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MECHANICAL ENGINEERING PROFESSOR: No Traditional Path

About this video 

Sam, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, works primarily in the area of microelectronics packaging. What started out as a natural curiosity in how things work has turned into a bachelors, masters, and PhD degree in mechanical engineering, and work in both the industry and research fields. Clearly, it isn't difficult to maintain that curiosity in mechanical engineering.

Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Job Title: Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Employer: Georgia Institute of Technology; Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Job Summary: Mechanical Engineers

Job Description

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical devices, including tools, engines, and machines.

On-the-Job Training

None

Quick Facts

Average salary
Average salary
National Statistic Change Location
Confirm
$50,000 - $120,000
Projected job growth
Projected Job Growth
0 to 10 percent
Typical schedule
Typical schedule
Full-time
Typical workplace
Typical workplace
Indoor, Office
Personal qualities
Personal Qualities
Creativity, Mathematical skills, Problem solving skills, Detail oriented, Technical skills, Verbal communication skills, Written communication skills

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P3.instances[0].transcript.parse_transcript_data({"transcript":"<p><span m='270'>Hello.</span> <span m='420'>My</span> <span m='530'>name</span> <span m='700'>is</span> <span m='780'>Samuel</span> <span m='1180'>Graham,</span> <span m='1530'>and</span> <span m='1650'>I'm</span> <span m='1750'>currently</span> <span m='2130'>a</span> <span m='2200'>professor</span> <span m='2730'>of</span> <span m='2770'>mechanical</span> <span m='3250'>engineering</span> <span m='3750'>at</span> <span m='3860'>the</span> <span m='3960'>Georgia</span> <span m='4260'>Institute</span> <span m='4630'>of</span> <span m='4700'>Technology</span> <span m='5320'>in</span> <span m='5440'>Atlanta,</span> <span m='5920'>Georgia.</span> <span m='6870'>I have</span> <span m='7320'>had</span> <span m='7500'>my</span> <span m='7610'>Ph.D.</span> <span m='8189'>Since</span> <span m='8440'>1999</span> <span m='9220'>and</span> <span m='9320'>had</span> <span m='9540'>a</span> <span m='9610'>chance</span> <span m='9910'>to</span> <span m='10010'>work</span> <span m='10230'>in</span> <span m='10320'>a</span> <span m='10360'>number</span> <span m='10640'>of</span> <span m='10720'>exciting</span> <span m='11170'>areas,</span> <span m='11860'>especially</span> <span m='12370'>working</span> <span m='12710'>in the</span> <span m='12810'>areas</span> <span m='13180'>of</span> <span m='13290'>microelectronics</span> <span m='14130'>packaging.</span> </p><p><span m='15060'>The</span> <span m='15240'>types</span> <span m='15520'>of</span> <span m='15580'>devices</span> <span m='15980'>that</span> <span m='16079'>I</span> <span m='16129'>work</span> <span m='16420'>on</span> <span m='16660'>are</span> <span m='16880'>devices</span> <span m='17340'>that</span> <span m='17550'>are</span> <span m='17670'>flexible.</span> <span m='18170'>So</span> <span m='18360'>in the</span> <span m='18460'>future,</span> <span m='18830'>you</span> <span m='18930'>will</span> <span m='19020'>see</span> <span m='19210'>displays</span> <span m='19750'>that</span> <span m='19870'>are</span> <span m='19940'>flexible,</span> <span m='20530'>electronics</span> <span m='21140'>that</span> <span m='21290'>you can</span> <span m='21550'>bend,</span> <span m='21870'>twist,</span> <span m='22150'>and</span> <span m='22430'>stretch.