Fall eNewsletter Alumni Feature
For our fall eNewletter MechE News, the Department reached out to alumni in different fields, including mechanical, reliability and nuclear engineering. The following are their entire responses from the interviews. To stay up to date with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, subscribe to MechE News by clicking here.
Name: Steve Schrantz
Degree/Graduation Year: B.S. '84
What is your current occupation/what do you do? Principal Engineer, Advanced Design Tools for GE Aviation. In that role, I am the technical manager of a GE-developed software suite called SIESTA. SIESTA includes finite element pre- and post-processing tools and life analysis programs. We provide SIESTA to several GE businesses, purchased services and revenue sharing partners. A key focus has been integrating Finite Elements results with Life Analysis (LCF, HCF and Fracture Mechanics). In addition, I help to administer the second year of the GE Aviation Advanced Course in Engineering (Master’s program) and I am the Lead Recruiter for GE Aviation at the University of Maryland.
What is one interesting fact people might not know about your job? Much of the SIESTA software is written in Fortran and I still write Fortran code daily. However, we also use C++, tcl/tk, perl, python and shell scripting.
What excites you about the field of engineering at the moment? Our Design process is evolving through the greater availability of data from the manufacturing and operation of our engines. This data also allows GE Aviation to better support our customers in the operation of their fleets. The GE Digital Initiatives are transforming our business in many ways.
Name: Suzanne Dennis
Degree/Graduation Year: M.S. Reliability Engineering '12
What is your current occupation/what do you do? I work as a Risk and Reliability Engineer in the NRC’s research office. I do research for methods/models/tools for the agency’s probabilistic risk assessments (PRAs). The NRC uses PRA to estimate risk by computing real numbers to determine what can go wrong, how likely is it, and what are its consequences. The PRA provides insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the design and operation of a nuclear power plant.
What is one interesting fact people might not know about your job? Despite the office being based in Rockville, MD, I work from my home in the mountains outside of Albuquerque. The agency has great resources to keep my plugged in to the happenings in Maryland, and I periodically go back to Maryland to keep connected.
What excites you about the field of engineering at the moment? The thing that excites me most is seeing the increased conversations around diversity in engineering. There’s still work to be done, but increased awareness will hopefully lead to workplace cultures that are more friendly to people of all different backgrounds.
Name: Stefan Pototschnik
Degree/Graduation Year: B.S. '99 & M.S. '01
What is your current occupation/what do you do? I am the Manager for Electrified Powertrain Engineering in Asia Pacific for Ford Motor Company. My team is responsible for all powertrain components, software, and calibration for hybrid, plug in hybrid, and full electric vehicles in Asia (China, India, Australia, and ASEAN) for Ford Motor Company. I oversee a team of over 50 engineers and manage state of the art lab facilities to do development work.
What is one interesting fact people might not know about your job? My position is based in Nanjing, China at Ford’s Research and Engineering Center. China is not only the largest vehicle market in the world, but also the largest market for electric vehicles and is anticipated to grow aggressively in the coming years.
What excites you about the field of engineering at the moment? This is the greatest time to be an engineer in the automotive industry. There are so many social and technical issues and trends impacting the field right now and we have the chance to make a real difference in the world. The environmental impact of burning fossil fuels is leading to electrification. Autonomy and ride sharing will be major contributors to easing crowded streets, traffic jams, and accidents. Additive manufacturing is revolutionizing the way we develop parts. My job is exciting, fast paced, and impactful and my Mechanical Engineering Degrees from the University of Maryland prepared me well to compete globally at a Fortune 10 company doing cutting edge work.
Name: Nathan Sniadecki
Degree/Graduation Year: Ph.D. '03 (Advisor: Don DeVoe)
What is your current occupation/what do you do? I am a professor and associate chair in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Washington where I run the Cell Biomechanics Lab. My lab's research focuses on understanding how mechanics affects human biology at the fundamental level of cells. In particular, we are engineering heart muscle tissue from pluripotent stem cells to regenerate the heart and are studying how platelets use their contractile strength to prevent bleeding.
What is one interesting fact people might not know about your job? Being an engineering professor is very similar to running a start-up company. It's is very entrepreneurial because your journal papers and grants are like the products and venture capitalists for a startup. The similarities is one of the reasons why I spun-out my own startup company from technology developed in my lab to rapidly detect if there are problems with the platelets of a trauma patient (Stasys Medical Corporation).
What excites you about the field of engineering at the moment? Mechanical engineering is making tremendous impact in medicine and biology. More and more of our innovations in mechanical engineering are being translated for use in the medical fields to help improve human health.
Name: Maria Korsnick
Degree/Graduation Year: B.S. Nuclear Engineering '86
What is your current occupation/what do you do? President and Chief Executive Officer, NEI
What excites you about the field of engineering at the moment? It’s a challenging and exciting time for the nuclear industry right now. At NEI, we have four objectives: Preserve, Sustain, Innovate and Thrive. We are working to get our current fleet of reactors recognized for the value they bring – very reliable, emissions- and carbon-free, ‘round-the-clock generation. Reduce regulatory burden to help sustain the fleet. Innovate and bring new reactors to the market – small modular and advanced designs. And compete in the worldwide market with our U.S. designs. There are 61 reactors under construction around the world today – 2/3 of those are Chinese or Russian design. We need to reclaim U.S. leadership in the commercial nuclear industry that we invented.
Name: Moniesha Jackson
Degree/Graduation Year: B.S. '96
What is your current occupation/what do you do? I am the Director, Client Solutions for 10Pearls (www.10pearls.com), a company that specializes in digital services and human centered design, helping businesses with product innovation, development and technology acceleration. Digital experiences are critical components of today’s most successful business strategies, as businesses seek to build customer engagement. I get to help our clients create engaging, transformative and scalable digital experiences that lead to increased user adoption and customer loyalty.
What is one interesting fact people might not know about your job? There is a great deal of science behind what creates an effective digital experience, such as an in-depth understanding of cognitive and emotional responses and customer behaviors. The experience is the product. We generate deep psychological insights about the audience: what will excite them and what will keep them coming back for more.
What excites you about the field of engineering at the moment? What I am most excited about is the impact that the field of engineering has on improving the quality of life for many, as well as making a difference in the world. As a passionate advocate for women in engineering, I am really glad to see more women entering the field, as well as the ingenuity of perspective and innovation that results from diverse teams composed of the very best individuals. I am proud to work for a company that is also committed to these same values (see article about women in technology). 10Pearls was founded on the principles of not just corporate growth, but to contribute positively and responsibly to society: doing good while doing well.
Published July 15, 2017