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Rising Stars: Finding Satisfaction in Solving Tough Engineering Problems
Starting out as an electrical engineer at a chemical plant, Alisa discovered her passion for applying her skills to a broad range of problems. Alisa encourages students to seize all the experiences they can and not shy away from opportunities, whatever they may be.
Name: Alisa Franklin
School: BSC - St. Louis University; MSC - Georgia Institute of Technology & University of Houston
Major: Electrical Engineering
Years Out of College: 5-10
Title: Control Systems Engineer
"My first job was as an electrical engineer at a chemical plant. I supported four production units (half of the plant) in their power and distribution needs, including that for daily operations, small projects, and unit shutdowns. There was a lot of learning involved, and I liked getting hands-on experience with the wide variety of electrical equipment. While the work was interesting and challenging, I came to the realization that I did not want a long-term career as a technical expert in electrical engineering. Instead, I wanted the opportunity to try out roles that would broaden my skill set and offer me a wider range of responsibilities. I discussed this with my manager, and he was supportive in helping me attain a new position."
"My last four years as a discipline engineer, first in electrical power and now in control systems, nurtured my technical capabilities, showed me the forces at work at a manufacturing location, and exposed me to the opportunities available in an energy company. I do want to stay in the energy industry, but I want some broadening experiences outside the range of single discipline engineering. I expect my next job to leverage my quantitative and analytical skills with growth opportunities in project execution and work process development; I think these skills will be transferable to any job I take in the future. After that, I aspire to a job as a supply chain analyst, as I would like to build a career in supply chain management."
Advice for Others
"'If you are going to do something, care about it and do it well.' My parents have said this since I was a child; they are words I still live by. With my summer jobs and internships, my work background has ranged from jobs with an environmental NGO to a small consulting business in Belize to a large Fortune 500 multinational. Together, these experiences have helped form me into who I am today, and have shown me that there are so many things I am quite capable of doing. I don't think I would do anything differently."
"Therefore, even if students are starting off as electrical engineers, I usually tell them to seize all the experiences they can and not shy away from opportunities. Whether it is working one summer at a car wash, or taking a trip to the mountains, there is a lot to be learned and this learning can be applied in various ways. Of course, do it, and do it well. In the end, I think in life and at work it is all about options. The greater your range of experiences, the greater your options."
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