How did you decide to come to Drexel Materials?
I transferred to Drexel University after completing my freshman year elsewhere, a decision I am constantly grateful for. At Drexel I discovered the Department of Materials Science and Engineering through the MatE 100 2-day course. This course piqued my interest in what this specific engineering field had to offer and I subsequently switched my major from Mechanical Engineering. Attending Drexel’s CoE was an easy choice, because I was drawn to the unique curriculum structure that incorporated three pillars: in-class education, lab work, and extensive on-the-job experience. An attraction to join Drexel Materials was that there was something special about the small, intimate, but highly visible department that provided me a sense of belonging, which I had been longing to find. The professors were accessible outside the classroom and showed a true interest in their students’ performance. One of the main draws to Drexel, the well-regarded co-operative education program, was two-fold: it enabled me to build a dynamic resume and afford my tuition prior to graduation. It was important for me to have the flexibility to pursue different opportunities and niches within my field; Drexel not only encouraged this exploration, it required and prided itself in it.
First Job Post-Graduation and Brief Description of Duties
I was awarded the prestigious Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) for Young Professionals Fellowship to gain academic, professional, and international experience as a young Ambassador in Germany under the Fulbright-Hays Act. During my year-long, fellowship for work and study, I attended a German language school for a two-month intensive course, studied at a German university for a semester, and completed a five-month Praktikum with a German firm in my career field at Daimler AG (Mercedes-Benz) headquarters in Stuttgart. There I developed advanced material concepts and innovations to meet market requirements for new lightweight designs. This process required me to analyze competitor’s products and benchmark various manufacturing companies for material production. By proactively managing interaction between departments in the integration of interior, exterior, and structural work specifications into designs, I acquired project management skills. Additionally, I supported the worldwide effort to streamline material standards in the automotive industry by creating and maintaining databases. For other international joint venture projects I also performed as a translator. Beyond the realm of engineering I also had the responsibility to act as a Constituent correspondent for the U.S. House of Representatives and the German Parliament. For this fellowship requirement I authored intercultural analysis reports, attended congressional meetings in Washington, D.C. and Berlin, Germany, as well as visited with the U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Another component of my fellowship led me to institute voluntary service at an elementary school library introducing English to children through literature and exercises.
How did you find your first job?
I have benefitted tremendously from Drexel University and its co-op program. I was fortunate to be selected for two co-ops with Johnson & Johnson, both in the pharmaceutical and consumer sectors. During those co-ops I communicated with German manufacturing sites on a daily basis. In addition, a study-abroad program in Berlin and a concentration in Germanic Studies proved highly motivating in my decision to apply for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) for Young Professionals Fellowship. My international study primed me to assume a significant role in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world. I was fascinated by the prospect to pursue Materials Engineering in Germany and gain work experience abroad. As German is undoubtedly an important language to be versed in as an engineer, the fellowship offered an exciting way to apply and further develop my German conversational and language skill sets abroad. This opportunity was presented to me by Drexel’s Fellowship office, which supported me throughout the application and interview process and maintained contact with me while I was a participant.
What have you been doing since?
After the completion of my year-long Fellowship with the U.S. State Department in Germany, I returned to Johnson & Johnson - McNeil Consumer Healthcare (JnJ) as a Packaging/Process Engineer consultant. At JnJ, I am a core member of their Consent Decree Team, providing strategic and tactical support to the effort with a focus on the implementation of work plan outputs involving remediation procedures. In this role I conduct risk & impact assessments against identified gaps in knowledge and data for component, packaging equipment, and equipment qualifications with a multi-disciplinary team. Our process utilizes quality risk management tools including Failure Modes & Effects Analysis (FMEA) to assess the impact of materials, product, and process on critical quality attributes to derive the mitigation strategy throughout the development process. This function requires daily interaction with Regulatory Health Authority representatives and supporting responses during inspections to assure adherence with regulatory requirements.
How do you feel your Drexel Materials education has contributed to your current job?
Drexel afforded me the opportunity to participate in their renowned co-op program, gaining invaluable experience and a stronger promise of entrance into the corporate workforce as an engineer. Throughout the duration of my studies, I maintained at least a part-time presence at Johnson & Johnson, where I completed both my co-ops. The education I received within the Materials Department provided boundless opportunities for me to explore. Each opportunity that I took advantage of, whether faculty led research or the inclusion of a study abroad program, enhanced my engineering portfolio post-graduation. My degree was tailored into a culmination of my own interests and has contributed greatly to every venture that has presented itself since. The department permitted me to create my own track of specialization within my major—incorporating my German language studies in coordination with my engineering undergraduate degree, ultimately awarding me the chance to work abroad.
Do you have any advice for students looking for an engineering program or for current students?
Connect with as many individuals as possible to diversify your exposure within the engineering field to develop professional and personal networks. Empower yourself to succeed and advance in all aspirations by recognizing your achievements and promoting strong engineering morals by demonstrating the highest standards of business practices. It is important to recognize that collegiate success is not measured purely by aptitude, but by the ability to seek mentors and take advantage of every opportunity that helps you attain your post graduate aspirations. Collaboration with peers, professors, and co-workers is essential and will help you shape your scholarly identity and flourish. Most importantly, study abroad or gain some semblance of an international experience that challenges you intellectually and culturally. This is the time in your life to differentiate your resume and hone in on your own personal passions.