Kelly's Open Road

  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    Team T.B.D.

  • INTERVIEW LOCATION:

    New Kensington, PA

KELLY WHITAKER

Senior Research Engineer
Alcoa

“It's really OK to not know what you want to be when you grow up. It's OK just to say, 'You know what, I don't know; I'm still thinking about it, I'm still trying new things and I'll make that decision when I'm ready to.”

INTERESTS:

Engineering Technology

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Choices Experience Exploration Passion Fear Opportunity Fulfillment Transitions Pressure Success

FOUNDATION:

Problem-Solving

TAGS:

aluminum, change, changing your mind, chemistry, college major, exposure, graduate school, how things work, learning, not knowing, options, PhD, problem solving, product development, questioning yourself, science, technology, trying new things, understanding, working with people

BIOGRAPHY:

  • Works for Alcoa, the largest light metals research facility in the world; she develops surfaces in their product development department.
  • When she first took chemistry in high school, she hated it.
  • Started studying biology in college, but realized in her first semester that she missed her chemistry class.
  • Switched from a pharmacy major to a nutrition major to a neuroscience major to a physical science major-says, "I changed my mind a lot."
  • Says the best thing you can do to find your interests is to expose yourself to as many different things as possible.
  • Favorite part of her job is being able to go to the store and see products that she worked on.
  • Says what she's currently working on is nothing like what she studied in graduate school, so you don't have to feel too committed to what you study.
  • Believes she found a great profession because it fulfills her need to problem-solve by taking things apart and figuring out what makes them tick.

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