Undergrad: Willamette University, Salem, OR - Physics
Current Job Title: Product Development Engineer at Paradigm Optics
My college journey started when I left my home state of Montana and went to Willamette University, in Salem OR, where I earned my Physics degree. I was introduced to the Master’s Industrial Internship Program during my undergrad and it spurred me to think hard about my post-college life. I realized that I wanted to defy the statistics of unemployed college grads by getting a job that would lead to a career immediately after graduating. I was told the MIIP at the University of Oregon would do just that, and it did.
The first part of the program consisted of an intense summer class that required focus and determination to complete. During that summer we gained valuable hands on lab experience, we tested the limits of how much information the brain can retain, and we were given professional development advice to succeed in the modern workplace. We worked more as a team rather than individuals through the challenging summer. After the class portion had ended I secured an internship as a Product Engineer at nLIGHT, which is a high powered laser manufacturing company out of Vancouver WA.
My main responsibility as an intern was coordinating a team of optical, mechanical, manufacturing, and sales engineers to ensure a product platform effectively met the needs of the customer. I was also responsible for conducting failure analysis on returned products to determine the root failure cause and decide whether a technical change was necessary to increase the robustness of the product. My time was equally split between lab work, computer work, and group meetings and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The summer coursework was instrumental in preparing me for my internship. Although we were exposed to a wide breadth of technical knowledge and professional development, the greatest benefit for me was learning the skills to deal with the incredible number of projects and priorities that I took on as an intern. The program’s summer workload was so massive that not all of it could be completed with the time we were given. We learned to balance priorities and work together to complete projects, presentations, and exams. This is not only a lesson for school and work but it translates to many aspects of life; we have so much to do and so little time to accomplish it. The summer courses drove home this reality and how to deal with it. My internship ended with me being hired on full time as a Product Engineer at nLIGHT. This incredible head start in my career would not have been possible without the opportunities provided to me through the Master’s Industrial Internship Program.