</span> <span m='23320'>And</span> <span m='23510'>so</span> <span m='23720'>we</span> <span m='23870'>try</span> <span m='24070'>to</span> <span m='24170'>solve</span> <span m='24470'>some</span> <span m='24660'>of</span> <span m='24700'>the</span> <span m='24780'>packaging</span> <span m='25270'>issues</span> <span m='25530'>here,</span> <span m='25810'>in</span> <span m='25890'>terms</span> <span m='26240'>of the</span> <span m='26350'>mechanics,</span> <span m='27460'>allowing</span> <span m='27890'>us</span> <span m='28040'>to</span> <span m='28160'>make</span> <span m='28440'>them</span> <span m='28620'>on</span> <span m='28830'>substrates</span> <span m='29120'>that</span> <span m='29410'>you</span> <span m='29590'>typically</span> <span m='29940'>don't</span> <span m='30160'>see,</span> <span m='30510'>including</span> <span m='30830'>plastics,</span> <span m='31690'>and</span> <span m='31830'>you'll</span> <span m='32030'>even</span> <span m='32180'>see</span> <span m='32330'>them</span> <span m='32490'>printed</span> <span m='32759'>on</span> <span m='32890'>paper</span> <span m='33290'>at</span> <span m='33430'>some</span> <span m='33590'>point</span> <span m='33780'>in</span> <span m='33870'>the</span> <span m='33950'>future.</span> </p><p><span m='34860'>The</span> <span m='34890'>other</span> <span m='35240'>type</span> <span m='35550'>of</span> <span m='35680'>work</span> <span m='35880'>that</span> <span m='36000'>we</span> <span m='36110'>do,</span> <span m='36360'>we</span> <span m='36470'>work</span> <span m='36790'>on</span> <span m='37430'>the</span> <span m='37790'>removal</span> <span m='38320'>of</span> <span m='38390'>heat</span> <span m='38880'>from</span> <span m='39350'>electronics.</span> <span m='40660'>Oftentimes,</span> <span m='41160'>you see</span> <span m='41650'>with your</span> <span m='41800'>computer</span> <span m='42065'>it</span> <span m='42330'>has a</span> <span m='42610'>fan</span> <span m='43070'>or it</span> <span m='43230'>may have</span> <span m='43680'>heat pipes,</span> <span m='44420'>other</span> <span m='44600'>things</span> <span m='44830'>to</span> <span m='44900'>help</span> <span m='45290'>your</span> <span m='45420'>devices</span> <span m='45920'>cool.</span> <span m='46730'>So</span> <span m='46940'>now</span> <span m='47150'>we're</span> <span m='47260'>trying</span> <span m='47530'>to</span> <span m='48110'>look</span> <span m='48310'>at</span> <span m='48420'>ways</span> <span m='48750'>of</span> <span m='48860'>cooling</span> <span m='49240'>devices</span> <span m='49760'>that</span> <span m='49890'>have</span> <span m='50040'>very,</span> <span m='50330'>very</span> <span m='50390'>high</span> <span m='50540'>power</span> <span m='51110'>so</span> <span m='51300'>that</span> <span m='51890'>they</span> <span m='52020'>can</span> <span m='52140'>go</span> <span m='52330'>into</span> <span m='52520'>your</span> <span m='52660'>car,</span> <span m='52980'>they</span> <span m='53200'>can go</span> <span m='53410'>into</span> <span m='53500'>harsh</span> <span m='53830'>environments,</span> <span m='54430'>such</span> <span m='54670'>as</span> <span m='54800'>electric</span> <span m='55200'>grid and</span> <span m='55600'>outside.</span> <span m='56460'>And</span> <span m='56640'>so</span> <span m='57230'>the</span> <span m='57340'>challenges</span> <span m='57800'>that</span> <span m='57900'>you'll</span> <span m='58030'>see</span> <span m='58200'>in</span> <span m='58270'>the</span> <span m='58350'>future</span> <span m='59580'>for</span> <span m='59790'>future</span> <span m='60050'>electronics</span> <span m='60600'>will</span> <span m='60710'>help</span> <span m='60940'>us</span> <span m='61160'>to</span> <span m='61780'>address</span> <span m='62260'>new</span> <span m='62380'>technologies</span> <span m='63130'>that</span> <span m='63230'>will</span> <span m='63330'>bring,</span> <span m='63570'>say,</span> <span m='63690'>energy</span> <span m='64069'>efficiency</span> <span m='65019'>and</span> <span m='65150'>more</span> <span m='65310'>functionality</span> <span m='66070'>to</span> <span m='66220'>your</span> <span m='66340'>home.</span> </p><p><span m='67840'>Really,</span> <span m='68100'>on a</span> <span m='68220'>day-to-day</span> <span m='68600'>basis,</span> <span m='70020'>I</span> <span m='70130'>don't</span> <span m='70310'>really</span> <span m='70480'>have</span> <span m='70600'>a</span> <span m='70660'>typical</span> <span m='71030'>day.