Alumni Working at the Forefront of Jet Engine Technology
By Megan Andrew, Written Communications Assistant
Vincent Ybanez has always been fascinated by the properties of different materials and how they can be used to solve complex problems. Now, as a key member of the Aftermarket and Sustainment Engineering team at Pratt and Whitney, he’s putting that expertise to work on some of the most cutting-edge engine technologies around.
In his role of senior design engineer, Ybanez works on repairs for jet engine hardware by “initially developing repair concepts, establishing design and testing requirements for the repair, substantiating and obtaining approvals within the various engineering groups, and drafting the technical documents for the repair.”
The specific processes he uses to repair engines utilize solid-state welding, fusion welding, additive manufacturing, machining, and plasma spray coating to optimize cost and repairability of hardware.
“UConn’s MSE curriculum and instructors provided an excellent basis for understanding materials science and general engineering fundamentals, which help me make design engineering decisions with a materials engineering mindset,” Ybanez said.
Ybanez recalled that his initial interest in engineering came at an early age, as he worked alongside his father on home-repair projects. Following that spark of interest, Ybanez attended a vocational technical high school, where his hands-on work with electromechanical technologies solidified his future career path.
“I chose UConn as their Engineering program is highly acclaimed, the university itself was known as one of the top public research universities nationwide, and I heard many good experiences of the university and Engineering program from friends and relatives,” Ybanez said.
At UConn, Ybanez discovered the materials science and engineering (MSE) field through Professor Daniel Goberman’s ‘Foundations of Engineering’ class. “I didn’t realize mse was a field until that class, and how broad the MSE field was, as well as the various job opportunities that materials engineers can pursue,” Ybanez said. That helped him decide to declare MSE as his major.
With Professor George Rossetti as his advisor, Ybanez was able to explore different career options during his undergraduate studies. “I remember having helpful discussions with him regarding pursuing graduate studies versus working directly in industry after graduation, which led to me pursuing an independent study opportunity to help me decide,” he said.
Ybanez also fondly described his favorite class as being ‘Failure Analysis’ with Goberman. “The class content has been very useful in my Welding Engineer role when I am leading various investigations for welding process failures and improvements,” he said.
“I remember all the MSE professors not only being very knowledgeable within their fields, but also being very engaging and enthusiastic when teaching as well. The enthusiasm of all the professors and staff, as well as the smaller size of the MSE department, helped MSE feel like a more close-knit and inclusive department in the UConn School of Engineering,” Ybanez said.
After graduation, Ybanez decided to move directly into industry before pursuing his master’s in welding engineering a few years later at The Ohio State University. There, Ybanez recalled drawing from his UConn education in materials science and engineering to excel in his academics. “Topics such as phase diagrams, microstructure, phase transformation in steels, and thermodynamics were being reintroduced in my grad school program, and I was able to easily understand them due to my strong undergraduate background.”
He also drew from his experience in a favorite independent study class. Because of his work as an undergraduate research assistant in Professor Puxian Gao’s Nanomaterials Science Lab, he gained insight into the research lab setting and what post-graduate research would be like. Ultimately “this helped me with the personal decision of pursuing industrial experience instead of post-graduate academic research right after graduation,” he said.
Directly following his graduation with a BS in MSE from UConn in 2016, Ybanez was hired as a materials engineer for Quest Global in East Hartford. His involvement in both the Material Advantage club, as well as the Engineering Ambassador club at UConn, helped him stand out from other candidates when applying for his first job after graduation. Ybanez advises current students to do the same—”get involved.”
“Particularly, leadership roles set potential new hires apart,” Ybanez said. “Also, try to pursue and apply for any internships and/or independent research opportunities that are available. This will help you decide which specific field/industry you want to specialize in, as well as whether you want to pursue post-grad academic research or industrial work right after graduation.”