From one year to the next: Advice from recent master’s grads

Lauren Smith

May 6, 2024

Recent master's graduates are already tackling real-world challenges in the semiconductor industry, materials science, and sustainable energy. Others are pursuing doctoral degrees. As they reflect on their time since graduating, a common theme is the value of the collaborative learning environment in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Contributing to the community that supported them, four recent graduates offer advice to current students and new graduates.

Akhil Nair

Source: Akhil Nair

Akhil Nair

Akhil Nair is an advanced process controls and optimization engineer at Corning Incorporated. On the technical enhancement team, he handles development projects related to all of Corning's business verticals. Nair's major areas of work are in optimization-based process modeling, system identification, and developing MPC applications. "I successfully applied all of my learnings in process systems engineering at Carnegie Mellon in a fast-paced environment, to deliver a sophisticated software package which is now in production across Corning in China, Korea, and the US," he says.

Nair advises current students that all the course assignments are created intentionally. "Applying the concepts we learned to solve them by ourselves really helps to develop the right mindset to tackle problems in industry," he says. As an alum, Nair misses being able to learn in the fast-paced way he did at CMU. He also misses Friday evening happy hours and the campus.

Yufeng Qian with the Pittsburgh skyline in the background

Source: Yufeng Qian

Yufeng Qian

Yufeng Qian is a chemical engineering Ph.D. student at the University of Pittsburgh. "I am proud that everything went smoothly this year," he says. Qian is passionate about artificial intelligence and deploying deep learning technology into the chemical engineering field.

Reflecting on his time since graduating from CMU, he misses his cohort and is glad to have helped some of his friends along their career paths. Qian's advice to this year's graduates: "cherish those who are around you."

Anchit Singhal with a lake and snow-covered mountains in the background

Source: Anchit Singhal

Anchit Singhal

Anchit Singhal is an LTD process engineer at Intel Corporation. He uses statistical process control and data analysis techniques to ensure optimum product yield and quality. His role also requires monitoring and optimizing chemical parameters that affect production.

"I have been involved in some very exciting technologies in the semiconductor industry," Singhal says of his first year on the job. "I had the opportunity to learn from many bright and innovative people, who have witnessed the chip industry grow for more than three decades."

Singhal advises new graduates that it's important to use all the resources and support provided for professional growth and development. Working on interesting projects alongside brilliant minds from all around the world was invaluable to him. Although he misses his friends and professors in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Singhal has found the transition from academia to industry exhilarating. "It's very intellectually stimulating to apply the knowledge and skills gained in graduate studies on industrial projects that affect the lives of so many people worldwide," he says.

Ananya Srivastava

Source: Ananya Srivastava

Ananya Srivastava

Ananya Srivastava is a research and development (R&D) strategy analyst at Amogy, a sustainable energy startup developing a novel carbon-free energy system using ammonia as a renewable fuel. She works closely with both engineering and business teams to plan the technical development roadmap of the company and define its R&D scope. Her main responsibilities include conducting high-level Aspen simulation studies and providing technical support to the business teams.

Srivastava says the time since she graduated has been an adventure: navigating the job market as an international student, moving to a new city, transitioning from student life to the professional world, and diving into her first full-time job. "I embraced it all," she says. "The past year has been a whirlwind, but every hurdle I faced just made the journey even sweeter."

Through it all, Srivastava has found valuable guidance and support from peers and mentors. "From late-night study sessions to tackling tough assignments together, my classmates were my support system," she says. The collaborative learning environment in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the opportunity to work closely with professors inspired her to delve deeper into the field. She advises this year's graduates never to underestimate the significance of networking and creating relationships within the industry.

Srivastava also advises new graduates to make lifelong learning a part of their lives and remain curious about emerging technologies and industry trends. "The field of chemical engineering is constantly transforming, so it's vital to be adaptable and willing to learn new skills," she says.

Catch up with MChE grad Aaron Garrison