Andrew Lopez has experienced how companies are seeking well-educated systems engineers and how having an advanced degree can help professionals move up the career ladder.
The Georgia Tech Professional Master’s Degree in Applied Systems Engineering made him a strong candidate for jobs with more responsibility and more pay. Since graduating in 2011, his salary has increased by more than 30 percent.
“Companies are understanding the need and the importance of systems engineering, especially for fast-paced, larger projects. I’m seeing a lot of need for that in the market now,” he says. “Systems engineering is important to any project. It can be applied to any industry.”
While a member of the first PMASE class, Lopez was employed full time as an electrical engineer for L3 Communications in Warner Robins, Ga. Lopez saw an immediate impact at work, as he worked on Department of Defense contracts and used the practical applied knowledge from PMASE instructors about systems engineering methodology, tools and techniques.
“You can take what you learned that day and apply it directly to your position,” he says.
In the middle of the PMASE program, he moved to Huntsville, Ala., to help Science and Engineering Services, LLC create a new engineering department. He employed problem-solving tools and systems engineering practices to make decisions and interact with people within his organization and customers.
“They understood the need for systems engineers within their new department,” he says. “PMASE and my work experience helped me get that new position,”
The Alabama job was an important steppingstone to returning to Georgia with his family, and his new position as a systems engineer at American Panel Corp. in Alpharetta, Ga. The company is the world’s No. 1 supplier of displays for nearly all U.S. military platforms, a majority of the NATO country's military displays, and other military applications worldwide including those inside fighter jets, helicopters and tanks.
In this position, he’s interacting daily with customers as well as vice presidents, project managers and specialized engineers within the company.
“The systems engineer holds an important role in a company,” he says. “They help drive the success of the program as far as making sure requirements are met and the customer gets what they need.”
While pursuing his PMASE degree, Lopez enjoyed learning and tackling projects with his cohorts who shared the same interest in growing their knowledge and careers.
“PMASE is for professionals who have a career. I could appreciate a program that was able to fit in with my work schedule and personal life,” he says. “If they’re looking to take an engineering or science degree a step further and understand the big picture of how project life cycles work, the PMASE is what they should pursue.”