft

Age: 25

Occupation: Software Engineer

Education (UR and additional): B.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, 2010 University of Rochester

Current job title: Software Engineer

Current employer: Facebook

Current city/state of residence: San Francisco, CA


When and how did you choose your major(s)?

When I left high school, I thought I wanted to study biology, but I had an internship at IBM the summer before college that made me also very interested in Electrical Engineering. Unable to choose, I decided to take the intro classes for both ECE and BME my first semester. It was soon clear that I enjoyed ECE much more, so I stuck with that. I had also always loved programming, so I opted for a minor in Computer Science as well.

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

Before I graduated, I started working on a startup company in the speech recognition space with a cofounder whom I had met at a job fair. Scholarships I had received at Rochester allowed me to graduate without debt, so I decided to take the risk and pursue that full-time after graduation. I figured if it didn’t work out I’d be only slightly worse-off. It was an awesome ride and I learned more in the two years I was doing that than I could have in any entry-level job.

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

Right now, I work as a Software Engineer at Facebook. I work on their mobile apps. I’ve always loved to code, and I really enjoy making stuff that people will use. Writing software is not just about getting things to work, it’s about coming up with a simple, elegant, fast, functional solution. There’s no other place in the world where I can make products that will be used by as many people as I can at Facebook.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

Since I spend so much time on the computer at work, I try to do things that don’t involve a screen when I get home. Reading, hiking, running, and roaming aimlessly around the city are some of my favorite activities. Two tips: make sure to use the vacation time that you’re given, and don’t be afraid to say “no” if someone asks you to get something done in an unreasonable timeframe. People will respect you if you set boundaries.

What advice do you have for current Hajim School students about their time on campus, graduate study, or the first few years after college?

Don’t spend all of your time in classes. Use the resources of the University – faculty, other students, and extensive labs and library materials – to pursue independent work of some sort. As an engineer, this means you should go build something. Not only will you feel a sense of accomplishment from this endeavor, but you’ll have something that will make you stand out from other candidates when you start looking for jobs. Employers care about what you can do, not just what classes you’ve taken.

Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Sarah Provan

provanName: Sarah Provan

Education (UR and additional): BME class of ‘05

Current job title: ELearning Team Lead

Current employer: Epic

Current city/state of residence: Madison WI

Family: Husband – Alex Provan (Anthropology/Psychology class of ’05), Daughter – Charlotte Provan (Born 9/20/2011)


Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I was interested in the University of Rochester for the strong engineering department, the location, and the volleyball program. I was sold once I visited campus – walking around the quad looking around I realized that the campus was exactly how I’d dreamed a college campus would be.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

One of my favorite activities was actually my work-study program! I was lucky enough to get to work with the athletic training department as a student assistant. While there was certainly many hours of mindless cleaning, I also had a wonderful opportunity to learn. The mechanics of injury and rehab were fascinating as they lined up with my biomechanics studies.

There was also an incredibly strong sense of community. I got to be part of the team that got the team ready to go, kept them moving, and helped them recover as quickly as possible.

What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?

The writing lab. I used this quite a bit, and I’m glad I did. Written communication is incredibly important in the business world and new graduates should be aware that nothing crushes credibility faster than a poorly written email.

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

Public speaking, hands down.  At the beginning of my senior year I was an average public speaker. Though presentations related to my senior design process I was able to improve dramatically, and came out being very strong.  I was able to bring that strength to Epic when I graduated. After starting in a different position, I ended up spending 6 years leading classroom training for programmers and IT staff before transferring again to my current position.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

This is a huge challenge. People who are just graduation should be aware of just what I big challenge it can be. After UR I knew I wanted to work for a fast paced company, but I wasn’t quite ready for the fact that “homework” doesn’t end once you graduate in most fields. My advice would be to figure out what your limit is, and stick to it even if it means that you can’t get to everything. If you can be happy and healthy working 80 hours a week then go do it. If you can’t, then don’t be afraid to say no J My husband and I make sure we are always both home to have dinner with our daughter, and have at least one “work free” night a week.  We still work too much, but we at least

Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Kathleen Maloney

maloneyName: Kathleen Maloney

Occupation: Healthcare/Medicine

Education (UR and additional): BS Biomedical Engineering, UR, 2010, KEY Scholar, UR, 2011

Current job title: Radiochemist

Current employer: Yale School of Medicine

Current city/state of residence: New Haven, CT


When and how did you choose your major(s)?

