Engineering & Applied Sciences

Alumni Profile

Ryan Accetta

ryan accettaBS chemical engineering '05, Take Five '06

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Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I was looking for a smaller school where I could major in engineering, participate in choral groups without being a music major, and was at least a few hours or more away from my where I grew up in northern Indiana. The scholarship money that I was offered didn't hurt either.

When and how did you choose your major(s)?

In high school I enjoyed math, chemistry, and physics, and I was pretty sure that I wanted to study engineering. I was debating between civil and chemical, and with no civil engineering program at UR, my choice was pretty easy.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I sang in the Chorus and Chamber Singers, was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, played club ultimate Frisbee for a couple of years, performed with OBOC and did some activities with the Newman Community. By doing diverse activities, I was able to develop relationships with a wide range of people.  These groups also gave me a good understanding of how clubs and groups function, which is useful knowledge for all of the teams, sub-committees and boards that are a critical part of both work and community life.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I started working for Xerox as a summer intern in Webster, NY, the summer between my senior and Take 5 year. I continued working for them as a process engineer through my Take 5 year and for my first 4 years after graduation. Having a job offer for after graduation in hand, before I started my Take 5 year, made the decision easy to stay in the Rochester area and work for Xerox.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I always wanted to work in the chemical or biotech industries after my bachelor's degree was done.  This feeling was reinforced during my semester abroad in Melbourne, Australia where the engineering curriculum was much more industry-focused than I was used to, and I really enjoyed that.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

Keep your textbooks, your common sense, and your curiosity close at hand at all times. Very little of that stuff you memorized will actually still need to be in your brain in five years, but you will be expected to think critically, ask questions, and justify your opinions and ideas with good reasoning. Most importantly, learn to listen. I'm still working on that one, but have learned how useful it can be.

Where would you like to be in five years?

I would love to still be working for Dupont. The company has a great set of values and really puts people first. Our plant makes enzymes for the ethanol industry, and I love the work I am doing helping to create more renewable fuels. Hopefully I can be in a more exciting city or area to live in by then, but if I am still here, that will be ok.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

Work hard, try to exceed the expectations placed on you, be as flexible as you can, and do NOT abuse the privilege of vacation or sick days. If you can develop a good relationship with your manager to where you see each other as people instead of just positions, this becomes very easy. Don't be afraid to voice your desires and needs, just make sure you do it tactfully.

How are you still connected with the University?

Not very well, unfortunately. Living this far away and not in a city with an alumni presence makes it difficult. I do stay in touch with classmates and fraternity brothers who are spread across the country though.

What advice do you have for current Hajim School students about their time on campus, graduate study, or the first few years after college?

If it sounds interesting or fun, TRY IT!! I have found some really fun hobbies and met some really great people by trying new things. Always remember that the people you meet are more important than the things you keep.