Gretchen Bauer

gretchen bauerBS optics '10

Occupation: Systems engineer, ITT Exelis
Residence: Hoboken, NJ

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

My older brother and cousin were already students at Rochester when I decided to attend. I actually went to Lehigh my freshman year and it was not a good fit for me, so I came and spent a weekend with my cousin Meaghan at Rochester and found it was the perfect fit for me. So I transferred in the fall of my sophomore year. The positive experiences my family had at Rochester, as well as its great reputation for its optics program, made it an easy decision.

When and how did you choose your major?

I always loved math and science so I knew that I wanted to go into engineering. I transferred to Rochester after spending my freshman year at Lehigh where I had taken general engineering courses, which had helped me define which field I wanted to go into, math/physics. When I came to Rochester my sophomore year the optics program was a natural fit for me as it combined my two favorite subjects.

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

I work as a systems engineer for ITT Exelis, a defense contractor. I work on laser-based systems that are in the development phase. I really enjoy what I do as I get to work on all aspects of the system including development, build and test. I chose this career as it allows me to use my basis of optics and expand into other areas of engineering at the same time.

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

I use a lot of what I learned at the optics program at Rochester at work. The test equipment I use at work is similar to what I used in labs at Rochester. I also do a lot of modeling and data analysis using software tools that I was exposed to during undergrad.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

Since I work in a field where you cannot take your work home with you, it is nice in the aspect that once I leave work, my work stays at work. I dedicate as much time as I can to building my very young career and I am very lucky that I ended up in the New York City area surrounded by many of my friends from college, who I can see often outside of work. One of them is my current roommate. I have joined local sports leagues in order to maintain a scheduled weekly event that I have outside of work.

How are you still connected with the University?

I often attend Rochester Networking Events and other alumni events the university offers in the NYC area. It's a great way to catch up with old friends and meet other people who share a love of Rochester.