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Electrical engineers are critical to many industries and help drive innovation while they power their own opportunities.
Electrical engineers find their power and drive their own opportunities in a field they find rewarding. What’s more, because electrical engineers are critical to many industries and help drive so much of today’s innovation, it’s a well-paying field that offers powerful and exceptional opportunities.
Here four engineers in the field share what they enjoy about their jobs and their companies, as well as advice for success in the field.
Roach Advances UL’s Mission to Work for a Safer World
Casey Roach heeded advice from positive role models in her life - from beloved family members to stand-out teachers - to turn her love of math and science into a passion. With a fierce focus on her goals, she parlayed an internship at UL’s wire and cable laboratory into a career at UL, a global company that provides safety certifications for products.
“I get personal satisfaction from my role advancing UL’s mission to work for a safer world,” says Roach, an electrical engineer in UL’s wire and cable division.
When Roach is assigned a project, she communicates with the customer to find out what exactly that customer is seeking in that customer’s listing “because that’s what we’re here to do, we’re here to help them.”
She talks with them about sample their requirements, explaining that for every test offered, UL has different sample requirements, such as length and the components of the cable. Then once the samples come in, they’re sent to the laboratory. From there, she meets with the technician running the test just to make sure that they’re all on the same page.
Once the data is available, Roach writes a report, and the clients get a notice of authorization if their cable complies with the UL standard.
“That’s basically the process from start to finish, but every week that’s what I’m doing because every project is at some stage in that process,” says Roach, who recently graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering.
Roach is still relatively new to UL, but it feels like a lifetime. With UL full-time for seven months, she worked as a lab intern for two summers and a winter.
“But it feels more like 22 years,” she says, “because of my mom who has worked for UL for 35 years. UL has been a part of my story for as long as I’ve been alive; I love working with everyone, and there’s something for everybody here. Anything that comes up as an interest, there’s always going to be something for you to do here. I hope to stay at UL for a long time.”
She adds that there’s exceptional potential for growth at Northbrook, IL-headquartered UL.
“Through the support of all the UL employees, I’ve advanced my knowledge of the company, and I’ve become a better engineer. I’ve been given more opportunities, and I’ve done more than I ever dreamed possible in my time at UL.”
What Roach loves most about UL is working with customers: “There are certain ones that I work with almost exclusively so I’ve built up a very good working relationship with them; they know what you’re seeking to start a project, and I know how often they want to be communicated with. It makes for a satisfying career.”
For young engineers, Roach advises to never be afraid, to take a chance and to not be afraid to take the lead.
She further notes that the best way to prepare for a career in STEM is to constantly keep learning: “Being in a field where technology is evolving rapidly, it’s essential for engineers to be inquisitive and open to learning new methods or technologies.”
Find career opportunities with UL at ul.com/about/careers.Connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Clark Helps Develop Network Configurations for U.S. Navy Ships at Huntington Ingalls
Neill Clark has had a long and interesting engineering career - rocket assembly for the Apollo space program, microwave design engineer, and professor, to name a few. He’s brought all of that experience to Newport News, VA-headquartered Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) where he’s a member of a small team that supports development and fielding of networking equipment used in several of the U.S. Navy’s shipboard training systems.
“The work entails independent research and development, as well as team collaboration with many geographically dispersed individuals and organizations,” says Clark, a senior program engineer supporting network and cyberengineering assignments for U.S. Navy programs at HII.
At present, Clark is responsible for selecting the operating systems, and developing the configurations for network switches, firewalls, and intrusion prevention systems targeted for use in the U.S. Navy’s newest shipboard training system.
Clark has a long affiliation with the U.S. Navy and its various missions such as contributing to the nation’s defense and enhancing global commerce by preserving and protecting freedom of navigation in the world’s oceans. He says that, at HII, “working in an engineering capacity that supports those missions has been, and continues to be, extremely gratifying.”