</span> <span m='71350'>But</span> <span m='72190'>going</span> <span m='72540'>into</span> <span m='72880'>work</span> <span m='73130'>at</span> <span m='73250'>Georgia</span> <span m='73520'>Tech,</span> <span m='73760'>I have</span> <span m='73990'>the</span> <span m='74120'>opportunity</span> <span m='74730'>to</span> <span m='74850'>work</span> <span m='75050'>with</span> <span m='75160'>a</span> <span m='75220'>lot</span> <span m='75470'>of</span> <span m='75550'>bright</span> <span m='76100'>and</span> <span m='76370'>exciting</span> <span m='76760'>students.</span> <span m='77250'>And</span> <span m='77370'>so</span> <span m='77960'>I</span> <span m='78050'>love</span> <span m='78250'>to</span> <span m='78330'>have</span> <span m='79080'>the</span> <span m='79240'>opportunity</span> <span m='79860'>to</span> <span m='80010'>interact</span> <span m='80400'>with</span> <span m='80540'>them</span> <span m='81100'>and</span> <span m='81430'>to</span> <span m='82080'>have</span> <span m='82650'>the</span> <span m='82710'>chance</span> <span m='82980'>to</span> <span m='83030'>sit</span> <span m='83180'>down</span> <span m='83360'>and</span> <span m='83420'>talk</span> <span m='83610'>about</span> <span m='83820'>research</span> <span m='84290'>and</span> <span m='84400'>scope</span> <span m='84670'>out</span> <span m='84820'>new</span> <span m='84940'>ideas.</span> </p><p><span m='86430'>Typically,</span> <span m='87010'>I</span> <span m='87060'>may</span> <span m='87250'>have</span> <span m='88020'>on</span> <span m='88190'>a</span> <span m='88230'>given</span> <span m='88510'>day</span> <span m='88910'>meetings</span> <span m='89320'>with</span> <span m='89470'>about</span> <span m='89820'>four</span> <span m='90080'>to</span> <span m='90210'>five</span> <span m='90510'>different</span> <span m='90770'>groups</span> <span m='91120'>to</span> <span m='91260'>cover</span> <span m='91590'>different</span> <span m='91880'>projects.</span> <span m='92850'>And</span> <span m='93000'>then</span> <span m='93130'>I</span> <span m='93240'>also</span> <span m='93460'>have</span> <span m='93660'>time</span> <span m='94050'>to</span> <span m='94520'>interact</span> <span m='94910'>with</span> <span m='94970'>my</span> <span m='95090'>colleagues,</span> <span m='95550'>which</span> <span m='95700'>is</span> <span m='95820'>also</span> <span m='96070'>stimulating.</span> <span m='97380'>We</span> <span m='97520'>talk</span> <span m='97750'>about</span> <span m='98080'>future</span> <span m='98490'>ideas,</span> <span m='98770'>and</span> <span m='99050'>we</span> <span m='99320'>write</span> <span m='99630'>proposals</span> <span m='101330'>to</span> <span m='101440'>obtain</span> <span m='101760'>money</span> <span m='102090'>or</span> <span m='102150'>the</span> <span m='102540'>funding</span> <span m='102930'>that</span> <span m='103080'>allows</span> <span m='103460'>us</span> <span m='103570'>to</span> <span m='103680'>pursue</span> <span m='104020'>new</span> <span m='104140'>ideas.</span> </p><p><span m='105210'>Then,</span> <span m='105500'>in</span> <span m='105620'>addition</span> <span m='105930'>to</span> <span m='106040'>that,</span> <span m='106230'>I</span> <span m='106540'>love</span> <span m='106730'>to</span> <span m='106880'>read</span> <span m='107230'>about</span> <span m='107610'>the</span> <span m='107940'>latest</span> <span m='108220'>developments</span> <span m='108535'>that have</span> <span m='108850'>come</span> <span m='109050'>out.</span> <span m='109680'>So</span> <span m='109880'>putting</span> <span m='110150'>all</span> <span m='110310'>these</span> <span m='110460'>things</span> <span m='110640'>together,</span> <span m='111540'>it</span> <span m='111810'>helps</span> <span m='112100'>me</span> <span m='112260'>to</span> <span m='112620'>keep</span> <span m='112830'>things</span> <span m='113060'>exciting.</span> <span m='114400'>Sometimes</span> <span m='114810'>I</span> <span m='114890'>do</span> <span m='115150'>like</span> <span m='115340'>to</span> <span m='115430'>go</span> <span m='115580'>into</span> <span m='115740'>the</span> <span m='115840'>lab.</span> <span m='116280'>I</span> <span m='116410'>love</span> <span m='116660'>being</span> <span m='117150'>in</span> <span m='117230'>the</span> <span m='117310'>lab.</span> <span m='117580'>But,</span> <span m='117950'>of</span> <span m='118020'>course,</span> <span m='118310'>my</span> <span m='118410'>students</span> <span m='118750'>do</span> <span m='118860'>a</span> <span m='118910'>lot</span> <span m='119100'>of</span> <span m='119190'>work.