I chose Biomedical Engineering as a freshman because I was really interested in healthcare.  The opportunity to design and develop medical devices inspired me.  I ended up obtaining a minor in Environmental Engineering, but that kind of chose me more than I chose it.  I took a course in Chemical Engineering in my junior year that let me work in the Biodiesel Lab. After that, I kept taking classes with a focus on green energy and wound up with a minor that I wasn’t expecting.

What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?

I worked in the Biodiesel Lab my junior and senior years and decided to devote a fifth undergraduate year in the Kauffman Entrepreneurial Program to improve the sustainability in the lab.  I highly recommend the KEY program to anyone who has a vision of a project that they would like to pursue.  The scholars’ projects range from science to dance to tshirt pressing, or so it did when I was a scholar!

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

I accepted a position as the Clinical Research Assistant in Vision Care at Bausch + Lomb in Rochester, NY during January of my KEY year.  In that position, I worked with Optometrists and Ophthalmologists who helped perform clinical trials of contact lenses and contact solutions.  I wanted to obtain experience in healthcare industry before deciding to go back to school to really figure out what aspects and areas interested me the most.

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

I am currently working as a Radiochemist in Positron Emission Tomography Center at Yale School of Medicine.  While in my position at Bausch + Lomb, I realized I really enjoy studies that take subject data into account.  I like the idea of implementing adaptations to drugs and medical devices from clinical trials so I accepted a position at Yale that is also a part of clinical trials.  I currently work in Quality Control of PET radiotracers that are used to track the path of drugs in the body.  I test the radiotracers before they are used in the trials to ensure they meet the FDA qualifications.

What advice do you have for current Hajim School students about their time on campus, graduate study, or the first few years after college?

My advice is to gain experience in as many research settings and/or fields of study that you can!  You don’t really know what will interest you, or not interest you, until you experienced it first hand.  When I was an undergrad, I had no idea what clinical trials were and I thought everyone in BME just works in a lab forever.  While that may be the path for you, or the path for me someday, there are a lot of different opportunities out there and you should explore them as much as you can!

Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Jarrod Orszulak

defaultName: Jarrod Orszulak

Occupation: Engineer

Education (UR and additional): Biomedical Engineering, 2007; MS ECE 2008

Current job title: Product Manager

Current employer: FRABA Inc

Current city/state of residence: Philadelphia, PA

Family: living with loving gf (UR alum)

Community activities: President, Big Pond Association


Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

Dottie Welch. No seriously, I was interested in BME and the personal time she took to spend with me and introduce the curriculum to me was impressive. It not only made me feel comfortable with the program, but excited and enthusiastic. Her energy was reflective of the staff once I was there as a student.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

Variety of academic (BMES, TA, lab instructor) and extra curricular (sailing, badminton, club sports council). Most important thing I learned was how to be a leader even if you’re not in a formal leadership position.  Being able to influence your peers, classmates, etc even though you aren’t formally appointed as a leader is critical while you’re beginning in a new career and at the bottom of the totem pole. You’re not going to be hired and have your first job be in upper management, I don’t care if you have a BS from Harvard, a MBA from Wharton, an MD from Johns Hopkins or a PhD from some other prestigious school.

What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?

