Jen Skevington

jennifer skevingtonBS mechanical engineering '11

Occupation: Product development engineer, Delphi Thermal
Residence: Buffalo, NY
Community activities: Triathlon, Buffalo Triathlon Club, Greater Buffalo Track Club

When and why did you choose to study abroad? What factors (your major, other commitments, Take Five) did you weigh as you were making the decision to study abroad?  

I knew from the beginning of my college search that I wanted to study abroad during my time at university. My largest hurdle was making sure I could take courses abroad that would fulfill graduation requirements because I didn’t have enough “free elective” space in my schedule to take any course I wanted to while abroad. I ended up going in the spring of my junior year because that was the best semester available for options of courses to take at my desired program.  

Who at UR encouraged you to pursue this option?

Professor Lambropoulos, chair of the mechanical engineering department, was monumental in helping me make study abroad a reality by working with me to find courses that would satisfy graduation requirements. He has been very enthusiastic about students studying abroad and any mechanical engineering student should seek him as a resource.

Beyond the academic work, how did you engage with your new “community” and culture while you were away from Rochester?

One of the best decisions I made was to live with a host family during my time abroad. I was able to make connections with a very diverse demographic of people. Instead of spending all my time with university students, I was able to connect with my host mom and 16 year old sister’s friends and family. I learned so much more about the culture by connecting with people of all ages and not just seeing my community through the eyes of university students.

What was returning to campus like for you?

My return to campus was pushed back after I decided to take an internship with NASA in Huntsville, AL the semester right after my study abroad semester. Even after being away for a full year, it was not hard to make the transition back to university life. Sure, my friends had plenty of stories of everything that went on in my absence, but I also had a lot of great experiences that I could share with them.

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

I was offered a job with Delphi before I graduated from the U of R and accepted before my last semester of school. Right after graduating, I rewarded myself with a two-week trip to Japan and then moved to Buffalo to start working full time. As much as I would have loved to travel for a year after graduating, I was excited to get started on gaining experience in my field.

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

I am a development engineer at Delphi who designs and manufactures automotive air conditioning systems. I do all of the component and system testing for certain vehicle programs making sure we are meeting customer specs and suggest changes when we are not. I chose this position because I enjoy the hands-on nature of being able to work in the labs as opposed to sitting at a desk.

What advice do you have for current students contemplating studying abroad?

Absolutely study abroad! Don’t think that you can't fit it in because there are so many graduation requirements for engineering degrees. Work with your department chair early on to determine the best semester to go and the courses that you can take abroad to fulfill graduation requirements. I was able to take two engineering courses while in Botswana that fulfilled engineering requirements back at the U of R. You also don’t have to go to a country where everyone else has paved the way for you! I was the first student from the U of R and the first ever engineering student from the US to study in Botswana.