A member of the Penn State Abington Class of 2021 secured her first professional position with Lockheed Martin, a global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technologies company.
Alyson Farkas, who earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering with the multidisciplinary engineering design option, said she can’t wait to start her job as a systems engineer at Lockheed in King of Prussia on June 7.
“As a systems engineer, you’re responsible for the integration of different aspects of software and hardware and making sure the documentation makes sense. My degree will really help me because it combines mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering. It prepared me to do this job. It’s all about knowing different aspects of engineering, and it gives you broader knowledge,” she said.
Farkas, the first in her family to graduate from college, was an intern with Lockheed for two summers after meeting a representative of the company at the semiannual Career Expo, organized by Abington’s Career and Professional Development.
“I learned so much from my internship but especially how to work in the real world. My main takeaway was to never shy away from asking questions. There are tons of smart people there, and I learned to pick their brains. I was cautious at my first internship, but by the second one I was wanting to understand and learn more,” she said.
At Abington, Farkas was a Schreyer Honors College scholar and a member of the campus's Honors Program. Her honors thesis project was to apply artificial intelligence to train a robot to do parts inspection in a simulated manufacturing environment. She was also the recipient of an engineering scholarship.
Her experience at Abington began the summer before her first year when she enrolled in the Engineering Ahead (EA) program. EA is an academic enhancement program for underrepresented categories of students including minorities, women, first-generation, and those from low-income households.
“Engineering Ahead helps transition you to college. College isn’t as scary because you already have these connections. You focus on math, physics and chemistry,” she said. “It shows how things are done in college, and it opened up other opportunities. After I finished the program, I became a mentor and tutored other students.”
Through EA, Farkas met Ann Schmiedekamp, professor of physics, and Michael Kagan, associate professor of physics.
“I took Dr. Kagan for every level of physics, and Dr. Schmiedekamp got me involved in ACURA (Abington College Undergraduate Research Activities) as a freshman,” Farkas said. “Working on undergraduate research opened up opportunities for me since I developed a relationship with faculty who mentored us.”
Her team earned a blue ribbon for their ACURA project, "A Survey with Radio Astronomy of Cold H1 Clouds in the Milky Way."
Farkas, who tutored other students throughout her college career, was president and treasurer of the Engineering Club at Abington.
“We did some really awesome projects. It created a collaborative environment, and we talked about problems and questions we had. It was a great support system,” she said.
Farkas said she knew Abington was where she wanted to attend college from her first visit.
“I fell in love with the campus and knew it was the place for me. Abington has a small school feel, but large school resources plus there is the alumni network. I loved the engineering program, too. Your education is personalized - you get to know the professors, and you’re not just a number,” she said.
For the general engineering degree with the multidisciplinary engineering design option, students like Farkas complete their first two years at either Abington or Penn State Brandywine and conclude their engineering coursework in the Innovation Center at Penn State Great Valley.
“The engineering program has a hands-on approach. You can learn all the theory you want, but the hands-on application brings your education full circle whether it’s through the lab, simulations or the design focus. You get to go through an entire life cycle,” she said. “Once I saw the lab at Great Valley, I fell in love. It was so much fun to use, and a great atmosphere, too. I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities.”
About the bachelor of engineering degree with the multidisciplinary engineering design option
The Penn State bachelor of engineering degree with the multidisciplinary engineering design (MDE) option incorporates advanced coursework in electrical engineering, computer engineering, and engineering design to produce innovative engineers specializing in systems design and integration.
It represents a unique regional partnership among three campuses, in which students complete their first two years of undergraduate studies at either Penn State Abington or Penn State Brandywine and conclude their engineering coursework at the Innovation Center at Penn State Great Valley.
The Innovation Center at Penn State Great Valley includes high-tech classrooms, advising offices, a fully equipped circuits lab, robotics center, and a fabrication and design facility outfitted with the latest engineering technologies. This state-of-the-art facility gives students hands-on experience using professional engineering equipment and software, such as multiple 3D printers, machining centers, a laser engraver, and other shop tools.
About Penn State Abington
Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With about 3,700 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 23 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics, and more.