He adds: “The thing that I enjoy most about my current job is being given opportunities to create network designs, and, through development and testing processes, see those designs realized in systems that become fielded and operational within the U.S. Navy’s Fleet.”
He also appreciates HII’s commitment to its culture and values. “HII strongly encourages their employees to stretch for excellence and professionalism. This culture, which includes demonstrating respect for their employees, is frequently transmitted to the entire HII team.”
With 52 years of experience since receiving his bachelor’s in electrical engineering, Clark offers advice, as well as some traits that he seeks in a new aspiring engineer: be teachable, be a team player and a pleasure to work with, be a self-starter, be prompt, be responsible and deliver on your commitments, strive for excellence, strive to achieve a healthy life-work balance, demonstrate a passion for lifelong learning, and, “most importantly, drive yourself…so others won’t.”
He continues: “I think it’s important to understand that success is never guaranteed. What we can do though is increase our probability for achieving success through careful contemplation regarding the career that we choose, and what actions are necessary to adequately prepare for, and sustain, professional competence in that career.”
Clark adds that going into a STEM field, such as engineering, you also contribute to something larger as you build your livelihood.
“Due to my chosen profession as an engineer, I’ve been given numerous opportunities to not only enjoy a career that has provided financial security for myself and my family. It’s permitted me to participate in many projects that have significantly contributed to our society and to countless individuals around the globe,” says Clark.
“That’s the essence of what a STEM career affords. What other profession promises to offer that opportunity to those willing to invest the energy necessary to accomplish that career goal?”
Find career opportunities with HII at huntingtoningalls.com/careers. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
Nguyen Turns Ideas into Products for Kwikset
Taking ideas and turning them into tangible products is what drives Quan Nguyen.
Nguyen is a senior engineering manager focused on product prototyping, R&D testing, and product code and compliance for Lake Forest CA-based Kwikset, a division of Middleton, WI-headquartered Spectrum Brands.
“My team and I work toward producing low-volume prototype products/components for pre-production evaluation,” he says. “We basically create the first working concepts and take them into our labs where we test for proof-of-concept validation.”
Nguyen and his team recently launched a new electronic door lever with keypad authentication. The project, he notes, blended mechanical functionality and security with electronic keypad authentication.
“I really loved the balancing of two different engineering disciplines - electrical engineering and mechanical engineering - to create a consumer product that solves a real need.”
Nguyen entered engineering, specifically test engineering, because he loved the idea of turning ideas into tangible products.
“The process of product development has always been a fascination of mine, and I’m now lucky enough to participate in the development cycle as my profession,” he says.
Choosing a profession you love, as Nguyen did, helps keep work enjoyable.
“My parents always stressed the importance of working hard and selecting a career that best fit my personality,” he says. “It sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many long, stress-filled days/weeks/months you can survive by just choosing a field you actually enjoy. Yes, work can be a grind at times, but I can’t imagine the pain of grinding away at something I completely disliked.”
Nguyen has worked with Spectrum Brands for more than nine years. He says the company’s biggest draw is its dedication to innovation and willingness to reinvest in the brands within the Spectrum Brands portfolio.
“These brands, including Kwikset, Baldwin, Weiser, Pfister and National Hardware, have been around for more than 70 years, and I’m proud to play a small role in their history while creating a path for their futures,” he shares.
He adds that Spectrum Brands’ team-focused culture and emphasis on innovation make it a great place to work. “The environment nurtures creativity and exploration while maintaining a strong, process-driven approach to product development.”
For young engineers, Nguyen recommends going into the profession with an open mind and a willingness to learn.
“There are so many different job functions and roles to play within STEM professions that everyone has an opportunity to find what fits best for them. Your only real job is to work hard, have a strong appetite for learning and continually stretch yourself,” he points out.
From his own experience, he also recommends taking plenty of internships. “This is especially important when you’re looking for your first employment opportunity. Having experienced real-life problem-solving is very different from projects found in academia. These practical experiences can really set you apart when applying for entry-level jobs.”