</span> <span m='119700'>But</span> <span m='120010'>just</span> <span m='120170'>going</span> <span m='120380'>into</span> <span m='120460'>the</span> <span m='120530'>lab</span> <span m='120780'>and</span> <span m='120880'>tinkering</span> <span m='121240'>around</span> <span m='122160'>and</span> <span m='122400'>looking</span> <span m='122630'>for</span> <span m='122740'>new</span> <span m='122850'>discoveries.</span> </p><p><span m='124000'>For</span> <span m='124170'>me,</span> <span m='124460'>my</span> <span m='124580'>career</span> <span m='124880'>path</span> <span m='125290'>really</span> <span m='125950'>came</span> <span m='126220'>through</span> <span m='126970'>obtaining</span> <span m='127680'>a</span> <span m='127730'>bachelor's,</span> <span m='128919'>master's</span> <span m='129449'>and</span> <span m='129560'>Ph.D.</span> <span m='130030'>in</span> <span m='130250'>mechanical</span> <span m='130710'>engineering.</span> <span m='131540'>And</span> <span m='131700'>I</span> <span m='131790'>did</span> <span m='132030'>this,</span> <span m='132290'>basically,</span> <span m='132860'>because</span> <span m='133660'>of</span> <span m='133800'>my</span> <span m='133930'>curiosity</span> <span m='134656'>and</span> <span m='135100'>trying</span> <span m='135330'>to</span> <span m='135410'>figure</span> <span m='135630'>out</span> <span m='135740'>how</span> <span m='136030'>things</span> <span m='136310'>work.</span> <span m='137050'>And</span> <span m='137180'>so</span> <span m='137400'>for</span> <span m='137530'>me,</span> <span m='137700'>it</span> <span m='137780'>was</span> <span m='138010'>a</span> <span m='138170'>natural.</span> </p><p><span m='138650'>I</span> <span m='138700'>didn't</span> <span m='138970'>start</span> <span m='139220'>out</span> <span m='139420'>to</span> <span m='139610'>obtain</span> <span m='139890'>a</span> <span m='139930'>Ph.D.</span> <span m='140870'>What</span> <span m='141070'>I</span> <span m='141130'>started</span> <span m='141460'>out</span> <span m='141570'>to</span> <span m='141690'>do</span> <span m='141980'>was</span> <span m='142100'>look</span> <span m='142280'>for</span> <span m='142430'>answers</span> <span m='142860'>to</span> <span m='142990'>interesting</span> <span m='143490'>problems.</span> <span m='144400'>And</span> <span m='145070'>based</span> <span m='145350'>upon</span> <span m='145910'>learning</span> <span m='146260'>at</span> <span m='146280'>each</span> <span m='146490'>level,</span> <span m='147160'>I</span> <span m='147300'>decided</span> <span m='147700'>to</span> <span m='147780'>go</span> <span m='148540'>towards</span> <span m='148850'>the</span> <span m='148920'>research</span> <span m='149390'>track.</span> </p><p><span m='150110'>I</span> <span m='150300'>also</span> <span m='150510'>spend</span> <span m='150750'>a</span> <span m='150810'>little</span> <span m='150990'>bit</span> <span m='151100'>of</span> <span m='151160'>time</span> <span m='151390'>in</span> <span m='151480'>industry.</span> <span m='152310'>I</span> <span m='152360'>work</span> <span m='152620'>at</span> <span m='152740'>Sandia</span> <span m='153080'>National</span> <span m='153430'>Laboratories,</span> <span m='154100'>and</span> <span m='154190'>I'm</span> <span m='154310'>currently</span> <span m='154700'>also</span> <span m='155060'>a</span> <span m='155395'>joint</span> <span m='155730'>appointed</span> <span m='156820'>staff</span> <span m='157110'>member</span> <span m='157400'>at</span> <span m='157690'>Oak</span> <span m='157850'>Ridge</span> <span m='158030'>National</span> <span m='158320'>Laboratory</span> <span m='158750'>in</span> <span m='158920'>Tennessee.</span> </p><p><span m='160170'>My</span> <span m='160340'>path</span> <span m='160680'>has</span> <span m='160830'>been</span> <span m='161050'>maybe</span> <span m='161310'>somewhat of</span> <span m='161740'>a</span> <span m='162045'>nontraditional</span> <span m='162350'>path.