Take advantage of the generosity of your professors and their time. Whether its office hours, doing research, or speaking to your advisor regarding your career or studies after Rochester. They have a wealth of knowledge and fortunately make time for students when they could easily be doing their own research or spending more time with their families that they most likely don’t see enough.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

Be best friends w/ the undergrad admins. Not just Dottie, but they were all great (at least in engineering). This will hold true when you leave college, there will be a secretary or office assistant behind the scenes that will make the office run like clockwork. I was always amazed that at the knowledge of these individuals even though they never spent a day sitting in a class. I often would consult with them before going to speak with my advisor.  “We stand on the shoulders of those before us”  

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

 MS ECE Rochester 2008 – 2008-2011 MIT AgeLab, took it to explore different opportunities, ended up doing a lot of cognitive engineering and studying how older adults interact with technology.

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

 2011-2012 – FRABA Inc – Product Manager – Work for a small tech firm doing primarily sales, marketing and new product development. Get to work with customers to find solutions to problems. Face many challenges related to both industrial automation and a growing small company.

 How are you still connected with the University?

Honestly, not really. Haven’t been on campus in a few years. Haven’t really stayed in close touch with my friends from college.  It happens I guess…

What advice do you have for current Hajim School students about their time on campus, graduate study, or the first few years after college?

Realize you most likely won’t be doing whatever it is exactly that you went to school for.  Either be doing something different due to the economy, or will want to live somewhere else and thus have to take a different job, etc. You will also most likely realize that you want to do something else, maybe a little different from your focus, maybe very different.  Establishing a solid engineering background and having the ability to adapt will be critical.

Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Owen Zacharias

defaultName: Owen Zacharias

Occupation: Project Manager, Web Design and Development, University of Rochester Medical Center

Education (UR and additional): BS/MS ECE

Current job title: Project Manager, Web Design and Development, University of Rochester Medical Center

Current employer: UR

Current city/state of residence: Rochester, NY


When and how did you choose your major(s)?

Even before applying to University of Rochester I knew I wanted to focus on computing. I had gained extensive experience on the software side of things in high school and summer Internships so switching gears and moving towards hardware (Electrical and Computer Engineering) seemed like an exciting change of pace.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

My freshman year I pledged and joined Theta Chi. Greek life was a rewarding experience that I would recommend to anyone. Many of my best friends, who are now spread across the globe, are my fraternity brothers.

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

During my senior year I began pursuing a master’s degree in the 3/2 Program.  This was a fantastic experience as it got me closely involved in the laboratory of Dr. Wendi Heinzelman. Interacting with graduate students in the lab provided a very different perspective from my undergraduate years and challenged me in ways I hadn’t experienced with previous coursework.

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

I’m a project manager at the University of Rochester Medical Center. I manage a team responsible for the public-facing web presence of URMC (http://www.urmc.edu). I’ve always enjoyed software development and the fast-paced environment of the Web allows me continue learning each day and further my technical knowledge.

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

Organization and problem solving. Once you’re trained to think like an engineer you never stop!

How do you balance your work and personal life?

By using my vacation time. I love my job, just about every minute of it, but I make sure to spend an equal amount of energy playing.  I try to travel to remote areas where the influence of technology is minimal. It allows me to truly disconnect.

What advice do you have for current Hajim School students about their time on campus, graduate study, or the first few years after college?

Explore! It’s very easy to get “trapped” on the River Campus and never realize that Rochester is a vibrant, exciting community. Spend time in the city (e.g., Downtown, Park Ave, Corn Hill), visit the Finger Lakes, bike along the Erie Canal path, hike Letchworth State Park, ski Holiday Valley. Play!

Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Molly Leitch

leitchName: Molly Leitch ’08

Age: 25

Occupation: Manufacturing Process Engineer

Education (UR and additional): BS (Chemical Engineering), University of Rochester, 2008

Current city/state of residence: Nashville, Tennessee


Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?  

Is it bad to say “soccer”?  I really lucked out that the team I wanted to play for was at a school with great academics.

When and how did you choose your major?  

