Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".
Marios Georgiou graduated with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering in August of 2014. He currently lives in Orlando, Florida, where he works as a Value Engineer for Addison-HVAC, a brand of Specified Air that specializes in 100% outside air units. In this position, he's responsible for eliminating waste in every manufacturing process for Addison-HVAC.
What are some of your main responsibilities, and what does a normal day or week look like for you?
I plan and coordinate engineering activities to develop and supply standardized design criteria and product requirements for parts and equipment. I establish and maintain liaisons between our engineering, production, and sale departments to formulate and apply design criteria and production requirements for proposed products. I provide technical direction to junior engineers to increase product value by enhancing production methods, improving parts, and reducing cost.
A typical day starts at about 7.30 a.m. I check my inbox in case there is something that requires immediate attention. If not, I start to work on what I have scheduled for the day, usually on a specific component of a unit. At 9.30 a.m. I have the “gemba walk” on the shop floor with the rest of team. This is an opportunity to observe where the work is being done as opposed to discussing a plant floor problem in a conference room. At 11.30 a.m. I go on a lunch break, which on Fridays is with the rest of the engineering group at our favorite BBQ place. In the afternoon, I work on reflecting on the information gathered during the “gemba walk” or finishing up what I had scheduled for the day. Typically my work day ends at about 5.30 p.m.
What is the most interesting, rewarding, and/or challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging aspect with this position was the fact that I had to learn the whole product line of the company and the different variations of each line in a very short time. That was the only way in order for me to provide suggestions on eliminating waste and adding value to the product. The most rewarding is when you see that your recommendations have increased the profit margin on a product without compromising quality. The most interesting is that I get to work with new and novel technology that consumes significantly lower energy when treating outside air.
What has been the most valuable transferable skill you gained from graduate school?
Problem solving. When you complete a PhD, you've proved to yourself that you can solve a complex problem. You showed that you have the strength and the courage to carry on and accomplish your goal. These attributes are of significant value in your professional life when you are asked to provide a solution that is within a certain budget, resource limitations, and timeframe.
What experiences made an impact on your career choice?
I wanted to pursuit a career in Industry as I was looking for something different. I attended grad school right after college, thus academic life was all I knew. I wanted to experience the other side of the coin too. In grad school I specialized in thermal science and fluids, so the HVAC industry was a very good fit for me.
What is one piece of advice you would give to graduate students at Illinois?
Keep up the hard work, be patient, be persistent, be organized, and dream big. You will definitely be rewarded at the end. We know it is a difficult path that you’ve chosen to follow, but you are not alone. You have great resources and people at Illinois to support you each step of the way.
This interview is part of the monthly Grad Life series called "Where Are They Now?" which chronicles the career paths of recent Univeristy of Illinois Graduate College alumni. Interviews are conducted by Laura Spradlin. Laura contributed to Grad Life throughout its first year. She is an alumna of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Illinois and studied English and French at Illinois Wesleyan University.