Design Engineer, Edmund Optics, USA
Country of Birth: USA
Educational Background: BS Optics, University of Rochester Institute of Optics; MS Optical Sciences University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences, USA
I currently work as an Optomechanical Design Engineer for Edmund Optics. I use optical and mechanical design software to create a variety of optical components and systems, and I've worked on optical and mechanical designs for anything from a simple mounted lens to a complicated imaging systems and laser beam expanders. It is challenging work, but very rewarding when you get to see your design built and being used.
Have confidence in yourself. You are not always going to know the answer to something, and that's ok! It's important to know when you can provide useful information and when to say ‘I don't know' and then go figure it out. I learned so many things on the job that I think it's important to recognize that you don't have to know everything from the start - you will do better in both your academic and professional careers by continuously learning, observing, and having a willingness to accept help.
If you know deep down that you love numbers and figuring out how things work, don't be afraid to work hard and stick with it, even if it is difficult. Find extracurricular groups to be involved with and get hands-on experience through hobbies or internships. School and classes are an important foundation, but all the extra little experiences will really open up opportunities in the future and keep you excited about learning.
When I think back to high school, even though I really enjoyed math and science, I thought I never wanted to be an engineer or scientist because I had this stereotypical picture in my head of being isolated in a lab with a computer, working by myself; and I knew I wanted to be more involved with people. So much of any job is being able to communicate and collaborate with others - engineering and science are no exception.
There are so many ways to combine a technical field with other areas of interest as well. Keep an open mind and find ways to pursue your areas of interest- there are so many possibilities!