Mechanical Engineering and Theater Blend for Success

9/26/2011

As an engineer at L'Oreal, Cassidy DeSchryver '11 uses her Mechanical Engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology to support Technical Packaging Development, but her job is about much more than diagrams and project management. In working with marketers, manufacturers, and designers to provide holistic guidance in product development, Cassidy sees her role as primarily a creative one.

"It's my job to bring these worlds together and create something beautiful," she says.

Cassidy sees this combination of technical and managerial duties as a natural outgrowth of her Mechanical Engineering education, which requires students to learn diverse engineering skills and coordinate different aspects of a project. After participating in Cooperative Education to experience jobs in the biomedical, automotive, and manufacturing fields, Cassidy believes that she's found the perfect balance of hard and soft skills in her career.

This is a blend reinforced in the performing arts at Stevens. "One of the great things about working in the Stevens Dramatic Society is how much you can learn. There's practical things and there's also teamwork and learning how to teach others what you know how to do."

Cassidy became interested in both engineering and theater during high school. While she was active in stage productions her senior year, she also had a teacher that encouraged her to consider a technical field when selecting a college. She chose Mechanical Engineering as her major, "because it's very hands-on and requires knowledge from many different fields."

Even though she will be working with CAD drawings and not stage lights, going on stage has had definite returns for her professional career. "Performing has given me the comfort and confidence to give a technical talk at work. I know that if something goes wrong, then I can recover and keep going on. It's been invaluable preparation for talking to executives or giving a company presentation."

While at Stevens, Cassidy also found performing to be a stress reliever. "Theater is like my sport. Theater lets me exercise another part of my personality, express myself creatively, and participate in something bigger than myself."

For students concerned about theater affecting their academics, Cassidy is a great example of how to successfully balance schoolwork, co-op jobs, and extracurriculars. "When you concentrate only on one thing, I think you pigeon-hole yourself," she advises. "You get enriched by trying something new and pushing your comfort zone, by exploring new horizons of what you can do."

Cassidy invites anyone curious about performing to give it a try. "Some of our most successful members had never done it before Stevens. If you have any interest at all in doing theater, I say you definitely have to do it. Even if you're not sure, you should try it, because you never know what you are going to fall in love with."