The Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources brought past and future students together last week at its annual High School Visitation Day. Prospective students visited campus and had the opportunity to explore West Virginia University.

More than 230 people, including 89 students from eight states, attended this year’s event, which was held Dec. 6. These visitors were able to tour the College’s labs and meet with current students, faculty, and for the first time, alumni.

“Prospective students want to hear about outcomes after graduation,” said Cate Schlobohm, outreach coordinator in the Statler College. “That led us to incorporate the alumni panel into the program. Students want to know where they can work, what kind of career paths they will start on and what a typical day in the life of an engineer is actually like.

“We chose this specific group of alumni because they had all graduated within the past three years, so they still clearly remember what being a student was like, and they only recently made the transition to industry,” she added. “They were able to offer a fresh, candid view of how their transition from WVU to industry went. Also, these alumni represented various sectors of industry including public utilities, energy, manufacturing and information technology.”

The “elder statesman” of the group was Morgantown native Justin Heydon, who graduated from WVU in 2011 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He currently works locally for Swanson Industries designing underground coal mining equipment. Heydon interned for the company as a student.

“I did a research project with Swanson that helped me apply school to a real-life situation,” Heydon said. “My favorite part of earning my degree from WVU were the group projects. It really helped to prepare me for working with all different types of people.” He is currently working toward his professional engineer licensure.

Kylea DeMarco and Kyle Swisher represented the class of 2012. DeMarco, a civil engineer from Shinnston, accepted a position with The Thrasher Group in its Public Utility Division, while Swisher, an electrical engineer from Monaca, Pennsylvania, is a software analyst for Mylan Pharmaceuticals. Like Heydon, the pair credit internships they conducted at their respective companies with helping them to land their current positions.

“I was fortunate to get an internship in the Clarksburg Office of The Thrasher Group after my sophomore year of college,” DeMarco said. “I was invited back to intern throughout my junior and senior year of college, and was hired full time during my senior year at WVU.” She currently manages projects associated with public water and sewer service throughout the state.

“When it came time for me to start applying to college, I did not apply to anywhere but WVU,” DeMarco said. “The best part about having a degree from WVU was being a West Virginian, getting my degree from West Virginia and being able to work in and give back to my home state. My field of study has allowed me to be involved in the betterment of my fellow West Virginians’ quality of life.”

Swisher did a summer internship at Mylan in their Laboratory Informatics Division, and then was offered a full-time job in quality management systems. “The very best part of getting my degree from WVU was the people,” he said. “I learned a lot from class, but I learned just as much from the professors one-on-one and from my fellow students.”

Additionally, 2013 graduates Meghan Mills and Brandon Kania are taking advantage of the growing need for engineers working in industries related to shale gas drilling and utilization. Mills, a chemical engineer from Fairmont, works for CONSOL Energy as a field engineer on hydraulic fracturing jobs.

“My position is a supervisory and engineering job where I have to run a multi-million dollar project with on average 60 people working for me,” Mills said. “I work with many different people around heavy machinery in a potentially dangerous environment every day.

“The best part about gaining my degree from WVU was the broad amount of skills I gained. Not only did I learn valuable problem solving and leadership abilities, but I gained positive social skills that exceed many counterparts from other institutions,” she said. “My ability to speak to a variety of people and present my ideas to an audience has been invaluable in my career.”

A native of Wellington, Ohio, Kania, a petroleum and natural gas engineer, was on a mission at the 2013 Engineering and Computer Science Career Fair: to land an interview and, hopefully, a job offer.

“I interviewed with Halliburton after the career fair at the beginning of the year and it turned out to be the first job offer I received,” he said. Kania currently works in Pennsylvania as a field professional for Halliburton’s cased hole wireline.

According to the surveys of students and parents, the addition of the young alumni panel was a success.

“Students were excited to see the successful outcomes and opportunities available to our students,” Schlobohm said. “Parents loved hearing about what our alumni currently do and how their education from WVU got them to where they are today.”



CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

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