My parents wouldn’t let me major in chemistry… so Chemical Engineering it was!

What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?

The Career Center was amazing!!!! Going into senior year I was so nervous and anxious about getting a job.  Meeting with the Career Center advisor completely prepared me for interviews and gave me confidence in how my resume looked.  I couldn’t have done it without them.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

I was really lucky to have friends who were a few years older in the engineering department.  My semi-peer mentor was perfect for answering the questions that I didn’t know how to ask my parents or academic advisors.

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

This is always a decision I have debated.  I never went abroad and always feel like I missed something.  But I was scared that if I didn’t take an engineering job right after school then no one would ever hire me.  Looking back I am sure I would have gotten a job either way, but everyone’s path and priorities are different.   You just have to do what feels right at the time.

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

Ummm…. This is tricky because I am not really doing differential equations in my daily job.  But the problem solving skills I learned at UofR I use every day.

What advice do you have for current students?

Keep in touch with the classmates in your degree.  We all take different paths after graduation, but knowing what other U.R. students with just a Chemical Engineering Bachelors are doing helps me gauge where I stand in the job market and what other career possibilities there are out there.

Spotlight on Engineering Alumni: Ian Moltrup

moltrup

Name: Ian Moltrup
Education (UR and additional): BS Chemical Engineering ‘11
Current city/state of residence: Buffalo, NY
Occupation: Chemical Engineer
Current job title: Sales Application Engineer – Process Market
Current employer: API Heat Transfer Inc.
Community activities: Arcade Community Band


When and how did you choose your major(s)?

I began my studies in Chemical Engineering on Day One after arriving. I wasn’t sure it was exactly what I wanted, but after the first few classes I absolutely enjoyed it. I had always been interested in math and chemistry in high school and it was a great fit for me.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I stuck mostly to the engineering clubs and musical groups on campus. As an officer in the AIChE student group, I gained leadership experience and helped introduce new ChemE’s to the school and engineering community on campus. I improved my musical talent on trumpet through Pep Band and Brass Choir and had an absolutely wonderful time in both of those groups, as well as several others I was involved in.

What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?

First, go to the career center! There is so much knowledge and information there to get you started on a great career path and many people who will work to help you get there. Second, go to the study abroad office. There are so many places to see in the world and many great opportunities to go visit and learn great things. Even if you don’t want to spend a semester studying elsewhere, there are many great summer programs that you can apply to.

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

Literally two weeks after graduation I was on a plane to Germany for a 6 month internship at Evonik to work on heat exchanger systems. This was facilitated by the German Exchange Service, the DAAD, in their RISE program. I would highly recommend applying as the experiences you will have will be some of the most memorable in your life. I had a great time and learned so many things.

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

At the moment I am an application engineer for a heat exchanger manufacturer. I desperately love solving heat transfer problems, but would also like to be more of a process engineer. I plan to move out of this job in a few years, maybe get a MS, and use my experiences to land a job closer to where I’d like my career to be. I prefer to be out of a lab, doing calculations, and occasionally getting down and dirty with the equipment, so I guess I’d like to be a consultant process engineer in the future.

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

I mostly use mass and energy balances and unit conversion on a daily basis. Sometimes higher level math is involved, but not on a regular basis. I do wish that I had taken some more programming in college, but teaching myself isn’t bad either; you remember the mistakes better. With engineering, a lot of what you will need to know for your career is learned while solving problems and completing projects in your first years of work. College is a good place to get an idea of what you want to pursue and to learn the basic tools to get there, but industry is a whole new library of information to learn.

What advice do you have for current Hajim School students about their time on campus, graduate study, or the first few years after college?

Go to every free food event you can, you’ll learn things and meet many new people. Get involved in as many groups as you have time for. You can explore many interesting things in college for free that you can’t as easily jump into afterwards; get active! Don’t fret if you don’t land your dream job, there is always something you can learn from any job that will help your resume in the future.