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Engineering Career Fair a Hit

On October 17, more than 50 employers from throughout the region came to campus for the 2nd Annual Engineering Career Fair. The event afforded students and employers a venue in which to meet and discuss opportunities, from full-time employment to co-ops and internships.

The fair attracted a diverse array of employers, from jet engine manufacturers and public utilities to construction firms. While most of the exhibitors were Connecticut-based or maintain local offices, many companies came from the surrounding Northeastern states. Redmond, WA-based Microsoft Corporation traveled the farthest to attend the fair, which attracted an estimated 300-400 UConn engineering students.

Bernd von Kutzleben, Project Manager of Heavy Components Manufacturing, and Engineer Robert Abel, both with Westinghouse Electric Company in Windsor, were pleased with the turnout. It was Kutzleben’s first visit to UConn, while his colleague, Mr. Abel, was on familiar turf as a UConn engineering alumnus (’05) now pursuing his M.S. degree at UConn. Westinghouse has accelerated its recruiting and hiring activities in response to renewed national interest in the construction of nuclear power plants around the U.S. The company supplies services, technology, plant design, and equipment for the commercial nuclear electric power industry and expects to hire 250 engineers in all disciplines during 2007-08.

Like many employers, Westinghouse is interested in candidates who are technically proficient and possess good interpersonal skills, including the ability to communicate effectively and contribute as a member of a team, said Mr. Abel. He and Mr. von Kutzleben were on campus to recruit new engineering graduates; the company’s recruiting forays to Houston, Chicago and other large metropolitan areas are focused on cultivating more senior candidates with industrial and project management experience.

Senior mechanical engineering student Stephanie Santoro, who will graduate in May and has garnered a job offer from Pratt & Whitney, attended the fair for networking purposes. “The companies that I talked to were eager to hire engineers from UConn and offered several internship, coop and full-time employment positions. It was a great networking opportunity for even students who are planning on going to grad school,” she commented.

Carol Marut of Otis Elevator (Farmington, CT) said the engineering center was interested in hiring some full-time engineers along with 10 engineering interns for summer ’08. The company seeks mechanical, computer software and electrical engineers. Ms. Marut said she was pleased with the quality of students she met at UConn. “They were prepared. They had their resumes ready and presented themselves very well,” she observed. Otis has attended career fairs at WPI, Tuskegee University, Purdue, Penn State, and the University of Puerto Rico in addition to UConn.

According to Marty Wood, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education, UConn engineering graduates are in significant demand. He said that since January 2000, 90 percent of graduating UConn engineers have been employed at graduation, with the remaining 10 percent opting to attend graduate school.

The engineering career fair was the brainchild of the Engineering Student Leadership Council (ESLC), according to Samuel Brewczynski, a fourth-year Management & Engineering for Manufacturing/Mechanical Engineering (ME) student and ESLC treasurer. The idea evolved last spring, when the ESLC was considering various events that would benefit the entire engineering student body. Besides a very successful engineering formal staged in the spring, the ESLC members decided on the all-school career fair as a worthwhile enterprise. Mr. Brewczynski teamed up with ME professor-in-residence Dr. Tom Barber, who coordinates the ME senior design program, to organize the event.

Much of the planning took place during the summer, and by early September, Mr. Brewczynski noted, all of the exhibit spots available in the new Student Union ballroom were filled. As a result, some companies had to be turned away.

Mr. Brewczynski said the student turnout was excellent. “There was good student density, and most company reps had a steady stream of students throughout the four-hour fair,” he commented. Most students came prepared, he observed, with updated resumes and proper attire. He said plans are already underway for another school-wide career fair slated for the spring semester, possibly in conjunction with the National Engineers Week activities. The planning team is carefully reviewing ways to attract a broader representation of employers so that students in all engineering disciplines find the career fair rich in employment opportunities. They are also considering ways to expand the exhibit space to accommodate a greater number of employers.