</span> <span m='162670'>But</span> <span m='162790'>I</span> <span m='162840'>think</span> <span m='163020'>if</span> <span m='163090'>you</span> <span m='163170'>talk</span> <span m='163270'>to</span> <span m='163440'>a</span> <span m='163530'>lot</span> <span m='163740'>of</span> <span m='163800'>people</span> <span m='164170'>in</span> <span m='164270'>engineering,</span> <span m='164710'>especially</span> <span m='165090'>at the</span> <span m='165210'>research</span> <span m='165740'>level,</span> <span m='166530'>you'll</span> <span m='166700'>find</span> <span m='166960'>that their</span> <span m='167180'>paths</span> <span m='167510'>also,</span> <span m='167780'>quote,</span> <span m='168210'>unquote,</span> <span m='168630'>\"nontraditional.\"</span> <span m='169650'>So</span> <span m='169830'>there's</span> <span m='170040'>really</span> <span m='170320'>no</span> <span m='170450'>one</span> <span m='170700'>single</span> <span m='170970'>way</span> <span m='171140'>to</span> <span m='171190'>get</span> <span m='171380'>here.</span> <span m='172120'>You</span> <span m='172300'>just</span> <span m='172460'>have</span> <span m='172560'>to</span> <span m='172650'>follow</span> <span m='172900'>your</span> <span m='173040'>dreams</span> <span m='173560'>and</span> <span m='174220'>do</span> <span m='174310'>what</span> <span m='174450'>you</span> <span m='174550'>think</span> <span m='174740'>is</span> <span m='174880'>best</span> <span m='175140'>for</span> <span m='175230'>you.</span> </p><p><span m='176200'>My</span> <span m='176350'>advice</span> <span m='176710'>to</span> <span m='177240'>younger</span> <span m='177520'>people</span> <span m='177760'>that</span> <span m='177890'>are</span> <span m='177990'>interested</span> <span m='178500'>or</span> <span m='178580'>even</span> <span m='178800'>thinking</span> <span m='179080'>about</span> <span m='179280'>going</span> <span m='179470'>into</span> <span m='179620'>engineering</span> <span m='180515'>is</span> <span m='181290'>really</span> <span m='181870'>do</span> <span m='182010'>a</span> <span m='182070'>lot</span> <span m='182280'>of</span> <span m='182400'>reading,</span> <span m='183210'>and</span> <span m='183760'>don't</span> <span m='183930'>be</span> <span m='184040'>afraid</span> <span m='184300'>to</span> <span m='184340'>ask</span> <span m='184590'>questions.</span> <span m='186130'>Asking</span> <span m='186710'>the</span> <span m='186790'>questions</span> <span m='187170'>of</span> <span m='187300'>why</span> <span m='187550'>things</span> <span m='187850'>work</span> <span m='188080'>the</span> <span m='188170'>way</span> <span m='188290'>they</span> <span m='188420'>do</span> <span m='189050'>allows</span> <span m='189460'>you</span> <span m='189550'>to</span> <span m='189650'>be</span> <span m='189800'>innovative</span> <span m='190720'>and</span> <span m='192120'>open</span> <span m='192350'>up</span> <span m='192440'>your</span> <span m='192550'>mind</span> <span m='192850'>to</span> <span m='193120'>new</span> <span m='193390'>and</span> <span m='193450'>exciting</span> <span m='193840'>ways</span> <span m='194060'>of</span> <span m='194160'>doing</span> <span m='194800'>something</span> <span m='195160'>that</span> <span m='195350'>is</span> <span m='195490'>beneficial</span> <span m='195930'>to</span> <span m='196040'>society.</span> <span m='196900'>So</span> <span m='197050'>I</span> <span m='197140'>would</span> <span m='197280'>say,</span> <span m='197540'>first</span> <span m='197830'>and</span> <span m='197930'>foremost,</span> <span m='198680'>ask</span> <span m='198960'>a</span> <span m='199010'>lot</span> <span m='199180'>of</span> <span m='199250'>questions,</span> <span m='200090'>get</span> <span m='200350'>very</span> <span m='200560'>good</span> <span m='200720'>mentors</span> <span m='201150'>around</span> <span m='201470'>you,</span> <span m='201970'>and</span> <span m='202060'>don't</span> <span m='202230'>be</span> <span m='202340'>afraid</span> <span m='203055'>to</span> <span m='203460'>ask</span> <span m='203660'>tough</span> <span m='203830'>questions to</span> <span m='204310'>people</span> <span m='205250'>and</span> <span m='205990'>to</span> <span m='206130'>seek</span> <span m='206430'>help.</span> </p>","file":{"id":265610,"video_id":"2701282656001","name":"70732373","duration":207188,"thumbnail_url":null}});