He adds that internships are also a bit like dating: “Not only do they help validate what job aspects you really love, but, more importantly, to confirm the job characteristics ‘I simply could not live with.’”
Find career opportunities with Spectrum Brands at spectrumbrands.com/careers and with Kwikset at kwikset.com/about-kwikset/careers. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Makley Leads Workstation Innovation at Lenovo
Designing state-of-the-art architecture for a new building, finding pockets of natural resources under the Earth’s surface, or even providing the tools to the teams of researchers devoted to finding the cure for cancer are all possible thanks to the work of Al Makley and his team.
Makley is the director of workstation product development at Lenovo where he leads the team that designs, develops and qualifies ThinkStation workstation PCs.
“My team not only develops the products themselves,” he says, “but also the solutions to optimize user modalities and workloads.”
Makley’s team recently worked on the ThinkStation P920 workstation, which is Lenovo’s newest, most powerful workstation ever developed.
He was introduced to the engineering field by a family member as a sophomore in high school. “I always gravitated to math and science as subject, as well as to tinkering around with erector sets for hands-on and logic puzzles for brain-teasers,” says Makley.
“I always wanted to build things up or take things apart…so engineering seemed to be a perfect fit.”
Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, it was a dream to make an impact by working in large corporations like IBM, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, etc. When the chance to work for IBM presented itself in a job fair Makley was attending at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), he jumped on it.
“Knowing the impact of such an amazing company, it was a soon-to-be college graduate’s dream come true,” he says. “Luckily, I was extended an offer to move from Rochester, NY to Raleigh, NC to work for IBM, and accepted.
In 2005 he moved to Lenovo - which has U.S. headquarters in Morrisville, NC and global headquarters in Hong Kong and Beijing, China - with the sale of IBM personal computing division.
“I’m proud of what this company has achieved in the short 15 years after the IBM acquisition,” he adds. In addition, he appreciates how the great people and great culture make it a wonderful place to work.
“It’s a large company with an entrepreneurial spirit, and it’s a place where everyone has a voice to create change and influence the business.”
Makley most enjoys two things about his job. First is creating relationships with people from around the world and having the chance to be immersed in new cultures. Second is developing high-performance workstations that are used for extraordinary purposes.
One challenge to Makley’s work is the fast pace of change: “Creating agile business processes that can adapt to this change is vital, but extremely challenging.”
For young engineers, Makley notes that what you may have struggled with in study, you may excel at in career. “Study is very different than practice,” he explains.
“Become more practical instead of theoretical. Hands-on education prepares you for real work application. As a STEM student, learn how to use your resources.”
He adds that you don’t need to know the answer to every question or problem. Instead, know how to problem-solve and work to find the answer.
“The discoveries along the journey to the answer is where the real learning happens. Learning to journey often grows discovery opportunities,” he counsels.
Find career opportunities with Lenovo at lenovocareers.com. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ and Flickr.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), 2% is the anticipated rate of growth for electrical and electronics engineering through 2028. Contrast this overall smaller percentage against OOH’s better growth percentage of 5% specifically for electrical engineers, which is on pace with the 5% growth projected for all engineers.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH)
Electrifying Engineering Snapshot
Electrical engineering is another one of the traditional engineering fields that shows continued demand. Electrical engineering is a very broad field that includes power engineering, instrumentation engineering and electronic engineering, among others. The broad range of possible career paths within electrical engineering means that there’ll probably always be jobs available.
• Average Starting Salary: $67,000
• Average Mid-Level Salary: $82,000
• Average Late-Career Salary: $96,000
Electrical engineering is a broad and powerful field, and can be a basis for entering other engineering disciplines. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), electrical engineers typically design new ways to use electrical power to develop or improve products, develop manufacturing, construction and installation standards, direct the manufacturing, installation, and testing of electrical equipment, and manage the production of electrical projects to ensure work is completed well, on time, and within budget.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
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