Last week, in honor of National Engineers Week, we sat down with a few of our engineers and asked them to provide advice to students seeking a career in engineering. See what they had to say below…
CHARLES CHEEVERS, CTO, CPE
Q. In this day and age, the majority of millennials are “technologists,” but who is the ideal “technologist” and what makes him or her stand out?
A. Someone who is always inquisitive and not afraid to deviate from the norm. Technology is about trying to do things better, faster, cheaper and never take the traditional route on looking at a problem – it’s often the lateral look at things that creates the new solution.
STEVE SHAEFFER, PRODUCT MANAGER
Q. Describe the model candidate for a career in engineering.
A. The ideal candidate is good at math and science, enjoys solving problems and has a good balance between theory and experience.
CHRIS KOHLER, SENIOR DIRECTOR, ENGINEERING
Q. What does it take to forge a successful engineering career?
A. Many of the engineering problems that need solving today require many different skills that aren’t always found in a single person, which is why engineering is all about team work. To be successful, you need to identify your weaknesses and then surround yourself with other engineers who can complement your skills. Not only will this enable the best possible solution, it provides an opportunity to constantly learn something new.
ANDREA SORIAL, PROGRAM MANAGER
Q. What are some of the most useful tools students can take advantage of while in school? How can students add to their engineering skill set?
A. Network, network, network. In school, you have access to so many talented engineering professors and graduate students who were once in your position and can provide great advice. Talk to them, ask them questions and learn from them.
RICHARD EKLYCKE, SR SOFTWARE ENGINEER
Q. Teens embrace technology – for example, 9 out of 10 have a home computer, mobile phone and console – but they are not embracing math, science, and engineering with the same enthusiasm. How can we change this?
A. I think many students are put off by learning math, because it’s difficult to relate to. By promoting subjects in school like programming, students might be more motivated to learn these mathematical concepts since they have a personal interest in it. Writing a video game is much more fun than working on your Calculus homework.
SHAUN FORD, ENGINEERING INTERN
Q. Internships are an integral part of an aspiring engineer’s career. What do you believe makes an internship at ARRIS unique?
A. The work environment at ARRIS is one of the main aspects that makes this internship unique. The employees are welcoming, willing to teach and open to sharing their stories. Whenever a question comes up, my team is more than happy to stop what it is doing and make sure I understand not only the answer, but the process.
ALL- What is one piece of advice you wish someone told you when you were pursuing a career in engineering?
Charles- Be prepared to fail and to hit roadblocks, but keep an open and optimistic mind to solving the problem. Finding the solution is about failing many times and continuing to go forward. Keep the passion that brought you into this field and continue to be excited about new challenges that come your way.
Steve- Don’t be scared to take risks. Look for opportunities at medium-to-small companies to start out, you can get lost in a big company as an entry-level engineer.
Chris- The ability to communicate a solution is just as important as developing a solution. Many engineers are held back in their careers due to poor communication skills (verbal and written). Being able to speak publicly and create well-written documents, and even emails, is a key component of any successful engineer.
Andrea- It’s a TON of math. Take the time to master Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus, so that you can excel in the more advanced math courses later on.
Richard- I wish someone would have described the way in which engineers solve real-world problems. This would have helped me to better visualize the job…not to mention helped me while reading through all those books!
Shaun- No one knows everything when they first start. Companies that hire interns and new graduates aren't looking for someone who has everything they need. Instead, they're looking for someone who is excited to learn and willing to work hard.