Chapman’s Grand Challenges Initiative (GCI) pushes our first and second-year students to think big about the most challenging issues facing our society. From tackling the issue of microplastics in the ocean, to designing and building an insulin pump with 3D printing, to developing apps to help children with autism, our students work from their very first days in the program to make our world a better place. GCI also provides students with the opportunity to network with industry professionals every semester. We talked with Amy Lam (B.S. Physics ‘19) about how networking helped her find her dream job.
Q&A with Amy Lam:
Schmid College: Tell us about your current position!
Amy Lam: I am currently a Mechanical Engineer for Fusion Biotec. My day-to-day, fortunately, changes every once in a while, so there is never a dull moment. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working a lot on the lathe and the vertical milling machine. Having the machine shop is handy because we are able to make changes to parts quickly and in house. Other days I’m doing design work on a CAD program to help other engineers prototype medical instruments.
SC: How has your company adjusted to COVID-19?
AL: Luckily the pandemic has not heavily affected our work. Projects, new and old, are continuing at the office. We have implemented common safety practices such as frequent handwashing and mask-wearing to keep people healthy and safe. We also test everyone in the office weekly.
SC: How did you learn about this position?
AL: From my previous SULI (Summer Undergraduate Laboratory Internship) at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, I was interested in how the engineers assisted staff scientists, graduate students, etc. in their research. In my last year at Chapman, I worked as a lab assistant for the GCI makerspace. Dr. Greg Goldsmith introduced me to Mike White (CTO at Fusion Biotec). I was on the fence about going to graduate school. I wanted to explore engineering and communicated this to Mike. Mike and I set up another meeting to discuss my interests in designing mechanical systems and learn more about what work at Fusion looked like.
SC: How did Schmid and Chapman prepare you for this position?
AL: A lot of the preparation I received from the Schmid faculty heavily weighed outside of classes. I was involved in the CatLab with Dr. Jerry LaRue for most of my time at Chapman. It was not only where I was first exposed to design work on CAD software, but also where I found my home on campus. I was taught how to communicate findings to audiences with varying scientific knowledge and how to utilize published works from the academic community to inform decisions in research.
SC: What advice do you have for students looking for jobs and internships right now?
SL: These are extremely trying times and I do not want to minimize the struggle many are experiencing. I understand that having job security right now is a very privileged position to be in and that many did not have the option to keep. For me, landing an internship or job opportunity involves a degree of risk-taking. It might be that an available position is different from your previous professional experiences or the research is not what you are interested in. However, figuring out what you dislike is as valuable as discovering what you’re passionate about. I’d pass on the advice that occasional risk-taking, though terrifying, is important in searching and obtaining jobs or internships.