Engineering Career Day hits record attendance for students and companies

The number of job seekers and students searching for internships hit a record high at 540 during today’s Engineering and Information Technology Career Day in the Student Life Center ballrooms.

Job seekers fill one of three ballrooms at the fall Industry Career Day.

“This is the highest student attendance of any of our Industry Career Days (ICDs) since we switched to industry-specific events from a single university job fair in 2007,” said Tiffany Daugherty, assistant director, Center for Student Professional Development, formerly the Vanderbilt Career Center.

Well dressed and armed with polished resumes and plenty of questions, students poured through three sets of ballroom doors at 3 p.m. and the crowd thinned only slightly near the 6:30 close.

“I’m looking at several different companies and I want to talk to their recruiters,” said Monica Kruse, a biomedical engineering and electrical engineering double major from Huntsville, Ala., who will graduate in May. “Ideally, I would like to live in the western U.S., but I’m flexible.” Kruse was among the first wave of students who came through the ballroom doors at 3 p.m.

Grant Brennecke, a mechanical engineering major from Wheaton, Ill., who will graduate in May, headed toward the Nissan booth. “I’m looking for offers,” he said.

Brennecke said job location doesn’t matter. “I’m interested in product companies. I’m passionate about product design and I’m looking for companies that value that.”

The fall event attracted recruiters from 59 companies, also the largest number since 2007. New companies included Cerner, Brainlab, Halma (Aquionics), Nice Pak Products, Passport Health Communications, Brewer Science and Polytron.

VU alum Erin McManus (left) and Samantha Young are recruiting for RTI.

“We are thrilled with the increased turnout of both students and employers for our fall Engineering and IT Industry Career Day. In the week preceding this event, we saw a significant increase in the number of engineering students engaged with our office, particularly freshman and sophomores,” said Cindy Funk, Center director.

Funk said the efforts of engineering faculty and staff to promote the Center’s services has had an impact. “Our continuing partnership is proving to be beneficial in bringing top employers to campus and preparing students for professional opportunities.”

Illustrating that partnership, employers, Center staff and engineering faculty mingled in a pre-fair coffee hour where faculty and staff learned about employer talent needs and industry trends, and employers learned about the engineering student talent pool and the educational preparation they receive.

At the close of the coffee hour, Funk introduced Dean Philippe Fauchet, who welcomed the employers. After highlighting the caliber of Vanderbilt engineering students and talking about growth plans for the school, Fauchet called for the doors to be opened and the fair to begin.

Cynthia Paschal, associate dean and engineering school liaison to the Center, also was thrilled by the record-setting event. “The event was so flawlessly executed by the Center staff who welcomed more than 150 recruiters, coordinating challenging logistics from arranging shuttles to assisting with displays to producing a brochure about the companies for distribution to more than 500 students.

“The faculty played their part, too, with 38 engaging with employers and encouraging and guiding students throughout the fair,” Paschal said.

Engineering senior manager Glen Sherwin and research and development engineer Allison Wright of Spirit AeroSystems, headquarted in Wichita, Kansas, made their first recruiting visit to Vanderbilt. “Today I need 67 engineers in Wichita, over 50 in Tulsa and about 50 in Nashville,” said Sherwin.

Sherwin and Wright were eager to meet computer science, mechanical and electrical engineering majors for full-time jobs and summer internships. Spirit AeroSystems is the world’s largest supplier of commercial airplane assemblies and components for the world’s largest airliners.

“We’re a ‘new’ old global company,” Sherwin said. “Spirit is Boeing. Onex acquired Boeing’s Wichita division, including Tulsa, in 2005 and renamed it Spirit Aerosystems.” A year later, Spirit acquired BAE Systems Aerostructures.

Sherwin said Spirit’s CTO and senior vice president David Walker encouraged them to recruit Vanderbilt engineers. Walker is a member of the School of Engineering’s Committee of Visitors.

Ed McAllister, Northrop Grumman, talks with a student about internship opportunities.

Ed McAllister with Northrop Grumman in Huntsville, Ala., said he’s looking for “any brand of engineer.” This year he hopes to hire 25 to 50 new graduates and fill a number of summer internships. I’m looking for good people with good GPAs. I tell students grades do matter,” said McAllister, also a member of the school’s Committee of Visitors.

A number of Vanderbilt engineering graduates returned to campus to recruit for their companies. Erin McManus, a computer science and math major, earned her master’s degree in May. Now she’s a software engineer at RTI, a privately held software company in Sunnyvale, Calif.

“My first week at RTI I met the CEO. We were talking and I said I’d really love to go back and recruit at Vanderbilt. He said, ‘I think we can make that happen.’” McManus said and smiled.

“I really think the liberal arts environment gives Vanderbilt students an edge. Classes that emphasize writing and discussion are a real plus,” said McManus, who was looking for computer engineering and computer science majors to fill full-time jobs and summer internships.

Alums Madison Hoelscher and Derrick Kempf returned to campus to recruit for PowerPlan.

Madison Hoelscher and Derrick Kempf agree with McManus. “We have the engineering technical skills but we also have project management experience with a strong emphasis on presentations and teamwork,” they said.

Hoelscher is a 2011 mechanical engineering graduate and Kempf is a 2011 mechanical engineering graduate who minored in engineering management, and both were back at Vanderbilt recruiting for PowerPlan, an Atlanta-based software and consulting company where they are consultants. They, too, expressed an interest in recruiting Vanderbilt engineers and their managers obliged. PowerPlan expects to fill about 20 full-time positions.

Nancy Sibole, Center assistant director, said alumni help pave the way for more recruitment opportunities at Vanderbilt. “Vanderbilt alumni are our best marketing tools. When they go to their companies’ HR departments or operations managers and become advocates for recruiting at Vanderbilt, their companies are more likely to participate in on-campus recruiting activities.”

The spring Engineering and Information Technology Career Day will be Feb. 12, 2013.

Companies registered for the fair: Aerowing, Aloompa, American Cast Iron Pipe Company, Army Corps of Engineers, Asurion, Baker Hughes, Balfour Resource Group and Balfour Beatty Construction, Brainlab, Brasfield & Gorrie, Brewerscience, Bury+Partners, Capgemini, Cerner Corporation, Chevron, Clark Construction Group, CTS, DCS Corp, Digital Reasoning, Education Networks of America, Emdeon, Enercon Services, Epic, ExxonMobil, FedEx Services, Geosyntec Consultants, Halma (Aquionics), InfoWorks, Vanderbilt Institute for Software Integrated Systems, Intergraph Corporation, Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Johnson Controls, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Manhattan Associates, Mercedes Benz U.S. International, Metova, Microsoft Corporation, National Instruments, U.S. Navy, Nice Pak Products, Nissan North America, Northrop Grumman, Oak Ridge National Lab, Passport Health Communications, PharmaSys, Polytron, PowerPlan, Quality Manufacturing Systems, RTI, Schlumberger, Schneider Electric, Skanska USA, Spirit AeroSystems, SSR, Strand Associates, Synechron, Trane, Turner Construction Company, VUMC-Anesthesiology, Wacker Chemical Corporation.