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From GPIP to first career step: meet electrical engineering graduate Andres Dimas

Andres Dimas

Andres Dimas graduated in May with a degree in electrical engineering and will begin his engineering career at Sergeant & Lundy this fall.

Dimas was an S-STEM Scholar at UIC, participating in a program funded by the National Science Foundationand aimed at increasing the number of academically talented, low-income students who graduate with a degree in a STEM field. The program not only offers monetary aid, but also provides support through workshops, classes, and other co-curricular activities.

Dimas said he interviewed for the S-STEM program and was one of about 20 students selected from a group of over 100 for the UIC program’s third cohort.

“I think a lot of students may drop out due to financial issues, so the scholarship keeps students like me on an engineering path,” Dimas said. “But the S-STEM program also taught us a lot about engineering.”

The S-STEM program includes  financial help and includes participation in the Freshman Engineering Success Program, an effort coordinated by all six engineering departments and includes ENGR101, Engineering Success Seminar, and ENGR 194, Special Topics in Engineering. In these classes, as well as outside activities, students are led by various college faculty in general sessions and break-out sessions. S-STEM scholars  also get a chance to interact with student chapters of engineering societies and with teaching assistants, broadening their perspective on what an engineer does, and what is expected of them.

Dimas said he learned about engineering values and took part in an entrepreneur project, where students came up with designs and presented them to college faculty. The scholars also brainstormed ideas to help their communities, which could be incorporated into their Senior Design course, which culminates in the UIC Engineering Expo.

The project Dimas worked on for Expo was dreamed up by the second cohort of UIC’s S-STEM Scholars, and he and a few of his fellow students made the idea a reality for this year’s Expo. His team designed a solar community refrigerator to be installed outside a church in the Little Village neighborhood.

Dimas said one of the most valuable things he learned through the program was time management: his 75-minute commute forced him to be more strategic and maximize study time to account for the long drive to campus.

The program also allowed Dimas to graduate debt-free. He transferred to UIC from Elgin Community College, and the S-STEM program covered his tuition during his three years at UIC.

While at UIC, he participated in the Guaranteed Paid Internship Program.  Working under Assistant Professor Lina He, Dimas researched the integration of renewable energy into the power grid, and learned a lot about inverters. Dimas said he brought up the internship at an Engineering Career Fair with employer Sergeant & Lundy, a power company that specializes in grid modernization, renewable energy, energy storage, nuclear power, and fossil fuels. After the fair, Dimas received an offer to work at the firm after graduation.

Dimas stressed that it’s important to prepare for the career fair and other interviews by researching key information about a company before speaking with them, including the company’s values, specific skills the company looks for, and work-life balance.

“Each interview or career fair discussion gives you practice for the next interview,” Dimas said.  “So I recommend taking notes during the interview about topics discussed, specific job details, and the questions asked.”

Before he begins at the company this fall, Dimas is enjoying his summer, and is spending his time relaxing with his family and their dog at the family home in Elgin.